Hiking in Oahu, Hawaii is incredible! The views never disappoint, and it’s a great way to explore the island. From waterfall hikes, to easy day hikes, these are some of the best hikes and trails on Oahu Hawaii.
Hiking in Hawaii: Best Hikes and Trails on Oahu, Hawaii
When climbing mountains and hiking trails on 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.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: I use World Nomads Travel Insurance when I’m on the road. It’s easy to file claims and I know I’m protected when I travel.
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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.
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.
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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 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.
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.
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 Hikes North Shore, Oahu
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Climbing Mountains: Here’s What to Pack
Trails vary from easy to strenuous, and some can get muddy and slippery. Invest in a quality pair of hiking boots. If you’re breaking in a new pair, wear thick socks to avoid getting blisters on your first hike. I’ve used Ahnu and Colombia hiking boots and currently have Merrell hiking shoes.
I prefer to hike in long yoga pants. It also helps protect my legs from any potential bug bites, sunburns, or scratches from the trail. I am currently obsessed with dk active, an ethical activewear brand. I recently partnered with dk active and love their sustainably made stylish crops, tanks, pants, and hoodies. Use coupon: ALEXC20 to get $20 off anything full price.
I always like to bring a jacket on hikes, because you never know when you might get cold on a trail. Whether you bring a hoodie or rain jacket, it’s always a smart idea to be prepared. I always wear a hat for sun protection, but during the cooler months, a beanie is a great accessory to bring to keep your head warm. Rip Curl has lots of cute and affordable options.
If you’re planning on going on a waterfall hike, or doing any swimming on your outdoor adventure, don’t leave home without a bathing suit. Whether you want a sustainable bikini or you’re searching for the perfect fit, these are some of my favorite brands: Vitamin A, LSPACE, dk active.
If you’re planning on going on a long trail, you’ll want to bring something to carry some snacks, water, and essentials like sunscreen. I prefer to bring a small backpack, so I can bring everything I need and keep my hands free.
Carry all the water you need in a reusable water bottle or CamelBak. Biome has plenty of stainless steel options.
Where to stay on Oahu
- The Modern Honolulu – Waikiki
- Turtle Bay Resort – North Shore
- Laylow Waikiki – Waikiki
- Prince Waikiki – Waikiki
- Moana Surfrider – Waikiki
- The Royal Hawaiian – Waikiki
- Aulani, A Disney Vacation Club Villa – West side
- Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina – West side
I use Airbnb and Booking.com to search for the best places to stay. Use this link to book your next Airbnb and get $40 off your first stay. If you already have an account on Airbnb, the discount won’t apply.
Travel Credit Card: Want a credit card with no foreign transaction fees? I use the United Explorer Card for all my travel purchases.
Hiking in Oahu, Hawaii is a must-do on your holiday. If you don’t have much time, Diamond Head hike is an easy hike located near Waikiki. Thanks for reading our list of the best hikes on Oahu. Before you go, check out the best mountain quotes to inspire your next adventure.
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