Whether you want to climb a challenging peak, explore a cave or bathe in a pristine waterfall, there are some outstanding hiking trails to choose from on the island of Oahu. From your luxury vacation villa in Waikiki or a vacation rental near Haleiwa, you will find plenty of trails and scenic views just a short drive or bus ride from your Oahu home. Here are some of the best hikes on Oahu, graded into easy and intermediate/challenging so you can choose a hike to suit your preference and fitness level.
Easy Hikes on Oahu
A great hike to introduce visitors to the volcanic nature of Hawaii is the short 15-minute hike from the car park to the unique Koko Crater Arch. The trail is well defined and gradual, but you will need sturdy footwear as the surface is loose gravel. The extraordinary arch slopes at an extreme angle parallel to the hillside, so it’s more of a huge slit than a rounded arch. It can be climbed, if you’re up for a challenge! Otherwise, sit in the shade of the giant arch and admire the stunning sea views. On your return, make a detour to Cockroach Cove with its arc of golden sand which creates a sheltered cove for swimming.
If you’re staying in a Kailua vacation rental, the popular Lanikai Pillboxes Hike (aka Ka’iwa Ridge Trail) is very family-friendly. Allow 1-2 hours to complete the hike, which delivers sweeping views of Kailua, Lanikai and out to the Mokulua Islands. The pillboxes are former lookouts from World War 2 and provide excellent views, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Other easy hikes on Oahu include the coastal trail to Kaena Point on the western tip of Oahu and the trail to Waimano Falls and Pools.
Intermediate Hikes from your Oahu Villa
One of the best hikes in Honolulu is the Ka’au Crater Hike, which takes you to the top of a volcanic crater via three waterfalls. This five-hour hike through Oahu’s stunning landscape offers forest, streams and lush greenery as well as waterfalls cascading down the rocky mountain. At the top, look down into Ka’au Crater which resembles a green meadow but is actually a lush spring-fed marsh. The circular hike continues around the Crater Edge with far-reaching views before descending to the starting point.
If you want a short sharp workout, consider tackling the 1048 steps that are the remains of the old rail track known as the Koko Crater Tramway. This ridge hike is less than two miles in length and gives wonderful views of Hawaii Kai far below.
More intermediate and challenging hikes from your Oahu vacation home include the Pali Lookout Trail and the Lanipo Trail. Serious hikers can climb Mount Olympus along the Waahila Ridge starting from the top of St Louis Heights, but keep in mind that an often cloudy peak may obscure the view. Finally, the 2-3 mile Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail leads to the Makapu’u Tide Pools which are deep enough for a swim. However, they can be dangerous when the surf is high- known during these times as “the washing machine.”
However you explore the island, we know you will fall in love with the dramatic landscapes and natural beauty that make Oahu vacation villas so popular.
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