The Ultimate Guide to Hiking on O‘ahu
We’ve rounded up the best hikes and trails in town, Central O‘ahu, East O‘ahu, West O‘ahu, Windward and North Shore.
Whether you’re looking to revel in stunning views, swim in a waterfall, wander through a jungle or get a serious workout via a steep climb, these hikes will get your heart pumping and remind you of the unadulterated beauty of Hawai‘i. This guide to some of the best hikes on O‘ahu covers the entire island, categorized by region: Town, Central O‘ahu, East O‘ahu, West O‘ahu, Windward and North Shore. We’ve even included a section specifically for family-friendly hikes.
Note: Hiking can be dangerous, and not every trail is a good idea for every person. Keep your personal fitness and skill levels in mind, and always take proper precautions when venturing off road. Heed “no trespassing” and other warning signs. And perhaps most importantly, mālama ‘āina to preserve and protect these beautiful trails. For example, do your research, take out whatever you take in, and respect the plants and animals. For more information, visit the Department of Land and Resources’ Hiking in Hawai‘i and Nā Ala Hele Trail and Access pages.
You don’t have to venture far out of town to find yourself out of Honolulu’s urban-island atmosphere and into the O‘ahu’s remarkable natural surroundings. These hikes can take you through bamboo-laden forests, get you up close and personal with the iconic ‘ōhi‘a lehua tree and into the crisp waters beneath a majestic waterfall.
This short Nu‘uanu jaunt will take you to an enchanting 10-foot waterfall and swimming hole.
This hike proves a stunning view doesn’t always require a killer climb.
Also known as Mau‘umae Trail, this ridge hike will get your heart pumping and offers some sweet views of the windward coast, Waimānalo and the highest peak in the Koʻolau Range.
Makiki Valley Loop Trail
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life without leaving Honolulu.
Mānoa Falls Trail
This waterfall hike in the back of Mānoa is great for novice hikers and enjoyed by all.
SEE ALSO: 5 Family-Friendly Running Trails on O‘ahu
The easy hike in the back of Mānoa Valley allows you to explore a dense jungle.
An accessible fairy-tale hike introduces you to the Honolulu Mauka Trail System.
Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail
Expect a good workout and spectacular views of Mānoa and Pālolo valleys, Honolulu and the Ko‘olau Range from this moderate hike.
The homes within the valleys and atop the ridges of East O‘ahu are known for being some of the most sought-after, thanks in part to the ideal location. It’s no surprise then, that the hiking trails within this area are also complete with panoramic views that span the South Shore all the way to Waimānalo and beyond.
Hawai‘i Loa Ridge Trail
This challenging trail includes varied terrain and ends with a steep climb to a rewarding view.
Koko Crater Trail
Brace yourself for the railway stairs that will take you about a mile straight up to a breathtaking 360-degree view of the East Side with a heavy cardio workout.
Kuli‘ou‘ou Ridge Trail
Take in views of east Oʻahu at the top of this ridgeline trail.
Kuli‘ou‘ou Valley Trail
Try this lush trail in East Honolulu, perfect for the beginner hiker, for a quick workout.
Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail
This popular trail is great for beginners and dog owners alike.
For a fun outing with the keiki or a challenging workout, this hike is great for everyone.
The inner part of the island features trails that provide an escape into verdant forests. Many of these hikes are great for beginners, and one is particularly rooted in history with seven cobblestone bridges throughout.
‘Aiea Loop Trail
This easy trail is a hike through a verdant forest with native trees.
Moanalua Valley Trail
Also known as Kamananui Valley Road, this relaxing trail is great for the whole family.
Waimano Falls and Pools
A hidden trail in Pearl City that leads to a waterfall and swimming hole.
While the Wai‘anae Range is home to the island’s tallest peak (Mount Ka‘ala), there’s also a less challenging hike that still showcases the breathtaking views of the mountains and the Wai‘anae Coast. If you’re lucky (and have great vision), you may even spot a pod of dolphins.
A quick and not too difficult hike that can be appropriate for children and dogs.
One of the most challenging hikes on O‘ahu that ascends to the highest point on the island.
There are a variety of hikes that start in Kāne‘ohe, Kailua or elsewhere on the Windward Coast. Some require a little more planning (and even a kayak to access it), but all of them showcase the unique landscape of Hawai‘i, not to mention its cerulean-colored ocean.
Lanikai Pillbox Trail
A quick trek with a breathtaking view in Kailua.
Head to this trail when you’re more in the mood for a relaxing trek.
This hike requires a fun kayaking adventure before even beginning to tackle the trail.
This challenging hike near Kailua has incomparable views of the Windward Side.
Though the North Shore is known for its idyllic stretch of beaches and epic waves, it also boasts some of the best hiking on O‘ahu. Of course, at the summit of most of these hikes, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the shoreline. During the winter months, watch the waves roll in, and during summer, you can decide which calm waters you’ll want to jump in after you make your way back down the trail.
A moderate hike with an Instagram-worthy World War II bunker and awesome views of the North Shore.
Ka‘ena Point Trail
Explore the beauty of O‘ahu’s Leeward Side from this coastal trail.
This hidden gem boasts a walk through jungle greenery, a peaceful incline through pine trees and a stunning ocean view.
Watch whales breach, planes, gliders and parachutes take off, and delight in ocean views as you make your way up this easy trail.
Depending on their age, keiki can also participate in a lot of the hiking adventures available on O‘ahu. Here are just a few of our favorite family-friendly hikes and running trails.
‘Aiea Loop Trail
Try this 4.8-mile trail that features inspiring views overlooking the Ko‘olau mountains and H-3.
Try this shady, short-but-sweet Honolulu hike with a reward at the end.
Mānoa Falls Trail
Less mud and more safety upgrades make this popular Honolulu hike a more family-friendly adventure.
Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail
Search for humpback whales at this 2.5-mile (round trip) paved hike.
Maunalaha, Kanealole and Makiki Valley Trails
Also known as Makiki Valley Loop Trail, these three trails are perfect for bird watching, running or just exploring—regardless of your age.
Nānākuli Overlook Trail at Camp Pālehua
Explore a forest high above O‘ahu, where you’ll feel on top of the world.
SEE ALSO: The 5 Most Haunted Hikes on O‘ahu