The most scenic hikes in Hawaii by island

Surrounded by nature on a Hawaii hiking trail

From our many trips to Hawaii, we’ve etched some of our fondest memories while hiking on Hawaii’s many beautiful trails. The sights and sounds made every step worth the experiences. We want to share our favorite, scenic hikes by Hawaiian Island in case you would like to create your own memories on these amazing trails.


Our favorite Kauai hike is the first two miles (four miles roundtrip) of the Kalalau Trail that starts from the lush, north shore.  This challenging trail climbs through a forest up to a cliff line with views of the Na Pali Coast. Then the trail passes several switchbacks down to sea level over to remote Hanakapi’ai Beach. For more information and tips, see our Kalalau Trail article.

A view of the Na Pali Coast from the Kalalau Trail

For the views of the Na Pali Coast, the Kalalau Trail tops our Kauai list, but the Waimea Cliff/Canyon Trail comes in at a very close second place.


Though the hike to the top of Diamond Head is probably Oahu’s most popular hike, our favorite trail goes to Manoa Falls. See our post on hiking Manoa Falls. This relatively easy trail meanders through a jungle scene to the base of Manoa Falls that stands at about 100 feet tall. Along the way, the sounds of birds and then of the waterfall make this hike a treat for both the eyes and ears.

Manoa Falls

Some other trails worth mentioning are the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail and though not a hike per se, Waimea Valley has trails and a waterfall where you can swim. Both the Makapuu Lighthouse and Waimea Valley trails are paved.


Without a doubt, the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls is our favorite Maui hike. The trail goes through an enchanting bamboo forest to the bottom of Waimoku Falls which is approximately 400 feet tall. This trail is one to plan into your day(s) of exploring the road to Hana.

Waimoku Falls


The Koloiki Hike goes through upland forest to views of gulches and the islands of Molokai and Maui. Since it’s upcountry, the air is pleasantly cooler.

A view from the Koloiki Trail


The Halawa Valley hike is more than just a hike to a pretty waterfall, it’s a wonderful cultural experience, too.

The bottom half of Mo’oula Waterfall in Halawa Valley

Hawaii (Big) Island

So far, we’ve covered a lot of hikes to waterfalls and ocean/valley/cliff views, but the Big Island has one of the most unique hikes of all — Kilauea Iki Trail. This trail goes through a rainforest down across a crater floor that was once a gushing lake of lava and then back up through a rainforest. The contrast from lush vegetation to the mostly barren crater floor is amazing.

Kilauea Iki Crater

If you like waterfalls, there’s an excellent, guided waterfall hike on the Big Island. See our article about the Kohala Coast Waterfall Adventure with Hawaii Forest & Trail.

How many of these hikes have you done? What’s your favorite trail in Hawaii?

  1. I’m going to Maui this September, I saw online that the The Pools of ‘Ohe’o are still closed since last year. Is the Pipiwai Trail also closed? I know both of these are right in the same area.

  2. Aloha,

    I saw a hike reported years ago where they fly you in by helicopter. They only allow you to do it once in a lifetime. Not sure how they regulate that but would love to know where it is and who to contact. Any ideas?

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