Hawaii has no shortage of hiking trails, and that includes Oahu!
There are lots of different levels of trails all around the island. There are many trails that are only recommended for locals who know the area well. If you’re a visitor to Oahu, it’s a good idea to stick with the well-trafficked trails with safety in mind.
For many hiking trails on Oahu, it’s best to avoid them after it’s rained. In lots of cases, the rain can make the trails slick and create a situation that can cause you to slip easily.
Even if it’s dry, many trails have loose gravel that can make it easy to slip, so always be careful and watch your footing. This also makes it important to wear trail shoes or sandals that will give you more traction than standard footwear. Here’s some more about some of the best shoes to wear for hiking in Hawaii.
No matter which trail you choose, even if it’s labeled as easy, you’ll want to be reasonably fit for the trails and prepare well!
Be sure to have a look at hiking tips for beginners from Hawaii State Parks.
With all that in mind, here first for easy reference…
Quick list of some of the best hiking trails in Oahu that are listed on this page:
- Diamond Head Summit Trail – near Waikiki
- Koko Head Hike – East Oahu
- Lanikai Pillbox Hike – East Oahu
- Puu Maelieli Trail – East Oahu
- Makapuu Lighthouse Trail – East Oahu
- Manoa Falls Trail – near Honolulu
…with a few more Oahu hikes and nature walks you may want to consider:
- Ehukai Pillbox Hike – North Shore
- Aiea Loop Trail – Central Oahu
- Waimea Falls Trail – North Shore
- Waahila Ridge Trail – Central Oahu
- Puu O Mahuka Heiau Walk – North Shore
- Kukaniloko Birthstones Walk – Central Oahu
- Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens Walk – East Oahu
- Byodo-In Temple Walk – East Oahu
You can find the above hikes and nature walks on the Oahu hikes map below.
Map of Oahu hikes
It’s an interactive map of Oahu hikes on Google Maps, so go ahead and explore!
These kinds of maps are best explored from a computer! But if you’re coming from mobile Pinterest, first open up this page in your web browser, and then click on the map! Clicking on the icons will tell you what’s there!
Note that it can be argued when or not these trails will lead to THE best views for any of the listed locations… so take it to mean that these trails can give you some of the best views of listed locations in Oahu. 😉
- Hiking: What to wear hiking in hot weather/Hawaii + NOT
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- Cruise: What NOT to bring on a cruise
What hiking trails give the best views of Oahu?
Diamond Head Trail: Best views of Waikiki and Honolulu
The Diamond Head Trail is possibly the most famous hiking trail in all of Hawaii. This is the trail that gets you those iconic views on top of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu! Going for the Diamond Head hike in the morning, followed by some snorkeling in Waikiki at Queens Beach, can make for a perfect day on Oahu!
Koko Head Hike: Best views of Hanauma Bay and Hawaii Kai
The Koko Head hike is a pretty strenuous hike. Distance-wise, it’s short. Maybe about a mile one way. But it’s basically a whole bunch of stairs on a crater that’s been transformed from a railway into a hiking trail to take you to the summit. So it’s a good idea to do this hike only if you’ve been active back at home. And you definitely want to take some water and snacks when you go to Koko Head!
Hanauma Bay is right near Koko Head, so a perfect day could be the Koko Head hike in the morning, this cafe near Koko Head for your post-workout meal Hawaiian-style, and then spend the rest of your day at Hanauma Bay on the beach with a little bit of snorkeling!
Lanikai Pillbox Hike: Best views of the Mokes
The Lanikai Pillbox hike is a good hike to do if you’re looking for some beach time following your hike! Lanikai Beach, named one of the best beaches in the world, is right nearby so it makes for a perfect pairing! Lanikai is where you’ll get the front row views of the picture-perfect Mokulua islands. After the Lanikai Pillbox hike in the morning, head into Kailua town to refuel at Lanikai Juice with a smoothie or a fruit bowl for lunch, and then head to the beach!
Kailua Beach is also nearby with beach facilities as another option. You can find a kayak rental near Kailua Beach too.
Pu’u Ma’eli’eli Trail: Best views of Kaneohe Bay
The Puu Maelieli Trail would be a good hike to do alongside a trip to the Byodo-In Temple at the Valley of Temples or the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, or both! All three are around the Kaneohe region of Oahu. It’s also around here that you can get views of the iconic Chinaman’s Hat, which is the name given to the small Mokolii Island that you can see kind of looks like a triangle in the picture above.
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail: Best views of windward Oahu
The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail would be a good one to do on the same day as the Koko Head hike, as long as Koko Head didn’t exhaust you too much! They are both in relatively close proximity to one another. You can do the Koko Head hike in the morning, refuel and eat lunch at a Hawaiian cafe near Koko Head, rest up at the overlook at Hanauma Bay ($1 parking fee to access it through the Hanauma Bay parking lot), and then head to Makapuu for another hike! This trail is also known to be a good spot for whale watching in Oahu.
The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a paved trail that’s 2 miles round trip, but it’s on an incline so you’ll be headed up for half of the hike! This means that if you’re doing Koko Head and Makapuu on the same day, make sure you’re fit for action! 😉
More: Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
Manoa Falls Trail: Best jungle views with waterfalls
Manoa Falls is probably one of the most well-known waterfalls on Oahu. You’ll get a mix of plant life on the Manoa Falls trail, from a tropical jungle to a bamboo forest to your destination — the waterfalls!
More: Manoa Falls Trail
More Oahu hikes
For more Oahu hikes, be sure to check the Oahu map with hiking trails HERE to explore more options!
HAPPY OAHU HIKING!
Best shoes for your active vacationHit search at the top for any of these items to get more variety on Amazon through these affiliate links!
- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see these travel sandals.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.
- What to wear hiking
- What to wear snorkeling
- What to wear on a cruise formal night
Best things to pack for active travel- First-time snorkelers love full-face snorkeling masks.
- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!
- These types of small backpacks are perfect for a day out so you can carry essentials... and snacks!
- And these popular packing cubes can be a life-saver when you're traveling!
Don't get your valuables stolen when you travel- On city excursions: This neck pouch that tons of people love. It makes it harder for money to be stolen, and RFID-blocking feature stops thieves from scanning your credit card info when they are close to you.
- At the beach: This type of pouch that you can easily take your wallet in the water with you, instead of leaving on the beach.