The Hawaiian Islands are not only home to magnificent beaches, but world-class hiking as well. And 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. From panoramic vistas to cascading waterfalls, these 14 low-key hikes have absolutely amazing pay-offs.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Kaiwi Shoreline Trail, Oahu
Instead of heading to the paved Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, veer right at the trailhead and take the dirt path that leads down to the ocean, Kaho‘ohaihai Inlet, Pele's Chair, and beyond. The trail is approximately 2.5 miles long round trip, and will surely leave you feeling at peace with the world.
2. Alakai Swamp Trail, Kauai
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. The Alakai Swamp Trail is approximately seven miles round trip and takes you on a journey through lush forests and ethereal swamplands. Most people start the 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.
3. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii Island
This 1.5-mile trail meanders through a beautiful botanical garden, home to more than 2,000 species of flora. For a longer trek, consider taking the 2.5-mile round trip donkey trail to Onomea Bay and Turtle Cove.
4. Twin Falls, Maui
Also known as Hololawa Falls, these twin waterfalls are the first notable attraction on Maui’s Hana Highway coming from the north. Many guidebooks will argue that the falls are not worth the hike, but we tend to disagree. While the falls are short, the picturesque pools are quite
5. Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu
The view of Diamond Head via airplane is iconic, the hike to the summit is mentioned in every guidebook, and you can even see the volcano from the famous beaches of Waikiki. While many locals think the trail is overrated, the views are absolutely second to none. Once used for military training, the government-owned property has since been opened to the public, and is now the most iconic hike on the island for tourists. The trail leads hikers on a steep trail more than 500 feet in elevation over 1.6 miles to the crater's summit — and magnificent views of Honolulu.
6. Pu’u Hinahina Lookout Loop, Kauai
For a short and sweet hike and incredible views of the unparalleled beauty that is Waimea Canyon, consider the Puu Hinahina Lookout trail, a 1.7-mile loop trail full of wildflowers, and perfect for pups and children.
7. Lake Waiau, Hawaii Island
Located at 13,000 feet above sea level on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea, Lake Waiau is arguably one of the highest lakes in all of the United States. However, it is also relatively small, measuring in at just about 100 meters across. To reach this sacred lake, visitors will have to take a short, one-mile walk, found near Mauna Kea’s astronomy domes.
8. Waianapanapa Coastal Trail, Maui
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.
9. Kolekole Pass, Oahu
The entire out-and-back hike is located on a military base on Oahu, and traverses through the forest for little more than 1-mile round trip, and takes less than 45 minutes to complete — not including the time you spend marveling at the views. Kolekole is open to all DOD cardholders and their guests. If you are not a DOD cardholder, you can access the trail through the Lyman gate off of Kunia Road.
10. Wai Koa Loop Trail, Kauai
The moderate 5-mile Wai Koa Loop Trail meanders through the Wai Koa Plantation, by serene lagoons, a historic dam, and a majestic mahogany forest. Ideal for everyone from running enthusiasts to families with young children, the trail is relatively flat and can be easily walked in two to three hours.
11. Pololu Valley’s Awini Trail, Hawaii Island
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.
12. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach Trail, Maui
This stunning red sand beach on Maui’s eastern coast is one of only a few red sand beaches in the world. You’ll have to access the stunning beach via an overgrown cliff-side trail, and the water is rough, but the views are well worth the effort.
13. Pu’u O Hulu Kai, Oahu
Similar to the wildly popular Lanikai Pillbox trail, Pu’u o Hulu is located on the opposite side of the island — but still just as gorgeous, and far less crowded. Experienced climbers love to scale the rock faces, while novices can easily climb the steep, yet short switchbacks to the bunkers at the top.
14. Ha’akulamanu Trail, Hawaii Island
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. This 1.2-mile hiking trail leads adventurers through sulfur banks along a paved boardwalk, where steaming vents, colorful mineral deposits abound.