Hiking on Oahu is unlike hiking anywhere else in the world, and there are numerous great places to do it for those visiting the island! The island of Oahu spans nearly 600 square miles, and that area features a plethora of hiking trails for hikers of all experience levels. Join Viewcation as we take a look at where tourists can find the best hikes in Oahu.
7 Best Hikes in Oahu, Hawaii
Waimea Valley Trail
We’ll start this article off by taking a look at a hike that’s an excellent option for beginners, as it’s both incredibly easy and incredibly rewarding. Waimea Falls is a beloved Hawaiian waterfall that’s located within Waimea Valley, and you’ll have to hike through Waimea Valley to get to it. Thankfully, the scenery that you’ll see during the hike is nearly as beautiful as the scenery that you’ll see when you get to Waimea Falls! Not only that, but the trail is paved.
Hiking the Waimea Valley Trail shouldn’t take very long, and you’ll be in for a treat once you get to Waimea Falls! The waterfalls run into a small lake that families can play in. Much of the hike to Waimea Falls is lined with a finely kept botanical garden, adding to the immense natural joy of the overall experience. Though the Waimea Valley Trail offers minimal challenges, it’s clear to see why it’s so popular.
Koko Crater Trail
The Koko Crater Trail is another easy and short trail with incredible scenery that will be coming at hikers from all sides. The Koko Crater Trail is located near the tourist-friendly neighborhood of Waikiki, which means that accessing the trail is particularly easy. The hike itself is also pretty easy, with the trail only offering visitors a few miles of hiking in total. However, the incredible scenery surrounding hikers will make them want to take their time. The area is filled with a stunning array of wildflowers, and the hike ends at the even more stunning Koko Crater Botanical Garden.
Diamond Head Crater Hike
The Diamond Head is a volcanic tuff cone on the island of Oahu, and the Diamond Head State Monument is a park that surrounds it. While visiting the Diamond Head State Monument tourists, can see the veritable Diamond Head for themselves by taking the Diamond Head Crater Hike. This is yet another hiking trail that’s not all that long or challenging, but it’s well worth it for those who want to see a unique sight.
Compared to the two aforementioned hikes, the Diamond Head Crater Hike is a little bit more difficult thanks to the fact that you’ll have to hike around 600 feet up to get to the crater itself. Though the hike is only a few miles long, this gain in elevation can make it trying for some visitors.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
All of the hikes that we’ve taken a look at so far in this article have been centered around natural scenery, but the Lanikai Pillbox Hike is a hiking trail that’s notable for it’s reverence to Oahu’s wartime history. The term “pillbox” refers to buildings that were used by the military in Hawaii during World War II. The pillboxes that still stand are no longer in use, but they serve as popular landmarks for tourists to visit. Like the Diamond Head Crater Hike, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike isn’t especially difficult but it does feature a significant gain in elevation. You aren’t going to have to climb up the side of a volcano, but the journey is far from being horizontal.
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail offers a hike that features another landmark that has more to do with Hawaii’s human culture than it’s natural history. Of course, that would be the hike’s namesake landmark of the Makapu’u Lighthouse. There are few tourists who will turn down the chance to see a lighthouse, and the Makapu’u Lighthouse is one of the best that you’ll find in the entire state of Hawaii! The lighthouse stands out for it’s red roof, and the hike to the landmark isn’t all that long or challenging. Like the Koko Crater Trail, the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is entirely paved.
Ka’au Crater Trail
The Koko Crater Trail and the Diamond Head Crater Hike are far from being the only notable hikes on the island of Oahu that take those hiking them to a crater. Anyone that’s in the mood for a little bit more of a challenge than the ones offered by those two hikes may want to check out the Ka’au Crater Trail, which offers more diverse scenery than those other two hikes combined!
The Ka’au Crater Trail may up the challenge level a bit, but the scenery will make it seem easy. Those who want to be immersed in Oahu’s jungle will find that this might be the hike for them. Some of the great sights that you’ll see on this jungle hike include several waterfalls.
Now let’s take a look at a hike that offers a bit more of a challenge. The Olomana Trail presents a journey that not all tourists are going to take. While the Olomana Trail isn’t ridiculously challenging, it’s much more of a challenge than any of the hikes that we’ve looked at previously, and it’s also a great deal longer! The Olomana Trail is also sometimes referred to as the Three Peaks Trail due to the fact that it takes hikers along three of Oahu’s most beautiful mountain peaks.
These peaks include the trail’s namesake Olomana, as well as Paku’I and Ahiki. Not only is the hike difficult for it’s length, but also for it’s various changes in elevation as you make your way up and down the three peaks.
Whether you’re looking for a difficult hike that will take you a good portion of the day or an easy hike that will simply allow you to get a taste of some of Oahu’s beautiful scenery, there are numerous trails offering different experiences to fit tourists’ needs. From the Waimea Valley Trail to the Olomana Trail, there are plenty of great hikes on Oahu!