Getaway Compass

20 Best Hikes on Oahu

Pauoa Flats at Sunset

Oahu is an incredible island with endless hiking trails that lead you along the coastline, up ridges, and to waterfalls. Decide which hikes to do during your time on Oahu by reading through this list of the 20 best hikes on Oahu. The hikes are organized from 1 being easy to 20 being very hard and split into sections of easy, moderate, and hard. The easier hikes still have some elevation gain and great views, and will allow you more time to do several hikes. The hard hikes are only recommended for very experienced hikers that are comfortable rock climbing.

Tips for Hiking on Oahu

  • Trails on Oahu can be muddy and slippery, so make sure to wear shoes that have traction and that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Always be prepared for rain, even if it is not raining when you start hiking.
  • Hiking on Oahu can take longer than expected due to the terrain, mud, incline, and weather. Make sure to take this into account when starting your hike so you don’t get stuck in the dark.
  • Always stay on the trail!
  • Pack it out- don’t leave anything behind.
  • Be quiet and respectful, especially when parking in a neighborhood to hike.
  • Don’t leave any valuables in your car.
  • After your hike relax on one of the beautiful beaches on Oahu. Read this article for the top 10 beaches on Oahu.

What to Bring for Hiking on Oahu

  • Carry a Hiking Bag to hold your water bottle and other belongings. This Gregory daypack is a perfect bag for hiking on Oahu.
  • Bring a flashlight with you incase the hike takes longer than expected.
  • Pack a raincoat, especially in the winter when it can rain heavily. Even if it is not raining when you start, a rainstorm could pass through while you are hiking.
  • Bring enough water to stay hydrated on your hike on Oahu. This Stanley Water Bottle is light to carry and stays cold for 12 hours.
  • Make sure to have high protein snacks with you.
  • Bring a Dry Bag for your valuables in case it starts to rain. I always bring this 10L dry bag with me for my camera.

Best Easy Hikes on Oahu

These 9 easy hiking trails increase in difficulty as you go down the list. These are perfect hiking trails for families and people who are looking to see the beauty of Oahu on shorter trails. Please note most of these still have some elevation gain, but they are easier than other hikes on Oahu.

1. Waimea Valley to Waimea Falls

Waimea Valley Oahu
Waimea Falls North Shore

Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 270 ft
Parking: Waimea Falls is located in Waimea Valley Botanical Garden so you will have to pay the fee to enter the botanical garden and can park in the parking lot.

Waimea Valley is a beautiful botanical garden with a waterfall located in the north shore of Oahu. The walking path to the waterfall is paved and guides you through a botanical garden and historical sites. Depending on conditions, you could swim in the pool below the falls but it is a requirement to wear a life vest while in the water (which you can rent there). Waimea Valley may be closed certain days, so make sure to check the Waimea Valley website ahead of your visit to confirm when it is open.

2. Friendship Garden and Oneawa Hills

Friendship Garden Trail

Distance: 2.3 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 600 ft
Parking: There are a limited street parking spots near the trailhead.

This short trail starts in a neighborhood in Kaneohe and takes you uphill to a beautiful view of Kaneohe Bay. This is a great hiking trail if you are looking for something short and easy but still want to get nice views of the mountains and ocean.

3. Aihualama Falls Trail

Lyon Arboretum Hike
Lyon Arboretum Garden Oahu

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 350 ft
Parking: Lyon Arboretum parking lot, reservation required ahead of time to enter.

Aihualama Falls trail is located in Lyon Arboretum, a public botanical garden near Manoa Falls. This botanical garden is beautiful and definitely worth a visit. You must make a reservation ahead of time in order to enter. The short walking path through the botanical garden offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains and colorful, tropical plants. The waterfall at the end of the trail is small can be dry in the summer so keep that in mind when visiting.

4. Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail

Makapuu Light House Trail Oahu
Makapuu Light House Trail

Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 500 ft
Parking: Free parking lot and overflow parking along the road

This paved path is a popular trail in Oahu known for views of the lighthouse, Rabbit Island, Waimanalo Beach, Olomana (three mountain peaks), and more. The trail has no shade and it can get very hot, so make sure to bring water and sunscreen. On a clear day you can see views of Molokai, Lanai, and Maui as you are hiking up the trail. The top of the trail has three viewing platforms where you can enjoy views of Oahu and in the winter it is possible to spot whales.

There are many other fun activities to do on Oahu including a sunset boat tour, surfing lesson, and UTV Tour at Kualoa Ranch. Consider booking these incredible experiences ahead of your trip so you don’t miss out.

5. Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls Oahu

Distance: 1.7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 630 ft
Parking: Parking lot with fee

The trail to Manoa Falls takes you uphill through a lush rainforest. The trail has recently been updated with a nice path to guide you to Manoa Falls. Note that there is over 600 ft of elevation gain and some steps. If possible, try to visit on a weekday as this trail can get very busy on the weekend. Continue to the best 8 waterfalls on Oahu for more waterfall trail ideas.

6. Ehukai Pilboxes

Ehukai Pillboxes

Distance: 2.3 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 735 ft
Parking: There is parking available along the street near the trailhead.

Ehukai Pillboxes is a relatively easy trail in the north shore that takes you to two pillboxes with great views. The trail can get very muddy and slippery if it has recently rained so make sure to wear shoes with traction. The first pillbox is higher up and has a great view of the ocean. You will then walk downhill a bit to the second pillbox where you can see a closer view of the north shore neighborhood and the long stretch of beach.

7. Makiki Valley Loop

Makiki Valley Loop

Distance: 3.2 Miles (loop)
Elevation Gain: 1,030 ft
Parking: There is a free parking lot near the trailhead.

Makiki Valley Loop is located in Honolulu near an area called Punchbowl. This is one of the best hikes on Oahu that takes you up a path in a beautiful lush rain forest. There are a variety of trees and foliage throughout the trail. This is a great hiking trail in Oahu to enjoy the rainforest not far from the city.

8. Lulumahu Falls

Lulumahu Falls

Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 930 ft
Parking: Parking lot on the side of the highway.

The trail to Lulumahu falls is one of the best hikes on Oahu, leading you to a beautiful tall waterfall that you can take a picture right beside. The pool below the falls is not deep enough to swim in so you don’t need your bathing suit. The hiking trail to Lulumahu Falls guides you through a bamboo forest and then uphill along a stream. The bamboo forest can get very muddy so be prepared. When you arrive at the stream you will have to carefully cross by using the rocks or by going through the stream. Follow the trail on the right side of the stream until you see another trail across the stream and cross back. Be very careful while crossing the stream as the rocks may be slippery.  

9. Pu'u Pia Trail

Pu'u Pia Trail

Distance: 2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 720 ft
Parking: There is street parking along the side of the road near the trailhead. Please be respectful of residents while parking and walking to the trailhead.

Pu’u Pia Trail is one of the best hikes on Oahu, leading you through a lush rain forest to a beautiful viewpoint. On one side you will see views of Honolulu and on the other side you will see views of Manoa Valley and the mountain ridges above. The very end of the hike can be overgrown where it starts to go down to another viewpoint, so this is a good spot to turn around as the nicer view is at the wider part of the trail.

Best Moderate Hikes on Oahu

For these 6 moderate hikes on Oahu it is recommended that you have previous hiking experience. These trails are either longer and/or have more elevation gain than the trails above but they offer incredible views and give you an opportunity to experience more of Oahu.

10. Aiea Loop Trail

Aiea Loop Trail Oahu

Distance: 5 Miles (loop)
Elevation Gain: 1,310 ft
Parking: There is a small parking lot at the park entrance and street parking in the neighborhood near the park.

Aiea Loop Trail is a nice trail with beautiful views of Halawa Valley. The trail loops through the forest, guiding you through different types of groves. This is a great option on a windy or rainy day when it could be unsafe to do a ridge trail.

11. Pauoa Flats via Kalawahine Trail

Kalawahine Trail Pauoa Flats

Distance: 3.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 700 ft
Parking: There is street parking along the side of the road near the trailhead. Please be careful when walking across the street and respectful of residents while parking.

One of the best hikes on Oahu takes you through a lush rain forest trail with moderate incline to a beautiful viewpoint. The drive to the trailhead is very windy but has great views. The hike starts in a dense rain forest and then guides you through a bamboo forest to a view of the valley and surrounding mountain ridges. Along the trail you will see ginger growing on the side of the path, unique trees, and endless green foliage. Note that this trail is often very muddy especially during the rainy season.

Visiting more Hawaiian Islands? Read these guides next.

12. Waimano Falls

Waimano Falls Best Waterfall Oahu

Distance: 3 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 800 ft
Parking: Free street parking along the street near the trailhead

Waimano Falls is a beautiful clear blue waterfall that drops into a pool that you can swim in. The hike can be slippery so make sure to wear shoes with good traction. The trail starts on a paved road, which later turns into dirt and rocks. Don’t miss the sign to the right that directs you downhill to Waimano Falls. When you get to a point where you can go either right or left, make sure to continue following the ribbons and go left. Follow the river upstream, and you will first see a small waterfall with a small pool. Make sure to continue up the trail to see a view of the full Waimano Falls with the bigger pool. If you choose to swim in the pool keep in mind that it does require a dangerous climb down into the pool.

13. Manoa Cliff and Pu'u'ohi'a Trail

Manoa Cliff Trail

Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1300 ft
Parking: Parking spots on the side of the road near the trailhead.

This trail starts on Round Top Drive and leads up further into the rainforest with beautiful views of Manoa Valley and Mount Olympus. Start at Manoa Cliff trailhead and when you reach the top take a left on Pu’u’ohi’a trail. It often rains in this area, especially during the winter, so be prepared with a raincoat and hiking boots. This trail can get very muddy, but thats part of the experience hiking in the rainforest on Oahu! 

14. Lanikai Pillbox #2

Lanikai Pillbox Best Hike on Oahu
Lanikai Pillbox Hike Oahu

Distance: 1.7 Miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 630 ft
Parking: There is limited street parking in Lanikai about a five minutes walk from the trailhead.

One of the best hiking trails on Oahu takes you to two pillboxes, where you can see beautiful views of the beaches and two small islands called Moku Nui and Moku Iki. There is no shade on this trail and it can get very hot, so make sure to bring plenty of water. The hike is very steep until the pillboxes, where you can enjoy the views and then continue along the ridge. The best part of the trail is past the pillboxes where you can see breathtaking views of the mountains, ocean, beaches, and the town of Kailua.

15. Kuliouou Ridge

Kuliouou Ridge Hike Oahu
Koko Head from Kuliouou Ridge

Distance: 4.7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,650 ft
Parking: There is street parking along the side of the road near the trailhead. Please be respectful of the residents.

This must-do hike on Oahu takes you to an incredible viewpoint with Hawaii Kai on one side and Waimanalo on the other. The trail starts from the end of a neighborhood valley with many switchbacks. You will then reach a pine forest and continue walking up to the ridge where you will have to climb countless stairs to get to the top. As you are climbing you will see views of Koko Head and Hawaii Kai harbor. It can get very windy at the top so make sure to bring a light jacket with you. The clouds often pass through so if it is cloudy when you get to the top try to wait it out a bit.

Best Hard Hikes on Oahu

These next 5 hiking trails are only recommended for advanced hikers. While all incredible hikes, they can be very dangerous and should only be attempted by very experienced hikers. It wouldn’t be a full list of the best hikes on Oahu without sharing these challenging hiking trails, but make sure you are aware of your ability before attempting these. If at any point while hiking you don’t feel comfortable, don’t continue further! All of these trails have sections where using a rope might be needed, but you should never fully depend on the rope. Hiking shoes are a must while hiking these trails so that you have good traction. Be ready to get both an arm and leg workout climbing up these trails, and make sure you have a change of clothes for your next plans because you will most likely be muddy.

16. Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

Wiliwilinui Trail Best Oahu Hikes
Wiliwilinui Trail Top

Distance: 4.7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft
Parking: This trail starts from a gated community and there are a limited number of parking passes available.

Wiliwilinui Ridge trail is one of the most incredible ridge trails on Oahu. The trail has views of the south side of Oahu as you hike up the ridge. When you reach the top of the ridge you will be able to see the windward side of Oahu, where you can spot Olomana (three peaks), Kailua, and more. The trail gets difficult from the middle to the top, where the incline is greater. This can be a very difficult trail if it is muddy, so be careful. Wiliwinui Ridge is one of my favorite trails on Oahu because it is beautiful and a great workout, but when you are done hiking you still have the energy to do something else (compared to other difficult Oahu hikes).

17. Mount Olympus via Wa'ahila Ridge Trail

Mount Olympus Amazing Oahu Hike
Mount Olympus Best Challening Oahu Hike
Mount Olympus Best Difficult Hike

Distance: 6 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,050 ft
Parking: There is street parking available in the neighborhood near the trailhead.

Mount Olympus via Wa’ahila Ridge Trail is another challenging ridge trail which takes you to the peak of Mount Olympus. This trail is longer than many of the other trails on Oahu, and still has a over 2,000 ft of elevation gain. The hike can be very slippery and muddy so make sure to wear good shoes with traction and be ready to use your hands to climb. Similar to Wiliwilinui, you will see views of the south side of Oahu as you are hiking up the ridge and be able to see both the windward side and the south side of Oahu from the peak. This is one of the best hikes on Oahu as you get great views of the lush green ridge lines and mountain peaks nearby. You can also see Olomana, Kailua, and the stunning coastline from the top.

18. Kahekili Trail

Kahekili Trail Oahu
Hiking Kahekili Trail Best Oahu Hikes
Hiking Kahekili Trail

Distance: 2.8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,780 ft
Parking: Park at Swanzy Beach Park and walk about 5 minutes up Hualamani St to the trailhead.

Kahekili Trail is a challenging trail with amazing views of the windward side. This trail is very steep with 1,789 ft of elevation gain in just 1.4 miles so although it is a short trail it can take a long time. There are very steep drop offs so be careful and wear shoes with good traction. There is a point where this trail becomes very overgrown after the waterfall which is a good point to turn around. Kahekili Trail is only recommended for advanced hikers as it is very steep and has dangerous climbing sections.

19. Olomana

Top Hike Oahu Olomana Trail Three Peaks
Olomana Hike Oahu Hawaii
View from Second Peak Olomana

Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,850 ft
Parking: The trailhead is located in a golf course so you must park outside of the golf course and walk about 10 minutes to the trailhead. You can look for street parking outside of the golf course, but make sure to pay attention to the signs.

Olomana is a set of three mountain peaks in Kailua, Oahu.  This strenuous hike has steep drop offs on both sides and several challenging rock climbing parts. If you are looking for an exciting hike but aren’t ready to rock climb with high risk, you could hike to the first peak and then turn around. The second peak requires more climbing, but brings you to exciting views of the third peak and the mountain ridges. The third peak is very dangerous to get to and should only be attempted by very experienced mountain climbers. We started going towards the third peak, but decided to turn around when we reached a dangerous part that we couldn’t find a safe way past and it was getting too late. Don’t get stuck here in the dark!

Pu'u Konahuanui Peak (K2)

K2 Oahu Difficult Hiking Trail
Hiking K2 in Oahu
Best Hikes in Oahu K2

Distance: 7.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,520 ft
Parking: There is street parking along the side of the road near the trailhead. Please be careful when walking across the street and respectful of residents while parking.

Pu’u Konahuanui Peak, also known as K2, is one of the highest peaks on Oahu. The trail starts with Kalawahine Trail and guides you to a nice path through the rainforest to Pauoa Flats. After you reach Pauoa Flats the hike gets significantly more difficult, with very narrow parts and steep inclines. There are long parts where you will need to climb through a muddy trench. The top of K2 can often get clouds in the afternoon, so try to begin this hike early in the day for better views. Although challenging, K2 is one of the best on Oahu.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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