One of the best ways to take in the beautiful natural landscape of Oahu is to go hiking. In between your Hawaiian vacation of eating fantastic food and lying around the beach, it’s nice to get some activity in and explore the island. Go on one of these top five Oahu hikes and you’ll come across waterfalls, great views, and stunning scenery.
1. Diamond Head
Diamond Head is easily the most popular hike in Oahu with tourists, but for a good reason. This hike is relatively close to the busy mall strip, so you can quickly grab food post-hike. It’s also a short walk, bike ride, or drive from most of Waikiki’s central hotels, so you don’t need to rent a car to do this hike.
Climbing to the summit of Diamond Head is about 0.8 miles one way, with an elevation of 761 feet, taking most people between 1.5-2 hours to do the entire hike. The trail can be challenging at times, mainly because the steep terrain is uneven at times. Hikers are encouraged to wear proper footwear on this hike and go slowly.
The hike is worth the hard work because you get expansive 360-degree views of Waikiki and the rest of the Oahu coastline at the top. This hike is often very busy, so make sure you get there early! The last entrance to the trails is 4:00 pm every day as the gates close at 6:00 pm.
2. Kau’u Crater Hike
If you’re up for a half-day hiking challenge, consider doing the Kau’u Crater Hike. This hike takes approximately 4-5 hours to complete and includes several waterfalls, a volcanic crater, amazing views, and even some rope climbing. As this hike is more challenging, it’s not overly crowded, making for a peaceful hike.
The hike immediately starts with a steep incline, and within just a few minutes, you find yourself in a dense jungle. Not only does this hike have three waterfalls, but you have to climb past the side of one of the waterfalls to continue the hike! The good news is this is one of the few hikes in Oahu that has waterfalls you can swim in. Once you reach the top, you get stunning views of the Kau’u Crater.
This hike is absolutely worth the effort, so bring shoes that can get muddy, pack a lunch, and prepare yourself for a workout!
3. Lanikai Pillbox Hike
The Lanikai Pillbox Hike, also known as the Ka’iwa Ridge Trail, is a short, rocky hike with fantastic Oahu coastal views. The entire hike is slightly under two miles and takes most people only 30 minutes to get to the top. So, naturally, this hike is popular with families as it’s quick and easy.
Most people like to pack a lunch and stay for a bit at the top to take in the views. Alternatively, consider doing this hike at dawn to catch one of the most stunning sunrises of your life.
You can expect this hike to be busy most of the day, but we promise that doesn’t detract from its experience.
4. Koko Crater Railway Trail
The Koko Crater Railway Trail is considered to be the most difficult hike in Oahu by most people. Even though it’s a short hike (1.4 miles), the entire hike is all a steep incline that tests your endurance. You climb the 1048 stairs formed by an old railroad track leading you up to the exterior of the Koko Crater. Koko Crater Railway Trail is a unique hike because you actually get to climb the inside of a volcano crater! At the top, you get views of the east coast and Hanauma Bay. You have to do this hike just to say you conquered the Koko Crater Trail.
5. Waimano Falls Trail
Waimano Falls Trail is a steep and challenging hike that rewards you with a waterfall and pool of water at the bottom. Our pro tip is to hike this trail the day after it rains so that the pools are full and you can go for a cooling swim. The trail is accessible all year long, is dog-friendly (on-leash), and is 2.8 miles roundtrip. This hike is considered hard, but if you want to see a stunning Oahu waterfall, this is the hike for you.
So, which hike will you go on first?