There is no end to the stunning natural wonders that make up the islands of Hawaii. From the sparkling ocean waters to the sensational lush landscapes, you are sure to be taken in by its pristine nature. And in order to take full advantage of this enchanting natural environment, you will certainly be swept away on these incredible Hawaii hiking trails!
While experiencing the incredible state of Hawaii, you will soon learn that there is more to the islands than just beaches, palm trees, and amazing sunsets. Yes, there is an abundance of outdoor adventures! These include all the water activities too such as surfing, snorkeling, and boating. But my absolute favorite thing to do in Hawaii is exploring and rambling throughout these amazing lands of nature and beauty. So please enjoy these spectacular hiking trails and ridges on Oahu that are well worth discovering and experiencing.
Koko Crater Head Trail
Also known as Koko Head Stairs, this unique path can be an intimidating hike that is visible as you drive on Kalaniana'ole Highway. The impressive views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing as you are climbing up 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 heart pumping cardio workout like no other.
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Haiku Stairs at Stairway to Heaven via Moanalua Valley
Hiking to legal trail to reach the 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 stairs path is illegal to hike, there are still numerous hikers doing this hike. However, there is a back route to reach the stairs via Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge trail which is long, challenging, and more dangerous.
Some of the areas along the Moanalua Valley trail take you through historical moments in time. You will come across some remnants of Hawaii’s past during the years between 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.
The 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 offer tremendous help when scrambling through rugged territory. As someone who has never used hiking poles before, 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 am so thankful I had worn water resistant socks and waterproof shoes. I couldn’t be happier with my Columbia hiking shoes and my Darn Tough socks!
Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail
Early in the hike on this particular trail, you will rummage through a beautiful canopy of trees of all sizes but mostly tall and large. You can hear an echo noise as the wind swirls and howls making for an eerie stroll along this section of the trail. It is certainly an exciting trail, almost an Indiana Jones- like adventure like hiking.
You will encounter a few challenges and obstacles along some parts of the hiking trail here. A rope is attached in the area 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 be careful as you gradually make your way to the summit. Be sure not to rush on this route, you’ve got to experience the beautiful 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
One of those trails that is certainly full of a variety of adventure. Waimano Falls (Pools) is 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 paths.
As you continue further on the trail, it can become muddy and slippery depending if you hike this one on a misty or rainy day. Take extra caution and keep an eye out where you walk. There are several large tree roots everywhere and the elevation can create a slightly dangerous trail.
Diamond Head Hawaii Hike
This is one of those iconic hiking trails that should be added to your list of things to do while visiting Hawaii. Hiking Diamond Head, the best of Oahu 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 climb along this 2.5 miles trail with 505 feet elevation. Rated as an easy with mostly smooth paved pathways, it still can be 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 than you think. It is rated as moderate and contains lots of views. You will find yourself scouring through trees, red dirt switchback pathways, inclines and rugged pathways. 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. It is an interesting route 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. This one is a joy to explore!
Manoa Falls Trail
If you are looking for an easy yet very rewarding adventure, you will enjoy this one! It is full of nature and very large trees. 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.
Kaena 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. You will encounter the bird sanctuary as you explore this beautiful Hawaii coastal hiking trail.
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Pink Pillbox/Ma’ili Pillbox Hike
Rated as a moderate hike, this short 1.6 mile trail offers a brief plant setting with lots of trees 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 Hawaii nature trails is that there is so much diversity. Although trails offer 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 ventured out to explore the endless nature and adventure that the islands offer!
Hawaii has been an annual visit for me starting back in my military days in the 1980s. The visits now are mostly spending time with family who live there and exploring as much of the islands as possible. I enjoy sharing the experiences and pointing how important it is to take part in conservation and preservation. I also want to emphasis how critical it is to respect this sacred place of nature that surrounds the entire state of Hawaii. Another note to add here is a reminder to leave no trace, and always dispose of your trash and recyclables properly. Be a responsible visitor.