If breathtaking landscapes woven through lush jungles call to you, then Oahu is beckoning. As part of the Hawaiian archipelago, Oahu boasts some of the most stunning hikes in Hawaii.
In any Oahu hiking expedition, you have the chance to explore the island at your own pace, immersing yourself in untamed nature and awe-inspiring vistas.
Even if you’re not an avid hiker, there are some easier, less daunting Oahu hiking trails. From the gentle ascent of the Manoa Falls Trail to the steep Seve Falls Trail, Oahu’s hiking paths offer something for everyone, surrounded by native Hawaiian flora and fauna.
So, if you crave adventure, a journey into Oahu’s hiking trails and incredible wilderness, let’s dive in.
1. Diamond Head Hike
Given its proximity to Waikiki (Oahu’s most famous beach), Diamond Head rightfully claims its place among the island’s most renowned hiking trails. It boasts stunning views, and you won’t even break a sweat getting there.
But fair warning: it also means it’s a tourist magnet.
Originally called Le’ahi by ancient Hawaiians, this ancient volcanic crater located on Oahu is a beautiful, fairly easy hike for all levels. It looks like a trek that would take days to navigate with guides and mules, but fortunately, reality is far less intimidating.
The Diamond Head hike takes a mere 40 to 70 minutes, elevating you to around 760 feet. There, you’re treated to a beautiful 360-degree panorama; you can see Waikiki’s skyline, peer into the crater, and gaze straight out into the endless blue horizon. No wonder it’s so popular, considered one of the best Oahu hiking trails, right?
2. Manoa Falls Trail
Another Oahu hiking trip near Waikiki, the Manoa Falls Trail is more of a pleasant stroll than a sweaty trek. Due to its ease (only a mile and a half!), and being relatively busy, it might be busier than other trails on Oahu, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time.
The trailhead is at the top of Manoa Road at the Paradise Park building, just outside Oahu’s main city—Honolulu—and easily accessible by public transportation. It’s actually a well-maintained path, winding through twisting tree shadows.
You’ll enjoy beautiful views of Oahu along the way, eventually culminating in a view of the 150-foot waterfall as a rewarding end to your efforts.
Unfortunately, swimming in the pool below the falls is not allowed. It’s prohibited (think twice if you’re tempted!), as waterborne bacteria lurk in the stagnant drainage. In other words: taking a dip there might make you sick, so exercise some common sense. It’s best to swim safely at the beaches of Waikiki after your hike.
3. Seven Falls Hike
This trail is indeed designed for the true hiker but stands as one of the best hikes in Oahu. Located in Kaneohe, the Seven Falls Trail will make your heart race. Be prepared for dense jungles and rugged terrain around Oahu. Don’t expect to see others on the trail—few people know about it. However, precisely because there are no others, it makes it one of the best Oahu hikes.
The main part of Oahu’s trail extends along the bottom of a valley. Although not well-marked, as long as you follow the valley, you should be fine. It might take a few hours to reach the first waterfall. Once there, you can frolic in the water.
Continue along the valley, and you’ll discover larger and more spectacular waterfalls!
Some kind souls have placed ropes on rocks, making climbing easier. But beware; they are slippery, so I recommend being very careful. Also, remember, you’ll have to climb back over the waterfalls when returning home, so be extra cautious on the way back!
This Oahu hike is truly like a crazy Indiana Jones adventure, so I recommend it for adventurers with a higher skill level. Wear sensible shoes, bring plenty of water, and don’t attempt things you think you can’t do. Know your limits.
4. Ehukai Pillbox Hike
I love trails with strange names, and Ehukai Pillbox Hike does make you curious about where you’re headed (although many place names in Oahu seem to follow these guidelines). This trail is somewhat like a hidden gem, mainly known to Oahu locals who often climb up the hill to sit and watch the sunset.
The trailhead is at Sunset Elementary School (why didn’t my school have such a cool name?), and it winds up through trees and the roots of large rocks.
The entire hike takes only about half an hour, but it’s a steep climb. The trail gets very steep after a while, and ropes are tied to the side of the slope for balance. So, your life is actually in the hands of strangers who tied the ropes. Some ropes are a bit dubious, which might be why Ehukai Pillbox isn’t officially open.
5. Crouching Lion Hike
Perhaps the coolest-named hike in Oahu, Crouching Lion—near the communities of Kaawa, Kaneohe, and the magnificent Kahana Valley—offers panoramic views that are nothing short of spectacular. But that’s only after a steep and quite challenging climb up the Crouching Lion itself. I mean, if you can marvel at such amazing views in just 30 to 45 minutes, it’s going to be a steep hike.
When I say hike, it’s more like… yeah, climbing. Parts of this trail involve relying on ropes for balance in steeper sections. Therefore, your life is, in fact, in the hands of strangers who tied the ropes. Some ropes are a bit suspect, which might be why Crouching Lion isn’t formally open.
Nevertheless, this hasn’t deterred many adventurous travelers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts from scaling Crouching Lion, reaching the top to admire the breathtaking scenery and the awe-inspiring views of the island’s deep blue waters. It’s a true adventure!
In conclusion, Oahu is a hiker’s dream, with trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging climbs, offering unparalleled views of the island’s diverse landscapes. Whether you choose the popular Diamond Head Hike, the serene Manoa Falls Trail, the secluded Seven Falls Hike, the intriguingly named Ehukai Pillbox Hike, or the boldly titled Crouching Lion Hike, each trail promises a unique adventure. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your sense of adventure, and explore the natural wonders of Oahu on foot!