Hawaii has to be one of the more unique of all the United States, am I right? After all, it’s the only island state in the whole of the country (well, so I was told). It’s a state that’s filled with some of the best scenery, gorgeous volcanic landscapes and epic vistas that are great for hiking. There’s a whole list of reasons why you need to discover the best hikes in Hawaii, but none more important than to see the beauty of the islands.
That’s what I fell in love with most during our visit. They’re just so pretty! 🌋
For me, I’d always wanted to visit Hawaii and was sooooooo excited during our last visit! It really is a gorgeous state that I fell in love with, especially for the natural landscapes that are so unique. I mean, where else can you climb a volcanic landscape (that looks like you’ve landed on Mars) and finish it off with a massive snow cone (complete with a sugar high). This was truly heavenly after a long ramble.
After our last visit, I’m already itching to return. Anyway, I’m carrying on with my rambling again so take a look at some of the best hikes in Hawaii that you have to experience. I promise you, you’ll love Hawaii. 🇺🇸
1.) The Kalalau Trail
Located on Kauai, this is arguably the most famous hike in Hawaii. Approximately twenty-two miles long roundtrip, the Kalalau Trail is particularly well known for its spectacular views of Na Pall Coast.
Also, it is unique in that is the only possible way to access Kalalau Beach by land! This beach itself is the stuff that tropical dreams are made of, with turquoise blue waters and pristine white sand. While this hike is world renowned for its paradisiacal beauty, it is also infamous for being quite treacherous.
The narrow trails can become quickly flooded in rainstorms while falling rocks and unsafe swimming waters are other hazards to be aware of.
2.) Kaena Point
The western-most tip of Oahu has a somewhat spiritual reputation in Hawaiian folklore, as it is said to be the place where souls go after death to leap into the otherworld. From the parking lot, you can access the point either by the northern or southern sides.
An easy three-mile walk will lead you to the lighthouse which indicates the end of the trail (which is lovely, by the way). Best of all, the beach is serene and peaceful; you might even catch a glimpse of those sneaky monk seals. After the hike, fill your tummy at Konos, which won the award for Best Restaurant in Oahu recently.
Oh, and make sure to try their pork, it’s delicious and a perfect treat after exploring one of the best hikes in Hawaii.
3.) The Diamond Head Trail
This trail is named after Oahu’s (and even Hawaii’s) most widely known landmark, Diamond Head. Diamond Head is a massive chunk of volcanic rock that spans a whopping 450 acres!
The climb up to the top is roughly two miles, yet the trail is incredibly steep and strenuous so it’s not always the easiest of hikes. Once you are at the summit, however, the climb is well worth it, as you come face to face with one of the most spectacular views of the Hawaiian coast.
4.) The Koko Crater Trail
This Oahu trail is uphill trails composed of a set of steep stairs; over 1,000 of them, to be precise! A popular hike for a spry and pretty fit crowd, it can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to reach the top, depending on the pace you are able to keep.
It’s one of the best hikes in Hawaii, especially as all of your tough work is rewarded with well-deserved panoramic views of Diamond Head and the lava rocked beaches below. Just be prepared to sweat!
5.) The Haiku Stairs
Now, this hike is officially closed due to the dangerous conditions but we know that some people have now done this from the bottom up (instead of the previous bottom down hike). Popularly known as the Stairway to Heaven, this hike consisted of a steep set of stairs on the island of Oahu and possibly was one of the most famous and/or best hikes in Hawaii – I’ll let you make the call on which. Whatever the case, the path was shut down after some damage occurred in 2015 for the safety of all us hikers.
Still, to this day, the stairs and narrow path can be totally unstable; thus, it is vital to exercise extreme caution if you do decide to go it alone (personally, I wouldn’t risk is nowadays). The hike from the top is officially closed and something that you really shouldn’t think of doing unless you’re prepared for a hefty fine, a risky hike or a really big telling off from the police.
With this area in particular, check with a local guide about the changing conditions that seem to be different one week from the next.
6.) The Manoa Falls Trail
This is a popular, relatively easy hike that leads to Manoa Falls. The scenery here is absolutely otherworldly, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and a variety of birds and other wildlife that you’ll just love.
The falls are approximately 150 feet tall, and if you’re lucky you’ll spot the rainbows and other colour prisms that sometimes occur. While the trail itself is easy, be sure to pay attention to the ground conditions (this rule applies to all hikes in Hawaii, actually). Mud can make for a very slippery surface, while this particular area is prone to flash flooding during rainstorms so plan accordingly.
7.) The Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail
The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is about two miles long each way (so pack plenty of water) and offers up some of the best views in Hawaii. There’s a whole heap of stopping points, such as; Crater Rock, as well as the possibility of glimpsing Molokai on an exceptionally clear day.
The namesake of this trail itself is the Makapuu Lighthouse, which was built over a whopping one hundred years ago. Nowadays, this lighthouse is off-limits but can be seen at a reasonable distance at least. If you’re really lucky, you might even spot some dolphins or whales even… so keep your eyes peeled!
8.) The Pearl Harbor Historic Trail
This is a walk that is far more valuable for its historical significance than any other factor. The December 7th, 1941 Japanese bombing of the United States Naval Base in Pearl Harbor came as a total surprise. It was the beginning of America’s involvement in World War Two.
Today, you can walk a nearly six-mile-long stretch of land which offers a visual history of this area of Hawaii. The trail is fairly moderate in some areas, so be sure to prepare accordingly (and be prepared to sweat).
The culmination of the tour is an emotional walk through the Pacific National Monument as well as the Pacific Aviation Museum and one that you should definitely experience when in Hawaii.
9.) Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea claims the title of the highest mountain in Hawaii. Though it rises to nearly 14,000 feet, it would be the tallest peak in the entire world if it were to be measured from its ocean floor base.
Not surprisingly, this is not an easy hike, but the tough climb is absolutely worth it. You break above the cloud line, which shows off some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world.
It is not surprising that this mountain is sacred to native Hawaiians and still considered one of the hardest and best hikes in Hawaii to experience.
10.) Hi’ilawe Falls
Located in the Big Island’s famous Waipio Valley, this area is also known as the Valley of the Kings. Fit for royalty, this is a remote area of the island, so if you want to experience a more isolated, jungle hike, this is perfect for you.
The Waipio Valley is considered extremely sacred in Hawaiian culture; thus, it is highly recommended that you treat the land with the utmost respect as you hike along the path (actually, this a good rule for anywhere really). Don’t forget to take some time to relax at Hi’ilawe Falls too, it’s almost 1,500 feet tall, and makes a beautiful spot against the lush backdrop.
11.) The Lanikai Pillbox Hike
This is an absolutely stunning hike that traverses along the Kaiwa Ridge in Oahu, Hawaii. Gaze upon the crystal-blue waters of Lanikai Beach as well as the Mokulua Islands.
The hike gets its nickname from the “pillboxes” that are scattered at intervals along the trail. Those who wish to go for a simple, quick jaunt can walk less than half an hour’s time to the first pillbox, while those who are in it for the long haul will complete the moderate trail in approximately an hour and a half to two hours. It’s one of the best hikes in Hawaii that can be adapted to your ability.
12.) The Halemaumau Crater
This is one of the most popular and considered the best hikes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is an absolutely once in a lifetime experience you will not wanna miss!
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to encounter a live volcano, look no further than this spot. A short hike to the crater affords mind-boggling views of an active volcanic crater, complete with actual lava flow! The moderate hike explores the crater’s rim, and take approximately an hour or two to complete.