Best Hiking Trails Near Honolulu, Hawaii

If you’re planning a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, or you’re already a local, consider exploring one of the area’s beautiful hiking trails with friends, family, or on a solo adventure. These stunning spots feature a variety of natural elements, including waterfalls, volcanoes, and local flora and fauna. Here’s a list of some of Hawaii’s most stunning landscapes to explore during your next visit or outing. 

Best Hiking Trails Near Honolulu 

Image via Flickr by Kris Arnold

There are a variety of scenic hiking trails in Honolulu that allow you to view the island’s mountains and natural landscapes from above. Here’s a list of eight of the best hiking trails near Honolulu to explore the next time you’re there.

Diamond Head Crater Hike

If you’re looking for an adventure, consider this 560-foot ascent that begins from within the west side of the Diamond Head Crater. Although this trail may seem challenging, it usually only takes an hour to complete, so it’s a great family-friendly activity. You might find loose gravel and potholes on this trail, so it’s important to wear the right footwear and prepare for terrain changes. 

Once you’ve reached the end of the rock pathway, get ready to walk up a long, narrow aisle of stairs and through a 225-foot long tunnel. The adventure is worth it once you reach the summit, as you can enjoy a breath-taking view that overlooks the ocean and allows you to view the crater from above.

Moanalua Valley Trail

Consider this trail if you’re looking for a longer journey, as this 10.4-mile trip typically takes around five hours to complete. The Moanalua Valley Trail hosts the famous Haiku Stairs, often referred to as the “Stairway to Heaven,” because it contains the only legal access to these stairs. Once you reach the end of your journey, you’ll see an abandoned radio tower where you can enjoy stunning views of Honolulu and Southern Oahu. 

This is a great option for experienced explorers because it contains a variety of muddy pathways and steep inclines that are sure to make for an exciting journey. Make sure you prepare for this hike and bring adequate amounts of water and snacks, as there’s no way for you to refill your water bottle along the trail.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Kuliouou Ridge Trail is popular amongst visitors because of its stunning views over Kuliouou Valley. This hike is a good option for experienced explorers or individuals looking for a challenging adventure, as this 5-mile trail typically takes four hours to complete and includes several switchbacks that cause you to zigzag along the ridgeline up to the summit. 

You’ll begin your journey walking through an ironwood forest, where you can enjoy some shade before the final stretch of the trail. This trail allows you to not only gaze across the valley but also see the Kailua coastline, the Koko Crater, and the beautiful farmlands of Waimanalo.

Manoa Falls Trail

If you’re looking for a quick hike to enjoy with friends and family, consider the Manoa Falls Trail, which allows you to experience one of Hawaii’s microclimates and escape the business of the city. The Manoa Valley is a rainforest, so you can visit this trail to enjoy cooler and wetter conditions even if the urban climate is hot or dry. 

Thanks to the climate, you’ll also enjoy a variety of native wildflowers and lush greenery along the trail. You may even stumble upon a few rainbows during your journey. Once you reach the end of the trail, you’ll see an awe-inspiring 150-foot waterfall that flows down a striking rock face. 

Hanauma Bay Ridge Hike

Hanauma Bay Ridge Hike is another beautiful trail you can explore if you want a view of the Koko Head Crater. Reaching the summit also allows you to look over Hanauma Bay and the stunning rocky coastline. This is a great adventure if you’re a novice hiker looking for adventure, if you want to share a fun experience with your family, or if you’re looking for a romantic afternoon. 

It normally takes an hour or two to complete and offers explorers a variety of spots to rest, including hidden beaches. While it’s an excellent trail for visitors of varying fitness levels, it’s important to remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat, as there aren’t many shady spots throughout the hike. 

Wiliwilinui Hiking Trail

The Wiliwilinui Hiking Trail is a 4.5-mile hike round-trip that allows you to view a variety of local beaches, such as Lanikai and Kailua. Along this trail, you can also enjoy cloudy valleys and gorgeous landscapes, and on a clear day, look out upon the Aina Haina neighborhood in East Oahu. 

This is an excellent choice if you’re an experienced hiker who’s looking for a workout, although you may also enjoy it with less-experienced family and friends by using the makeshift stairs that previous hikers built along the trail. If you plan to visit, consider arriving early to beat the crowds and secure a parking spot. 

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail 

The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a 2-mile hike that allows you to see various sights along your journey, including Oahu’s beautiful southeastern coastline and the Koko Crater. Once you reach the end of the trail, you’ll arrive at the Makapu’u Head, where you can gaze across the windward coast, view offshore islets, and admire the red-roofed Makapu’u Lighthouse. 

If you plan your trek between November and May, bring your binoculars because this hike is a fantastic opportunity for whale-watching. When you see the islets, make sure to keep an eye out for a variety of local seabirds, including the frigatebird, the tropicbird, and the ‘iwa, also called the great frigatebird.

Pali Puka Trail 

If you’re looking for adventure and a physical challenge, consider the Pali Puka Trail, also called the Ko’olau Summit Trail. This is a popular route amongst experienced hikers because it includes a steep ascent, difficult climbs, and vertical drops. You may find that the risks are worth the reward because, at the summit, you’ll enjoy a view that spans from the windward coast to Kualoa Ranch. 

This hike is only one and a half miles round-trip, but it typically takes visitors two hours to complete because of its unique complexities. Since this trail is along the narrow ridgelines of the Ko’olau Mountains, it’s important to tread carefully and watch out for strong winds that may occur at any time of year. 

Well, there you have it! That’s eight of the best hiking trails near Honolulu, Hawaii. Do you have another favorite trail to climb? Did we miss a local favorite? Contact us by phone at 808-818-8575 or reach out through our online portal to let us know your thoughts.