Going on hikes is a great way to experience Hawaii and its stunning beauty. There are tons of trails across the state that you can explore. Rainforests, coastal routes– whatever you choose, you’ll be sure to be amazed at the sights!
Did you know that even though Hawaii is less than 0.2% of the US land, it has over 25% of all the endangered species found in the United States? A great way to experience and observe these amazingly unique plants and animals is by going for a hike! You can go on hikes ranging from easier strolls close to the shoreline to challenging treks along volcanic hills. Here are 15 awesome hikes you should try in Hawaii – perfect for beginners, families or anyone looking for an adventure!
If you’re looking for an easy hike to start with in Hawaii, the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a great option! It’s definitely worth trying.
An Unforgettable Experience
This hike in Oʻahu is super fun and perfect for beginners. It only takes about an hour to complete the two-mile round trip. The trail was recently renovated and everything is paved, so it’s really easy for people with strollers, pets and even non-hikers. At the end of the path, you’ll find a historical lighthouse perched at 600ft on the easternmost point of the island. This lighthouse was built back in 1909 and its bright red rooftop is a sight to behold!
Hikers love this trail! It passes through breathtaking cliffs with views of the wild Kaiwi Coast and the Pacific Ocean. On clear days, you can see islands like Manana and Kaohikaipu plus Molokai, Maui, and sometimes Lanai! Hike between November to May, you may encounter over 12,000 North Pacific humpback whales who come from Alaska to mate, play, and have baby whales in Hawaii’s warm waters near Oʻahu.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike down to the nearby tide pools. To get there, walk past an observation point with signs containing information about whales. Remember to check out what the ocean and wind conditions are like before you go and be careful around any big waves that might crash onto the rock ledge.
Witness an Unforgettable Sunrise at the Top of Kaiwa Ridge Trail!
If you are visiting the beautiful Hawaiian island of O’ahu, then you should make sure to take some time to hike up to the top of Kaiwa Ridge Trail – also called Laneikai Pillbox trail. It is a 1 mile/1 hour journey that requires moderate effort as it mostly goes uphill. At the end of your hike, you will get to witness an astonishing sunrise against the sweeping vistas of Lanikai Beach and Na Mokulua (‘twin islands’) – truly unforgettable!
There’s no parking allowed at the start of the Koko Crater Botanical Garden Loop trail, so park your car at the nearby Kailua Beach Park instead. That way you can also access bathrooms and showers. It gets really hot on this trail and it’s often full of people, so if you want to explore it in peace, plan for an early morning sunrise visit.
“Explore the Beauty of Koko Crater
Koko Crater is a special garden in East Honolulu. The garden covers 200 acres, plus it has a 2-mile loop pathway that takes about an hour to walk. On this trail, you’ll find many exciting plants like golden barrel cacti and loulu palms, as well as succulents and baobab trees. There’s also lots of blooming plumeria trees waiting for visitors during the summer months! So if you’re a nature lover, this is the perfect hike!
Exploring the Leina-a-Kauhane
Kaʻena Point Natural Area Reserve is located on Oʻahu in Hawaii. It’s a 3.5 mile long and takes around 3 hours to hike there. The difficulty level of this hike is easy to moderate. This place has rare plants and animals that you can see while hiking, like the dwarf naupaka, ilima, Laysan albatross, wedge-tailed shearwaters, red-footed boobies and the great frigate bird.
Kaʻena Point Nature Preserve has a 3.5-mile path that circles along the shoreline with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. You may get to spot dolphins, whales (in the wintertime), Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles at this nature preserve.
The trail leads to an interesting, beautiful and secluded place that is important to Native Hawaiians. Ka’ena Point is called the “Leina-a-Kauhane” which means “the leaping place of souls”. It’s a special spot for Hawaiians since it was believed that spirits of recently deceased people could be reunited with their ancestors here.
If you want to get to Kaʻena Point, you must start from the Waianae side. At the end of a paved road near Keawaʻula Bay (Yokohama Bay), there is a parking lot with a trailhead. This beach is one of the most beautiful ones on the island! Also, here you can find ‘Akaka Falls, which look like something special from long ago.
Take an Easy and Amazing 0
If you’re looking to go on a short adventure and see some amazing waterfalls, the ʻAkaka Falls Loop Trail is just what you need! It’s only 0.5-mile round trip and takes about half an hour – easy enough for anyone. Plus, it’s only located 20 miles north of Hilo in ʻAkaka Falls State Park and features two gorgeous waterfalls, including the breathtaking ʻAkaka Falls which stands at 442ft!
You can get to the viewing area in just 15 minutes. The path has guardrails, but it can be wet and slippery in winter and spring – so you have to watch out! Just like all other state parks in Hawaii, there’s now a $5 fee for people who don’t live here.
“Take a Hike to the Top of O’ahu
Ehukai Pillbox Hike is the best way to have a view of Oʻahu’s North Shore. It is 2 miles long and it may take you 1 ½ to 2 hours to complete it. If you’re okay with some moderate difficulty, this hike will give you an amazing experience. You’ll get to see some great surfing spots and WWII bunkers from the side of the Koʻolau Mountains! Plus, it’s less crowded than the Kaiwi Ridge Trail which overlooks Lanikai Beach in Kailua.
You can start your trail at the parking lot of a school, or you can even park on the street. As you go along, you’ll have to climb up an uphill path that is made of tree roots and stumps with stairs dug into the dirt. It’s usually quite muddy here. Once you reach the top of this hill, take a left turn until you get to two bunkers. The second bunker offers better views.
When you look from the top, you will get a really good view of the whole North Shore coastline. You’ll also see a really famous surf spot called Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach. At this spot, there’s something else pretty cool to explore – it’s called Pupukea-Paumalu Forest Reserve and it has 782 acres of space!
Experience Hawaii’s Kilauea Iki Volcano Trek & See Its Amazing Eruption Remains!
This adventure is perfect for people who love volcanoes! It’s a 4 mile hike, and it will take about 2 and a half hours. The difficulty level for this hike can be moderate to difficult.
The Kilauea Iki trek, located in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, is one of the most interesting hikes you can find in Hawaii. It’s 4 miles long and takes you through a forest filled with native ohia trees and hapuu ferns before ending up at an otherworldly crater floor. You’ll also be able to see some really cool lava remains from the 1959 eruption. This eruption made some of the tallest lava fountains reach up to 1,900 feet! The molten lava from this volcano would fill up a lake before draining into the vent, leaving behind a black ledge like a bathtub ring on the walls – which you can still see today!
Hiking across the crater’s rocky ground of cracking pahoehoe rocks is a cool experience. Taking about a mile to finish, this rock field covers an area more than 3000 feet wide! The ground is scattered with ohia trees and kupukupu fern too growing from between the cracks of the lava rocks. In order to enjoy this hike, you need to enter Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. An entry pass for cars will cost $30 for seven days or $15 if you decide to walk in.
700-foot Summit Hiking Trip in East Honolulu
This hiking trip in East Honolulu is really popular, especially with locals. It’s a 5-mile round-trip hike that takes 3 hours to complete and it’s considered an intermediate difficulty level. If you reach the summit of the Koolau Mountains, you’ll get to enjoy an awesome 360-degree view which includes the sights of Windward Oʻahu and South Shore. It’s definitely worth it!
The trail starts with a winding path through the woods full of ironwood trees and up to Cook pines. All along this part of the trail you’ll be walking in the shade. As you get further, you’ll eventually arrive at two picnic tables that are covered which make for a great place to have lunch and also serve as a stopping point for some hikers who may not want to go any further.
The next part of this hike can be really difficult. It goes through dense forests with native ohia and koa trees. Then, you have to climb up about 300 steps that get steeper as you go higher—but it’s totally worth it! From the top, which is 1,700 feet in the air, you’ll get an amazing view of Kailua and lots of other places like Waimanalo and Hawaii Kai. Plus, you can see the Mokulua Islands too!
This trail is tucked away in the back of a neighborhood, so there is no special parking area. It can be pretty tough to find a place to park your car on weekends.
“Explore Maui’s Magical Pipiwai Trail
The Pipiwai Trail is a special hike found in Maui, Hawaii. It’s a bit hard to get to because you have to drive fifty-two miles from the nearest town of Kahului towards the rural town of Hana. Then, once you arrive, it takes about two or three hours for the entire four-mile round trip. The most exciting part is the stunning view of Makahiku Falls from the lookout point near Haleakalā National Park center.
You can take a pleasant walk on the large and well-marked pathway. You can also go further and explore the Kuloa Point Trail which offers beautiful views of some freshwater pools in the Oheo Gulch. The most exciting part is when you have to hike through an enchanted bamboo forest and eventually reach Waimoku Falls, which is 400ft tall! It’s truly a magical experience!
An Enchanting Escape
This is an easy rainforest hike that can be completed in 1 hour and it’s only 0.7 miles long!
Kalōpā Native Forest State Park on Hawaiʻi Island is a great place for those who like being alone. The park, which is 40 miles away from Hilo and sits on the hills near 2,000 feet high Mauna Kea, contains a Kalopa Nature Trail that can be easily hiked by families. The lush forest of ohia trees is surrounded by lots of other native trees, shrubs and ferns, making it an enchanting experience. So if you are a family looking for an escape into nature and some solitude, then this could be your perfect destination.
There is no fee to enter the park if you just want to take a day hike. The park is located high up, so it has cooler weather and gets more rain than places closer to the coastline. Bring clothes that will keep you dry and warm, wear sturdy shoes, and bring bug-repellent because of all the mosquitos. The Waihee Ridge Trail might be hard for some people to climb, but its worth the effort for you to get some amazing views!
Discover Nature’s Beauty on a 4-Hour, 5-Mile Hike with Unforgettable Views!
This is an awesome 5-mile hike that would take you about 4 hours to complete. It leads through lush rainforests and offers breathtaking views of Wailuku and the nearby mountain ranges when you reach the 2500ft peak. As you go, you’ll find groves of guava and eucalyptus trees, Cook pines, as well as a lot of unique plants and trees that thrive in the wetter areas. Don’t forget to check out Makamakaole Falls – it’s a 2-level waterfall which dives down 270ft!
It is definitely worth the hard work to get to the top of the mountain, where you will be rewarded with an amazing view. From up there you’ll enjoy a bird’s eye view of the West Maui Mountains and the beautiful Waihee Valley on Maui’s north shore. This trail should be done early in the day since clouds can cover the view later on.
8 Miles of Awe-Inspiring History Awaits at Waihou Spring Forest Reserve!
If you have a family, then the Waihou Spring Forest Reserve in Upcountry Maui is for you! You can walk down an easy trail that takes about two hours and covers a distance of 1.8 miles (almost 3 kilometers). During your journey, you will be surrounded by pine, cyprus and eucalyptus trees which were planted back in the 1920s.
The Waihou Spring Forest Reserve was set up by the government in 1909 to protect a very special waterfall that is located on one of the sides of Haleakalā. On your way, you will be walking along a high ridge and then finally going into a deep ravine. You will also pass through native trees called koa and hala pepe. These have poofy green leaves which looks like pom-poms at the end of their slim trunks.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take the lower trail down to Waihou Spring. It’s a steep 600ft drop, which makes it more of a challenge than the upper path. When you get there, you’ll find a peaceful grotto created by the spring. Nounou Mountain is an exciting place to hike in Hawaii!
Explore Nature’s Wonders with the Nounou Mountain Hike!
The Nounou Mountain hike is a popular one in Kapaʻa, and you can normally spot it from anywhere. It’s about 6 kilometers around, doesn’t require too much effort, and it has the best views of East Kauaʻi’s coast!
There are three trails leading up a gorgeous tall ridge. The East Trail is the most used and easiest to hike. It starts with many zigzagging paths through forests of strawberry guava trees, ironwoods, and ti plants until you reach meadow that has a picnic table where you can have lunch with a stunning view of Waiʻaleʻale and the Wailua River. If you’re more experienced, you can keep going to reach the top which gives amazing views all around of Kauaʻi’s east side.
Essentials for a Successful Hiking Adventure
Whenever you are planning to go hiking, make sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water – these are all essential items. Coastal trails can be really hot, so wearing the right clothing is key as it could help avoid getting too exhausted or even a heat stroke. If you’re staying out longer then wear boots and waterproof jacket or coat because the weather can change and the trails can be quite uneven (with rocks and mud). For mountain summits, carry a warm sweatshirt or a comfy down jacket – even during the summer!
– Always bring a flashlight with you. After the sun sets, it’ll get dark quickly and the trails may take longer since they can be bumpy. You may even get lost sometimes!
– Before drinking any freshwater from either rivers or ponds, make sure to purify it first to stop getting diseases like giardiasis and leptospirosis.
– On some hikes, there could be environmental risks like vog (volcanic smog) or floods and waterfalls which is not safe for swimming.