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30 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII

30 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII

After spending many years on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, I found myself hiking multiple times per week and exploring the many incredible peaks and ridges. After exploring so many of the trails on the island, I put together this list of the best hikes on Oahu that will leave you standing on top of a mountain in amazement.

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 most of all of the great Oahu hikes touch these mountain ranges.

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Stairway To Heaven Hike

THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS

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 30 BEST HIKES ON OAHU

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN HIKE

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

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.

UPDATED 2022: 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 backway up the Stairway to Heaven. This route is longer, legal and you still get to reach the viewpoint of the Haiku Stairs.

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

Stairway To Heaven Hike
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Stairway To Heaven Hike

KAAU CRATER HIKE

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

Kaau Crater hike involves 4-5 hours of waterfalls, rope climbing, a huge volcano crater, and panoramic views. As an all-around adventure, this is one of the best hikes on Oahu in my opinion.

This is a very challenging trail and not to be underestimated. An enchanted forest, a glistening creek lined by majestic trunks and dangling vines set the scene. Then you reach the waterfalls, climb up the sides of those before beginning the ridge hike up the side of the Kaau Crater. It truly is one of the most diverse 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 at a moderate 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.

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

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PALI NOTCHES HIKE

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

The narrow, Pali Notches ridge hike requires you to make a short scramble up a steep incline, and then to rock climb over the notches. It sounds tough but is a moderate adventure for those who are confident hikers. The notches (rock boulders) 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 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.

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

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.

What are my favorite pieces of hiking gear?

There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a hike. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my 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.

THREE PEAKS/OLOMANA TRAIL

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

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 straightforward 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.

View full blog post: OLOMANA ‘THREE PEAKS’ HIKE

KOKO HEAD STAIRS

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

There are several hikes I always did when I had visitors on Oahu to push them out of their 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

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. 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.

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

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koko head stairs hike

PALI PUKA HIKE

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

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!

View the full blog post: PALI PUKA HIKE

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TOMTOM TRAIL

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

Starting off across from the Makapu’u lookout car park, this relatively simple hike has some of the most stunning views of 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. 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 far. 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.

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

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

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).

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

KOKO CRATER RIM TRAIL

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

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.

View the full blog post: KOKO CRATER RIM TRAIL

MAU’UMAE TRAIL (PU’U LANIPO TRAIL)

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

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.

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

LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE

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

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

WILIWILINUI RIDGE TRAIL

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

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.

View the full blog post: WILIWILINUI RIDGE TRAIL

WiliWili Nui Ridge Hike Oahu-13

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oahu hikes waterfalls amazing view

KAHEKILI RIDGE TRAIL

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

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.

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

KAYAK & HIKE TO CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND

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

Chinaman’s Hat Island, or Mokoli’i, is a small islet in Kaneohe Bay 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. This is one of many great spots to join a Kayak tour while on Oahu.

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

View the full blog post: KAYAKING TO CHINAMANS HAT ISLAND

DIAMOND HEAD CRATER HIKE IN HONOLULU

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

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.

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

MANOA FALLS HIKE

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

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.

View the full blog post: MANOA FALLS HIKE

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PINK PILLBOX HIKE/MAILI PILLBOX HIKE

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

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 that 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.

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

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

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. 

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

CROUCHING LION HIKE

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

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.

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

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crouching lion

MOUNT OLYMPUS HIKE

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

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 of hours you will summit Mount Olympus, which lies on the Koolau Ridge giving you views to both sides of the island.

View the full blog post: MOUNT OLYMPUS HIKE

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mount olympus oahu hike

DEAD MAN’S CATWALK HIKE

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

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.

View the full blog post: DEAD MAN’S CATWALK

SEVEN FALLS HIKE

  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Elevation: 550m

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. 

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MAKAPU’U LIGHT HOUSE TRAIL

  • Distance: 2.5 miles or 4km for an out and back return route.
  • Duration: 1.5 hours with 10-15 minutes at the lighthouse to enjoy the view and hopefully spot some whales.
  • Incline: 505ft or 153 meters but is relatively consistent in the incline with no aggressively steep sections.

On Oahu’s, most eastern point sits the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. The paved trail that takes you there is a nice and easy hike on Oahu because of how accessible it is and the amazing views it presents. It’s probably the easiest short hike on Oahu.

Because the trail is so clearly marked (unlike many of the hikes on Oahu) it is easy to navigate and paved the whole way. I’ve seen strollers and wheelchairs being pushed up to the viewpoint on this trail. However, don’t count it out. The view at the top is still unbelievably epic as you look out over the entire east coast of Oahu. It is family and dog-friendly and a great way to see some fantastic views of the east side.

This easy 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 Makapu’u tidepools below.

Read my full blog post: Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

EHUKAI PILLBOX HIKE (PEACE HIKE)

  • Distance: 4km for the out and back.
  • Duration: The hike up to the summit and back down should take just over one hour
  • Incline: 225 meters incline up to the pillboxes and back.

The Ehukai Pillbox Hike is one of the best short trails for a sunset view of the beaches on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The four-kilometer round-trip makes for an easy ascent to reach the pillbox for sunset, where you can watch sets of waves forming before barreling at Pipeline Beach, Sunset Beach, and Keiki’s. Also known as the ‘Peace Hike’ this short and sharp trail is one of the best easy hikes on the North Shore of Oahu.

Read my full blog post: EHUKAI PILLBOX HIKE

MAKIKI VALLEY LOOP TRAIL

  • Distance: 5.1km
  • Incline: 280m
  • Duration: 2 hours

The Makiki Valley Loop Trail is easily one of the most beautiful easy hikes near Waikiki on Oahu, Hawaii. Just a few kilometers out of the town center, this hidden green oasis of lush forest and peaceful trails is a natural getaway from the hustle and bustle. Imagine walls of green, ferns reaching over the trail, natural tree arches to walk through, and the constant sound of running water.

Read my full blog post: MAKIKI VALLEY LOOP TRAIL

HANAUMA BAY RIDGE HIKE

  • Distance: 3.5 miles or 5km
  • Duration: The hike will take you about 1-1.5 hours up and down
  • Incline: Total incline for the hike was 500ft or 150 meters when starting all the way from the Koko Head parking lot.

Hanauma Bay is undoubtedly the top snorkel location for tourists on the island. It boasts crystal clear water and a shallow reef, all within a protected bay, it is truly beautiful. The best way to see Hanauma Bay is actually not with a snorkel in your mouth, but to throw on your hiking shoes and get up on the ridge. The Hanauma Bay Ridge Hike is a short and easy trail giving you the best views of Hanauma Bay with Koko Head Crater as the backdrop.

Read my full blog post: HANAUMA BAY RIDGE HIKE

THE JUDD TRAIL

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

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 easy hikes on Oahu.

Read my full blog post: THE JUDD TRAIL

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Jackass Ginger pool judd trail oahu

WAILUPE LOOP TRAIL

  • Distance: The total distance of the loop hike is 8.5km or 5.2 miles.
  • Duration: The hike will take you about 3-5 hours depending on your pace.
  • Incline: Total incline for the hike was 800m or 2,624ft

The Wailupe Loop Trail is a challenging loop with thick overgrowth, uneven terrain, very steep ascent, and muddy/slippery trails. If that sounds like your kind of fun, this is a great trail. If you want similar views with a more well-maintained trail, the Wiliwilinui Ridge or the Kuliouou Ridge on either side of Wailupe is a better bet.

With almost 900 meters of incline over the 9km journey, this is a tough jaunt on the town-side of the Koolau Summit Trail (KST). Starting in Wailupe, the trail gains 800m of elevation on the way up to the KST. It then uses the KST to link to the highly-trafficked, Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail to make the descent. Just before finishing the Wiliwilnui descent, the trail descends via a lightly-trafficked trail back into the Wailupe Suburb.

Read my full blog post: WAILUPE LOOP TRAIL

PRIDE ROCK TO PU’U OHULEHULE HIKE

  • Distance: The total distance of the hike is 9km for the point-to-point hike with Pride Rock and Pu’u Ohulehule or just 3km round-trip for Pride Rock only.
  • Duration: The hike will take you about 5-7 hours for the full point-to-point hike with Pride Rock and Pu’u Ohulehule or just 1.5 hours round-trip for Pride Rock only.
  • Incline: Total incline for the hike was 900 meters or just 260m for Pride Rock only.

Pride Rock is one of the best sunrise viewpoints on Oahu taking just 30-minutes to reach and offering incredible views of the Kualoa Mountains and the Kaneohe Region. However, if you continue on the trail past Pride Rock, this challenging and technical route will lead you up the narrow ridge to the summit of Pu’u Ohulehule.

This is one of the tougher hiking routes on Oahu due to the technical nature of the terrain. With 900 meters of incline over the nine-kilometer journey, it took us seven hours to complete the point-to-point route. The Pride Rock hike is for all levels but the Pu’u Ohulehule hike is for experienced hikers looking for a technical challenge.

Read my full blog post: PRIDE ROCK TO PU’U OHULEHULE HIKE

PU’U PIEI MAKAI TRAIL

  • Distance: 4km
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Incline: 540m for the full loop

The Pu’u Piei Hiking Trail is one of the best hikes on the east side of Oahu. Overlooking Kahana Bay and directly adjacent to the popular Crouching Lion Hike, this trail is simply spectacular. Pu’u Piei is much harder than Crouching Lion and has a very steep climb with 500 meters of elevation. There are also numerous rocky outcrops where hikers use ropes and scramble to maneuver through the route.

It’s a hike for experienced adventurers who want a challenge and epic views over Kahana Bay and the surrounding ridges in the east.

Read my full blog post: PU’U PIEI MAKAI TRAIL

NUUANU TRAIL TO PALI LOOKOUT

  • Distance: The total distance of the hike is 10km (the distance on AllTrails is wrong).
  • Duration: The hike will take you about 3-4 hours up and down.
  • Incline: Total incline for the hike was 500 meters or 1640ft for the full loop.

The Nuuanu Trail starts off on the beautiful Judd Trail, crossing streams and winding through the bamboo forest. Through a series of switchbacks within the forest, hikers climb their way up via Pauoa Flats to the halfway point at the Pali Lookout before returning on the ridge back down to the Judd Trail starting point.

It’s a mix of well-maintained trails and wild single-tracks through the bushes. A great challenge with 500m of incline over the 10km of hiking.

Read my full blog post: NUUANU TRAIL TO PALI LOOKOUT

HIKING THE KULIOUOU RIDGE TRAIL ON OAHU

  • Distance: The total distance of the hike is 4.7 miles or 7.5km
  • Duration: The hike will take you about 2.5 hours up and down
  • Incline: Total incline for the hike was 1650ft or 502 meters

The Kuliouou Ridge Trail has always been my favorite sunrise hike on Oahu. It’s just a short drive from town but the trail quickly leaves civilization behind as you climb 500m of incline to reach the sunrise viewpoint. After clambering up the stairs and weaving through the dense forest, you will be rewarded with views of Lanikai and the east coast while also enjoying a clear sight all the way back to Diamond Head Crater.

Read my full blog post: HIKING THE KULIOUOU RIDGE TRAIL ON OAHU

AIEA LOOP TRAIL

  • Distance: The total distance of the hike is 8km or 5 miles for the entire loop.
  • Duration: The hike will likely take you just over 2 hours.
  • Incline: Total incline for the hike was 1250ft or 320 meters when starting all the way from the Koko Head parking lot.

The Aiea Loop Trail is one of my favorite hikes for a quick morning immersion in nature and workout. Taking most people just over two hours, it’s a perfect way to get in some exercise and enjoy an abundance of beautiful native plants and lush scenery. This 8km loop hike runs along the west side of Hālawa Valley and gives constant some seriously stunning views of the H3 Freeway as it slices through the mountain range.

Read my full blog post: AIEA LOOP TRAIL

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.

What are my favorite pieces of hiking gear?

There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a hike. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my 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.

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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!

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!

Friday 22nd of April 2022

1

Andrew

Sunday 13th of March 2022

This is one of the best hiking guides about Oahu 👏

Jackson

Monday 28th of March 2022

Thanks mate

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

Thursday 20th of May 2021

[…] The Best Hikes on Oahu: 10 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII […]

Wilson

Monday 15th of February 2021

I'm still curious about Pali Notches, Wish I could go there.

Tuesday 1st of March 2022

@Wilson, crazy hike

I love Croatia

Saturday 17th of October 2020

Thank you on a detailed impressive guide! Saved your post for the future. ?