Though the Hawaiian Islands are ultimately known for their incredible beaches and crystalline turquoise waters, the islands are also home to some of the country’s best hiking. From
short trails perfect for the whole family and enchanting waterfall hikes to those that lead to historic places, hiking in Hawaii is nothing short of incredible. While many of Hawaii’s hikes lead to unforgettable destinations, these 10 trails lead to absolutely fascinating ruins, including royal homes and ancient temples.
1. Lapakahi Village Interpretive Trail
Found within the rugged 262-acre oceanfront park is this easy one-mile loop trail through the partially restored remains of an ancient coastal fishing settlement, with a variety of historic structures to check out throughout the carefully-placed footpath.
2. The King’s Trail
More than 500 years ago, the island of Maui was circumnavigated by this vital trade route. The road was built by native Hawaiians under the rule of King Pi’ilani, and was revitalized in the 1800s by prisoners, earning the road the moniker "the road that sin built." The road is now largely abandoned, but is a fantastic hiking spot.
3. Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
On the northwestern shore of Hawaii Island is this historical site that preserves an ancient Hawaiian temple and other ruins. The interpretive trail starts from a visitors center operated by the National Park Service, and leads to the Pu’ukohola Heiau.
4. Hanalei Plantation
Situated on the ridge overlooking the Hanalei River, this easy 1-mile round trip trail leads explorers to the ruins of the Hanalei Plantation, as well as those of a resort built here in the 1960s. The trail is accessible from either Puu Poa Beach or Hanalei Plantation Road.
5. Ka’awaloa Trail
The 3.7-mile Ka'awaloa Trail is one of only a few ways to actually visit the Captain Cook Monument. While you could opt for an easy boat tour or kayaking excursion, this trail will not only lead you to your destination, but is quite picturesque as well and features a variety of ruins along the way.
6. Pu’uloa Petroglyphs
Located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is this extensive collection of ancient petroglyphs - more than 23,000 petroglyph images, to be exact! Translated from Hawaiian, Pu’uloa means "long hill," and can be dated geologically between AD 1200-1450. From the parking area, you will take a 0.7-mile walk across an easy lava trail to reach the boardwalk.
7. Mo'okini Heiau
On the secluded Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island, sits one of the most amazing archaeological sites in all of Hawaii. Legend has it that a priest named Pa’ao came to the Big Island, most likely from Tahiti, bringing with him a new system of worship and an established system of kapu (forbidden things), as well as human sacrifice. The trailhead begins at the Upolu Airport, and while some choose to take their four-wheel drive vehicles up the trail, we think hiking is cooler.
8. Pu’u Maneoneo Petroglyphs & Village Ruins
This extensive and well-preserved rock site can be found in a remote area of Maui only accessible via off-trail hiking through dense forest. Petroglyphs litter the abandoned rock walls, though, unless you are an avid hiker, you should probably skip this excursion.
9. Hoapili Trail
Located in south Maui, this trail introduces hikers to a side of the island rarely seen - the hot, barren 5-mile round trip trek takes visitors along a section of coastal walking path once open only to royalty.
10. Poli’ahu Heiau
Likely constructed in the 1600s, the Poli’ahu Heiau was a large religious temple, approximately an acre in size and surrounded by a 5-foot high lava rock wall. The heiau was abandoned in 1819 when the traditional Hawaiian religion was abolished, and the remains are preserved today as part of the Wailua River State Park.