Top 10 Hikes in Hawaii
Are you ready to hike your way through paradise? Hawaii is known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, but did you know that it’s also home to some of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the world? From towering volcanic craters to lush rainforests and hidden waterfalls, Hawaii’s hiking trails offer a unique and unforgettable way to experience the beauty of the islands.
But let’s be real, we’re not talking about your average leisurely walk in the park here. These hikes are not for the faint of heart! You’ll need to be prepared to work up a sweat, get a little muddy, and maybe even face some steep inclines. But trust us, it’s all worth it for the views you’ll get at the end.
So, lace up your hiking boots, pack some water and snacks, and get ready to hit the trails. In this article, we’re taking you through the top 10 hikes in Hawaii that will leave you breathless (in a good way!). From the iconic Diamond Head Hike on Oahu to the challenging Kalalau Trail on Kauai, we’ve got you covered with some of the most scenic and unforgettable hikes in Hawaii. Get ready for adventure, stunning views, and memories that will last a lifetime!
1. Diamond Head Hike – Oahu
The Diamond Head Hike is one of the most popular hikes in Hawaii, and for good reason. Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Diamond Head is a volcanic tuff cone that formed over 150,000 years ago during a period of volcanic activity in the area. Today, it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Hawaii and a popular destination for hikers and tourists alike.
The hike to the summit of Diamond Head is a moderate 0.8-mile trek that takes you up a series of switchbacks and through a tunnel before reaching the top. While the hike can be challenging in parts, it is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, including families with children. The trail is well-maintained, with handrails and stairs in some areas to assist hikers.
At the summit of Diamond Head, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you can even see the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai in the distance. Be sure to bring your camera, as the views from the summit are truly spectacular.
In addition to the stunning views, the Diamond Head Hike also offers a glimpse into Hawaii’s volcanic past. As you hike up the trail, you’ll pass through a series of tunnels and bunkers that were built during World War II to protect Hawaii from potential attacks. These historical landmarks add an extra layer of interest to the hike and are a reminder of Hawaii’s important role in world history.
2. Kalalau Trail – Kauai
The Kalalau Trail on Kauai is undoubtedly one of the most challenging hikes in Hawaii, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. This 11-mile trail takes you through the rugged and remote Napali Coast, an area of breathtaking beauty that is inaccessible by road. The trail is only for experienced hikers who are physically fit, as it is a strenuous hike that can take anywhere from 6-10 hours to complete.
The trail starts at the end of the road at Ke’e Beach and winds its way along the coast, through lush valleys and over rugged cliffs. The trail is not for the faint of heart, as it can be steep and narrow in places, with sheer drops to the ocean below. However, the stunning views of the coastline and waterfalls more than make up for the effort required to complete the hike.
The Napali Coast is a place of incredible natural beauty, with jagged cliffs, deep valleys, and sparkling blue waters. The Kalalau Trail takes you through some of the most remote and untouched parts of the coast, where you can experience the beauty of Hawaii in its purest form. Along the way, you’ll pass by secluded beaches, hidden waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas that will take your breath away.
As you make your way along the trail, you’ll encounter a variety of terrain, from sandy beaches to rocky outcroppings and steep climbs. The trail can be slippery in places, so it’s important to wear sturdy hiking boots and be cautious at all times. But the rewards of the Kalalau Trail are well worth the effort, as you’ll be treated to some of the most stunning views in all of Hawaii.
If you’re planning to hike the Kalalau Trail, be prepared. Bring plenty of water and snacks, wear sunscreen, and be sure to pack a first aid kit in case of emergencies. And most importantly, be respectful of the environment and leave no trace behind. The Napali Coast is a precious natural resource that we must all do our part to protect.
3. Haleakala Crater – Maui
The Haleakala Crater, located on the island of Maui, is a must-visit destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts alike. This unique hiking experience takes you into the heart of a dormant volcano, offering a glimpse into Hawaii’s geological past. The 11-mile round-trip hike is not for the faint of heart, but the stunning views of the sunrise and sunset over the crater make it well worth the effort.
The hike starts at the Haleakala Visitor Center, located at an elevation of 9,740 feet. From here, hikers descend into the crater, traversing a rocky and barren landscape that looks almost otherworldly. As you make your way down into the crater, you’ll pass by cinder cones, lava fields, and unique rock formations that have been shaped by thousands of years of volcanic activity.
At the bottom of the crater, you’ll be greeted by a stunning landscape of vibrant colors and textures. The crater is home to a variety of plant and animal species that have adapted to the harsh environment, including the silversword plant and the nene goose.
The highlight of the Haleakala Crater hike is undoubtedly the sunrise or sunset. As the sun slowly rises or sets over the crater, the sky is transformed into a beautiful palette of colors, ranging from deep reds to soft pinks and oranges. It’s a truly breathtaking sight that will leave you feeling awe-inspired and humbled by the natural beauty of Hawaii.
But the Haleakala Crater hike isn’t just about the sunrise or sunset – it’s also a chance to connect with nature on a deeper level. As you hike through the crater, you’ll feel a sense of peace and tranquility that’s hard to find in our fast-paced world. The silence of the crater is only broken by the sound of your footsteps and the occasional bird or insect, making it a perfect opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect with the natural world.
4. Maunawili Falls Trail – Oahu
The Maunawili Falls Trail is a hidden gem located on the eastern side of Oahu. This 3-mile round-trip hike takes you on a journey through lush rainforest, offering stunning views of the Ko’olau Mountains and the surrounding area. The trail is not for the faint of heart and requires some physical exertion, but the reward at the end is well worth the effort.
After hiking for about a mile and a half, you will reach the breathtaking Maunawili Falls. The 20-foot waterfall cascades into a tranquil pool of crystal-clear water, offering a refreshing respite from the heat and humidity of the rainforest. Take a dip in the cool water and let the sound of the falls soothe your soul.
As beautiful as the Maunawili Falls Trail is, it can also be slippery and muddy in some parts, especially after rain. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear, such as hiking shoes or sneakers with good traction. It’s also a good idea to bring bug spray, sunscreen, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
The Maunawili Falls Trail is a popular hiking spot, but it’s not overcrowded like some of the other trails on the island. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife, such as birds, geckos, and maybe even a wild pig or two.
5. Koko Head Crater Trail – Oahu
If you’re looking for a challenging hike that also offers stunning views, then the Koko Head Crater Trail is the perfect choice. This trail is not for the faint of heart, as it requires you to climb over 1,000 steps to reach the top of Koko Head Crater. But once you make it to the summit, the views of the ocean and surrounding islands will take your breath away.
The Koko Head Crater Trail is located on the east side of Oahu, and it’s a popular hike for locals and tourists alike. The trailhead is located in the Koko Head District Park, and the hike itself takes around 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
The trail consists of an old railway track that was used during World War II to transport supplies to a lookout station at the top of the crater. The railway track has since been abandoned, but the stairs remain, creating a unique and challenging hiking experience.
As you make your way up the stairs, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and stunning views of the ocean. The stairs are steep and uneven, so make sure to wear appropriate footwear and take breaks as needed. The hike can be especially challenging on a hot day, so make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
Once you reach the top of the crater, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding islands, including Molokai, Lanai, and Maui. The view from the top is truly breathtaking, and it’s the perfect spot to snap some photos and take in the beauty of Hawaii.
6. Waihee Ridge Trail – Maui
The Waihee Ridge Trail is a spectacular 4.5-mile round-trip hike that takes you through a lush rainforest and offers some of the most stunning views in Maui. The trailhead is located at the end of Maluhia Road in Waihee Valley, just a short drive from Kahului.
As you start your ascent, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees and dense vegetation. The trail can be steep and challenging at times, but the lush greenery and fresh air make it all worth it. Along the way, you’ll encounter streams and waterfalls, adding to the magic of the experience.
As you gain elevation, the views become more and more breathtaking. From the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Waihee Valley, the West Maui Mountains, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. It’s a sight that will leave you feeling awestruck and grateful to be alive.
The trail is well-maintained and marked, but it’s important to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before you go.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, the Waihee Ridge Trail is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with memories that last a lifetime. So put it on your must-do list when you visit Maui and prepare to be amazed!
7. Kaena Point Trail – Oahu
The Kaena Point Trail on the northwestern tip of Oahu is a 3.5-mile round-trip hike that will take your breath away. With stunning views of the coastline, you’ll be able to catch glimpses of the crystal-clear waters and the waves crashing against the rugged shoreline. The trail offers the perfect opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Hawaii, and with a little luck, you may even spot some of the native wildlife that call the area home.
As you trek along the Kaena Point Trail, keep your eyes peeled for the Hawaiian monk seals that are known to sunbathe on the rocks and beaches along the coast. These fascinating creatures are endemic to Hawaii and are considered one of the most endangered seal species in the world. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, be sure to give them plenty of space and observe from a respectful distance.
In addition to the monk seals, the Kaena Point Trail is also home to a variety of sea turtles that can often be seen swimming in the crystal-clear waters just off the shore. These majestic creatures are an important part of Hawaiian culture and are considered to be a symbol of good luck and longevity. If you’re lucky enough to spot a sea turtle, be sure to admire them from a safe distance and never touch or disturb them.
As you make your way along the Kaena Point Trail, you’ll also be able to take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. From the towering cliffs to the lush vegetation, the area is truly breathtaking. And with the ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see, you’ll feel a sense of peace and tranquility that is hard to find anywhere else.
8. Awaawapuhi Trail – Kauai
The Awaawapuhi Trail is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a must-do for experienced hikers who crave adventure and want to experience some of the most breathtaking views in Hawaii. This 6.2-mile round-trip hike begins at the Koke’e State Park and takes you through a lush forest that feels like something out of a fairytale. The trail is steep and challenging at times, but the reward is well worth the effort.
As you make your way up the trail, the scenery starts to change, and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by stunning views of the Napali Coast. The rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean make for an awe-inspiring sight that you won’t soon forget. You might even feel like you’re on top of the world!
Once you reach the end of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the coast that is simply breathtaking. You’ll feel like you’re standing on the edge of the world, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel will be worth every step of the journey.
If you’re planning on hiking the Awaawapuhi Trail, be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, wear sturdy hiking shoes, and dress in layers as the weather can change quickly. It’s also a good idea to start early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the views along the way.
9. Manoa Falls Trail – Oahu
The Manoa Falls Trail is a hidden gem located in the lush Manoa Valley on the island of Oahu. This 1.6-mile round-trip hike takes you through a dense rainforest, offering a glimpse of the island’s stunning natural beauty. The trail is relatively easy and suitable for hikers of all levels, making it a popular destination for families with children.
As you venture deeper into the forest, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees and the soothing sound of trickling streams. The trail is well-maintained and marked, ensuring that you stay on the right path. As you approach the end of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of Manoa Falls, a 150-foot cascade of water that plunges into a tranquil pool below.
It’s important to note that the trail can be muddy and slippery, especially after heavy rainfall, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear with good traction. It’s also a good idea to bring a rain jacket, as the weather in the rainforest can be unpredictable.
10. Pipiwai Trail – Maui
The Pipiwai Trail is an incredible hiking experience on the island of Maui, located in the East Maui Watershed. This 4-mile round-trip trail takes you through a lush bamboo forest and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the stunning Waimoku Falls.
As you begin your hike, you’ll be surrounded by towering bamboo stalks that seem to reach up to the sky. The trail itself is well-maintained, making it accessible for hikers of all levels. You’ll cross over a few bridges and streams as you make your way deeper into the forest, taking in the tranquil sounds of the babbling brooks and rustling bamboo leaves.
As you emerge from the bamboo forest, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The trail winds its way along the edge of the valley, offering stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean and the lush rainforest below. As you continue your hike, you’ll come across the main attraction: the 400-foot Waimoku Falls.
The Waimoku Falls is a stunning waterfall that cascades down the mountainside into a pool below. The sight of the falls is truly awe-inspiring, and the sound of the water crashing down is both calming and invigorating. Take a moment to bask in the beauty of the falls and the surrounding landscape before continuing your hike.
The Pipiwai Trail is not only a stunning hike, but it’s also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Hawaii. The trail is part of the Haleakala National Park, which is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for native Hawaiian plants and animals, including the ‘Ohi’a Lehua tree and the Hawaiian hoary bat.
So what are you waiting for? Put on your hiking boots, grab your camera, and hit the trails to experience the natural beauty of Hawaii.