Best Hikes on Oahu, Hawaii – Your Travel Guide:
Olomana – Three Peaks Ridge Hike (Advanced)
Three peaks, which make the Olomana ridge, jut out of the Ko’olau basin and rise up 1,600 ft above the floor. A formidable set of peaks, it draws inspiration to those who want to climb it and reverence to those who don’t.
The first peak is challenging but not death-defying. Easy enough for those who have hiked other ridge hikes on the island. but difficult for anyone who doesn’t mind a steep ascent and some rope/rock scrambling. The first peak provides one of the best views, so you’re always welcome to stop there and relive till the next day. But the second peak is a quick walk over and has one of the most dramatic views of the third peak. Climbing Olomana, at least till the second peak, requires at least 4 hours. 5.5-6 hours for a roundtrip to the third and most dangerous peak.
Ka’au Crater Hike (Advanced)
The Ka’au Crater hike is another advanced hike on the island that is packed to the brim with adventure. This five to seven hour hike hits three different waterfalls, each impressive on their own, and then climbs above a hidden crater that sits above Honolulu, then summits to the top of the ridge so that you can view the other side of the island. It’s regarded as one of the best hikes on the island, but it isn’t easy and can challenge even the best. You’ll want to be prepared for a hot and muddy day. The winds don’t blow through this valley. Only after you pass the three waterfalls and go above the crater, do the tradewinds return. In the photo below: at the top of the summit you can see Olomana in the distance, along with Kailua and Waimanalo.
Read the full blog post about Ka’au Crater Hike.
Lanikai Pillboxes Hike (Easy)
Lanikai Pillboxes is one of the easiest hikes on the island, but still affords one of the best views. From sunrise till sunset, you’re bound to get a good amount of scenery. There’s no wrong time to go. It’s just a short and steep 15-20 minute climb to the top where you can relax on a set of concrete bunkers. This is a must do for anyone visiting the island.
Kokohead Stairs (Intermediate)
Consisting of 1,048 steps, Kokohead will leave you gasping for air as you reach the top. It’s your entire workout for the day, perhaps even week. But at the top, after conquering these stairs, you’ll be rewarded to a panoramic view from Diamond Head to Hawaii Kai to Sandy Beach.
Maile (Pink) Pillboxes (Easy)
The Maile Pillboxes, also known as the Pink Pillbox Hike, is one of the best hikes on the west side of the island. Here, you will be able to climb a steep oceanside ridge mountain and see five different WWII Pillboxes that sit on top of the hills. Go here for sunset for a nice way to end the day.
Crouching Lion Trail (Intermediate)
Crouching Lion offers one of the best views on the island. A short steep 20 minute climb will get you to a high point above the crescent shaped Kahana Bay. On the ridge line, a small rock outcropping will face towards the sea like a crouching lion, hence the name. It’s one of my favorite hikes on the island. A short and steep – good effort to reward ratio activity on Oahu. Make sure to bring your polarizing filter for your camera so the color really stands out.
Mt. Olympus (Intermediate)
All the driving up the mountain will make you happy. Mount Olympus starts at the top of the St. Louis neighborhood, high above the Manoa Valley floor. Here, you’ll climb up and down ridges and be able to summit to the tops of the Ko’olaus. Many trees offer great places to sit and view downtown Honolulu. Don’t start this hike too late in the day, or your car will be locked in the parking lot at the top.
Read the full blog post about Mt. Olympus.
Lulumahu Falls (Easy)
Lulumahu is one of Oahu’s most popular waterfalls, but not technically legal to visit. Through a bamboo forest, and a couple strawberry guava areas, you’ll reach a 50 foot two-tiered waterfall. A small wading pool is deep enough for a slight swim. It’s about 40 minutes into the forest, and a quick 30 minutes back. Be prepared for a refreshing-cold mountain water bath.
Hanauma Bay Rim Trail (Easy)
Hanauma Bay Rim Trail has so many different terrains on this short and easy hike. You’ll walk along a paved road up above the famous Hanauma Bay, then descend into the crater on a lava rock trail. This hike then takes you to the edge of the water – the Kaiwi Coastline – that features large and mesmerizing crashing waves. It’s a fun one indeed. This hike can be done in a loop but it is difficult. You can do an out and back hike where ever you decide to stop.
Kuliouou Ridge Hike (Intermediate)
A challenging but fairly easy ascent up to the summit of the Ko’olau Mountain Range, Kuliouou goes through all of the different forests in Hawaii on a set of never ending switchbacks. However, it is one of the easier summits to climb on Oahu, and you’ll be left with a view of all of Waimanalo and town. This is a good introduction to Hawaii hiking and is usually clear at the top, if you wait long enough.
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail (Easy)
The paved path to the top of Makapu’u lighthouse is one of the best family friendly hikes on the island, giving you an incredible view of the east side of the island. Here, you can Rabbit Island all the way to Kaneohe. Makapu’u Beach is just below to the left. But don’t let the easy hike deter you. It can also be a difficult one if you decide to go to the Makapu’u Tide Pools on the short, steep trail down the side of the mountain. It’s worth taking this nice and energizing walk up – a nice place to talk and enjoy the views.
More Oahu Guides Here:
These are my other guides for Oahu:
Ultimate Guide to Oahu: Best Things to Do on Oahu – Complete Bucket List
Best Hikes: The Best Hikes on Oahu
Best Beaches: Top 5 Beaches in Waikiki
Where to Stay: Best Areas to Stay on Oahu, Hawaii – Your Travel Guide