Everyone always asks us about what the most popular hikes on Oahu are, so we finally decided to make a list of the 5 most popular hikes on Oahu!
TEXT BY JESSICA BLACKMUN // IMAGES BY JACKSON GROVES
Most hikes are rated by the view they offer, the crowds they attract, and their level of difficulty. Here are a few of hikes on Oahu with incredible views and easy to follow trails. While these hikes can be crowded they are still definitely worth checking out!
5 MOST POPULAR HIKES ON OAHU
DIAMOND HEAD TRAIL:
Crystal clear cerulean waters and a spanning view of Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Honolulu await. This is really a great way to start your vacation or stay on Oahu as it gives you a view of the entire city, helping you get your bearings and better understand what your temporary home actually looks like. This is one of the hikes we made sure to take all of our visitors on and are constantly recommending to anyone visiting Oahu.
Diamond Head trail is the most popular hike on Oahu and is the best thing to do in Honolulu if you have no transport but want to go hiking. It is located within walking distance from most hotels in Waikiki, making it the first choice for most tourists. The historic hike is also simple enough for most ages and people with minimal hiking experience to enjoy.
To learn more about what you can expect on the Diamond Head Trail, click here!
MAKAPU’U LIGHT HOUSE HIKE:
On Oahu’s most eastern point sits the Makapu’u Trail Lighthouse. The paved trail that takes you there is one of the most popular hikes on Oahu because of how accessible it is and the amazing views it presents. Because the trail is so clearly marked (unlike many of the hikes on Oahu) it is completely foolproof and great for beginners. It is family and dog friendly and a great way to see some fantastic views of the east side.
This hike also as an off trail option where you can clamber down the side of the cliff to hang out in the popular but less crowded tidepools below.
This hike is a great addition to any east side day adventure. To check out other highlights of Oahu’s East Coast, click here!
You might also like to check out this awesome pillboxes hike on Oahu.
KOKO HEAD STAIRS:
Hiking up the Koko Head stairs is a great workout that will make your legs feel like jell-o and get you so drenched in your own sweat that you will be able to wring your clothes out at the top. This hike is popular among athletes and locals because it’s such a great workout with gorgeous views to reward you at the top. People who do it regularly even time themselves running up. Jackson’s best time is 12:15 and mine is 13:22.
There are 1,048 railroad ties (steps) to the end of the railway then another 30 or so feet of walking to get to the look out points. The Koko Head stairs aren’t shaped evenly and are almost double the width of a normal stair so unless you are extremely tall, this could mean that you are either taking two steps for every railway tie or doing lunges up the whole way. Some of the ‘steps’ are also very worn down as well so there are some makeshift steps and other areas where the dusty ground can be quite slippery.
To read more about why you should attempt the Koko Head stairs click here!
Lanikai is by far one of the prettiest areas on Oahu, laden with spectacular homes, crystal clear water and the famous Mokuluas also known as “mokes” (Mountains) out in the ocean. Only a few blocks back from Lanikai Beach is the beginning of the Lanikai Pillbox Trail (Kaiwa Ridge), known for being one of the easier hikes on Oahu.
This is one of our favorite sunrise hikes. Early mornings are definitely less crowded and also have much cooler temperatures. There is no better way to start your day than with a short sunrise hike overlooking the ocean and amazing scenery.
The hike itself is quite steep but very short. There is no defined trail but because it is so popular, there is an unofficial trail that is very easy to follow.
If you still aren’t convinced, click here to read our full blog post on why this is the best sunrise hike on Oahu!
Another great spot is the Oahu Treehouse up in the mountains!
Manoa Falls is one of my most suggested hikes to visitors looking for a short adventure. The trail is defined for the entire route, which gives you plenty of freedom to take in the wondrous scenery. The hike leads up to a breathtaking waterfall cascading 150 feet down the mountain side. The water might not be as warm as the Pacific Ocean but it sure is refreshing to stand under the natural shower.
If you feel yourself looking around wondering why everything looks so familiar, don’t worry you aren’t going crazy. Some of the scenes from the original “Jurassic Park” were filmed along the hike. More recently the TV series “Lost” filmed many of its scenes in the lush rainforest environment.
Manoa Falls is a perfect little hike to do in the morning, leaving the rest of your day free for more exploring or relaxing at the beach. Click here to read more about why this hike is a must for your Oahu itinerary.
If you’re looking for more fun things to do on Oahu you can check out Today Oahu.