Our Top 5 Hikes in Oahu, Hawaii

The islands of Hawaii have some amazing hiking opportunities. Read on to find our TOP 5 HIKES on the island of Oahu… in no particular order!

top hikes in oahu
Hiking in Oahu, Hawaii – yes please!

Hike #1 – Diamond Head Crater

Possibly the most well known volcanic crater in Hawaii. If you’re flying into to Honolulu you may even see it from the plane when arriving!

Easily accessible from downtown Honolulu by a short drive, or long walk, there is no excuse not to pay Diamond Head a visit.

Getting onto the walk will cost $1 per person for walking in, or $5 per vehicle.

The 1.6km loop will take you to the top of the crater for excellent views of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, and the south coast. En route, you will also walk through the military fortifications installed here as part of the island’s coastal defence system in the early 20th century.

Diamond Head Crater lookout - Top hikes in Oahu
Us at the top….a bit sweaty!

Though there are some steep climbs, this short trail is not difficult. Given its location, popularity, and difficulty level you can almost guarantee that this is an experience you’ll have to share with plenty of other tourists. This is very much ON the beaten path.

Hike #2 – Koko Head Crater Trail

Definitely a unique hiking experience and for this reason, it made our top hikes in Oahu list. Unlike many other trails, this leads you up a steep train track that was previously used to transport supplies to and from the military outpost at the top of the crater.

Though also easily accessible by car from Honolulu, the difficulty of the constant incline will deter the average tourist. You’ll need to be moderately fit to get up but this is by no means a difficult or technical hike. After all, you’ll climb over 1,000 steps to reach the top (it’s like your very own StairMaster Stepmill).

The views from the top are stunning, including panoramic views of the south coast with Diamond Head in the distance. There’s plenty of space to sit and have a picnic with a view too.

As challenging as it may sound, it’s a super popular hike that is fun, different and 100% rewarding. Hike it, you know you want to ;).

Hike #3 – Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

Probably our favourite hike on the entire island.

Top hikes in Oahu

On the east side of Oahu, you’ll start the hike to the south of the central Koolau Mountain range for this hike. From a trailhead in the fancy gated neighbourhood of Aina Haina (you’ll get a special permit on the way in and you will be told where you can park).

The trail will lead you along one of the many north/south ridgelines all the way to the top of the range.

You’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the north side of the island, but only right at the top! So just keep going.

It’s about 7km/4.5miles in total (out and back) and should take around 3-4 hours. Though not very long, this hike starts off easy and then becomes quite difficult. The real hike begins when you get to the stairs…

We were there on a super hot day and you can be very exposed at times. Even so, there were some wet patches which could become quite treacherous in the rain. Especially along the ridge itself.

You should have no trouble following the trail. It gets a little steeper at the end with some stairs and, occasionally, ropes to help you along the track.

Wiliwilinui ridge trail lookout - top hikes in Oahu
We made it to the top – wonderful views to the east of the island await

TIPS:
To tackle this hike from our list of top hikes in Oahu, start the hike early in the day. Once all of the parking permits have been handed out, you will be turned away.

Check the weather forecast before heading off for this hike. If it’s wet and cloudy, you won’t get these amazing views.

Make sure you have sunblock, plenty of water (more than you think on a hot day) and decent shoes for this trail.

Also, make sure you have your camera. Without a doubt, you’ll want to capture these views!

Top hikes in Oahu panoramic
Panoramic of the northern view at the top of the trail

Hike #4 – Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

One of the simplest walks on the island, offering one of the best views, which is why it’s made our top hikes in Oahu list.

Don’t let the fact that there’s not much of a challenge deter you from this walk.

On the way up, you’ll get views of the entire southern coast. If you’re here from December-March (and if you’re lucky) you may even spot whales off the coast!

At the end of the path, you will see all the way up the east coast of the island. You’ll also see Rabbit Island off the coast (It looks like a rabbit)…

TIP:
Sometimes parking here can be very busy because the car park is used for the nearby viewpoint, as well as the start of the walking track. So go early or later to avoid the crowds.

Makapu'u lighthouse Oahu - top hikes in oahu
Makapu’u Lighthouse – sit a while and do a spot of whale watching…

Hike #5 – Westside Pillboxes

On the west side of the island, between the resorts on the south and the surfing in the north, you’ll find this hike. It’s a lesser-visited part of the Island, however, this hike is popular and it’s easy to see why.

It’s a fairly short hike (maybe 30-40 mins up) and not too difficult.

The ridge at the top is home to multiple pillboxes and military buildings. From these, you have excellent views out to the ocean and along the coast (as one might expect from a defensive lookout!).

Each of the buildings are very close and allow you to see different perspectives of the coastline.

So there you have it, our Top 5 hikes in Oahu!

These may be our top 5 hikes in Oahu, but there are so many more! Don’t just take our word for it, get out and explore the island!

top hikes in oahu - where I'm supposed to be
I’m where I’m supposed to be…

What hikes would you have added and why?
Let us know in the comments and we’ll look to get them included in our ‘top’ list!

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