Looking for the best hikes in Hawaii? Look no further because we’ve rounded up some of the greatest hiking trails in the Hawaiian Islands to help you plan your trip. Pound for pound, Hawaii has some of the best hiking in the USA. Where else in the States can you hike for an hour while trekking by waterfalls and bamboo forests, before ending along the crater’s rim? The constant changes in the landscape brought on by the tragedy and forces of Mother Nature have created a landscape rarely found anywhere on earth.
Traveling to Hawaii offers the ease of domestic travel in combination with the sense that you are very much in a different country. From the tallest mountain of Mauna Kea on the Big Island to the Waimea Canyon on and the Waipio Valley, Hawaii is an adventure paradise.
Best Hikes in Hawaii
Choosing a hike can be as hard as deciding which white sand beach to settle on each day, but there’s no need to stress. Our list of the 17 best hikes in Hawaii has you covered.
Learn all about Hawaii’s unique geography and history with our list of the most amazing facts about the island.
Hiking on Maui
Pipiwai Trail – Maui
If you are in search of a trek that provides endless amazing scenery at a casual walking pace, then the Pipiwai Trail is the best hike for you. The trail ascends briefly through the mango and guava trees that feature heavily within the bamboo grove.
After only a half-mile of walking, you will reach the first waterfall. Makahiku Falls is a thin veil of water dropping from hundreds of feet in the air into a deep gorge and can be viewed clearly from an overlook on the trail. Book this Waterfall and Rainforest Hiking Tour where you’ll cruise the Hana Highway followed by an informative trek with a local guide.
The fun doesn’t end there, as you will re-enter the dense bamboo forest and weave your way around old banyan trees. After 2-miles you will reach Waimoku, with 400 feet of cascading waterfalls to witness. Swimming here, however, is off-limits because of the hazard of falling rocks. Read more: The Best Stops on the Road to Hana, Maui
Trailhead: Kipahulu Visitor CenterDistance: 4 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 650ft
Waihe’e Ridge Trail – Maui
An eye-popping view is a goal for any would-be hiker. So for hikes in Hawaii the immense vistas of Waihe’e Gorge, tumbling waterfalls and the wild northern coast of Maui makes the Waihe’e Ridge Trail a must-do.
The 2.5-mile climb up to the 2563ft summit of Lanilili Peak is steady and not overly strenuous. Any confident hiker can make the journey to the top. Head out early to beat the heat and the clouds that often move in later in the day.
While the trail leads to an incredible peak, it also must come down. The return hike will leave some with jelly legs as they tackle exposed tree roots and muddy surfaces. Solid hiking shoes will help keep a smile on your face as you return to the trailhead. Read Next: 26 Best Things to do in Maui
Trailhead: Maluhia RdDistance: 5 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 1700ft
Sliding Sands Trail – Maui
For the adventurous soul who wants to complete an overnight trek, Keonehe’ehe’e or the Sliding Sands Trail is one of the best hikes in Hawaii. Traversing through an incredible world of stark lava, you will enjoy silence most often reserved for deep wilderness areas. Only the breaking of the volcanic ground below disturbs the peace.
The first section of the hike comes with magnificent views among minimal vegetation, with the first overlook providing ample opportunities to photograph cinder cones at the bottom of the crater. Don’t want to hike the full trail? Book this guided hike along two trails inside Haleakala National Park plus a visit to the 3055 meter (10,023ft summit)
The second half of the hike continues to impress as you explore the best of the Haleakala National Park volcano, and Pele’s Paint Pot. Spend the night in a cabin at Paliku or tent out in the campground. If you are still down for more adventures in Maui, let us inspire you with an extensive list of Unique Adventures in Maui
Trailhead: Haleakala Visitor Center Parking LotDistance: 22 milesDifficulty: DifficultElevation Gain:
Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk Trail – Maui
Not all the best hikes in Hawaii have to break your back, some can be as simple as a leisurely stroll along the oceanfront. The Wailea Oceanfront Boardwalk Trail extends for almost two miles, providing nothing but beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and the occasional sighting of sea turtles. We hiked this trail daily while staying at the Fairmont Kea Lani. It was a stunning way to start the day.
It is best to complete many hikes in Hawaii as early as possible to beat the midday heat. However, Wailea Beach is a prime spot for catching a sunset. So find a comfy spot along the well-maintained trail and watch the sky burst into warm colors. Read More: Where to Stay in Maui – The Best Hotels
Trailhead: Polo BeachDistance: 3.6 milesDifficulty: EasyElevation Gain: 138ft
Kalalau Trail – Kauai
On a list packed with amazing hikes, the Kalalau Trail stands out among the crowd as a trek that perfectly balances difficulty with reward. On the island of Kauai, this iconic hike traverses the Na Pali Coast, where jagged cliffs soar out of the ocean below, all the way to Kalalau Beach.
The 11-mile Kalalau Trail will take you to other outstanding coastal beaches such as Ke’e and Hanakapi’ai. These two beaches are a part of a smaller 4-mile section that is immensely popular with day hikers and a shorter version of this incredible trek.
If you have time, break up the journey by staying overnight at the remote Kalalau Beach. Those embarking on this hike, now require a permit to access the trail within the Haena State Park.
Trailhead: Ke‘e Beach trailheadDistance: 22 milesDifficulty: DifficultElevation Gain: Approx 5000ft
Best Hiking on Oahu
Diamond Head Trail – Oahu
On Oahu, a striking mass of volcanic rock stands tall above the landscape. Diamond Head covers an incredible 450 acres and is the location of one of the best hikes in Hawaii. The climb up to the summit is around 2-miles, however, it is a proper leg burner. The short but steep climb will have you crying out for the peak. After temporary relief thanks to the exciting traverse of a 225ft tunnel, the trail continues on up. Book this guided Diamond Head hiking tour to see local sites and to climb Diamond Head at your own pace.
On arrival, all your frustration will subside as you gawk at the dramatic ocean views of the Hawaiian Coast and the combination of downtown Honolulu and the glistening turquoise blue waters of Waikiki Beach. Read more: The Best Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii
Trailhead: Diamond Head CraterDistance: 1.6 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 560ft
Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail – Oahu
Enjoy incredible ocean views and a slice of history on the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail along the Windward Coast. On your journey towards the eastern tip of Oahu, you will have the option of stopping at Crater Rock before completing your hike to the cliff’s edge.
Once you have completed the 1-mile journey to what feels like the world’s end, you will also be able to look across to the historic lighthouse. Built over 100 years ago, the lighthouse sits on a 600ft cliff above Makapuu Beach. From the endpoint, enjoy a well-earned picnic and soak in the scenery.
Trailhead: Makapuu Point Lighthouse TrailheadDistance: 2 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 500ft
Manoa Falls Trail – Oahu
Hawaii is home to an abundance of stunning waterfalls and while Manoa may not be the tallest, standing at 150ft tall, the ease of access makes it one of the best hikes in Hawaii. Book this Waterfall Hike and Nature Walk to Manoa Falls plus visit Tantalus Lookout for views of the Diamond Head crater and the Waikiki skyline.
Located just out of Honolulu, the Manoa Falls Trail is a simple and popular jaunt for travelers and locals alike. Often sparkling with rainbows and color prisms, the waterfall is home to a variety of wildlife and gorgeous, dense forests. Although it is a short hike, be sure to have sturdy hiking boots as the mud can wreak havoc on the trail.
Trailhead: Manoa Falls TrailheadDistance: 1.5 milesDifficulty: EasyElevation Gain: 633ft
Koko Crater Trail – Oahu
Koko Crater is an Oahu trail that comprises a daunting mile-long climb over 1000 steps, which are the remains of an old railway track built during the Second World War. This tough, but rewarding, hike can take about an hour to complete.
You will have plenty of time to catch your breath and mentally prepare for the descent because the view is worth sticking around for. Overlooking Diamond Head you will have long-range views of this famous landmark along with beautiful Hanauma Bay.
Trailhead: Koko Crater Railway TrailheadDistance: 2 milesDifficulty: DifficultElevation Gain: 990ft
Kaena Point Trail – Oahu
After completing the intense Koko Crater Trail you may be in search of a simple, fun hike to do on the island of Oahu. If that’s the case, head to the western tip and begin your trek along the Kaena Point Trail.
This corner of Oahu is draped in spirituality, being the place where souls go in order to complete their journey into the otherworld.
The hike comes with limited elevation gain but be ready to be exposed to the hot Hawaiian sun. Ending at a beautiful lighthouse, you will have access to a pristine beach and the coastal sand dunes, perfect for a mid-hike swim. Stick around for the chance to see monk seals or whales. For other adventures to complete on the island of Oahu, check out our list here!
Trailhead: Ka‘ena Point Natural Reserve AreaDistance: 3.5 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: Neglible
The Haiku Stairs Are Closed
The Haiku Stairs are arguably the most widely known hike in Hawaii but hiking along the trail is illegal and comes with a crisp $1000 fine. We put this in because many people still think that they can or still attempt to climb them. Many people still want to climb the Haiku Stairs otherwise known as the Stairway to Heaven, in Oahu, but we are here to tell you not to.
The trail itself has been shut down due to damage and remains unstable to this day. We put this hike on this list as we know that people may attempt it. We do not recommend or condone doing this hike. In fact, they are looking at tearing out the steps all together to discourage people from even attempting it.
Hiking on the Big Island
Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Island of Hawaii
A journey to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on many bucket lists as the hiking here is as memorable as it gets. On the Kilauea Iki Trail, you will trade lush valleys for stark the crater floor before traversing back towards the rainforests.
It is the middle section, along the crater floor, that makes this one of the great hikes to do in Hawaii. Surrounded by towering mountains, you will walk across the steamy lava lake that was only recently filled because of the eruption of Kilauea Iki in 1959. This active, living landscape is spectacular and is well worth the early wake-up to beat the impending crowds. Read more: Big Island Of Hawaii: 15 Best Things To Do
Trailhead: Kilauea Iki TrailheadDistance: 4.5 milesDifficulty: Moderate-DifficultElevation Gain: 400ft
Awa’awapuhi Trail – Kauai
The Awa’awapuhi Trail is one of the best hikes in the Koke’e State Park, but it comes with a unique ending that elevates it well above its competitors. After a slow beginning, the trail continues to descend upwards to an overlook high above the stunning Na Pali Coast.
It is important to make your way to the very end of the trail where it finishes on a rocky ledge with a dramatic drop-off. From the ‘best seat in the house’, you will have views of the entire valley down to the boats below.
The acoustics from your seat are amazing, even the calls of animals from the valley below are clearly heard from your perch at the top of the mountain. Read Next: The Best Stops on the Road to Hana, Maui
Trailhead: Koke’e RoadDistance: 6.2 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 1180ft
Hiking on Molokai
Kalaupapa Peninsula Trail – Molokai
On Molokai, one of the least visited parts of the Hawaiian islands, the Kalaupapa Peninsula Trail is a hike unlike any other on this list. The Kalaupapa National Historical Park was once home to a forced quarantine zone to curb the spread of leprosy, which lasted 103 years until 1969.
Now, after obtaining a special permit, you can hike the Peninsula Trail alongside an expert guide who will lead you to the major sites, teach the island’s unique history before bringing you to the stunning views along Molokai’s Pali Coast. You can complete the hike on your own two feet, or jump on the back of a mule and enjoy the ride.
Trailhead: Kaluapapa TrailheadDistance: 6.4 milesDifficulty: DifficultElevation Gain: 1735ft
Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
The most popular of hikes on Lanai, Puu Pehe trail is an easy hike that takes you out to a spectacular view. Also known as Sweetheart Rock, this trail takes you along coastal cliffs for 1 km from Manele Bay at the Four Seasons Lanai to Hulopoe Bay. The hike takes you out to the iconic viewpoint of Puupehe. Located just 45 meters (150 feet) offshore, Sweetheart Rock juts 24 meters (80 feet) out of the water. The hike takes you past rocky tide pools and rocky high cliffs to the overlook and takes only about 20 minutes.
Trailhead: Four Seasons Lanai Distance: 1.4 km (.8 miles)Difficulty: EasyElevation Gain: 41 meters 134ft
Koloiki Ridge is a popular hike on Lanai for its views of neighboring islands Molokai and Maui. This pleasant trail is only 7.2 km (4.5 miles) round trip is easy to follow and takes you from the Sensei Four Seasons. This hike also hooks up with the Monro Trail The hike is mostly along a forested path arriving at Maunalei valley, coming out an open vistas offering views of the Maunalei Valley. Note that this hike does not end at the ocean but does offer. views of the ocean and islands from the top of the ridge.
Trailhead: Sensei Lanai Four SeasonsDistance: 6.8 km (4.2 miles)Difficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 222 meters 728ft
The Monro Trail is one of the more popular hikes on Lanai as you can view all of the Hawaiian islands from one viewpoint. It is a multi-use trail for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. When we did the Monro trail it was on a Dune Buggy. From what we have seen, it is now closed to vehicles. And at the moment it seems to be closed for construction and rehabilitation. Check for updates here.
Trailhead: Sensei Lanai Four SeasonsDistance: 19.8 kilometer (11 miles)Difficulty: DifficultElevation Gain: 790 meters 2591ft
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Hawaiian island is best for hiking?
All of Hawaii’s islands, from Kauai to the Big Island, are home to incredible hiking experiences with lush tropical vegetation and an easy day trip from your base. However, it doesn’t get any better than the hiking on Oahu. Great for all skill levels, from beginner to experienced hikers, and no matter where you go you always seem to have a view down to the beautiful coastline. Enjoy canyon trails around multiple volcanoes, hike the amazing Diamond Head or take a short walk to the tide pools.
Is hiking free in Hawaii?
Many of the best hikes in Hawaii come free to users. Some trailheads have paid parking which you can work around if you are willing to extend your hike and park further out. However, Hawaii has some incredibly protected lands such as the Haleakala National Park. These will require an entry permit. You can find up-to-date information and prices on the National Parks Service website.
Hiking in Hawaii comes with mind-boggling, otherworldly scenery. The odd but inspiring mix of rainforests and volcanic remains provides ever-changing vistas along the trails. The land’s edge doesn’t simply meander out of the ocean either, it rises like a shooting star to form dramatic cliffs and epic overlooks.
Map of Hawaiian Hikes
Alongside relaxing and enjoying a beachside vacation, Hawaii is a place to be hiked. Where sweat and exhaustion are matched by eye-popping experiences. Down any dirt road or narrow path could be the view that defines your whole adventure. Get hiking!