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Best Oahu Hikes

The 8 Best Trails To Hike In Oahu

Last Updated on July 13, 2024 ⋅ Written by Vanessa Howard ⋅ Edited by Laura Schulthies

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu

Welcome to Oahu

Hiking is one of the best ways to discover Oahu’s natural wonders. Oahu’s trails allow you to take time to admire the stunning landscapes and explore at your own pace. Oahu hiking trails offer something for everyone and every skill level. Whether you’re looking for a laid back stroll or a difficult trek, you’ll find it on Oahu. If you have a sense of adventure and want to get out into nature, keep reading for our list of the best Oahu hikes.

Hiking is one of the best ways to discover Oahu’s natural wonders. Oahu’s trails allow you to take time to admire the stunning landscapes and explore at your own pace. Oahu hiking trails offer something for everyone and every skill level. Whether you’re looking for a laid back stroll or a difficult trek, you’ll find it on Oahu. If you have a sense of adventure and want to get out into nature, keep reading for our list of the best Oahu hikes.

Oahu Map

Oahu Map

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide

The Best Oahu Hikes

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu

Diamond Head Trail

Difficulty: Moderate – Distance: 1.9 Miles – Elevation Gain: 524 Ft

Diamond Head is the most popular hike on Oahu, and it’s easy to see why. Located near Waikiki, the trail to the summit of Diamond Head was built by the U.S. Army Coastal Artillery in 1908. You can find trailhead parking off Diamond Head Road between Makapuu Avenue and 18th Avenue in Honolulu. The Diamond Head Trail is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and gates close at 6 p.m. As you hike this moderate, 1.9-mile trail, you’ll climb approximately 524 feet from the crater floor to the summit. You can’t beat the incredible 360 degree views from the Diamond Head summit. Gaze out over Waikiki, Honolulu, and the surrounding area as you take in the beauty of Oahu. You will also notice bunkers along the crater rim that were built around 1915. Due to its popularity, reservations are required to visit Diamond Head and hike the trail. All visitors parking vehicles in the crater must book in two hour time slots. These slots begin at 6 a.m. Walk in and drop off visitors are subject to 1 hour entry time slots.

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

Difficulty: Easy – Distance: 2.5 Miles – Elevation Gain: 505 Ft

For one of the best views of Oahu’s southeastern shoreline, head to Makapu’u Point and Lighthouse Trail. With stunning sea cliffs and dazzling views of the blue ocean, Makapu’u Point offers a gorgeous panoramic view of the coast. You’ll find Makapu’u Point on Kalanianaole Highway on the southeastern tip of Oahu. Rising over 600 feet from the ocean floor, Makapu’u is a remnant of a volcanic ridge. The trailhead on the right side of the road is around 12 miles east of Honolulu, past Koko Head and Sandy Beach Park. From the lookout of this 2.5 mile easy trail, you can enjoy expansive panoramic views of Manana Island, Black Rock Island, the lighthouse and old World War II bunkers on the cliff edges. On clear days, you may even be able to spot the neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai. This is also an excellent spot for whale watching during the winter months.

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu

Waimea Valley Trail

Difficulty: Easy – Distance: 1.9 Miles – Elevation Gain: 272 Ft

Those looking for a family friendly trail will love that the hike to Waimea Falls is more of a leisurely stroll than a hike, but it’s stunning and perfect for the entire family. Upon entering the park, guests walk a paved trail road for 1.9 miles out and back through a gorgeously curated botanical garden. Keep in mind this makes the total trail length 3.8 miles. At the trail’s end, you’re rewarded with a glimmering lake and a stunning 45 foot waterfall. A walk on the Waimea Valley Trail can be a truly breathtaking experience if you take the time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Adventure lovers can hop in the pool of Waimea Falls for a swim before hiking back out again. Lifeguards are on duty, and lifejackets are provided upon request. The Waimea Valley Trail is located on the North Shore across from Waimea Bay. An entry fee is required to walk the botanical gardens to the waterfall.

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu

Lanikai Pillboxes Trail

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate – Distance: 1 Mile – Elevation Gain: 406 Ft

The Lanikai Pillboxes Trail is one of the most accessible and most popular hikes on Oahu. The 1 mile trail stretches up mountains and ridges and is steep at 406 feet in elevation gain. However, hikers are rewarded with expansive views of pristine beaches and stunning broad bays on the island’s windward side. The hike begins at the end of a residential street, and you can park in the Lanikai neighborhood. Make sure to follow parking signs, as it is strictly enforced. The trailhead is located across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club on Kaelepulu Drive. Also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, this hike takes you to several World War II era bunkers above Lanikai Beach. Continuing the walk, you’ll be treated to incredible 360 degree views once you crest the bunkers. This is also known as one of the best sunrise and sunset spots on Oahu, so make sure to sit back and take one in while being enchanted by the sound of the waves crashing and the whistling winds.

Oahu Hiking Guide
Oahu Hiking Guide

Koko Crater Railway Trail

Difficulty: Difficult – Distance: 1.6 Miles – Elevation Gain: 885 Ft

With a nickname like the “stairs of doom,” it’s no wonder that conquering the Koko Head Hike railway “stairs” is on everyone’s Oahu bucket list. Don’t let the 1.6 mile distance fool you; this hike will put you through your paces and can be a challenge even for avid hikers. However, reaching the Koko Head Crater summit is worth the effort if you’re up to the challenge. Rising almost 1,000 feet, the trail will lead you past the World War II relic Koko Head Railway. It was used to transport supplies to soldiers during the war, but now you can climb the 1,048 railroad ties to reach the stunningly beautiful Koko Head summit. The trailhead for this hike is located in Koko Head District Park. Keep in mind that the parking lot for this district park is closed overnight from 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., so there is no reason to arrive early.

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu

Manoa Falls Trail

Difficulty: Easy – Distance: 1.7 Miles – Elevation Gain: 633 Ft

If you are searching for a beautiful stroll through the stunning junglescape of Oahu that offers gorgeous scenery, then Manoa Falls Trail should be on your Oahu hiking list. Perfect for families with kids, this 2.5 mile easy trail has a gentle uphill grade that isn’t too demanding, no matter your skill level. The hike culminates at the 150 foot Manoa Falls, an impressively beautiful cascade. Remember that the waterfall is on the leeward side of Oahu, so it tends to dry up seasonally. Make sure to check the conditions before you go. The best time to visit Manoa Falls is during the wetter months, November to March. The Manoa Falls Trail is just 15 minutes from urban Honolulu, but once on the trail, surrounded by the lush, verdant views of Manoa Valley, you’ll feel like you’re in a completely different world. Parking for Manoa Falls is located at the end of Manoa Road in a small parking lot next to the trailhead. There is a small fee to park here, but know that it is illegal to park along the side of the short road.

Oahu Hiking Guide
Oahu Hiking Guide

Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Difficulty: Difficult – Distance: 4.4 Miles – Elevation Gain: 1,679 Ft

The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is a challenging 4.4 mile round trip, but the overwhelmingly beautiful views of East Oahu make it worth the journey. This trail is unique because it travels through several different environments and showcases the diversity of Oahu’s landscape. Visitors can experience many switchbacks that guide you up the mountain during your hike. Enjoy the lush archways of banyan branches and breathtaking ridge views on your way up. There are stairs on this trail to make it easier to reach the summit. At the top, enjoy incredible views of lush farms, sandy beaches, and the endless Kailua coastline below. You can also enjoy an outstanding view of the Koko Crater as you begin back down the trail. Located less than half an hour from Waikiki, the trailhead for the Kuliouou Ridge Trail is at the end of residential Kalaau Place.

Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu
Oahu Hiking Guide: The Best Hikes In Oahu

Aiea Loop Trail

Difficulty: Moderate – Distance: 4.5 Miles – Elevation Gain: 1,259 Ft

This hike is ideal for those looking for a more casual walk on a flat, shaded trail. Along this 4.5 mile loop, you can explore the native trees and landscape in a shady, verdant forest with lemon eucalyptus groves, native koa, and Norfolk pines. The beauty of this trail is that there’s something new around every corner. Keep an eye out halfway through the trail as a lookout point offers a stunning view of the Halawa Valley. Upon arriving at the Aiea Loop trailhead, you can find ample parking, picnic areas, and restrooms. If you’re interested in military history, the B-24J Crash Site off the trail is quite interesting. This loop trail can be hiked in either direction.

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