Offering everything from short walks through lava tubes and picturesque waterfall trails to treacherous mountain hikes and coastal trails, the Hawaiian Islands are perhaps one of the greatest hiking destinations in the world. With so many incredible trails to choose from, it can be difficult to choose just which hikes to experience while in Hawaii, but you won’t want to miss these 13 absolutely magical trails that will transport you into the pages of your favorite fairy tale.
1. 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, and to two impressive, cascading waterfalls.
2. Kaena Point
The northwestern tip of Oahu is home to Kaena Point State Park, a magical place full of hidden gems, including heart shaped rocks, tide pools, stunning cliff faces, and a natural reserve area created to protect nesting albatrosses, Hawaiian monk seals, and the fragile native vegetation. According to ancient Hawaiian lore, Kaena Point is the "jumping off" point for souls leaving this world.
3. Uluwehi Falls
Known to locals and visitors as Secret Falls, this is a popular day adventure on Kauai’s east side. The trailhead is located up the Wailua River, so you will need to either book a guided tour or rent kayaks or canoes. Once you reach the trail, it is a muddy, and often slippery, 45-minute hike to the falls, but it is worth every second. And the journey is half the fun, right?
4. Polulu Valley Awini Trail
Often bypassed for other lookout points on the Big Island is Polulu Valley, perhaps due to the fact that you must drive to the end of the Highway 270 to reach this picturesque location. If you do make the drive out here, don’t settle for the views from the lookout – definitely take the time to hike the Awini Trail that leads down to the stunning black sand beach. The half-hour hike is steep at times, but the views – and the destination – are well worth it.
5. Iao Valley State Park
In the late 15th century, Maui’s ruler, Kaka’e, designated Iao Valley as an Ali’i burial ground, and in 1790 Kamehameha the Great defeated Kalanikupule and the Maui army during his quest to unify the islands during the Battle of Keaniwai. With a variety of short hiking trails leading through the park, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs.
6. Lulumahu Falls
A bamboo forest, a field that will remind you of The Sound of Music, a jungle trail, and a stunning waterfall… Could you ask for anything more in a hike? This trail encompasses so many gorgeous aspects of our Hawaiian landscapes, and it’s a relatively easy two-mile trail. This is the hike we take all visitors on when they vacation on Oahu.
7. Nounou Trail
Two different trailheads and routes, both of which are fairly difficult, lead 1,200 feet up Nounou Mountain through a forested area, with panoramic views from the summit. This is the spot that's referred to as the chest of the mythical "sleeping giant."
8. Thurston Lava Tube
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to more than 150 miles of hiking trails, from easy walks to hikes recommended only for experienced hikers in top physical shape. The 20-minute walk to Thurston Lava Tube is definitely easy, but the 500-foot cave-like tunnel is one of the most unique experiences you'll have in Hawaii.
9. Waianapanapa Coastal Trail
A three-mile trail that follows the coastline from Hana Bay, beyond Waianapanapa State Park, this coastal trail is known for its rugged scenery, including black lava cliffs jutting into the crystal blue ocean.
10. Judd Trail
Found near Oahu's Pali Highway is this 6.2-mile loop trail that features a stunning waterfall and a journey of moderate difficulty through a magical forest.
11. Hanakapiai Beach + Falls
Situated on Kauai’s fabled Na Pali Coast is Hanakapi’ai Falls, accessible only by a strenuous day hike. The trail is, in fact, the beginning of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, but only takes you four miles in, past Hanakapi’ai Beach and up to the valley and approximately 300-foot cascading waterfall.
12. Papakolea Green Sand Beach
A 2.5-mile trail brings hikers to Papakolea Beach, also known as Green Sand Beach, the southernmost point in the United States. The trail is reserved for pedestrians and four-wheel drive vehicles – and the dangerous offshore waters make it one of the best spots for shoreline fishing.
13. Olomana Three Peaks
Located on Oahu’s stunning windward coast is a striking natural wonder, three mountain peaks rising dramatically out of the lush landscape. This beautiful spot is straight out of a fairy tale, but is also home to one of the state’s most difficult hiking trails.