HGV Owners celebrate a successful hike in Hawaii.

To hike, or not to hike?

Do you love being one with nature, scaling up hills and scooting back down, and oohing and ahhing at all of the beauty that surrounds you? Or is hiking more of a peer-pressure activity that you could do without, but somehow, you always end up getting talked into?

Whether hiking is a passion, or not, Hawaii has some of the best trails (and waterfall spotting) in the world. Hiking to the top of Diamond Head on Waikiki, or Thurston Lava Tubes in Volcano National Park, might be two of the most famous (and totally worth it!) hikes on the islands, but what are other must-dos?

Here are 11 trails that make up the best hiking in Hawaii.

Oahu

Yes, Diamond Head is a steep uphill climb, but it’s a must. In fact, after a morning snorkel at Hanauma Bay, you can take the bus to the base of Diamond Head, for a 1.4 mile round trip post-ocean climb and spectacular views. Here are our other favorites to add to your list of best hiking in Hawaii.

Maunawili Falls

  • Distance:  2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Maunawili Valley

Maunawili Falls in Oahu is a moderate, two-mile hike.

Sneak Peek: Very muddy! Wear shoes you don’t care about getting really dirty! Maunawili Falls is one of the most magical waterfalls on the island. Some hikers that visit jump off the top of the waterfall (roughly a 15-20 foot drop).

Ehukai Pillbox

  • Distance: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Location: North Shore (Sunset Beach)

The Ehukai Pillbox hike offers great views of Ehukai Beach Park.

Sneak Peek: A must-do sunset hike with the most breathtaking views of the North Shore. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the North Shore with this rewarding hike.

Hanauma Bay Rim Trail

  • Distance: 3.6 mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Hanauma Bay

The Hanauma Bay Rim trail is a 3.6-mile loop in Oahu.

Sneak Peek: The Hanauma Bay Rim Trail is a 3.6-mile loop trail located at the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve Park. We recommend a sunrise hike and then, of course, a snorkel adventure in Hanauma Bay to cool off. You can’t miss out on this one!

Makapu’u Lighthouse

  • Distance: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Location: Makapu’u Lighthouse (Southeastern part of Oahu)

The hike to Makapuu Lighthouse in Oahu offers a great view of the Pacific Ocean.

Sneak Peek: Here is another great sunrise hike to add to your list! This is a short hike, but well worth it. We also recommend visiting the Makapu’u Tidepools which add on another hour to your experience. Be on the lookout for humpback whales, which can be spotted from November to May.

Crouching Lion

  • Distance: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Location: Kahana Bay

Scenic landscape view of Kaluapuleho Point from Crouching Lion Hike in Oahu.

Sneak Peek: This is a must-do sunrise hike. The Crouching Lion Trail features astonishing views of Kahana Bay and is a hike you can do in any weather condition. It does get slippery when wet, so bring some grippy shoes or hiking boots!

Kalauao & Aiea Loop Trail

  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Keaiwa Heiau State Park

A view from the Aeia Loop Trail on Oahu, Hawaii.

Sneak Peek: After a rain, take advantage of the freshwater flow and trek to a natural swimming hole. Connected to the popular Aiea Loop Trail, descend through a beautiful eucalyptus grove. Cross over a stream a few times and you will be treated with a rushing waterfall shaded by banyan and mango trees.

Big Island Hawaii

The stunning diversity, ecosystems, culture, and petroglyphs of the Big Island provide trailblazers enough hiking to keep busy for months. If you can’t take that much time off work, here are several unforgettable hikes to get you started. Note: Some of our favorite hikes are in Volcano National Park.  Although the hiking there is incredible, such as the Thurston Lava Tube and Kilauea’iki Trail, in this article we’ve focused on hiking away from the Park.

Akaka Falls

  • Distance: .4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls on Big Island, Hawaii is a great beginner hiking trail.

Sneak Peak: This short hike is mostly uphill, but you will be treated to two of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island. As you follow the paved footpath, you’ll first see 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop around the bend, and you’ll discover towering Akaka Falls which plummets 442-feet into a gorge. This easily accessible hike takes less than an hour.

Waipio Valley

  • Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Northern Hamakua Coast

Hiilawe Falls in Waipio Valley is a hiking trail on Big Island, Hawaii.

Sneak Peek: The lush Waipio Valley, known as “The Valley of the Kings,” was once the childhood home of King Kamehameha I, who established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. The Big Island’s tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls, cascades down 1,300 feet in the back of the valley. Most hikers park at the Waipio Valley Lookout and hike one mile down to the black sand beach.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens Hike & Donkey Trail

  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Difficult: Easy
  • Location: Hilo

An orchid at the Hawaii Botanical Garden

Sneak Peek: If you have a green thumb, this hike is a must. You will encounter over 2,000 different species of plants. Also, if you prefer a slow meander over a fast paced hike, this is the spot for you. The self-guided tour is just over one mile long and takes 1-2 hours. If you want a longer hike, take the 2.5 mile (round trip) Donkey Trail down to Onomea Bay and Turtle Cove whose trailhead is just outside the gardens.

Pololu Valley Lookout

  • Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Northeastern coast, at the end of Hwy 270

Pololu Valley Lookout hike is 2.5 miles round-trip on Big Island, Hawaii.

Sneak Peak: When you park your car you will be treated to stunning cliff views of the dramatic coastline. Take the 25-minute hike down to the valley floor to enjoy the black sand beach. We recommend packing a picnic to enjoy beachside before you hike back up the lush cliffs.

Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Waikoloa to Mauna Lani

Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail connects Waikoloa to Mauna Lani.

Sneak Peek: The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is an old, restored Hawaiian hiking trail that connects the Mauna Lani and Waikoloa Resorts. Spot ancient artifacts, fishponds, and interesting archeological treasures. In total, the trail stretches 175 miles along the island perimeter, but this section is a stunning hike around dramatic bends and beautiful blue ocean views. Stop for lunch at Napua and snorkel in one of the best spots to spot tropical sea life.

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