Lisa Owen

The Hawaiian island of Oahu is one place where hiking is king. There’s a lot to explore on the small island and much of it can be done on foot. I’ve visited the island three times and I still haven’t made it through all the most recommended hikes. If hiking is your thing, you won’t be disappointed as you climb up to WWII pillboxes, cross bubbling creeks to reach waterfalls and swimming holes, and use ropes to climb up steep rock faces.

Hawaii Hikes

It’s not easy to hike on Oahu – but if you’re up for the challenge, here’s five hikes that will get your heart pumping, and some Insta-worthy shots.

Koko Head Crater

More than 1000 steps. Yep, this one will give your calves a work out and you’ll work up a sweat. It’s straight up from the word go to Honolulu’s Koko Head Crater along 1048 wooden steps. But when you reach the top, you’ll get views across Hanauma Bay and Waikiki while you catch your breath, and then on the other side is the Koko Head Crater.

Koko Head Crater Hike

This hike is very exposed so remember to bring a hat and slap on some sunscreen. And definitely bring water. You’ll sweat a lot and need to replenish those fluids! If you liked this hike, you’ll also like the hike to the Lanakai Pillboxes in nearby Kailua.

Koko Head Crater Hike

First Peak of Three Peaks (Olamana Trail)

The Olamana Trail in Kailua is only for experienced hikers and without a fear of heights. This is a very strenuous hike and not for the faint hearted.

Olamana Trail

There are three peaks but they steadily get more precarious as they go. The third one is not recommended unless you are an experienced climber and are equipped with ropes. I did the first one and it was hard work. I was pulling myself up with a rope anchored to the rocks in some areas, and some spots were truly scary with large drop offs. We only made it to the top of the first peak with rain making an attempt to the second peak too dangerous. Even though clouds swirling around the summit made a clear view near impossible – the glimpses we saw combined with the challenge of the hike made it worth the climb.

Olamana Trail

My friend and I got caught in a heavy downpour on the way down peak one and pretty much slid down. We were soaked and muddy afterwards. Expect the return hike up and down the first peak to take about three to four hours. Be careful where you park for this hike. Do not park on the road that leads to the golf course or your car will be towed. There’s a bus stop across the street from the golf course road entry and you can park there if there’s room but make sure you’re off any footpaths. It will then take you about 15 minutes to walk to the trailhead.

Maunawili Falls

This one requires your feet to get wet – and muddy. So much mud. The trail to Maunawili Falls takes you along a muddy and rocky trail adjacent to a creek. You’ll have to cross the creek a couple of times to reach the falls.

Maunawili Falls

After about an hour, you’ll reach the seven metre waterfall and you can go for a swim in the waterhole. The trailhead is located off Maunawili Road in Kailua. There’s no carpark but you should be able to find a spot in nearby streets.

Maunawili Falls

Make sure you wear shoes you’re not afraid to get muddy and bring insect repellent and your swimmers.

Manoa Falls

You may recognise the area around Honolulu’s Manoa Falls as this is where some of Jurassic Park was filmed. The path to the 46 metre Manoa Falls is an easy one, although it can get muddy in places. This is a popular hike so try and head there early to avoid the crowds. The hike is 2.6km return and takes about 45 minutes each way.

Manoa Falls

You can pay a couple of dollars to park in the trailhead or you can park on the suburban street and walk about 10 minutes to the trailhead.

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse

If you’re sick of mud and keen for a relatively easy hike, head along to Makapu’u Point Lighthouse – located on Oahu’s eastern most point. The lighthouse was built in 1909. The trail up to lighthouse is paved and leads to a viewpoint out to the cliffs beyond and down to the Makapu’u Beach and tide pools.

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse

Things You Should Know:

  • Most of the hikes on Oahu are rated moderate to challenging. They’re steep, muddy and sometimes dangerous. Be aware of your abilities and keep an eye on the weather. It’s all too common to be caught in rain showers or a thunderstorm in Hawaii’s tropical climate.
  • Make sure you bring a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water with you on your hikes. It’s also recommended to bring a rain cover for your backpack in case of rain.
  • You’ll need good quality trail or hiking shoes to hike in Hawaii as many of the hikes are along rocky paths, in creeks, or across muddy ground.
  • The best way to get around Oahu is by car. There’s a number of car rental agencies represented in Honolulu Airport or in Honolulu itself.
  • Be careful where you park in Hawaii – parking inspectors are everywhere and you don’t want to dampen your holiday with a fine.
 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @_thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.