The Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail hike on Oahu is a beautiful, safe, adventure onto the spine of the island.
WILIWILINUI RIDGE TRAIL HIKE
Standing at the summit of Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail hike, I can make out Waikiki, a city of white buildings seemingly a world away from the ridges we are roaming. I spin around to see the turquoise water of the east coast and the panoramic views make me feel like I am at the center of this beautiful island.
The summit provided amazing views reminding us how small we are and how grand nature is, but it wasn’t a hike without mishaps. The morning began slowly when the guard told us the Wiliwilinui Ridge trail wouldn’t open until sunrise. After waiting for over an hour for the sun to come up, he allowed us to enter. However, no mopeds or motorbikes are allowed in the guarded community situated below the hike, which meant we had to walk an extra mile to reach the trailhead.
Despite the delayed start and the added warm-up, our spirits were high and each step was full of anticipation. Reaching the trailhead, we were surprised at how well the trail was maintained. The Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail hike began with a road rather than a trail, but the canopy of trees and a thick covering of soft and pulpy dead leaves along the ground gave the wide, open space an eerie atmosphere.
After less than twenty minutes our shoes were covered in mud, the hike had turned into a marbled dirt path surrounded on either side by ironwood trees. This region of the Wiliwilinui Ridge trail hike lasted for about 40 minutes. There were a few parts where we would get a peek through the trees but that was only a little teaser of the view that was to come.
The trail wound around a bend and opened up into a clearing with a swing hanging from one of the trees! Of course we both had to have a go on the swing. I was a little bit freaked out by the fact that if you fall backward off the swing you could very well tumble to your death, but it made for some cool pictures.
A muddy set of stairs awaited us at the other edge of the clearing and lead up to the final climb. The plastic stairs installed into the trail were definitely helpful but there were also many areas where there were not any stairs and instead just a rope to help you drag yourself up.
We were treated to views of the valleys at almost every landing during this period of the hike up. After reaching the relay station tower, it’s just a short trail along the ridge to a small room-sized clearing with a lone bench, which concluded the Wiliwilinui Ridge hike.
If you sit on the bench, you are overlooking Kailua and Lanikai and if you turn back in the direction you came, you can see Waikiki, Koko Crater, and Diamond Head. This is a great place to pull out a snack and enjoy the view. Watch out though, it is a bit windy.
After finishing up our snacks we quickly realized the way down is even more slippery than the way up. We slid our way down the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail trying to stay upright while enjoying the views of the valley.
Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail hike is a beautiful adventure that offers amazing views, provides an imposing, isolated atmosphere and is one of the least crowded hikes on Oahu. The incline is worth the feeling of peace you will find as you sit atop a ridge overlooking everything that has been created below you.
How to get to Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail Hike
The Wiliwilinui Ridge Trailhead is a bit hard to find because it is inside a gated community. They will, of course, let you in but you need to park outside I believe. That just means you need to walk an extra 800m up the hill on the road. There is a guard at the entrance and I guess it is up to them to let you park inside or not. I have put a map below that has the trailhead pinned on it for the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail so you can find it easily.
Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail Hike Information
Duration: 3 hours out and back
Altitude: 2,480 feet
What to pack for a trip to 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
The Best Hikes on Oahu: 10 BEST HIKES 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