You will not only find some of America’s most iconic landscapes across the Hawaiian Islands but some of the best hiking trails in the world as well. While you’ll find plenty of difficult hikes across Hawaii, not everyone who lives in or visits the Aloha State is an experienced hiker. Luckily, the Aloha State is home to several trails that make it easy to enjoy the great outdoors. From walking paths nestled along the Maui coast to a boardwalk built above a Kauai swamp, these 7 boardwalks found across the Hawaiian Islands are each unique in their own way — and so worth a visit!
1. Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk
Surrounded by white-sand beaches and eight world-class resorts, the Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk Trail is truly remarkable. The 3-mile out and back trail features magnificent views of Molokini, Kahoolawe, and Lanai as well as a colorful collection of flora. Imagine this: to your right, the manicured grounds of a luxury resort, and to your left, fine, white sand and the vast Pacific Ocean. Though not a hike in the traditional sense, the Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk is the perfect spot for a morning run or afternoon stroll.
2. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
Nestled on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island just eight miles north of Hilo, this breathtaking garden attracts photographers, gardeners, botanists, scientists, and nature lovers from across the world. And once you catch a glimpse, it’ll be obvious why. To experience the best this museum of living plants has to offer, consider strolling along this 1.5-mile trail that leads to waterfalls, vistas, and near more than 2,000 species of plants.
3. Alakai Swamp Trail
Nestled in the heart of Koke’e State Park, just north of Waimea Canyon, is the Alakai Swamp, a truly one-of-a-kind Hawaiian landscape. Most people start the Alakai Swamp Trail at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout, meander along the Pihea Summit Trail, and traverse approximately 3.5 miles of boardwalk through a unique wet forest and a boggy swamp. Construction on the boardwalk began in 1991 in order to minimize the impact of hikers on this incredible landscape and is comprised of redwood planks outfitted with chicken wire to provide much-needed traction. This strange, mysterious, and enchanting place could have been pulled straight from a fairytale and has been revered by Hawaiians for centuries.
4. Pipiwai Trail
If you’re looking for the ultimate Hawaiian hike with some of the best views that Maui has to offer, all within a short, well-maintained trail managed by the National Parks System, look no further than Pipiwai Trail. Located in southeast Maui, off Hana Highway and near the Pools of Oheo, is the unforgettable Pipiwai Trail, a four-mile round trip trek that will take you on quite the enchanting journey through a lush Hawaiian tropical rainforest to a towering banyan tree, through a vast bamboo forest on a striking boardwalk, and to two impressive, cascading waterfalls — Waimoku Falls and Makahiku Falls.
5. Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs Trail
Found off the breathtaking Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this petroglyph site is not only gorgeous but historically and culturally significant. More than 23,000 petroglyph images can be found in this expansive field, and you will see many of them along the 1.5-mile (round trip) boardwalk trail. The petroglyphs at Pu`u Loa are interpreted to have documented the life and culture of the native Hawaiians who lived here. The ki`i pohaku (or images carved in stone) recorded travel across the island, communicate events both present and past, even marked boundaries and trails. Pu’u Loa translates to "hill of long life" in Hawaiian, and is a place considered sacred to the people of Hawaii, and the residents of Kalapana, in particular.
6. Kealia Coastal 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. Meandering through sandy areas and next to bogs while paralleling the beautiful Sugar Beach, this winding path, and bird sanctuary also feature views of Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains, and the photos opportunities are endless.
7. Ha’akulamanu Trail
The 1.2-mile Ha’akulamanu Sulphur Banks Trail found within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park leads adventurers through sulfur banks along a paved boardwalk, where steaming vents, colorful mineral deposits abound. According to the National Park Service, "volcanic gases seep out of the ground along with groundwater steam. These gases are rich in carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide – the gas that smells like rotten eggs. Some sulfur gases deposit pure crystals at Sulphur Banks. Other sulfur gases form sulfuric acid, which breaks down the lava to clay." The clay is stained brown and red with iron oxide — how fascinating!