3 of the Best Oahu Hikes for Your Vacation

I was surprised to discover that Oahu has some fantastic hiking trails. Most people tend to think the neighboring islands offer the sort of trails that get you “away from it all”, but Oahu certainly has its fair share of great trails.

I want to share my  top three favorite hiking trails that I recommend visitors try. These three trails are not only scenic and enjoyable, but they also offer very different environments and views that will help you get to know the island much better.

Diamond Head – this 1.6 mile hike will definitely get your heart rate up with a plethora of stairs to the top, but you won’t mind after you see the amazing view of Waikiki Beach and Honolulu. Read about my experience and tips for hiking Diamond Head.

The view of Honolulu from the top of the Diamond Head hike.

Manoa Falls – this 1.6 mile hike takes you through a lush green jungle to view a 100-foot waterfall. You’ll enjoy the journey as much as the viewing the waterfall on this hike. Before you hit this trail, be sure and read my tips for hiking to Manoa Falls.

base of manoa falls
The base of Manao Falls

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail – this 2.8-mile , ocean side hike is best enjoyed around sunrise, in my opinion. This gentle trail offers wonderful ocean views from several vantage points. Before you go, check out my experience and tips for hiking the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail.

The view of Makapu’u Lighthouse from the trail

So, these are my top three favorite Oahu hikes. Which hikes are your favorites?

1 comment
  1. Those are three of my favorites also.


    Kaena Point from the Leeward (west) side – It is very scenic. Whales in the winter. Monk seals & albatross at the end of the hike. Watch surf crashing over lava rocks especially in the winter. Several sea arches along the trail. The trail is actually an old railroad line. The trail is washed out for about 100 feet near the point. There is a short trail to take just above the washed out section. Park at the end of the road at Yokohama Bay Beach. I have also hiked to the point from the north side. It’s also nice, but not as nice as from the Leeward side. But it is more convenient to hike from the North Shore.

    Kaiwa Ridge Trail (Lanikai Pillbox Trail) – Overlooks Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, Moku Lua Islands. There are two concrete WWII bunkers (pillboxes) that you can climb to the top. You can take the trail past the second bunker for a good view of Bellows Beach & Waimanalo Beach.

    Not really a hike, but this is really scenic. Parked the car at Waimea Bay on North Shore & hiked to Sunset Beach. Stayed on the beach & lava most of the time. There is also a bike/jogging trail that goes almost the entire distance. If you get tired of walking along the beach, take the biking/jogging trail for a while. Total distance between Waimea Bay & Sunset beach is just over 3 miles. You pass Pupukea/Shark’s Cove which is very scenic and Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline). There is a lava field at Pupukea. There is a bigger lava field between Pupukea & Ehukai Beach. After this lava field we walked along the beach until we got tired of the beach & then took the biking/jogging trail. In the winter, you can only do this hike if you stay mostly on the bike/jogging trail. Three of us did the hike in the summer. I took the bus back from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay to pick up the car. Picked up the other two at Sunset Beach & had lunch nearby at Ted’s Bakery.

    Not really a hike, but you can walk out on the lava at Laie Point in Laie. This only takes a few minutes. Great place to watch the surf crash over the rocks in the winter.

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