Best Hikes in Oahu: Iconic, Adventurous and Beautiful Hikes

Searching for the best hikes in Oahu? Oahu is a stunning island with breathtaking natural wonders and hiking trails. From scenic coastal hikes to adventurous mountain treks, Oahu has something for everyone when it comes to exploring the great outdoors. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, there’s no shortage of incredible trails to discover on this beautiful island. Here are some of the best hikes in Oahu.

Best Hikes in Oahu

Olomana Trail


Located near Kailua, this hike can be challenging but you’re guaranteed beautiful ocean and mountain views.  On the way up to the first peak, you’ll walk through different terrains (mud, red dirt, a forest) and there are sections where you won’t want to look down at all.  An adrenaline rush for sure. This is one of my favorite Oahu hikes. There are three peaks on this trail and getting to the third peak can be very challenging.

Pali Puka

Just off the Pali Highway, this short but steep ridge hike has gorgeous views of Oahu.  If you aren’t a fan of narrow ridges and steep cliffs then this hike is not for you.  There are several ropes along the trail that you can hold onto.  It can also get pretty muddy here when it rains.  If you can’t find the puka, (hole) just remember to look down.

Pali Notches

This trail has 360-degree views of Oahu.  The adrenaline kicks in when you are hanging on the side of the mountain as you scale both notches.  This is a super fun hike that can be challenging.  It can also be very windy up here and there isn’t much shade.

Crouching Lion Trail

Crouching Lion

Crouching Lion Trail is located near Kaaawa, Oahu. The Oahu hiking trail has a steep incline and offers remarkable views of the island.

(Difficulty: Know your limits!  Never hike alone and if it’s your first time on a trail, find someone who can guide you.  Bring lots of water, and this is obvious, but don’t hike in the rain.)

Koko Head Stairs

If you’re heading from Honolulu to the East side of the island, you can’t miss the stunning views of Koko Crater. This crater hike is a very steep hike and I would suggest climbing these stairs in the early morning or just before sunset because if you decide to do this hike during the day you won’t catch a break from the sun.

best hikes oahu hawaii - Makaupuu tidepools

Makapu’u Tidepools

To get to Makapu’u Tidepools, it’s a steep climb down rocks to get to the tidepools. There is a blowhole and you should watch out for crashing waves before entering the tidepool. This is a great place for whale watching.

Best Hikes in Oahu For Families

best hikes oahu hawaii

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Lanikai Pillbox is one of the most popular Oahu hiking trails on the island. It’s an easy and busy hike that offers spectacular views of the ocean and the East side of the island. There are two pillboxes that you can go inside or climb on. This hike doesn’t offer much shade protection. Bring a hat and avoid hiking during the hottest time of the day.

best mountain quotes

Ehukai Pillbox Hike

The Ehukai Pillbox trail offers perfect views of the North Shore, and it’s probably one of the trails I’ve been on the most.  The entrance is located at the Sunset Beach Elementary School parking lot. There are two pillboxes with equally stellar views, and this is a great place to unwind and watch the waves.

Kaena Point

I spent a lot of time discovering new tide pools at Kaena Point – where the North Shore meets the West side.  There is a beautiful bird sanctuary here too.  There isn’t much shade on this trail, bring a hat and comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking a lot.  I’ve also seen a lot of whales breach during whale season and Hawaiian monk seals resting on the shoreline.

Related: Swim With Sharks On Oahu – The Ultimate Bucket List Experience

Best Waterfall Hikes Oahu, Hawaii

Manoa Falls Trail

This is an easy 1.7-mile trail that’s perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a beautiful hike in nature. When I lived in Hawaii, we used to go beyond the first waterfall to Upper Manoa Falls to swim in a secluded pool. This climb can be very challenging and the last time I visited, the trail to Upper Manoa Falls was closed.

Lulumahu Falls

Lulumahu Falls is an easy and very busy trail. This 1.7-mile hike off the Pali Highway features a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail. Bring your bathing suit to swim in the pool.

Maunawili Falls

This is a very muddy trail, and it can get slippery at times. Be prepared to walk away with dirty hiking boots. Maunawili Falls is located near Kailua and features a beautiful waterfall. You can also jump off rocks into the pool, or go for a swim.

Ka’au Crater

Difficulty level: This hike is challenging. In some areas, you’ll be scaling waterfalls and stepping on wet rocks that can be slippery. The 7.3-mile loop trail has several tiers to climb. The view from the top of the ridge is spectacular. 

What to Wear Hiking

Conclusion: Best Hikes in Oahu

If you’re planning a visit to Hawaii, hiking is a fun family-friendly activity. When climbing mountains and hiking trails in Oahu, know your limits.

  • Leave No Trace.
  • Hike with a buddy and tell someone where you are going.
  • Be prepared: bring enough water, a torch, and a jacket in case it starts to rain.

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7 thoughts on “Best Hikes in Oahu: Iconic, Adventurous and Beautiful Hikes”

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  2. These suggestions are amazing accompanied by gorgeous pictures! Love it! Thank you, and can’t wait to go on these hikes!

  3. These are all in my top 10 as well, especially Olomana! Great post Alex, hope you are doing well!

  4. hi! So good to hear from you! I’m doing great! Recovering from a broken ankle… but dreaming about the next adventure! 🙂

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