When visiting Hawaii, you will soon learn that there is more to the islands than just beaches, palm trees, and amazing sunsets. You will also find an abundance of outdoor adventures! Of course there are all the water activities such as surfing, snorkeling, and boating. But my absolute favorite thing to do in Hawaii is hiking and scrambling throughout these amazing lands of nature and beauty. So I put together a list of spectacular trails on Oahu that are well worth exploring and experiencing.
Koko Crater Head Trail
Also known as Koko Head Stairs is an intimidating hike that can be seen as you drive on Kalanianaole Hwy. The impressive views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing as you are hiking Koko Head stairs in Hawaii. This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad ties) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast. Hiking here on the Koko Head stairs will leave you breathless, in more ways than one. With its 1200 feet gain in elevation and majestic views of Hanauma Bay and more, it will definitely offer a cardio and heart workout like no other.
Hiking to Haiku Stairs a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven is no easy task. The trail is actually closed and illegal to hike. And recently in a published news article that it was decided by the local officials that the stairs will be removed. Although the Haiku stairs are illegal to hike, there are still many outdoor enthusiasts willing to take the risk and hiking it. However, there is a back route to reach the stairs via Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge trail which is long, challenging, and more dangerous. This is the legal route to get to the stairs.
Parts of the Moanalua Valley trail take you through moments back in time. There are several remnants of Hawaii’s past during the 1500s-1800s. These include stone petroglyphs and articles left by early missionary; Samuel Damon. The brick fireplace from his residence is here now covered in moss, vines, and leaves. And a staircase that once led to the home, now leads to know where.
Haiku Stairs or Haiku Ladder is a very steep hiking trail on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s comprised of wooden stairs that are spiked to the south side of Haiku Valley. These stairs were installed to enable the construction of antenna cables to create a continuous communication link between Wahiawa and Haiku Valley Naval Radio Station. The wooden steps were later replaced with metal steps and ramps. But as I mention earlier, there is plan to remove the stairs. It is sad to know that this historic iconic piece of Hawaii will be gone.
FitLife Hiking Tip: Hiking poles can be a tremendous help when scrambling through rugged territory. I never used hiking poles before, so having them on this hike was great! While hiking here, a couple of hikers mentioned to us how much they wish they had poles to assist them here.
FitLife Hiking Gear: Wearing the proper foot gear can make your trekking experience much more comfortable. Especially on more wet type hiking trails. I was very satisfied with my Columbia hiking shoes and my Darn Tough socks!
Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail
The trail offers a beautiful canopy of trees of all sizes early in the hike. You can hear an echo noise as the wind swirls and howls making for an eerie stroll through this part of the trail. It is certainly a bit of a rugged and exciting trail, almost an Indiana Jones like adventure hiking.
Along the Wiliwilinui trail you will find a few challenging sections and obstacles. A rope is attached in these areas that is extremely helpful in climbing to the next part of the trail. Conditions can also be muddy and slippery when it rains, so take it slow and careful as you gradually make your way to the summit. Be sure not to rush on this route, you’ve got to experience the ledges and ridges that compliment this spectacular hiking trail. The further up you go, the more and more pristine views begin to appear.
Waimano Pools Hike
A trail that is certainly full of a variety of adventure. Waimano Falls and Pools is both both challenging and satisfying. The trailhead is located near the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. Parking is limited, so it is a good idea to start hiking this one early. The trail begins with a smooth wide pathway of red dirt and rocks with plants lining the path. On misty rainy days, be prepared to walk through muddy routes. There are several large tree roots everywhere and the elevation can create a slightly dangerous trail. You will love the waterfalls in this hike!
Diamond Head Hike
Now if you visit Hawaii, Diamond Head hike is a nice one to see. Although beautiful and convenient, it can get busy with tourists. This trail is a short and moderately challenging path with a 0.8 mile trek from the Trailhead and 560 feet elevation. There are some beautiful and scenic views of the Honolulu skyline as well as the coastal ocean views! There is a fee to park in the lot and hike Diamond Head.
Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail
The unique and stunning views from Makapu’u Point are well worth the short hiking path that is about 2.5 miles distance with 505 feet elevation. This trail is rated easy with mostly smooth paved pathways but is a very heavily trafficked island spot.
Kealia Hiking Trail
Located nearby Dillingham airfield, Kealia hiking trail consists of about 7.6 miles with 2516 feet of elevation and is a little more challenging. It is rated as moderate and contains lots of views. You will find yourself scouring through trees, red dirt switchback pathways, inclines and rough paths. It is not very heavily trafficked and is a quiet and adventurous trail. There is no fee to hike or park for this amazing adventure spot.
Aiea Loop Trail
The Aiea Loop trail is located in Aiea – Pearl City area of Honolulu and is an interesting path as you begin at the trailhead located within a recreation park. There are a few scattered picnic tables and the park is quite large in size. The trees are massive and the lemon eucalyptus trees offer a scent of sweet citrus as you wander your way through the trail. There are a few large tree trunks that block the trail, and you’ll climb a few steep switchbacks along the loop.
Manoa Falls Trail
If you are looking for an easy yet very rewarding and full of nature and very large trees, then you will enjoy this hike. Just as other trails in Hawaii, this hike can be very slippery and muddy depending on rain. The trees are wide, tall, and giant on this very interesting and fun trail.
Ka'ena Point Coastal Trail
Spending time at the coast doesn’t always mean lying around at the beach. Kaena Point Coastal trail is full of incredible shoreline views that will make your jaw drop. It’s a wonderful route to explore along the coastline. Certain times of the year, you will come across the Albatross birds courting and nesting.
Pink Pillbox/Ma’ili Pillbox Hike
Rated as a moderate hike, this short 1.6 mile trail offers a brief tree and plant setting that make you feel like you are in a calm quiet world. And your views from the trail consist of city suburbs, as well as beaches and coastline. There are a few ridges that are great for photo opportunities especially for sunset shots!
One of the best things about the hiking trails in Hawaii is that they offer so much diversity. Although many of the Oahu trails contain many similar features, each one has its own characteristics. From the ridges and valleys to the historical bunker lookouts and coastal trails, they are all quite spectacular. Having made numerous visits to Hawaii to spend time with relatives, we also went outside to explore the endless nature and adventure that the island offers!
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