5 Hiking Spots on O’ahu

One of the great things about being on O‛ahu is that, despite the crowds in downtown Honolulu and the traffic snarls daily, just 5 or 10 minutes outside of town you’ll feel like you’re in a remote area far away from civilization. And there’s nothing quite like standing on a mountaintop or hill and looking out over a view of O‛ahu that few people ever experience. There are so many hiking trails on O‛ahu that it’s impossible to list them all, so here are 5 of the easiest hikes you can try that will take you to diverse corners of the island.

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Photo: State of Hawai’i Dept of Land & Natural Resources

Kaena Point
Length: 4-5 miles
Time: Varies
This coastal hike takes you to the westernmost tip of O‛ahu. You’ll hike along the coast where you can explore tidepools even though the terrain is a little desolate. It’s hot and windy, and you sometimes feel as if there isn’t another person on earth. You can approach Kaena Point from the south or the north, but be sure you have enough daylight to finish the hike before you start, because it gets pitch black after the sun sets.


 

Koko Crater Arch
Length: 1-2 miles
Time: 0-1 hr
This short ridge hike will take you to a natural arch on the side of Koko Crater. The trail isn’t always well-defined on the way to the arch, but you’ll know where you’re heading. The hike is steep in areas, and if you choose to walk up the arch you’ll definitely need hiking shoes with good grip. You’re likely to get amazing photos and the view is unforgettable.


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Photo: Hawaiian Scribe

Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Length: 5 miles round trip from trailhead in Hawai‛i Kai
Time: 3-4 hrs
The thought of the awe-inspiring views you’ll get at the peak should keep you pushing forward on this ridge hike. You’ll trudge over several layers of scene-changing forests amid tall grasses, but there are many plateau areas where you can rest a bit and catch your breath. After traveling over a series of switchbacks on the hillside, it’s a straight climb to the top and that unforgettable view of East O‛ahu.

Lanikai Pillboxes
Length: 2-3 miles
Time: 1-2 hrs
This ridge hike is one of the most popular with locals, and not too strenuous. Within a few minutes of starting the hike, you can look back and get a view of the Kailua area and the Mokulua Islands, those two small islets offshore. The two pillboxes that you’re climbing towards are remnants from World War II. One of the best things about this hike is that it’s short enough for you to stay on the ridge until the skies start turning orange at sunset, and still get back down before dark.

Waimano Falls group swimming

Photo courtesy of David Chatsuthiphan, Unreal Hawai’i 

Waimano Falls and Pools
Length: 1-2 miles
Time: 1-2 hrs
This waterfall hike is best after Honolulu’s gotten a good rain. You start at the Manana Trail, and then it’s about an hour to get to the Falls. First you hike up through shaded forests, then you hike down to get to Waimano Falls. This is often a fun group hike, because if the Falls are gushing, everybody can swim in the pools.

Good to know before you go:

  • Hiking in Hawai‛i is not only beautiful but is also safe: you likely won’t find poisonous bugs, predators, or snakes larger than an earthworm. There are wild boars and goats at high elevations, but they stay away from humans.
  • It’s best not to wear running shoes while you hike in the islands. Light hiking shoes are better because they have more traction. Mountaintops here get a lot of rain and can be slippery.
  • Be sure you have enough water and carry a light snack to keep your energy levels high; dried mangos are a great option you can find at any local grocery store.

Header image by Brocken Inaglory on Wikimedia.

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