The Best Hiking Trails on Oahu, Hawaii

by | Jul 6, 2022 | Local

Sun, sand, surf: These are just a few things that likely come to mind when you picture Oahu, Hawaii. But one of the best, most underrated features of this island are the incredible hiking trails! Think picturesque waterfalls, intriguing wildlife, and stunning views you won’t find anywhere else. Pack your bag (find everything you’ll need to bring, here) and come with me as I take you on a tour of my favorite hikes on the island … let’s go! 

A picture of the Makapu’u Lighthouse on the island of Oahu, Hawaii with the ocean in the background taken from the trail above.

Best Family Hike: Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

Total Distance: 2 miles

If you’re in search of a quick (and paved!) family-friendly hike that leads to a gorgeous view, look no further! The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is located on the southeastern point of the island and the lighthouse itself is one of the most popular attractions on Oahu. This landmark has a rich history of helping mariners navigate through the Hawaiian Islands … and surprisingly, it’s still used to this day! With the perfect blend of nature, historical significance, and miles and miles of ocean views, this is one trail you’ll definitely want to add to the itinerary for your next family vacation. 

Quick Tips:

  • Even though this is considered an easier hike, it’s still important to wear good hiking shoes.
  • The parking lot for the trailhead opens at 7 a.m. each morning. Get there early to beat the crowds!
A photo taken from the air, above the Diamond Head Crater that looks out over Waikiki on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Best Views of Waikiki: Diamond Head Crater Hike

Total Distance: 1.6 miles

This is arguably the most popular trail on Oahu—and with good reason! The trail is well-maintained and leads to a view of the famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu that you won’t find anywhere else on the island. 

If you decide to hike this trail, be ready to climb stairs … like, lots and lots of stairs (one of the aspects that makes this trail so unique!). There are two staircases you’ll come across on your trek: one with 99 steps and another with 76 steps.

Quick Tips:

  • The gates for Diamond Head open at 6 a.m. each day, so try to get there early as the parking lot tends to fill up quickly!
  • Be sure to have cash on hand! There is an entry fee for everyone who visits Diamond Head: $1 if you arrive on foot or $5 to park your car.
 A view of Koko Crater from above on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Best for Experienced Hikers: Koko Crater Trail

Total Distance: 1.6 miles

Oahu’s South Shore, downtown Honolulu, Hanauma Bay … you can see it all from the top of the Koko Crater trail. The challenge? Actually getting to the top. 😉  

If you’ve never heard of this hike, I want to warn you: It’s a tough one, both mentally and physically. Let’s just say Koko Crater would be a good replacement for a tough leg day at the gym (and your quads will definitely let you know they’re working hard during your hike).  

The steep trail is made up of 1,048 old railway tiles that act as “stairs.” But the good news is, there are plenty of spots along the way where you can step off the path if you need a break. For a deeper dive into what this hike entails and what you should bring with you for your trek, read this post.

Quick Tips:

  • There’s no shade on the trail, so try to start your hike as early in the day as possible!
  • Wear supportive shoes with good ankle support, especially since this hike can be slippery in places.

I’ll be the first to tell you that Oahu truly has it all. Beautiful beaches, fun activities, great food … the list goes on and on. But the next time you plan a trip here, I urge you to get out in nature by adding one of these popular hikes to your itinerary. You’ll gain an even deeper appreciation for this island when you truly immerse yourself in all the natural beauty it has to offer.  

Hiking is just one way to stay healthy and active. I shared a few other healthy habits to get on board with in this post—check it out!