The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Hawaiian island of Oahu and the city of Honolulu is usually Mai Tai’s, beaches, and the Waikiki strip. Dig a little deeper, and most locals or frequent visitors to Hawaii know that there’s so much more. One of my favorite things to do while vacationing in Hawaii is to plan multiple hikes around the island.
Lush and Jurrasic
There’s a reason why movies like Lost and Jurrasic Park were filmed here. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and in a lot of ways outer worldly.
Hawaii has a near perfect balance of warmth, humidity, and light precipitation. That awesome climate results in an ecosystem that happily thrives and grows to a brilliant, lush green.
Formed from volcanic activity, the island of Oahu also gives visitors an opportunity to walk through the jagged earth that is such an important part of Hawaii’s geology. Atop knife-edged cliffs, up mountain paths, and skirting the top of the volcano cone, the views are as stunning as they are mesmerizing.
On Oahu, it’s that stark contrast of the inviting “alohas” of colorful birds, hanging vines and thick canopies one minute, and then being transported to Mars-like vistas and curious rock formations, that keeps me coming back for more.
Hiking for Everyone
The best part about hiking around Oahu from Honolulu is the fact that almost anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a pro-hiker with gear, nor do you need a guide to take you. Most of the popular hikes in the area are well marked but also busy. That’s code word for “lots of tourists”. That being said, don’t let that deter you because that doesn’t diminish any of the beauty of the surrounding environment.
On the flipside, if you’re looking to go off the beaten path there are also numerous hikes that can give any seasoned hiker a run for their money.
Top Hikes On the Island of Oahu
While there are easily over 50 hikes of varying difficulty on the island, these are the three must-do ones for any first or second time visitors to Hawaii.
1 – Diamond Head Crater
Was there any doubt that this would be on here? This iconic landmark is not only a sight to look at from the beach, but climbing up to the top is both satisfying and rewarding. The 360 degree views offered at the top provide the most magnificent views of Waikiki. This hike is a relatively easy hike with a combination of steady incline of switchbacks and a short stair climb. Try to budget at least an hour for the journey up and back down. As a bonus, you can also explore some of the remaining old war bunkers at the peak.
2 – Manoa Falls
Explore Hawaii’s very own rainforest with a hike through a dense trail of tropical trees that eventually lead to a freshwater pool and waterfall. The stage for several LOST episodes and Jurrasic Park, this popular trail is well-maintained and offers a lot to discover in this tropical paradise. Budget at least half an hour to get to the falls from the parking lot.
3 – Kaena Point
For something completely different, head over to the most Westerly point in Oahu that has been called “Untouched Oahu.” Aside from an old railroad track and a few abandoned cars, this trail really takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. What makes this hike unique is that you can find a wide variety of sights along the way which include sand dunes, the crashing of ocean waves against rocks, and tidal pools full of life. It’s recommended that you do this hike in the morning as there isn’t much cover from the sun.
With Honolulu being the perfect home base for all of your adventures on Oahu, make sure you check out the article where I share all of my secrets about affordable hotels in Honolulu.
Need a 2 day itinerary? I have you covered too!