The Crouching Lion Hike is a short but steep incline hike that offers breathtaking views of Kahana Bay. Overlooking the quaint town of Kaaawaa with the menacing cliffs of Pu’u Manamana behind, this is a stunning coastal hike. The view from the top of this popular hike is seriously one of my favorite landscapes on the entire island of Oahu in Hawaii and is perfect on a sunny day.
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CROUCHING LION HIKE
In this blog post, I will share with you all of the details you need in order to enjoy this hike such as distance, incline, best viewpoints along the way, where to park, the best time of day, photo opportunities, and other attractions nearby. I’ll also share with you the different routes available for the Crouching Lion Hike.
It’s one of my favorite hikes on Oahu and due to its short length, it is one of the best easy hikes on the island.
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off)and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
CROUCHING LION HIKE DETAILS
- Distance: 3km
- Duration: 1-2 hours
- Elevation: 150m
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY ON OAHU
- Ultimate Luxury: Lotus Honolulu – Diamond Head View, Great Waikiki Location
- My Favorite: Aston Waikiki Beach – Best value in Waikiki & Great location
- Value Hotel Waikiki: Surfjack Hotel is easily the best value (luxury) hotel in Waikiki
TWO DIFFERENT ROUTES FOR CROUCHING LION HIKE
There are two routes for this hike. One is quite a short, basic ascent up to the peak or a more challenging four-hour route of Crouching Lion Trail, which is slightly more challenging.
Crouching Lion Hike Short route: The trailhead is located before Kahana Bay in between a ‘Do Not Pass’ sign and a telephone pole. I’ve provided a map with clear information below. It isn’t marked and looks like it’s heading straight into the bushes, but once you get a few steps into the bushes you can begin to see the markings of a trail. When we did this hike there were quite a few other small groups along the way which reassured us that we were headed in the right direction.
The regular trail is a four-mile loop with an elevation gain of 2000ft (609m). This route is the most common and leads you along a safe path through the undergrowth to the viewpoint. It is much shorter than the second route and the popular pick among most hikers. Below I will put a map with a pin roughly near the entrance to the Crouching Lion Hike short route entrance to help you find it. Generally, we park a few hundred meters down the road on the right-hand side of the road coming from Honolulu. The trailhead is on the left-hand side of the road coming from Honolulu.
Crouching Lion Hike Long Route: Park at the Swanzy Beach Park and then walk up Huamalani Road till you find the trailhead. The Crouching Lion trail can be difficult to follow in parts but ribbons usually mark the way. The trail rigidly follows the Pu’u Manamana Ridge and the entire loop is called Kahakili-Manamana loop taking 4-5 hours to complete. This route is very dangerous and has claimed lives as the drop-offs are incredibly steep and the terrain can be dangerous. I would only suggest doing this hike with a local who has navigated the route before.
HOW TO GET TO THE CROUCHING LION HIKE & MAP
The Crouching Lion Hike is found on the Kamehameha Highway on the east coast of Oahu. It’s aout a 45-minute drive from Waikiki but well worth the effort. You’ll find parking at the beach parks nearby.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE CROUCHING LION TRAIL
Ducking into the bushes from the road next to Kahana Bay, the hike is immediately into the wild with 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. Hiking shoes or shoes with good grip are ideal for this steep slippery trail. I don’t advise this trail in the rain whatsoever and it will be very dangerous.
Coming across the first pillbox of the hike, we decided to climb atop and check out the view of Kahana Bay. On this pillbox, someone has painted a giant red, orange, and green ‘Aloha’. The views are already pretty sweet from here and it only takes ten minutes to reach this point.
After about 10-15 minutes, the trail began to level out but the sharp shrubbery on either side of the trail prevented us from moving too quickly. You will find some of the smaller trails leading to the rock formations and the cliff edge. We made it a mission to investigate a lot of these and also found a few cool little caves hidden on the cliffside of the formations. This is where the trail really becomes quite scenic atop a wide ridge offering gorgeous views of both Kaaawa to the left and Kahana Bay to the right.
Here, there is an abundance of little caves and overhangs that you can venture to. The rocks in this area are a bit crumbly though so if you do decide to climb out, use EXTREME caution.
HAWAII HIKING PACKING LIST
Many people come unprepared for hiking on Oahu and that’s why there are so many rescues. Make sure you at least have the basics and you will be prepared for bad weather or any mishaps on the trail. A headlamp, rain jacket, and good hiking boots or shoes are the three main pieces of gear you need. Below are my four Hawaii hiking essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
- Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
- Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.
In the midst of all the rock formations, we came to a small clearing overlooking Kahana Bay. Crouching Lion Hike is named for a rock formation along the hike that from the right angle, looks like a lion laying down. This rock formation comes up on your left as you continue hiking towards the bigger clearing.
Once we reached the clearing we stopped and took in the entire view. Despite the overcast sky, it was beyond beautiful.
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 with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
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
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU
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Sunday 11th of September 2022
Just moved here and can’t wait to try this hike out. Is the picture of the guy holding onto the cable climbing up for this hike also? It looks amazing and I want to do it! Thanks for the great content!
Monday 14th of March 2022
The trailhead is located before Kahana Bay in between a ‘Do Not Pass’ sign and a telephone pole. Interesting how you mentioned this and yet still you hiked. Blogs like this share hiking locations that are closed. This hike should not be done even by experienced hikers. First responders are put into rescues from people who go past signs that clearing show its off limits. Maybe Google open hikes and enjoy those..
Friday 7th of October 2022
@Jackson, because it's a sacred place? The fact it is a basic hike does not mean it should be open, there might be other reasons why it is off limits. For example, Uluru is not difficult to climb, yet it is forbidden to do it. As an Australian you should know better.
Monday 28th of March 2022
Why would it be off-limits? This is a very basic hike for anyone with 'very basic' experience. Accidents can happen on any trail but closing them isn't the solution. If you ever venture out to countries around the world where hiking is the culture such as Switzerland you will see no 'do not enter' signs and anyone doing a hike or climb does so at their own risk and takes full responsibility. America has a bad relationship with liability and taking responsibility. Crouching Lion should never be 'closed' nor should many other trails on Oahu.
Tuesday 27th of July 2021
This trail is closed. The mountain and valley are both sacred to Native Hawaiians. Please do not disrespect our land and damage our natural resources by attempting to hike on closed trails.
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