February 20, 2015 4 min read
If you’re vacationing in Hawaii anytime soon then hopefully you’ll be spending some time on the island of Oahu. “The Gathering Place”, as this Island is called, is home to Honolulu, Waikiki, Pearl Harbor and the famous North Shore. There is so much to do and see, that it is one destination that should definitely be on your bucket list!
If you’re on Oahu, don’t forget to spend some time away from the throngs of tourists in the city and enjoy the beauty of the tropical mountains and forests that have had people swarming to the Aloha State for many years.
One activity that many people disregard when they vacation in Hawaii is hiking and taking in the gorgeous sites that seem to be around every corner and over every hill on Hawaii hiking trails. Oahu, in particular, has a lot of great hiking trails for visitors. Some are easy while others are moderate to difficult. Here’s a good list of some of the best places to hike in Oahu to get you started in the right direction. All of the trails below are classified as either “easy” or “moderate”. As a general safety rule, always keep your physical fitness level in mind and never try anything that seems to be even just a little bit beyond your abilities.
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is one of the hikes on this list that is primarily on a very kept, mostly paved trail. It is a tourists dream hike! This short hike is only 2 miles round trip, however the views of eastern (windward) Oahu are really extraordinary. The lighthouse at the end of the trial and views of the off-shore “Rabbit Island” are gorgeous. On a clear day you can even see two other Hawaiian Islands, Lanai and Molokai.
Bonus Tip: Between October and March you have the chance of seeing migrating humpback whales breaching off of the coast.
Waimea Falls Trail is even a little easier and shorter than the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. It is also the other paved and well-kept hiking trail on this list. You’ll get to see lots of different tropical flora and plants from around the world as the area also consists of botanical gardens. There is a small fee to take this trail but the pictures and scenic hike are well worth it. The small, but beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail is impressive. You can even take a dip in the water if it is a nice enough day. Lifeguards and flotation devices are available for your safety.
Bonus Tip: The area around Waimea Falls has been used as settings in many movies, including parts of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Maunawili Falls is more of a moderate hike, solely because it’s a little bit longer than any other hike on this list and because it can get muddy. This is definitely not a hike that you want to do without some proper footwear. You’re likely to lose whatever it is that’s on your feet in the mud without proper lacing and fitting. It is a total of 3.2 miles and the waterfall at the end is small but stunning. The best part of this hike is the last 300 to 400 yards or so as you traverse a small river. It allows for some amazing picture taking.
Bonus Tip: At your own risk, try swimming out to the falls and jumping from the top. But, remember to be careful!
This is the shortest of the hikes, but not the easiest. At .6 miles (1.2 miles round-trip) the beginning of the hike is very challenging as the incline is very steep. If it has been raining, then it is even more of a challenge. Most people only go to the first two pillboxes on this hike, but you can go further. The views of Lanikai and Kailua are breathtaking. The Mokulua Islands are beautiful to look at from this hike, so bring your camera. Many people do yoga on top of the pillboxes in the mornings. It’s quite the sight to see!
Bonus Tip: After the hike you can rent a kayak in nearby Kailua and paddle out to one of the Mokulua Islands or just float around in the waters off of the beaches.
The Hanauma Rim Trail, sometimes known as Koko Head Rim Trail, has some truly exquisite sights and is fairly easy. The incline isn’t tough at all and you get dazzling views of eastern Oahu, to include Diamond Head and Koko Head. The best view is directly down onto Hanauma Bay, which is a marine preservation and one of the most visited spots in the entire state of Hawaii by snorkelers and beach goers alike.
Bonus Tip: After the hike, pay a small fee and rent some snorkel gear to explore Hanauma Bay. There are some spectacular tropical coral formations, fish and even sea turtles in the waters at Hanauma Bay. The water is safe and calm and refreshing after all this hiking!
Enjoy your Oahu vacation and be sure to pin your adventures on our Wall Map of Hawaii upon return! Happy Hawaiian Hiking!
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