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Hiking on Oahu
Oʻahu is rich with hiking trails to waterfalls, through rainforests and with spectacular views for everyone from novice hikers to experts to historians, thrill seekers and families.
If you know where to go, most hikes can be done without a guide. Some can easily be reached with a short Uber or Lyft ride from Waikiki or even a shuttle service, if your hotel provides.
The most popular hike is the Diamond Head State Monument, just above the outskirts of Waikiki. Flip over a Hawaiʻi state quarter, and you’ll see this iconic crater overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s an easy hike except for the final 200 steps that are known to be steep. The payoff is an incredible view of the surrounding cities and skyline, as well as miles of pristine coastline.
Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail
Another easy hike is the Makapuʻu Point lighthouse trail just past Sandy Beach on the east side of the island. It’s a paved, 1-mile trip to the top overlooking the lighthouse with stops along the way to whale watch during winter months. Makapuʻu is a child-friendly hike with a moderate incline.
For another easy climb with scenic views, check out the Lanikai Pillboxes trail above the Lanikai Loop. After a short trek to the top, hikers get an incredible view of the Mokulua Islands a mile offshore as well as Kailua, Enchanted Lake and the windward coast.
Aiea Loop Trail
Those ready for a more moderate, longer hike should check out the Aiea Loop trail, a 4.5-mile trail running through the Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area where remnants of a B-24 bomber that crashed in 1944 remain.
For a dip under a waterfall, Manoa Falls is a 1.6-mile trail through a rainforest to a 150-foot waterfall, while Maunawili Falls off the Pali Highway is a 3-mile trek through a rainforest and stream that can get muddy, but gives hikers the chance to bask in the water at the end.
Stairway to Heaven vs. Olomana Trail
Extreme hikers will be disappointed to learn that the Stairway to Heaven is closed and the entrance is guarded by security. But don’t sweat it; the nearby Three Peaks hike is a challenging replacement on the Olomana Trail. It’s a 4.1-mile trek with dangerously narrow ridges, steep inclines where ropes are needed, and a little rock climbing. This hike is not for beginners or the faint of heart. Once at the top you’ll have to do it all over again on the way down, so be prepared.
Group and Private Hiking Tours
There are hundreds of hiking trails and hidden waterfalls on Oʻahu, and tour companies such as Oahu Nature Tours, West Oahu SUP & Sport, Adventure Tours Hawaii offer group and private tours for more chances to explore.
On all O‘ahu hikes, remember to bring plenty of water and wear a hat and sunscreen because the tropical heat can be exhausting. Don’t leave any valuables in your car while hiking. Instead, put them in the trunk or take them along. And don’t forget an extra set of shoes because rainforest hikes can get muddy.
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on the North Shore has the best tropical flavors and toppings.
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