Nature January 21, 2021
In 2021, Take These 12 Incredible Hawaii Hikes, One For Each Month Of The Year
With near-perfect summer weather year-round, there’s nowhere better to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails than our beautiful islands. And because you’ll find countless hiking trails crisscrossing the Hawaiian Islands – from coastal paths to treks through the jungle and everything in between – it can be difficult to make a decision on where you will go this weekend. Lucky for you, we have curated a list of a dozen epic hikes from Kauai to Hawaii Island – one for each month of the year!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. January: Captain Cook Trail
Start off the year with a historic hike on Hawaii Island’s Kona Coast. Approximately 241 years ago, on January 17, 1779, Captain Cook, the British explorer who discovered the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 sailed into Kealakekua Bay. In 1878, a 27-foot white obelisk was erected in honor of the well-known seafarer. Encircled by a chain supported by cannonballs, this is the only British territory in the United States. While you can reach the landmark by kayak, we suggest embarking on the epic 4-mile trail that gains 1,300 feet of elevation and features sweeping views of the coast.
Learn more about this historic trail
2. February: Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
Located on the southeastern point of Oahu within the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline is the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, a short and sweet two-mile hike on a fully paved trail to a historic lighthouse. In addition to views of Oahu’s coastline, the vast Pacific Ocean, and the historic Makapu’u Lighthouse, you might just spot humpback whales frolicking off the coast December through May. Right in the middle of whale season, it only makes sense to take this trail in February.
Check out this coastal hike
3. March: Iliau Nature Loop
With brilliant shades of red, brown, green, blue, gray, and even purple, Waimea Canyon State Park encompasses approximately 1,866 acres and is one of the island’s most popular tourist destinations. If you’d like to say you enjoyed a hike within the undeniably breathtaking Waimea Canyon, but are short on time or lack hiking experience, you’ll want to embark on the short, simple, and stunning Iliau Nature Loop Trail. Located at the start of the Kukui Trail, this short, .3-mile roadside loop trail on the western edge of the canyon not only gives adventures an up close and personal look at native upland scrub vegetation but afford excellent vistas of both Waimea and Waialae Canyons.
Check out our previous article about this short and sweet trail
4. April: Ohai Trail Loop
Nestled on Maui’s northeastern coast between Waihee and Kapalua is the Ohai Trail Loop, an incredibly scenic and short hike you’ll want to check off of your Hawaii hiking bucket list as soon as possible. Meandering along the coast, the views you’ll find along the Ohai Trail Loop are truly second to none, and measuring in at just 1.2 miles and gaining less than 200 feet in elevation, you have no excuse not to tackle this terrific trail.
Learn more about this coastal gem
5. May: Aiea Loop Trail
Nestled within the 384-acre Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area on Oahu is the 4.8-mile Aiea Loop Trail which leads hikers on a delightful journey through a verdant forest and features views of Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, the H-3, and the Ko’olau Mountains. In addition to striking views and a phenomenal hike, you might discover the wreckage of a B-24J bomber near the trail approximately ⅔ of your way through the trail. The plane crashed here in May 1944 and is often considered to be one of Hawaii’s most well-known crash sites.
Read more about this one-of-a-kind trail
6. June: Makuala O’oma Trail
If you’re searching for a short, easy hike near Kailua-Kona that will take you on an adventure like no other, we know just the trail. The Makuala O’oma Trail meanders through a lush forest that looks as though it was ripped from the big screen. There are a few different loop trails found in this cloud forest ranging in length, but we’re certainly partial to the Jurassic Trail. With a variety of ferns and native vegetation, it’s easy to feel like you’ve entered a prehistoric world. At more than 3,000 feet above sea level, the trail is cool and wet, providing a remarkable respite from the coastal heat on a warm Hawaiian day.
, dino lovers.
7. July: Oneawa Hills Trail
If you enjoy getting off the beaten path, this trail is for you. A relatively unknown trail in Kaneohe Bay, Oneawa Hills is a short, 2.3-mile ridge hike that leads to unforgettable vistas of Oahu’s windward coast. Meandering through a tangle of trees, you will soon reach the lookout point, after which you will take the connecting trail to Kawaewae Ridge. With constant ups and downs, this trek is quite the workout. And while you will experience the beauty of the Ko’olau Mountains and Kaneohe Bay along the way, it is the view of the Kapa’a Quarry that will truly take your breath away. With a mystical, greenish hue, rumor has it that the Kapa’a Quarry has been providing gravel, sand, and concrete to the island for half of a century.
Check out this ethereal quarry hike
8. August: Kahakapao Loop Trail
Found within the Makawao Forest Reserve, the Kahakapao Loop Trail winds its way through a variety of native and non-native trees, including a forest of pines, fragrant eucalyptus groves, and patches of wild ginger, as well as ash groves and fern forests. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Haleakala at approximately 2,800 to 3,700 feet above sea level, this loop trail is cool, shaded, breezy, and serene.
Learn more about this off-the-beaten-path trail
9. September: Sealodge Beach Trail
Everyone knows how hot Hawaii is in September, so cool off with a trip to a picturesque Hawaii beach. Tucked away at the foot of a large ocean bluff known as Kaweonui Point on Kauai’s northern shore near Princeville, Kaweonui Beach, more commonly referred to as Sealodge Beach, is an absolute dream. Measuring in at less than a mile is this trail that leads hikers on a short, 10 to 15-minute adventure from the Sealodge Condos — from which the trail is named after – to the beach.
to read more about this beach trail.
10. October: Pu’u Wa’awa’a Trail
Tucked away on the Big Island of Hawaii just north of Kailua-Kona is the Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Cinder Cone, a volcanic rock formation that offers a pretty unforgettable opportunity for adventure. Translating to “many-furrowed hill” in the Hawaiian language, this ancient cinder cone is more than 100,000 years old and is actually thought to be the oldest land feature on Hualalai. The trailhead is located between mile markers 21 and 22 on Highway 190, and marks the start of a long, grueling adventure to more than 4,000 feet above sea level – but don’t worry, the views from the summit are worth it!
Learn more about this volcanic trek
11. November: Kealia Pond Boardwalk
Located within the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, this 0.9-mile boardwalk trail is peaceful and picturesque. This level, easy out and back boardwalk trail is perfect for the entire family — the fenced boardwalk is perfect for curious keiki who need to be contained, and the short distance makes it ideal for those with little time. Waterfowl from Asia and North America migrate to this sanctuary during the winter months. Bring your binoculars if you're interested in birdwatching!
to learn more about this family-friendly trail.
12. December: Kuliouou Ridge Trail
End the year with a tough trek you’ve been building up to! Measuring in at approximately five miles round trip, the awe-inspiring Kuliouou Ridge Trail is tucked away on Oahu’s windward coast and is as beautiful as it is secluded. Gaining more than 1,600 feet in elevation, this trail is not for beginners, but rather those with ridge hiking experience and plenty of stamina. Once you reach the summit, you’ll quickly realize how worth it this trail truly is. The sweeping views stretch from Hawaii Kai to Kaneohe, and you’ll want to both stand in awe to soak in the view, and snap as many photos as you can.
Are you ready to take on
this challenging trail
How many of these hikes will you be adding to your 2021 bucket list? Have you ever hiked any of these trails before? Sound off in the comments, then join our
Hawaii Nature Lovers Facebook group to share your hiking photos with us!