I've been to Oahu twice now, and it is absolutely incredible! There are so many beautiful places to explore and hikes you can go on, but what is the best hike Oahu has to offer?
In this post, I'll share some of the best hikes Oahu has, and they'll be in order from easy to hard to help you decide what options will work best for you. Just so you know, most hikes on Oahu are harder than what I would consider an easy hike. Some are comparatively easier, though, and I'll make sure to share all the details with you!
Ehukai Pillbox Hike
1.9-mile out-and-back trail near Haleiwa, Oahu, 50 minutes, easy
This is a shaded and paved walk that takes you through the botanical gardens of Waimea Valley. It ends with a 45-foot waterfall where you can swim (lifeguards on duty, lifejackets provided). It costs $25 to enter this area, and parking is provided.
This is a very popular area for hiking, so you'll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime.
1.8-mile out-and-back trail near Honolulu, Oahu, 1 hour, easy
Diamond Head Summit Trail is probably the most popular hike on Oahu and definitely offers a stunning coastline view from Waikiki. This trail starts from the center of Diamond Head crater and goes about 500 feet up to a panoramic view.
You'll need a timed entry ticket during open hours in order to hike here, which is monitored by the Hawaii State Parks system. Reservations may be made up to 30 days in advance. Because the park gets busy at certain times during the day and may sell out, please book your reservations as soon as possible to avoid missing out.
The trail starts on a paved path before climbing several steep switchbacks leading to the first set of steep stairs. After the stairs, you will climb through a tunnel and then climb up another set of stairs before reaching the bunkers at the top of the rim. Once on top, you can climb up to the top of the bunkers for 360-degree views of the island and the Pacific Ocean.
2.5 miles, out and back, Kaiwa, Oahu, 1 - 1 1/2 hours, easy
The Makapu'u Lighthouse trail is an easy walk up to Makapu'u lighthouse. The trail begins at the end of the Kaiwi parking lot. It's paved the entire way but does go uphill the entire trail on the way to the lighthouse and overlooks.
The overlooks are stunning as you hike up one side of the mountain and peak around the next. You'll love the views on this hike, and it's a great place for viewing the neighboring islands of Lana'i, Moloka'i, and Maui. As well as whale watching in the winter.
Manoa Falls Trail
1.7-mile out-and-back trail, 1 hour, easy to moderate
The trailhead is located at the end of Manoa Road adjacent to the Lyon Arboretum. Expect to pay a $5 parking fee.
Manoa Falls is a 150-foot waterfall located along Manoa Falls Trail. This is a very popular area for hiking, the trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. It offers beautiful views of the greenery and water at the falls.
Swimming in the pool below the waterfall is highly discouraged because there is a threat of becoming infected with Leptospirosis, a disease-causing mild to moderate flu-like symptoms that can last for 1 to 2 weeks.
6.1-mile out-and-back trail near Waialua, Oahu. 2 1/2 hours, moderate to hard
Located and the northernmost tip of Oahu, Ka'ena Point Trail is in Ka'ena Point State Park on the North Shore. This is a very popular area for birding, hiking, and whale watching in the winter.
You must have a permit to park inside the state park. There's plenty of parking outside the gate, but this will add a couple of miles to your total hike. If you park along the road outside of the state park, your car must not be parked over the white lines on the side of the road. Cars are ticketed if they are over the white line.
There is little shade cover on the trail, so it's a good idea to bring plenty of water and sun protection. There is almost no elevation change, and the hike is not technical. There are several coves where you can descend the rock formation and get closer to the water. Be careful during high tide as the waves break on the rocks. Additionally, there are several calm water pools at the tip of the island… great for swimming and photos!
Ehukai Pillbox Hike
2.3-mile loop trail near Haleiwa, Oahu. 2 1/2 hours, moderate to hard
This pillbox trail offers incredible views is Ehukai Pillbox Hike. The first 1/4 mile up is a steep hill with roots and mud. Be prepared with good shoes! Parking is at an elementary school.
This trail is known as perfect at sunrise and sunset, with pine trees offering shade in the middle of the day. It’s a short challenge with the Incline up. Plenty of viewing opportunities along the way until the lookout at the top.
1.7-mile out-and-back trail near Kailua, Oahu. 1 1/2 hours, hard
Another great pillbox hike! It's got a famous view of Lanikai Beach and the Mokes (another must-do activity in addition to hiking while on Oahu).
There are some very steep sections that require scrambling, and there are no guardrails along the steep cliff sections. The trailhead is on Kaelepulu and is opposite the Mid Pacific Country Club & Golf Course just before you reach an exclusive, gated community. The first part of the trail is very steep, slippery, and can be confusing.
There is a shorter version of this hike you can find on AllTrails, but it's steep and, due to elevation, takes almost as much time as the 1.7-mile route. If you're looking for something really challenging, consider this one.
1.6-mile out-and-back trail near Honolulu, Oahu, 2 hours, hard
The Koko Head Stairs hike is a steep, no-shade climb to the top of Koko Head Crater that includes spectacular panoramic views of the east Honolulu shoreline, Hanauma Bay, and parts of Moloka’i. The 1.6 mile, 1,000+ step walking track consists of abandoned railroad ties that run along the crater’s west side to the top of Koko Crater.
The military used them previously during World War 2 as part of an incline tram to transport supplies to a lookout post at the summit. It’s a very unique hike and extremely challenging, with views that are worth the effort!
With so many amazing hikes Oahu has, you really can't go wrong! All kinds of views and places to explore... these are truly some of the best hikes on Oahu.