Gorgeous ocean viewsand views of the South shore of Oahu from the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Kuliouou Ridge Trail: Is this Oahu’s Best Hike?

If you’re looking for one of the best hikes in Oahu, the Kuliouou Ridge Trail is definitely worth checking out!

The trail is 4.7 miles long and it’s considered moderately difficult, so it’s perfect for most hikers. You’ll get some incredible views of the ocean and the surrounding mountains along the way.

Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you, as you’ll want to take your time enjoying this beautiful hike. And don’t forget your camerayou’ll want to capture all the stunning views along the way!

In this blog post, I will share with you everything you need to know about this hike so that you can make the most out of your experience. Let’s get started!

Disclaimer: Hiking can be a dangerous activity. Please assess your own mental and physical health before attempting this hike. 

Views of the south shore of Oahu and Diamond Head from the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
We took this shot towards the end of the trail
View of Diamond Head on Kuliouou Ridge Trail
View of Koko Head taken at the end of the trail

How to Get to the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

You have two options to get to Kuliouou Ridge Trail:

1) By Car

  • From Waikiki, head east on Kalakaua Ave
  • Stay left onto Monsarrat Ave
  • Turn left onto Makapuu Ave
  • Turn right onto Kilauea Ave
  • Turn left onto 16th Ave
  • Turn right onto Waialae Ave
  • Take HI-72 to Kuliouou Rd
  • Continue on Kuliouou Rd, then turn right onto Kalaau Place.

The best way to get there is to use Google Maps. We literally just put Kuliouou Ridge Trail in Google Maps and it took us right to the street that the trailhead was off of. The drive from Waikiki was about 25 minutes.

Map to Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Kuliouou Ridge Trail Parking

Parking is in a residential neighborhood on the street of Kalaau Place. As always, be respectful of the residents who live there. Do not block anyone’s driveway and follow proper Hawaii parking protocols.

If you get there around 10:00 AM – 12 PM (When most people get there), you might need to park further out and walk to the start of the trail. Parking closer to the beginning of the trail tends to fill up quickly, so going there early is always recommended.

Cars parked on the street at Kuliouou Ridge Trail

We got there around 2:30 PM and found parking closer to the start of the trail. 2:30 PM is a little late to be starting this hike since it took us about 4 hours to complete it, and it was dark outside when we got back to the car. Luckily, we always hike with a flashlight just in case we run into situations like this.

2) By Bus

There are multiple options you can take depending on where you are staying. We mainly use Moovit app for bus schedules. Click the link above to verify the exact bus number you need to take.

From Waikiki, you can get on bus #1L towards Hawaii Kai, then get off at Kalanianaole Hwy and Kuliouou Rd. You will then need to walk for about 27 minutes to get to the start of the trail.

I always recommend renting a car while on the island compared to riding the bus. Hiking is a lot of physical activity, and renting a car is more convenient because you’re not restricted to specific times and locations like you are with the bus.

You can also take Uber or Lyft as an alternative to riding the bus.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail Map

Hiking the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: About 4.7 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 1650ft

Route Type: Out & back

How Long Does it Take: 3-4 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Gorgeous ocean views and views of the Ko’olau Mountain Range, South Shore, and Koko Head

Terrain: Dirt, steps, mountainous trail

The Start of the Trail

The trail starts at the end of the cul-de-sac and after the yellow gate pictured below. The closed gate tends to throw people off as it seems the trail is closed, but it’s not. Just walk past the gate and you will eventually see the official start of the trail.

Cody walking towards the yellow gate at the start of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Cody standing at the start of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail on the yellow gate

There are trail markers and there should be other people hiking the trail, so you should not have a hard time finding where to go.

Cody stating in front of the Map and Trail signs on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

The trail starts nice and steady, but it gradually becomes more difficult as you go up. Not because the trail is extremely steep, but more so because the trail is quite long. It feels like endless amounts of switchbacks as you progress upwards.

Flat section at the start of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail with amazing forest views

Funny Story: As we were hiking up, we saw this little boy hiking with his family, and this is the motivation he gave us: “You guys don’t even know what you signed up for; you are nowhere NEAR the top.” At this very moment, we realized we needed to increase our pace since we started the hike late in the day.

This trail has a lot of roots and large rocks, and also plenty of trees that do a good job of blocking most of the sun. The shade is always a much-appreciated bonus when hiking on hot and sunny days.

Phot of the rocky path at the start of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Trail signs on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail and a falling rocks warning sign

Make sure to watch your footing as there are some slippery areas as well, especially on the steeper sections of the trail.

The Middile Part of the Trail

The middle part of the trail is similar to the first part. Not too steep, just pretty long. You will be hiking through a wonderful pine forest with spectacular views.

Me hiking though the wonderful pine forest
Me hiking through roots on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Hiking through more of the root section on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Me enjoying the forest and mountain views on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
View of the mountains while hiking Kuliouou Ridge

You will also have decent views of the ocean when you reach the top.

It gets a little steeper right before you get to the picnic area. Feel free to stop and enjoy a snack or take a break.

We didn’t stop here as we ran behind on time, but we wish we did. When we got to the top, it was getting windy and we ended up eating our snacks on the way down instead.

Me enjoying the scenery right before the picnic area on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

The Last Part of the Trail

The trail starts to get a little steeper, but it’s nothing worse than some of the other hikes in Oahu.

Me hiking through the steep section with roots on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

We love this trail so much because you hike on lots of roots along the way, which makes it somewhat more entertaining than hiking on rocks or dirt the entire hike.

Another root section on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail

As always, it’s not a race so feel free to take as many breaks as you need.
On your way up, you will see amazing views of Koko Head and the South Shore of Oahu.

The last part of the hike is where it gets steep. This is where the stairs that everyone talks about can be found.

The steep stairs on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Me walking up the stairs on Kuliouou Ridge Trail

These stairs automatically reminded me of hiking the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail in Oahu when I saw them. While better maintained and not as steep or hard, it still brought back those fond memories.

Me standing on the stairs while hiking the trail, enjoying gorgeous views all around

I remember saying “These stairs will never end, will they?!” Obviously, they did end, but it felt like we were hiking the stairs for a long time.

Me taking a break on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
I needed a break here haha

In all fairness, this hike was not that bad. I saw kids, older people, and families hiking here. Again, it’s very doable as long as you pace yourself and understand your physical abilities.

Gorgeous view of Koko Head while hiking the Kuliouou Ridge Trail
Views of Koko Head along the way

Once you get to the top, you will be greeted with fantastic ocean views and overall gorgeous views of Oahu’s South Shore.

Make sure to take your time and enjoy the experience of this hike. This is by far one of our favorite hikes on Oahuit’s not hard to do, and the views are just spectacular!

Kuliouou Ridge Trail Tips

Start Early: As mentioned before, you don’t want to be hiking this trail after dark. Make sure to give yourself enough time to get back down.

Bring Lots of Water and Snacks: Prepare to spend a lot of time hiking this trail. Make sure you have enough food and water to fuel you along the way.

Bring a Camera: This hike is definitely photo-worthy, as the views are absolutely gorgeous. Make sure to bring your camera or your phone to snap some pictures. Don’t forget to add a camera to your Hawaii packing list.

Watch Your Footing: This trail can be slippery in some areas, so make sure you know your surroundings and watch your footing.

Wear Proper Hiking Shoes for Hawaii: This trail is full of loose rocks and dirt, so make sure to wear shoes that will grip the surface. Hiking shoes are best, but trial running shoes will suffice as well.

Be Aware of Your Physical Abilities: This hike is not strenuous, but it is long and steep in some areas so understand your abilities before attempting it. If you are unsure if you can do it, please don’t attempt it.

What Else is There to Do in The Area?

Below are our two favorite things to do on Oahu after hiking the Kuliouou Ridge Trail.

Get Shave Ice at Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha: This is one of the best places to get shave ice on Oahu. Make sure to stop by and treat yourself after hiking.

People waiting to get shave ice at Uncle Clay's House of Aloha

Stop by Leonards Bakery: This bakery is one of the best on the island. They for sure have the best malasadas on Oahu. Stop by and grab a few as a treat.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail: Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to hike Kuliouou Ridge Trail?

About 3-4 hours, depending on your pace. We stopped a lot to take photos and fly our drone, and it took us 4 hours to complete the hike.

Is Kuliouou Ridge Trail safe?

Yes, it’s safe. Make sure to stay on the trail and follow the trail markers. Always use your best judgment and common sense when hiking.

Carry a flashlight if hiking before sunrise or after sunset. I recommend getting back down before dark as it gets incredibly dark on the trail.

Is Kuliouou Ridge Trail open?

Yes, the trail is open.

Which is Better? Kuliouou Ridge Trail or the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail?

That’s a tough question to answer, as both trails are amazing in their own way. If you are looking for a more leisurely hike, I recommend Kuliouou Ridge Trail.

If you are looking for a more challenging hike, I recommend the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail. Both trails offer incredible views and are quite impressive.

However, you don’t need to hike a difficult trail to get amazing views. The views at Kuliouou Ridge Trail are just as satisfying.

The Wrap Up

The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is a great hike for anyone looking for an easier hike on Oahu with amazing views of Oahu’s South Shore.

The trail is not difficult but can be long and steep in some areas. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.

We highly recommend this hike for anyone looking for a beautiful and intermediate hike on Oahu.

Mahalo for reading our post! Until next timeAloha, and happy hiking in Oahu!

See Also:

Hiking the Olomana Trail to Three Peaks

Manoa Falls Hike

11 Tropical Flowers That Will Remind You of Hawaii