Enjoying amazing views on the Koko Head Trail in Oahu. You can see Diamond head in this picture

The Top 15 Hikes in Oahu

Oahu is the most popular island in Hawaii, and it’s easy to see why for those who have first-hand experience of its immense beauty. It has phenomenal beaches, lush rainforests, and some of the best hikes in Hawaii.

If you’re looking for an adventure that will take your breath away, this list of hikes is just what you need!

We have compiled a list of our favorite hikes in Oahu—perfect for beginners, intermediate hikers, and experts alike. Whether you want to take your family or friends with you, we have something for everyone!

You can check out our top 15 picks below and start planning your next adventure today. Be sure to read the entire article for a bonus 16th option.

These trails will give you an unforgettable experience as well as some great pictures to show off later! So what are you waiting for?! Get outside and explore Hawaii like never before. The time is now and it’s time to get moving!

Note: I have listed the hikes based on their difficulty level, starting off with easy hikes and ending with difficult hikes.

Before we begin, let’s answer some FAQs.

Oahu Hikes: Frequently Asked Questions

Which hikes are illegal in Oahu?

Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven), Crouching Lion, Tom Tom Trail, and Hamama Falls are some of the popular hikes in Oahu, but unfortunately they are illegal.

Does Oahu have good hiking?

Yes, Oahu has some of the best hiking. The ones listed in this article are some of the best on the island. Some may consider them top-tier worldwide!

Is Manoa Falls currently open?

Yes, Manoa Falls is now open (at the writing of this post). You can check the Department of Land and Natural Resources website directly to confirm any park closings.

What are some excellent waterfall hikes in Oahu?

Here are some of the best waterfall hikes in Oahu: Manoa Falls, Waimea Falls, Likeke Falls, Waimano Falls, Kahekili Trail, Kapena Falls, Maunawili Falls, and La’ie Falls.

Now that we have answered some FAQs, let’s dive into the article!

Easy Hikes in Oahu

Note: I will briefly cover this section of the post, as I have a separate article that discusses easy hikes in Oahu in more detail. Be sure to check out that article to learn more about these hikes.

1) Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 500ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 2 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Views of the Windward Coast, Koko Head, and Koko Crater

The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is probably the second easiest hike on this list. It’s paved all the way and is perfect for beginners and families alike.

Enjoying views of Koko Head while hiking the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail in Oahu.

On a clear day, you might even be able to see the islands of Molokai and Lanai. This is also one of my favorite spots to watch the sunrise on the island of Oahu.

View of the lighthouse on the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail. One of the best hikes in Oahu.

2) Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 534ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 2 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Nice views of Ko’olau Mountains

The Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden is a great place to take the family for a nature walk/hike. It has beautiful flowers and plants, and you can easily spend an hour or two walking around the gardens.

View of the Ko'olau Mountains while hiking the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden in Oahu.

There is also a little lake with gorgeous fish in it, and usually some nene taking a dip as well. The Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden is also one of the best botanical gardens in Oahu.

3) Manoa Falls

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.7 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 633ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 1 hour round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Gorgeous views of Manoa Falls

View of Manoa Falls. The hike to the waterfalls is one of the best in Oahu.

Manoa Falls is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Oahu. The hike to it is relatively easy and well worth the effort. It’s a nice, relaxing walk through a beautiful rainforest. The waterfall is also gorgeous and worth the hike.

4) Ka’ena Point Trail

Distance: 3.5 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 442ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 5 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Amazing views of Waianae Mountains, and a beautiful coastline

Ka’ena Point is a remote area on the west side of Oahu. It’s famous for its amazing beaches and rugged coastline.

Ka'ena Point ocean views with amazing blue water. This is one of the best hikes in Oahu.

This is an excellent hike for nature lovers and those who want to see some of Oahu’s natural beauty. The trail will take you to a remote-protected seabird nesting area.

If you’re lucky, you might even see some Hawaiian monk seals and whales if you visit during the wintertime (November through March).

5) Waimea Valley

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.9 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 272ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 50 minutes round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Incredible nature views, and a waterfall you can swim in (Waimea Falls)

View of Waimea Falls, including a natural pool that people swim in. The hike to get to the waterfall is one of the best hikes on the island.

Waimea Valley is an excellent place for a family hike. It has some beautiful views, and it’s one of the few waterfalls in Oahu where swimming is allowed. This is also the easiest hike on this list and doesn’t require a lot of effort.

Easy-Moderate Hikes in Oahu

Note: Again, I will briefly cover this section of the post since I have a separate article that discusses easy hikes in Oahu in more detail. Be sure to check out that article to learn more about these hikes.

6) Diamond Head 

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 1.6 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 560ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 1.5-2 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Views of Waikiki, Honolulu, and Oahu’s South Shore

A group of people hiking up Diamond Head in Oahu.

Diamond Head is a volcanic tuff cone and one of Oahu’s most popular tourist spots, as it makes for an excellent photo op. The hike is very family-friendly and offers amazing views.

The start of the Diamond Head Hike in Oahu is on a paved path and it starts of easy.

Keep in mind that this is probably the most popular hike in Oahu due to its close proximity to Waikiki.

7) Ehukai Pillbox 

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 1.5 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 734ft

Route Type: Trail with Loop

How Long Does it Take: 1 hour round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Amazing views of Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and perfect views of Oahu’s North Shore

Forest views of the Ehukai Pillbox Hike in Oahu. This is one of the best hikes in Oahu.

Ehukai Pillbox Hike is an easy-moderate hike on the North Shore of Oahu. It provides incredible ocean views of Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline), and it’s an excellent place for people who want a short and more leisurely hike with gorgeous sights.

8) Lanikai Pillbox (Kaiwa Ridge Trail)

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 1.8 Miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 649ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 1 to 1.5 hours

Highlights of the Trail: Views of Lanikai Beach and the Mokolua Islands

Enjoying gorgeous views of Lanikai Beach while hiking the pillbox hike in Oahu.

The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is one of the best hikes in Oahu, and it’s also a personal favorite of mine!

It starts out steep but mellows out—for the most part—after the initial challenge.

relaxing on the first pillbox while enjoying gorgeous views of  Lanikai beach on the pillbox hike in Oahu

If you are a morning person and want to check out one of the best sunrises in Oahu, make sure to do the pillbox hike.

Moderate Hikes in Oahu

9) Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Distance: 4.7 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 1,650ft

Route Type: Out & Back

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

Highlights of the Trail: Amazing views of Waimanola and the windward side of Oahu, The Mokulua Mountains, Rabbit Island, and Koko Head Crater

Nature views on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail in Oahu.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail is one of the best ridge hikes in Oahu. It offers incredible ocean views, and the views of the valley are absolutely spectacular.

Mountain views on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail in Oahu.

While the hike is long and steep, the scenery along the way and at the top is totally worth it. Make sure you put on proper hiking shoes on this trail, as it can get very muddy and slippery.

10) Waimano Falls 

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.9 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 810ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 2-3 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Gorgeous views of Waimano Falls, and a natural swimming pool


Waimano Falls is one of the best hikes in Oahu for swimming.

The hike to Waimano Falls starts with a smooth, easy-to-follow path but gets quite steep.

The first part of the trail is not shaded, so wear sunscreen or start the hike off early before the sun becomes too harsh.

After the unshaded start, the majority of the trail will be covered with trees; you just have to get through the first segment.

The trail can get very muddy, so be sure to wear the right shoes for hiking. There are sections with ropes to help you climb up due to the possibility of a slippery, muddy incline. Don’t be shy to use them—they come in handy!

11) Hanauma Bay Rim Trail and Rock Bridge

Distance: 3.5 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 1535ft

Route Type: Loop

How Long Does it Take: 2-3 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Views of Hanauma Bay, Honolulu, a natural rock bridge, Diamond Head, and Koko Head Crater

Hanauma Bay Rim Trail is one of the less popular hikes in Oahu, but it deserves a spot on this list.

Gorgeous view of Hanauma Bay in Oahu. You can see how vast the coral in the ocean is from this view high up on the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail.

You can park at Koko Head park or Hanauma Bay parking (paid parking).

It starts out steep on a paved road by the bay near Kalanianaole Highway.

After hiking for a while, you will get to the top of the loop. You will then need to decide if you want to go left or right. If you’re going to see the rock bridge (crafted naturally by Mother Nature), you will need to head left towards the southern side of the bay.

You will eventually reach the easternmost point. Head down towards the ocean and you should see the rock bridge. Be extremely careful as it can be very dangerous and people have died here.

Keep in mind that there is barely any shade here and not much of a path. Be sure to bring your sunscreen and lots of water.

Difficult Hikes in Oahu

12) Three Peaks Trail (Olomana Trail)

Distance: 4.4 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 1,856 ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 2-4 hours round trip depending on which peak you decide to turn around at.

Highlights of the Trail: Beautiful views of Lanikai Beach and the eastside of Oahu

The Three Peaks Hike is one of the most challenging hikes on this list, but it’s also highly rewarding.

The total elevation gain of this hike is 1,856 feet, which can be pretty daunting for some people.

Make sure you are in great shape before hiking this trail. There are three peaks to climb, with the third peak being the steepest. This hike requires a lot of scrambling and rock climbing in some parts.

Amazing view of the three peaks on the Olomana Trail in Oahu.

If you are looking for one of the best hikes near Honolulu, this is it! Just make sure that you are an experienced hiker before deciding to hike this trail.

I consider myself an intermediate-experienced hiker, but I only made it to the first peak (mainly because I am somewhat afraid of heights).

The best views of the hike can be seen from the first peek, so don’t be pressured to think you need to hike the whole thing.

You will need to walk for about 0.8 miles on an unpaved road to get to the start of the trail, and it slowly gets steeper until you reach the first peak.

Be careful, as there aren’t any rails on the edge of the trail. When you reach the first peak, take some time to enjoy the fantastic views and then decide if you want to keep going to the second or third peaks.

13) Koko Head Trail

Distance: 1.6 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 885ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 1-2 hours round trip depending on your fitness level

Highlights of the Trail: Great views of Honolulu, Diamond Head Crater, and Sandy Beach Park

Koko Head Trail is one of the best hikes for scenic views in Oahu. It’s not the easiest hike to do, but it’s short and the views are worth the hike.

The start of Koko Head Hike in Oahu. This is one of the hardest hikes in Oahu. You can see the 1,048 stairs that lead straight up to the top.

The hike is pretty strenuous; you’re going up 1,048 stairs, so be ready for a challenge.

If you are looking for one of the best places to watch the sunrise in Oahu, look no further than Koko Head.

It’s probably best to do this hike early in the morning anyway, as there is no shade and it gets pretty hot.

14) Williwilinui Ridge Trail 

Distance: 4.7 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 1,617 ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 3-4 hours round trip depending on your fitness level

Highlights of the Trail: Amazing views of East Oahu, Waikiki, Honolulu, Konahuanui, and Waimanalo

Gorgeous Mountain views while hiking the Williwilinui Ridge Trail in Oahu.

If you like strenuous hikes with amazing views, the Williwilinui Trail might be just the hike for you.

This hike is not for the faint-hearted as it’s very steep and can get muddy and slippery after heavy rainfall. Be sure to check the weather and avoid hiking during or after heavy rain.

15) Mount Olympus Awaawaloa via Wa’ahila Ridge Trail

Distance: 5.9 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 2,047 ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 3-5 hours

Highlights of the Trail: Incredible views Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, the Windward side, and Ka’au Crater

Mt. Olympus is known for its incredible views. There are multiple trails you can take to get to Mt. Olympus.

You can go up Manoa Middle Ridge from Manoa Valley, go up Mount Olympus, and descend via the Kolowalu Trail.

The easiest trail to take would be Wa’ahila State Park (Parallel with Manoa Ridge). Or you can use the Kolowalu Trail.

The hike is pretty steep and can be strenuous, but the views are definitely worth it!

16) BONUS OPTION: Hawai’i Loa Ridge Trail

Distance: 5 miles (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft

Route Type: Out & Back

How Long Does it Take: 3 hours round trip

Highlights of the Trail: Beautiful views of North Shore and the southside of Oahu

The Hawai’i Loa Ridge Trail is a strenuous hike, however, it’s still one of my favorite hikes on Oahu. You will be rewarded with gorgeous views a few minutes into the hike.

There are multiple climbs with ropes to help guide you up some sections, so please make sure you are an experienced hiker before attempting this hike. You will definitely need to use both of your hands and feet on this hike in some sections. Don’t worry though, the views are spectacular and worth it!

Make sure you also check the weather to ensure no rain is expected, as this trail will quickly get slippery and muddy.

Keep in mind that, depending on when you go, it might be cloudy at the top. That limits the visibility, but I wouldn’t worry about it as the views to get to the top are still impressive.

If you prefer it to be nice and clear on top of the mountain, then be sure to go on a very clear day.

Please note that at least one person in the car needs to have a Hawaii State ID to get through the gate at the Hawai’iloa community, and thus to access this trail.

The Wrap Up: Oahu Hikes

If you are looking for an adventure, this list of hikes should surely have something that will suit your needs.

Whether it’s a hike involving the whole family or simply just a solo adventure, Oahu has some great options for getting out there into nature! We hope you’ve found what you’re looking for within this list!

Mahalo for reading our post and Happy Hiking in Oahu!