20 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII

After spending two years on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, I found myself hiking multiple times per week. Oahu Island has two main mountain ranges that were once ‘Shield’ volcanoes but are now extinct. These two mountain ranges are called the Waianae range, which is to the west, and the Koolau range to the east (center of the island). They run almost parallel to each other and almost all of the great hikes on the island touch these mountain ranges. After hiking so many of the trails on Oahu, I put together this list of the 20 best hikes on Oahu that will leave you standing on top of a mountain in amazement.

MY FOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES ON OAHU

Looking for some idea for activities on your rest day from hiking? These are my favorite activities on the island… especially the doors-off helicopter flight.

  • Oahu scenic helicopter flight: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off). You will be absolutely blown away when you see Oahu from the sky! Click to book your tour: Doors-Off Helicopter Flight Tour
  • North Shore Shark Cage Adventure: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks! Click to book your tour: North Shore Shark Cage Experience
  • Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Half-Day Cruise: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins. A once in a lifetime experience. Click to book your tour: Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour
  • Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: One of my favorite memories of Hawaii is floating in the water with a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. On this tour that is exactly what you will do! Click to book your tour: Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran

Every single Oahu hike on this list was a trail that I experienced personally. You can click on any of the links in each section for a more detailed post about that individual hike and to see all of my pictures from that specific Oahu hike.

THE 20 BEST HIKES ON OAHU

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

The Stairway to Heaven also known as the Haiku Stairs on Oahu, Hawaii, is possibly the greatest attraction on the entire island. 3,922 stairs lead up the imposing mountain ridge, often at a vertical incline, with only a hand-rail to catch you. There are many sections that truly do seem like a ladder although with common sense and in fair weather conditions it isn’t as dangerous as it sounds. 

Originally the stairs were built in 1942 by the U.S. Navy as a top-secret facility for transmitting radio signals to ships that were sailing in the Pacific Ocean. The stairs were then opened to the public until 1987 when they were deemed unsafe because of disrepair. This is probably the most famous of all the hikes on Oahu and has been covered by most newspaper outlets. Many helicopter rescues and even a few fatalities have occurred on this hike so do proceed with care if you do choose to attempt this ‘illegal’ hike.

UPDATED 2021: Fines have been reported as approximately $1000, with people receiving them recently. Security has been upgraded and there is now not only security but also a frequent (but not constant) police presence. Discussions about tearing the stairs down or repairing them continue as it has for years with no major breakthroughs on either side.

There is a back way up the Stairway to Heaven. This route is longer, legal and you still get to reach the viewpoint of the Haiku Stairs. You don’t actually use the stairs to reach the viewpoint but you can still walk down the stairs for some photos before returning down the legal route. This would be my advice to those wanting the experience of the Haiku Stairs but also want to avoid any chance of a big fine or running into the police. Click the link below to find out the details about the back way if you are interested.

  • Distance: 4km
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Elevation: 800m

View full blog post:  THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED

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Stairway To Heaven Hike
Stairway To Heaven Hike
Stairway To Heaven Hike

KAAU CRATER HIKE

Kaau Crater hike is 4-5 hours of waterfalls, rope climbing, a huge volcano crater, and panoramic views make this one of the best hikes on Oahu and one of the hikes I recommend to people looking for a challenge.

This trail doesn’t ease you in. From the very first moment, it throws you into a world of enchantment. After no more than five steps I felt like I was in the middle of the jungle, fighting for survival, on the swivel looking for wild animals. A glistening creek was lined by majestic trunks, so tall my neck hurt looking for the treetops. Dangling vines were strewn from the canopy as rays of sunlight broke through the dense foliage creating a natural theatre with a magical atmosphere. It truly is one of the best all-round hiking trails on Oahu especially if you are looking for a great ridge hike.

Kaau Crater is one of the hikes on Oahu that does have waterfalls you can swim in along the way and in fact, at one stage you will have to climb up the side of the waterfall on degree angle.

As you can see from the photo below, you are hiking directly away from the coast towards the center spine of Oahu. You will end up with views inside the giant crater, which is quite unique. You will also be able to spot Waikiki far in the distance and you can even spot it in the photo below. I suggest only those in good shape give this hike a crack and allow a full day for the hike… and the recovery.

  • Distance: 7.5 km
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Elevation: 600m

View the full blog post: KA’AU CRATER HIKE: 3 AWESOME WATERFALLS

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PALI NOTCHES

Walking along the dangerously steep ridge hike known as Pali Notches, gusts of wind threaten to knock you off either side of the cliff as you skitter up and down intimidating rock faces. This narrow ridge hike requires you to rock climb over the notches, which were supposedly created in the 1700s by King Kamehameha’s warriors to harbor cannons and warriors on the lookout while they kept Nu’uanu Valley secure. Pali Notches is known as being one of the most dangerous hikes on Oahu and many people have fallen while on this trail so take extra caution. It’s one of the closest hikes to the Honolulu downtown area so it’s quick to reach for a sunset mission.

The trailhead for this hike starts by heading straight up an unmarked trailhead to the right side of the Pali Lookout platform, a popular spot for tourists. You can see the faint trail as soon as you step over the yellow chain fence that encircles the platform. You climb your way through a grove of Hau trees that quickly opens up into an incredible view of the Pali Highway to your left and Kaneohe to your right. Like most trails on Oahu, it is ‘off-limits’ but there aren’t any reports of people getting in trouble for being on Pali Notches, which is one of the best hikes on Oahu.

  • Distance: 1.2km
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation: 150m

View full blog post: PALI NOTCHES HIKE: AMAZING RIDGE TRAIL

THREE PEAKS/OLOMANA TRAIL

Also known as Olomana Trail, this is one of the more dangerous hikes on the island. You are probably wondering if there are any safe hikes on the island by now, but I just want to stress that you need to respect the mountains. There seem to be so many falls and deaths from hikers on Oahu because of the steep drop-offs on the ridges. There is often not much room for error.

The first peak is relatively straight-forward despite being a steep incline. Peak two and three provide a challenge and will bring your fear of heights out even if you didn’t know you had one. On a dry day, you should be fine and once you become comfortable you can truly enjoy this amazing trail. I remember looking at the trail from the top of the first peak and just enjoying how incredible it felt to look out over such a beautiful island. Don’t be too proud to call it a day from the first peak, as it is still a great view from there.

  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Elevation: 600m

View full blog post: OLOMANA ‘THREE PEAKS’ HIKE

KOKO HEAD STAIRS

There are several hikes I always did when I had visitors on Oahu to push them out of the comfort zone during their vacation. Koko Head is brutal but worth it. 1048 stairs formed by an old railroad track lead you up the outside of Koko Crater. With no protection from the sun and oddly shaped and uneven stairs, this is a glute and quad workout from hell. Many locals do it weekly or daily as part of their fitness regime and you may even see some crazy people doing it twice. There is even a couple of locals who just do it 3,4,5 times or more and are beyond fit!

Aside from the physical challenge, it is still a great hike if you are looking for views. It isn’t a ridge hike like most of the other hikes on Oahu and those on this list. Once you reach the top you have views into Hanauma Bay and the east coast. You even have a small glimpse all the way back to Waikiki and Diamond Head but it is the inside of the volcano crater, which is the fascinating part of the view. It’s not every day you can do a volcano hike! You can take your pick from the old military pillboxes at the summit as you recover at the top. Most people who hike Koko Head spend a long time at the top recovering and then slowly head down when their legs have stopped shaking!

My record up this hike is 12:15 so see how you go beating that if you are up for some healthy competition.

  • Distance: 2.5km
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation: 270m

View full blog post: KOKO HEAD STAIRS HIKE: 1,048 TORTUROUS STEPS

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koko head stairs hike
koko head stairs hike

PALI PUKA HIKE

The Pali Puka hike on Oahu is a great trail for sunset as the sun rays sneak through a gap in the mountains casting light across the valley! There are plenty of roots and trees to grab onto in the early stages of this hike before you emerge onto the ridge for your first look at the views. The hike isn’t necessarily dangerous but much of the path is on the edge of a huge drop-off. From the first viewpoint, you can see Kaneohe, the Pali tunnels, and even China Man’s Hat on a clear day. Keep following the trail and another 5 or so minutes will bring you to the hole in the rock!

  • Distance: 1.1km
  • Duration: 1 hours
  • Elevation: 150

View the full blog post: PALI PUKA HIKE

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TOM TOM TRAIL

Starting off across from the Makapu’u lookout car park, this relatively simple hike has some of the most stunning views on Oahu. I only did this hike in my last couple of weeks on the Island but then did it twice that week. It is an amazing spot to watch the sunrise and the views are out of this world. I will repeat that because it is a tip you will probably email me after thanking me for. Do this hike for sunrise! Getting to the top only takes about 30-40 minutes so you can get up there half an hour before sunrise, and it is truly one of the best sunrise spots on Oahu.

There is also a puka (hole in the rock) about 45 minutes of the way in. You can turn back at any point or continue on the trail that does go quite a way. We always turned back at the puka after seeing enough but the trail looks quite good if you chose to continue on. This is one of the most underrated hikes on Oahu.

  • Distance: 5km
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Elevation: 350m

View the full blog post: TOM TOM TRAIL IS MOST UNDERRATED HIKE ON OAHU

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The Moanalua Valley Trail to Haiku stairs hiking route is one of the most adventurous hikes on Oahu. The hike follows the Moanalua Valley Trail before connecting up the Moanalua Middle Ridge, which is the legal ‘backway’ to reach the Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs) satellite summit. While you can’t legally step foot on the stairs or satellite summit area, you can make it all the way up to that area so this route is a great alternative to the controversial and heavily regulated Haiku Stairs (the front way).

  • Distance: 17km
  • Duration: 6-7 hours
  • Elevation: 1500m

View the full blog post: MOANALUA VALLEY TRAIL TO HAIKU STAIRS

KOKO CRATER RIM TRAIL

The Koko Crater Rim Trail is an adventurous alternative to the Koko Head Crater Stairs. Starting at the base of the crater rim, the trail leads you up along the rim to the summit of the popular Koko Head Summit. Here you will hang out with all of the stair-climbers momentarily as you enjoy the views of Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay, and down the east coast of the island. The trail then continues on traversing down the coastal side of the crater rim before looping back to the entrance gate of the Koko Crater Botanical Gardens.

  • Distance: 4km
  • Duration: 1.5-2 hours
  • Elevation: 350m

View the full blog post: KOKO CRATER RIM TRAIL

MAU’UMAE TRAIL (PU’U LANIPO TRAIL)

The Mau-umae Trail (Pu’u Lanipo Trail) is one of my favorite hikes near Waikiki and leads you all the way up to the scenic Koolau Summit Trail. You can actually start this trail from your hotel in Waikiki as it is so close. The route is pretty adventurous with muddy slopes and some minor rope climbs. You won’t find too many others on this slightly overgrown trail. I combined this trail by looping up along the Koolau Summit Trail to Mount Olympus and coming back down via the Wa’ahila Trail.

  • Distance: 11km
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation: 850m

View the full blog post: MAU’UMAE TRAIL (PU’U LANIPO TRAIL)

LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE

Lanikai Pillbox Hike on the east coast of Oahu finishes on top of the ridge at old military pillboxes facing out towards the ocean where the sun will rise. It’s easily my favorite sunrise spot on Oahu, Hawaii.

Lanikai is by far one of the prettiest areas on Oahu, laden with spectacular homes, crystal clear water, and the famous Mokoluas also known as “mokes” (Mountains) out in the ocean. Only a few blocks back from Lanikai Beach is the beginning of the Lanikai Pillbox Hike (also known as Kaiwa Ridge), known for being one of the easier trails on the island of Oahu. There is no better way to start your day than with a short sunrise hike overlooking the ocean and amazing scenery.

View the full blog post: Lanikai Pillbox Hike

  • Distance: 3km
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation: 200m

WILIWILINUI RIDGE TRAIL

From Wiliwilinui Ridge you can make out Waikiki, a city of white buildings seemingly a world away from the ridges we are roaming. When you turn the other way at the top . of the trail you can see the turquoise water of the east coast and the panoramic views. You will feel like you are in the middle of the island and you just about are! This is a hike none of the other tourists in the hotel will even know exists. It’s one of the most unique things to do on Oahu and definitely off the beaten path.

  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Elevation: 500m

View the full blog post: WILIWILINUI RIDGE TRAIL

WiliWili Nui Ridge Hike Oahu-13

KAHEKILI RIDGE TRAIL

The Kahekili Trail is a short but adventurous ridge hike on the beautiful east coast of Oahu, Hawaii. With 600 meters of elevation over just three kilometers to the summit, this trail is a steep climb. With lots of exposed ridges, you will find some of the best east coast views while on the Kahekili Trail with vantage points of Kualoa, Chinaman’s Hat, and Kahana Bay. The hike is an awesome choice for sunrise but also great for those vibrant blue and green hues of the midday sun.

  • Distance: 5km
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Elevation: 600m

View the full blog post: KAHEKILI TRAIL – EPIC RIDGE HIKE ON OAHU

KAYAK & HIKE TO CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND

Chinaman’s Hat Island, or Mokoli’i, is a small islet in Kaneohe Bay on the on the east side of Oahu that offers views of cerulean waters and looming cliffs. Chinaman’s Hat Island is easily spotted from the scenic route to and from the North Shore along Kamehameha Highway. This small island landmark got its name because of its distinctive shape looks like the traditional Chinese hat. There are a number of legends that go with the island but one suggests that the hat belonged to a giant who rests below the surface.

The short kayak is followed by an even shorter hike to the top of the chinaman’s hat. It’s a pretty unique adventure and definitely worth a day trip! Chinamans Hat Island is accessible by kayak or a short swim but most people opt for the kayak. Once you arrive at the island a mini hike to the top will give you amazing views of the shore and the Kualoa Mountains. The kayak rental can be booked in advance at the following link – Book your kayaking rental: Kaneohe Kayak Rental

  • Distance: 0.5km
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Elevation: 50m

View the full blog post: KAYAKING TO CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND

DIAMOND HEAD CRATER HIKE IN HONOLULU

The Diamond Head Crater Hike is one of the most popular walking trails on the island and although it is paved the whole way it is still a steep challenge and a hike with amazing views of Waikiki and the southern coastline of Oahu, Hawaii. This is the iconic hike of Honolulu and I never get tired of the incredible city views.

  • Distance: 3km
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation: 140m

View the full blog post: DIAMOND HEAD CRATER HIKE IN HONOLULU

MANOA FALLS HIKE

Less than fifteen minutes from Waikiki, you will find Manoa Falls Trail. Here you can enjoy a short hike at the filming locations of Jurassic Park and the television show LOST, which is highlighted by a massive waterfall. Manoa Falls Trail is one of my most suggested hikes to visitors looking for a short adventure through beautiful, lush scenery. The trail is defined for the entire route, which gives you plenty of freedom to take in the wondrous nature surrounding you.

  • Distance: 2.7km
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation: 210m

View the full blog post: MANOA FALLS HIKE

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PINK PILLBOX HIKE/MAILI PILLBOX HIKE

The Pu’u O Hulu or ‘Pink Pillbox’ Hike is a short ridge hike on the West Side of Oahu that overlooks the surrounding suburbs and beautiful stretches of beaches that Oahu is known for. The hike extends along the ridge between the Nanakuli and Maili suburbs and can be seen clearly from the Farrington Highway below.

The Pu’u O Hulu hike starts on Kaukama Rd after the 9th light pole on the right-hand side of the road. One of the cool things about this hike is that it has different route options to take you to the five pillboxes at the top. There is a steep and challenging route which is much shorter or there is an easier kid-friendly option that zigzags up the mountain. We took the more direct route.

At the top, you will find the famous Pink Pillbox which looks out over the beautiful coastline on the west side of Oahu. There are many hikes on Oahu that are as unique as this one and it’s great to get these kinds of views out on the west side.

  • Distance: 2.6km
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation: 210m

View full blog postPINK PILLBOX HIKE ON OAHU’S WEST SIDE

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PU’U KONAHUANUI PEAK HIKE – KALAWAHINE TRAIL TO K1, K2

The Pu’u Konahuanui Peak hiking trail via Kalawahine Ridge is a very adventurous, muddy ascent to the two of the highest peaks on Oahu, Hawaii. Pu’u Konahuanui, also known as K2, is among the tallest mountains on Oahu and the second tallest mountain in the mighty Ko’olau Range with an elevation of 3,150ft or 960m. The trail is pretty wild and for experienced hikers looking for a challenge. 

  • Distance: 12km
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation: 800m

View the full blog post: PU’U KONAHUANUI PEAK HIKE – KALAWAHINE TRAIL TO K1, K2

CROUCHING LION HIKE

Crouching Lion is a short but steep incline hike that offers breathtaking views of Kahana Bay, the quaint town of Kaaawa, and the menacing cliffs of Pu’u Manamana.

Right from the start, this hike takes off at a steep incline. You will definitely work up a sweat as you climb over gnarled tree roots, and duck under stooping branches. As you continue to climb, the trail becomes more and more pronounced. There are parts that are very slippery due to the dry crumbling dirt but for the most part, the thick vegetation helps to stabilize the trail.

There are several viewpoints on the Crouching Lion hike that have incredible views out over Kahana Bay. This is arguably the most beautiful hike on Oahu because of the way the light hits the ridges on the far side of the bay and the reef structure beneath the surface. Take care on this trail as it is quite dangerous.

  • Distance: 3km
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation: 150m

View full blog post: CROUCHING LION HIKE ON OAHU, HAWAII

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crouching lion

MOUNT OLYMPUS HIKE

Mt Olympus Hike is one of the highest peaks on Oahu and is often entirely engulfed by clouds. It is a 4-5 hour round trip with muddy terrain and a number of steep, rope-assisted inclines. Although there are a number of different ways to reach Mt Olympus, the most popular is from at Wa’ahila Ridge Recreation Park.

The trail leads you up the Wa’ahila Ridge with constant views of Honolulu behind your back. After a couple fo hours you will summit Mount Olympus, which lies on the Koolau Ridge giving you views to both sides of the island.

  • Distance: 9.5km
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Elevation: 600m

View the full blog post: MOUNT OLYMPUS HIKE

mount olympus oahu hike
mount olympus oahu hike

DEAD MAN’S CATWALK

The infamous Dead Man’s Catwalk on Oahu has had an interesting lifespan. This amazing lookout over the east coast of Oahu came to fame when a cement platform is known as the ‘Dead Man’s Catwalk’ became popular. Unfortunately, the land is privately owned and the owners recently decided to remove the cement slab due to security and safety reasons despite no major issues at the site.

Despite what its name might suggest, the Dead Man’s Catwalk provides more amazing views than perils. The catwalk referred to the cement slab that some claim was a possible war-era installation or was previously used as a launching strip for hang gliders. The words “The Dead Man’s Catwalk” were constantly being spraypainted on the 6-yard strip that led out to a steep drop-off down the face of cliffs.

Standing on the catwalk, expansive coastal views, and crystal clear waters made the short hike more than worthwhile. On a clear day you could spot the Na Mokulua (two mountains) of Lanikai, far in the distance.

  • Distance: 4km
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation: 200m

View the full blog post: DEAD MAN’S CATWALK

THE JUDD TRAIL

Jackass Ginger Pool & the Judd Memorial Trail have natural water slides, rope swings, a bamboo forest, and a woodland wonderland. It’s one of my favorite off-the-beaten path adventures on Oahu.

Oahu is covered with incredibly dangerous hikes, narrow ridge trails and hidden entrances. These can get overwhelming if you just want to enjoy some fresh air and get your fix of nature. If it is a simple hike you are looking for, I can recommend the Judd Memorial Trail and the Jackass Ginger Pool.

  • Distance: 2km
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Elevation: 50m

View the full blog post: JUDD TRAIL ON OAHU

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Jackass Ginger pool judd trail oahu
Jackass Ginger pool judd trail oahu

SEVEN FALLS HIKE

The Seven Falls Hike follows a rocky stream through a narrow gorge. You definitely should only bring a dry bag for this hike because there are parts where you will be swimming! You will find yourself wading through water and clambering over rocks for the majority of the trail and at some parts of the trail it becomes very narrow and the water deepens. At these points, you actually need to swim through the trail for a short distance before climbing up waterfalls with ropes. It is one of the most adventurous waterfall hikes I’ve ever done. This is a hike for very experienced hikers and climbers only.

It is possible to continue all the way through the Seven Falls but you need ropes and to be a bit of a pro. We went all the way through to the fourth waterfall and then decided that we had met our match on that day in the rain. Definitely one of the hikes on Oahu, which is only for very adventurous hikers and those willing to get wet. 

  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Elevation: 550m
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HAWAII HIKING PACKING LIST

Many people come unprepared for hiking on Oahu and that’s why there are so many rescues. Make sure you atleast have the basics and you will be prepared for bad weather or any mishaps on the trail. A headlamp, rainjacket and good hiking boots or shoes are the three main pieces of gear you need.

Hiking shoes – It’s best to use hiking boots with good grip and that can handle mud, rain, and tough terrain. Hiking shoes I use: Salomon Mid GTX

Rain Jacket – Never hike in Hawaii without a rain jacket, no matter how sunny it is in Honolulu. Rain Jacket I use: Arcteryx Lightweight Rain Jacket

Spare T-shirt – To change into at the top of a summit to be dry and warm as you will sweat through your original shirt while hiking: Dry fit hiking shirt I use: IceBreaker Merino Lite

Headlamp – So you can keep your hands free instead of holding a torch. Head Torch I use: Petzl Head Lamp 450 Lumens

My Camera Backpack: You simply won’t find a better camera backpack for hiking that my Atlas Athlete Backpack, which I’ve been using on all of my hikes all over the world for years now: Atlas Athlete Camera Backpack

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I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!

WHAT TO PACK FOR HAWAII

What to pack for Hawaii?: After multiple trips to Hawaii, there are some items you NEED to pack. I wrote a blog post with all of my suggestions about things you might not think about packing: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY

WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU

Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach. Luxury rooms overlooking the beach, a private lagoon and a free fireworks and dance performance show. Hilton is easily the most recognizable hotel on the Island.

Why I recommend this hotel: It has its own private lagoon. While lots of people love the beach it is perfect for families. Kids can kayak, swim and snorkel with no worries. There are no currents, waves or sea creatures to worry about. The hotel is right on Waikiki Beach so don’t worry the beach is right there also.

Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach. The bar and nightclub at the Sheraton is a great place to relax after a long day of island adventures.

Why I recommend this hotel: The Sheraton is always exceptional no matter the location but imagine you are leaning over the edge of an infinity pool, the ocean is below you and you turn to your left and watch Diamond Head crater in the distance. That’s where you will be at the end of each day, having a Mai Tai cocktail in your infinity pool. Later on, in the evening Rumfire is a great bar venue, which is actually part of the Sheraton. It is open to the public and is one of the best high-end venues on Oahu. It has a small dance floor but is mostly standing and seating areas for drinks, chats and good times.

Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Hotels in Waikiki can be expensive. Deciding where to stay on Oahu can be difficult if you don’t have much cash. Luckily, there is an accommodation option on the edge of Waikiki that is excellent value.

Why do I recommend this hostel/hotel: This is the perfect hotel if you want location but are willing to sacrifice a pool and some luxury items to save up to $200 per night. All of the hotels in this area are minimum $300 per night and often much more. Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD. If you are like me, I never swim in the hotel pool anyway. Didn’t you come halfway across the world to swim in the beach!

Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location. Walking distance to Waikiki beach and a central location to base yourself for a week of adventures.

Why I recommend this hostel: Unfortunately Waikiki and Honolulu, in general, are not cheap.  You can grab a dorm room for under $35 a night within walking distance to Waikiki surf beach. This location really is great. You are near a lot of attractions and can take public transport to a lot of great east coast beaches and hikes. It is the number one hostel in Waikiki and I’m sure you will meet other adventurers to go on hikes with!

Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like a theme park at times with just how many pools and activities are available. If you can afford it, this is the #1 place to stay for families on Oahu.

Why I recommend this hotel: Disney Aulani Resort combines luxury accommodation with family fun. A huge lazy river/tire tube lagoon is probably the highlight of the resort although the water slides and private beach aren’t too far behind. The kids club and massage center are just among a few of the many activities included in your stay. Attend ukelele lessons, free fire-pit story-telling at night and more and more! Your kids will never be bored and the quality of entertainment and facilities is just beyond amazing.

MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS

I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!

What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY

A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?

Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018

The best Waterfalls: 11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII

Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII

Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII

My favorite experience on Oahu: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII

The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST

Blog Comments

  1. Pingback: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU? – Circhub

  2. Pingback: Hawaii - 7-day itinerary - O'ahu & Big Island - I DO REcommend

  3. Pingback: Hawaii - itinerariu 7 zile - O'ahu & Big Island - I DO REcommend

  4. Hi Jackson! A little while back I tried to find the Seven Falls Hike. Although we found the general location we could not figure out where the trail started. We wandered around several other trails, and ended up hiking a loop instead. We had started to head up the creek but it was severely overgrown with branches etc. As we progressed I became convinced that could not possibly be the trailhead. Any advice on where to begin or further directions on the way to go?
    Would really appreciate it! Love your blog and have used it for nearly all your suggested Oahu hikes (I want to check this one off) and several Kauai. Thank you!

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  6. Christopher Alvarez

    The Tom Tom Trail is very dangerous and illegal. A few years ago a girl lost her life on this trail. Please stay away. It is considered trespassing and you will be cited. The police are constantly in the area to prevent anyone from getting hurt. I know it may be tempting to hike this, but it is not worth your safety. And definitely not worth your life.

    1. There seems to be a concerted effort to comment negatively on many posts on the internet about the Tom Tom Trail at the moment. It’s genuinely sad that you would try and convince people it’s not safe. It’s generally a pretty chill hike with no drop-offs or knife edges that you have to go near. Police and citations is another issue but when people try and spread things like this it’s a shame. I assume this is a group of residents or council teaming up against hikers.

      Post has been updated with the following. Remember it is illegal to jay-walk but I’m sure we have all done that. Some rules are made by people in suits who haven’t had a proper adventure in a decade.

      ** Tom Tom Trail is technically closed to the public and there have been instances of police giving citations at the bottom. The situation is the same at Stairway to Heaven. The hike is not very dangerous in my opinion although there has been one fatality in the last five years. With the above knowledge, whether you pursue this trail or not is up to you. It is important to note that many of the good hikes on Oahu are closed to the public because of liability issues and other land-rights type topics rather than the trail itself being a huge issue.

  7. Allyson Mercado

    Please DO NOT hike the TOM TOM TRAIL. The trail is is considered trespassing as it on private property. It is highly enforced by the police and you will receive a citation. For good reason—as it is not a safe hike. Please put your own safety first!!

    1. There seems to be a concerted effort to comment negatively on many posts on the internet about the Tom Tom Trail at the moment. It’s genuinely sad that you would try and convince people it’s not safe. It’s generally a pretty chill hike with no drop-offs or knife edges that you have to go near. Police and citations is another issue but when people try and spread things like this it’s a shame.

      Post has been updated with the following. Remember it is illegal to jay-walk but I’m sure we have all done that. Some rules are made by people in suits who haven’t had a proper adventure in a decade.

      ** Tom Tom Trail is technically closed to the public and there have been instances of police giving citations at the bottom. The situation is the same at Stairway to Heaven. The hike is not very dangerous in my opinion although there has been one fatality in the last five years. With the above knowledge, whether you pursue this trail or not is up to you. It is important to note that many of the good hikes on Oahu are closed to the public because of liability issues and other land-rights type topics rather than the trail itself being a huge issue.

  8. Hello. I did the Olomana three peaks hike and am now looking towards the Stairway to heaven legal back way hike. I wanted to ask if in your opinion, the legal stairway to heaven is easier or harder than olomana three peaks?

    Thanks!

    1. As a local resident/hardcore hiker who lives 10 minutes from Olomana, I can tell you that the back way to stairway is definetely safer then the final 2 peaks on Olamana. In fact, it is just about as “treacherous” as most other high elevation ridge hikes on the island.(definetely various exceptions along thew way, I have done over 100 different ones so I can definetely say some more then others)However, it is all about the weather at the time as far as which one ultimately becomes the most treacherous. rainy conditions and aggressive trade winds can make a big difference. In my experience, the backway to the stairs is overated in its difficulty/danger. I was very surprised myself expecting it to be far wrose then what it was. Lots of newbie hikers who had bad weather luck were likely responsible for making it seam dangerous

  9. Please do not hike the TOM TOM TRAIL. This trail is ILLEGAL and very dangerous. You will be cited and will have to appear in court. The owners of this property, along with police, sit at the bottom of this trail waiting to catch people daily. Not worth it!! Stay away.

    1. Post has been updated with the following. Remember it is illegal to jay-walk but I’m sure we have all done that. Some rules are made by people in suits who haven’t had a proper adventure in a decade.

      ** Tom Tom Trail is technically closed to the public and there have been instances of police giving citations at the bottom. The situation is the same at Stairway to Heaven. The hike is not very dangerous in my opinion although there has been one fatality in the last five years. With the above knowledge, whether you pursue this trail or not is up to you. It is important to note that many of the good hikes on Oahu are closed to the public because of liability issues and other land-rights type topics rather than the trail itself being a huge issue.

      1. I appreciate that people have commented that the Tom Tom hike was illegal, becaue you failed to mention this in your blog. I am not trying to get into trouble on my vacation becasue you blogged about it being a good idea. You should maybe update this blog with that information so everyone can make an informed decion for themselves.

  10. The Tom Tom Trail is on private property and is very unsafe. This is not a public hike and you will be cited when you get back down. For your safety, please do not hike the Tom Tom Trail and please stop advertising this hike on this site as if it is a legal one.

    1. Post has been updated with the following. Remember it is illegal to jay-walk but I’m sure we have all done that. Some rules are made by people in suits who haven’t had a proper adventure in a decade.

      ** Tom Tom Trail is technically closed to the public and there have been instances of police giving citations at the bottom. The situation is the same at Stairway to Heaven. The hike is not very dangerous in my opinion although there has been one fatality in the last five years. With the above knowledge, whether you pursue this trail or not is up to you. It is important to note that many of the good hikes on Oahu are closed to the public because of liability issues and other land-rights type topics rather than the trail itself being a huge issue.

  11. Nicholas Koterbay

    Please stop promoting illegal hiking trails. A few of these on this list are illegal for a reason. They are dangerous and people have died. They are not safe for the average hiker. Police sit at the bottom of these trails issuing citations daily to people who attempt them. Even if you think youre an experienced enough hiker these trails are not worth the trouble. You will be caught.

    1. Post has been updated with the following. Remember it is illegal to jay-walk but I’m sure we have all done that. Some rules are made by people in suits who haven’t had a proper adventure in a decade.

      ** Tom Tom Trail is technically closed to the public and there have been instances of police giving citations at the bottom. The situation is the same at Stairway to Heaven. The hike is not very dangerous in my opinion although there has been one fatality in the last five years. With the above knowledge, whether you pursue this trail or not is up to you. It is important to note that many of the good hikes on Oahu are closed to the public because of liability issues and other land-rights type topics rather than the trail itself being a huge issue.

    2. you and people like you are so damn pathetic. The fatalaties on these trails are few and far between. In fact, more people have died on the back way to the stairs then on the stairs themselves but ultimately it is a small number. Far more fatalities happen at the grand canyon, should we shut that down as well? It is called personal freedom. Look up fatality rates for people that overdose on tylenol. Seriously, take your negativity and nonsense elsewhere. just because you are a coward doesn’t mean we all should be.

  12. Alejandra Moreno

    I just want to warn everyone that reads this blog that the TOM TOM TRAIL is highly illegal and dangerous. You will be cited and fined and have to appear in court. I urge this blog to call that out in the body of the post as further researching this trail elsewhere shows that this trail is NOT TO BE TAKEN.

    1. Post has been updated with the following. Remember it is illegal to jay-walk but I’m sure we have all done that. Some rules are made by people in suits who haven’t had a proper adventure in a decade.

      ** Tom Tom Trail is technically closed to the public and there have been instances of police giving citations at the bottom. The situation is the same at Stairway to Heaven. The hike is not very dangerous in my opinion although there has been one fatality in the last five years. With the above knowledge, whether you pursue this trail or not is up to you. It is important to note that many of the good hikes on Oahu are closed to the public because of liability issues and other land-rights type topics rather than the trail itself being a huge issue.

  13. I honestly think too many websites give a misleading idea of the ‘legal’ way to the haiku stairs. I hiked it last April and it was incredibly dangerous and strenous and took me almost 6 hours despite going fairly quick. It was so dangerous that the actual stairs going down seemed like a kindergarten cake walk. IF you do decide to use this back trail, do it in the summer, and with experienced hikers.

    1. the season doesn’t matter as much as the rain and trade winds on that specific day. Just because their is a tendency for drier conditions in the summer doesn’t mean everything will be perfect on the day you are hiking. I hate to tell you this, but it rains during all seasons in Hawaii.

    2. I absolutely agree. We did it few years back and at the beginning it’s great walk and closer to the stairs it becomes nightmare and stairs are easy and beautiful and fun.

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  15. I appreciate your mentioning the illegality of Stairway to Heaven, but you still make it all sound way too appealing. If someone wants to take the risk of hiking trails that are kapu, or the risk of hiking trails well beyond their skills/conditioning on the basis of not caring for their own safety, that’s one thing. But of far greater concern is the risk and burden that those people place on our first responders. Why should our crews’ lives be put at risk so some dilettante can get a cool selfie?

    1. It is appealing that is the reality. I document things as clearly as possible and give due warnings where things are dangerous so people can decide if they are up for the challenge. It’s like making all beaches illegal because we put lifeguards at risk when they have to save someone. It’s a balance I always try and figure out but I’m not going to promote sitting at home watching Netflix and doing nothing because the reality is that is actually how you are most likely to fail to be alive.

      1. damn straight. A sedentary lifestyle is the number one risk factor for all cardiovascular fatalities.

  16. Hi! I was not going to do the Haiku Stairs, but since you mention there is an other trail that is legal I was wondering if you could provide a bit more information on this.
    I don´t mind walking more if I get to experience those views 🙂
    Also do you have any information about the hike Kamehame Ridge (Dead man catwalk) is there any other way to do it, or all are ilegals?
    BTW, loved your post, super helfull 🙂
    Thanks

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  18. Auwe! Complete negligence for posting Stairway to Heaven, esp. as #1 on your list. 1. its ILLEGAL!! 2. Its extremely DANGEROUS. Tourists- the locals don’t even do this one- don’t do it! If you are bold enough to try this one- you’re visible to all and police will now wait for you at the base. We’ve had way too many accidents at this one. Keep in mind its common for visitors to fall to their death off ridges on even basic hikes.

    1. Many tourists and locals do this hike. I mention it is illegal but we all know it is just illegal because no-one wants the liability not because it should be illegal. I also mention many times in this article about the dangers of hiking on Oahu but to be honest it is more dangerous driving your car so I encourage people to live life to the fullest, which means exploring mountains. I encourage people to take the backway to Stairway instead of trespassing through residential properties and don’t provide any tips or maps on how to do so. Cheers and Aloha.

    2. Bro, i’m a local and this trail is HUGELY POPULAR WITH LOCALS. Get your facts straight before you post nonsense.

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  21. I have lived in Hawaii for three years. the best part was the Hawaiian time and the
    ke aloha i nāʻohana or the love for the families

  22. Thanks for posting these! I would have been lost without them. I did Makapu’u (and the tide pools), Crouching Lion, and Koko Head. Fantastic hikes!!

  23. Pingback: Best Hikes on Oahu Hawaii - Live Your Aloha

  24. Entrance to Pali Notches is from parking lot. The yellow chain is there to mark a Native Hawaiian plant area currently being restored. Mahalo.

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