Experience the astounding beauty of Hawaii on these incredible hikes.
The Hawaiian archipelago is the most isolated group of islands in the world. In various stages of island-building and erosion, the astounding topography of each island has allowed for an incredible variety of beautiful landscapes to form over the millennia. The tropical beauty and natural diversity of Hawaii are showcased in these 10 beautiful hikes throughout the Islands.
INSIDER TIPPlease remember to be respectful of the land and stay on marked trails. Never go around barriers. Always pack out trash and don’t desecrate the landscape with coral graffiti or rock stacks. Leave only footprints.
WHERE: The Big Island
Along the northeast side of the Big Island, the stunning Waipi‘o Valley, also called the Valley of the Kings, is best accessed by foot. Park at the lookout, and walk down the steep, one-way road to the beach. Towering cliffs on all sides, along with rushing waterfalls, add to the dramatic backdrop. You can walk along the beach, but use caution crossing streams if the river mouth is running high. Take plenty of water and give yourself time to hike back up. Waipi‘o Valley, with its breathtaking tropical scenery, is a must-see on your visit to Hawaii Island.
Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park
WHERE: The Big Island
Located in South Kona, this park is the best-preserved Place of Refuge in the Hawaiian Islands. In ancient Hawaii, a Place of Refuge allowed lawbreakers or noncombatants to be absolved of their sins by a kahuna (priest). Take the “1871 Trail “ past ancient village ruins to the Hawaiian burial caves and then walk up over a lava tube for an unmatched vantage of the ocean. You’ll experience untouched Hawaii, (natural trails, fallen palm fronds, coconuts) along the way and you’ll feel like you’ve walked back in time. Don’t be surprised if small herds of goats bleat at you as you pass by. The coastal trail is about two miles round trip if you stay inside the park, but trails continue outside the park if you would like a longer walk. The peaceful tranquility you feel in this beautiful spot has a timeless quality, truly living up to its name.
ʻĀinapō Road Trail
WHERE: The Big Island
This beautiful forest reserve offers adventurous hikers the chance to observe native birds such as the ʻapapane, ʻiʻiwi, ʻamakihi, and ʻelepaio, as well as native koa and ʻōhiʻa trees. You’ll need to drive through a 4WD public access route through the Kapapala Ranch for 5.7 miles before entering the Kapapala Forest Reserve and continuing for another 2.3 miles to the trailhead. Hikers will need to contact the ranch at 808-982-8403 for the gate code the day before and obtain a permit if staying at the hikers’ cabin at the Hawaii District Division of Forestry and Wildlife. If you plan to hike to the summit, you will need to obtain a permit from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers and be ready for extreme situations, including high altitude conditions, very wet trails, or cold temperatures. More than likely, you won’t encounter other hikers, which will result in a solitary wilderness experience in one of Hawaii Island’s most pristine wildernesses.
This hike is an easy, 2.4-mile round trip, taking about one to two hours and gaining just 500 feet in elevation. You’ll hike through an ironwood forest before you reach the ridgeline, which features breathtaking 360-degree vistas of the Manoa Valley and the city of Honolulu. There’s probably no better vantage point to see the cosmopolitan city through the jungle than the Pu’u Pia hike. Be ready for muddy conditions and twisted roots on the trail.
Alaka‘i Wilderness Preserve
This seven-mile round trip trail is sometimes called the “Alaka‘i Swamp” hike because of the extreme wet, boggy, and muddy conditions. Located in Koke‘e State Park, this trail leads to the ridgeline of the Kilohana Pali with astounding views. Along the way, you’ll see native trees and birds. You’ll be in the vicinity of Mount Waiʻaleʻale, which often breaks records for the rainiest spot on the planet. This unforgettable hike is cool and shady, but will blow your mind with its primeval feeling. Be ready to get absolutely soaked and muddy, but that’s the fun of it!
Moloka‘i Halawa Valley Hike
This 3.4-mile roundtrip hike to the Mo’oula Falls crosses private property, so the only way to go is with a guide. The hike begins with a traditional Hawaiian blessing and includes stories and information about cultural practices and native plants. Hike difficulty is intermediate to advanced and you can expect to get wet, as you will be crossing two rivers and hiking over slippery roots, mud, and rocks. You may swim at the falls if conditions permit. Molokai‘I is remote and spectacular, and this is your chance to experience the authentic culture of this isolated place, along with magnificent scenery.
This 12.8-mile, 4WD trail begins near the Four Seasons Hotel, meandering through native and mixed forests which include stands of eucalyptus, ironwood, and Norfolk Island pines. Scenic lookouts every couple of miles offer fantastic photo opportunities. If the weather is clear, you’ll even be able to see all the Hawaiian Islands in one place, something you will not witness anywhere else in the state. The trail ends at Lanaihale, the highest peak on the island, at 3,370-foot elevation.
Starting from Wai`anapanapa State Park, this 2.75-mile trail is moderately difficult but offers fantastic views and solitude. You’ll encounter the Kapukaulua burial site, a lava tube, fantastic blow holes, rocky coves, and archeological ruins. The hike runs along the craggy and rugged volcanic coast, offering beautiful and dramatic views of the ocean.
Pu‘u Ualaka'a Trail
Start this trail at the Pu‘u ‘Ualaka‘a State Wayside. This makes for a good family walk, as it’s a short, accessible, and easy half-mile mile loop through a scenic forest. It will take you to intersections of other, longer trails including the Maunalaha, Makiki Valley, and Moleka trail systems. You’ll see giant banyan trees and other trees that twist around and tangle into wild fairy tale scenery.
Wild, lush, and remote, East Maui offers this gem located in Haleakala National Park. Easily accessible, this 1.8-mile trail presents several extraordinary pools, gorges, and waterfalls, then takes you into a wondrous, meditative bamboo forest. For this windward-side park, be ready for wet, slick, and muddy conditions on the trail. This is one of Hawaii’s most iconic and memorable hikes.