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Top 7 Best Hikes in Oahu 2023

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A Cook, Software analyst & Blogger.
Hawaii, US
11:46 am, September 23, 2023
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Best Hikes in Oahu: Oahu’s pristine beaches and two vast mountain ranges, Koʻolau and Waianae, make for postcard-worthy landscapes.

While the Island offers endless seaside activities, it’s also home to some of the best hikes in the state. Many of its trails run along the ridgelines of these two mountain ranges, offering spectacular views.

Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-tread paved path or challenging trails that go deep into the forests, you’ll find it here.

No matter which trail you take, your efforts will be rewarded with breath-taking views and the exhilaration of making it to the top.  

Ready for an epic hiking adventure?

Dive into our list of the top 7 hikes in Oahu: – 

Diamond Head Crater Trail #1

Get the most Instagrammable views as you hike up to one of the most important landmarks on the island.

Diamond Head is an ancient tuff cone and is sprawled over 475 acres. The hike to the summit is only 1.6 miles long but can be strenuous since there’s an elevation gain of around 560 feet.

Best Hikes in Oahu
Source:- Facebook

The trail begins as a sidewalk and becomes rocky as it leads to the first lookout of the ocean.

Post that, there’s a set of steep stairs that goes to a tunnel, followed by another set of stairs.

The last leg of the hike consists of climbing up a spiral staircase which will take you to the top of the crater rim.

The Island and ocean views from here are spectacular.

You can also get great views of the crater floor from the railed walkway. Make sure you wear your hiking shoes and carry enough water. 

Manoa Falls Trail #2

Rejuvenate your senses as you make your way through a lush rainforest on a trail that leads to the stunning Manoa Falls.

Located within the Round Top Forest Reserve, Manoa Falls offers an awe-inspiring spectacle plunging from a height of 150 feet from a cliff.

Best Hikes in Oahu
Source:- Facebook

The hike is a 1.7-mile round trip and takes around an hour to finish.

Make sure you wear appropriate shoes since it can get slippery and there’s an elevation gain of 633 feet.

Along the journey, you’ll find many colourful wildflowers, go through a eucalyptus grove, and might even see rainbows.   

Lanikai Pillbox Trail #3

Soak in panoramic views of beaches and bays as you complete the Lanikai Pillbox hike. The hike is around 1.8 miles out and back and takes around an hour to complete.

The hike starts from a residential area in the quiet suburb of Lanikai.

Soon after you begin your hike on a steep trail, you’ll come across the first pillbox, a small fort used as a military post. The view from the pillbox is incredible.

Best Hikes in Oahu
Best Hikes in Oahu

The trail then runs further along Kaiwa Ridge, which offers stunning views of Kailua and Lanikai. You can move up or come down to the beach.

If you’ve worked up an appetite, you can also enjoy a scrumptious meal in one of the many restaurants in Kailua. The best time to go for this hike is either at sunrise or sunset. 

Olomana Trail #4

If you’re an avid hiker, this challenging trail may be the one to choose. Located within Mount Olomana State Mountain, this trail traverses through the Olomana, Paku’i, and Ahiki peaks.

The trail is around 4.4. mile long and requires the use of ropes, bouldering, and tree routes.

The hike will take you through a muddy forest before leading to the first peak which offers beautiful views of the Island’s windward side.

Best Hikes in Oahu
Best Hikes in Oahu

It’s a short hike to the second peak after that. Most hikers return from here since the distance between the second and the third peak is the most difficult to cover.

Hikers are required to get down from the second peak using ropes and then scramble their way up to the third on an extremely narrow trail.

The hike takes around three hours to complete but the exhilaration during the journey and views at the end make it worth it. 

Koko Crater Trail #5

This short 1.6-mile round trip is more challenging than it seems.

Hikers are required to climb around 1,048 steps with an elevation gain of 885 feet. It’s on the side of a steep hill and built on abandoned railroad ties.

It was built during the Second World War as the Koko Crater Tramway used to get cargo uphill. You’ll be hiking up to the west side of the Koko Crater’s summit. 

Best Hikes in Oahu
Best Hikes in Oahu

Even though it can be challenging, the incredible views from the top are well worth the effort. You can park your vehicle at the Koko Head District Park.

The crater soars up over 1,200 feet above Hanauma Bay and the Hawaii Kai area. Make sure to carry water and if you’re hiking at sunset, bring headlamps as well. 

Waimea Falls Trail #6

One of the most popular and accessible hikes in Oahu, Waimea Falls Trail offers a great opportunity to explore the natural and cultural treasures of Hawaii.

This 3.5-mile trail mostly consists of a paved path and begins at Waimea Valley Visitor Center.

Best Hikes in Oahu

Since for the most part, it runs on flat terrain, it draws a lot of families and elderly hikers. 

It winds through Waimea Valley, a stunning botanical garden nestled within a site of cultural and archaeological importance. The lush forests and beautiful gardens make the journey pleasant.

It will finally lead you to the 45 feet high Waimea Falls, which plummets into the Kamananui stream. It’s perfect to relax amidst mesmerizing natural scenery. 

Ka’au Crater Trail #7

Ready to rejuvenate your senses amidst an enchanting rainforest?

Go for the Ka’au Crater Trail, one of the best hikes in Oahu. It’s a 4.5-mile loop and has an elevation gain of around 1,940 feet. The initial part of the hike itself will take you through a lush grove.

It then winds along a stream with towering leafy trees all around until the first waterfall. You can relax here or even go for a swim.

Best Hikes in Oahu

Before the second waterfall, you’ll come across some challenging sections where you’ll be required to use ropes.

After the third waterfall, the hike becomes a bit slippery since you’ll be climbing up the sides of the waterfall. But the views from the top are well worth every second of the journey.

You’ll also get a closer look at the Ka’au Crater.

What’s more?

You’ll return via another route which offers a different scenery altogether. Since the trail is not too crowded, it’s perfect for enjoying some tranquil moments in nature. 

A notable mention here is the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, a 2.5-mile out-and-back trail that leads to a lighthouse and an observation deck offering spectacular views of the ocean and mountains.

So, start with the one that ticks off all the boxes on your checklist, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure. 

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Q. What are the different types of hiking trails in Oahu?

Oahu is home to a diverse variety of trails including coastal trails, mountain trails, historic trails, and waterfall trails. 

Q. What is the longest trail in Oahu?

The Ka’au Crater Trail is one the longest trails in Oahu and runs for approximately 6 miles out and back. The trail takes hikers through a lush forest, three enchanting waterfalls, and a crater. 

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