The Best Hiking Trails In Hawaii

Hikers from around the world come to Hawaii to explore the fascinating volcanic islands. Hawaii has some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring scenery in the world and some of the best trails.

There are many incredible hiking trails on all six of the major islands of Hawaii – Kauai, Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. There is a wide variety of shorter day hikes to enjoy, and there are multiday hikes, like the well-known Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai.

Here, we discuss the most beautiful hiking trails on the six major islands of Hawaii. We have something for everyone, regardless of experience level or fitness. Get ready to explore Hawaii on foot!

The Best Hiking Trails On Kauai

Kauai is the fourth-largest island in Hawaii and is home to the Na Pali Coast State Park and the Waimea Canyon State Park. The island has a huge number of beautiful hiking trails.

Kalalau Trail

There is a reason that the Kalalau Trail is the most popular hike on Kauai. It’s one of the longest hikes on the island. This out-and-back hike is 22 miles long in total (11 miles each way). It is not for the faint-hearted – be prepared for a 6500-foot vertical ascent.

It generally takes people 2 days to finish this hike, and it does require a permit. It is important to book well ahead of time to reserve the permit. 

The trailhead is at Ke‘e Beach in Ha‘ena State Park. You start off by traversing the cobbled coastline, then climb high above the ocean for panoramic views. Walk the winding trail through river valleys and enjoy the stunning waterfalls.

The hike ends at Hanakapiʻai Beach, where hikers camp overnight before returning via the same trail the next day.

Awa’awapuhi Trail

Awa’awapuhi Trail is rated as the best hike in Koke’e State Park. It is a great family hike because it is far less technical and intense than some of the other hikes in the park.

It is a 6-mile long out-and-back trail that takes hikers to the incredible Awa’awapuhi Lookout point. Here, hikers enjoy the view from 2500-feet above the Na Pali coast.

It generally takes people about 4 hours to finish the Awa’awapuhi Trail. There is a vertical incline of about 2000 feet.

Honopu Ridge Trail

This is another hiking trail in the Koke’e State Park that features more stunning views of the Na Pali coast. It is a 5-mile out-and-back hike that usually takes people around 3 to 4 hours to complete.

The trailhead is just past the Awa’awapuhi trailhead. There are amazing ocean views all along the way, and hikers often see whales breaching.

Nualolo Ridge Trail

A slightly more challenging hike in Koke’e State Park is the Nualolo Trail. It is one of the less well-known trails in the area, so if you want solitude while you immerse yourself in nature, this hike is for you!

It is a 7-mile out-and-back hike that usually takes people about 4 hours to complete. Sections of the hike can be quite technical and slippery, and there is a vertical ascent of almost 2000 feet. Only experienced hikers should attempt the Nualolo Trail.

The trail takes hikers along the sheer cliffs of the Na Pali coast and through dense jungle to some truly breathtaking viewpoints.

Okolehao Trail

On Kauai’s north shore near the small town of Hanalei is the short but challenging Okolehao Trail. It is a 5-mile out-and-back hike that usually takes people about 2 hours to complete.

The first section of the hike can be quite technical, especially after rain. It takes hikers through gorgeous forest and up to a viewpoint where one can see the whole of Hanalei Bay.

Waipo’o Falls Trail

If you want the best possible view of Waimea Canyon, the Waipo’o Falls Trail is a must. It is a short, fairly easy trail that is the perfect family hike.

Waipo’o Falls Trail is a 3.6-mile out-and-back hike that usually takes people an hour or two to complete. The trail is very well kept, so you can keep your eyes fixed on the gorgeous scenery. Enjoy the unique rock formations of Waimea Canyon.

The Best Hiking Trails On Oahu

Oahu is the third-largest island in Hawaii. It is home to the famous city of Honolulu, and to some amazing hiking trails that explore the island’s many natural wonders.

Kaau Crater Hike

The Kaau Crater hike is one of the most adventurous and challenging hikes on Oahu. Along the hike, you can swim in pools, trek through glorious forests, and you get the best view of the Kaau volcanic crater.

It is a 4.6-mile trail that usually takes hikers about 5 hours to finish. The Kaau Crater hike is only for people with a reasonable level of fitness. The climb up the long, steep ridgeline is quite demanding.

Olomana Trail

The Olomana or Three Peaks Trail is a very steep and dangerous trail that is only for experienced hikers and adrenaline enthusiasts. This trail is not for those that are scared of heights!

This 5-mile trail usually takes hikers about 2 to 3 hours to complete. Hikers ascend three steep ridges and are rewarded with a panoramic view of the whole island.

Tom Tom Trail

The Tom Tom Trail leads to one of the most epic sunrise spots on the whole Oahu. It is worthwhile waking up before sunrise and making the half-hour trek to the stunning lookout point. Aim to get to the top half an hour before sunrise.

The Tom Tom Trail is a 3-mile out-and-back hike that takes hikers about 2 hours to complete. People of all abilities can do this hike; just be prepared for a vertical ascent of around 1000 feet!

Seven Falls Hike

The Seven Falls Trail is for hikers who don’t mind getting wet. This 5-mile trail takes hikers along a stream up a narrow gorge to some breathtaking waterfalls. It takes around 6 hours to finish.

The first four waterfalls are easier to reach, but the last three require hikers to do some technical climbing with ropes. The Seven Falls hike is for experienced hikers that are ready for a serious adventure.

Best Hiking Trails On The Big Island

Hawai’i, or the Big Island, is home to tons of beautiful hiking trails. Whatever your fitness level, there is a hike for you.

Pololu Valley Lookout & Trail

The windward side of the oldest volcano on the Big Island, Kohala, has seven majestic valleys. The Pololu Valley is the one that is the furthest north. It features fascinating geology and sheer sea cliffs.

The Pololu Trail is very well managed. A stewardship program maintains the trail, and local stewards greet hikers at the start of the trail and share interesting historical and cultural information.

The Pololu Valley lookout overlooks the majestic cliffs and the valley floor 500 feet below. It is a wonderful spot to watch the sunrise.

From the lookout point, the steep trail leads hikers down into the valley. The distance to the valley bottom is only about 0.6 miles, but you have to descend 420 feet. The walk down into the valley takes about half an hour.

On the valley bottom, hikers are rewarded with a magnificent black sand beach. There are trails to explore from the valley bottom, and there is also a trail to hike the rest of the valleys.

Kilauea Iki

If hiking the rim of a volcano sounds exciting, this is the hike for you! The Kilaueae Iki crater rim trail is 4.5 miles long and usually takes hikers 2-3 hours to finish. Depending on the route you follow, the hike is rated moderate to difficult.

Hikers will walk along the edge of the gorgeous jungle – a brilliant birding opportunity. There is also a diversity of wildflowers to enjoy.

You then descend into the crater and hike across the floor – an alien landscape! You will see the lava ring in the center of the volcano and may even see steam erupting from the cracks in the crater floor.

Best Hiking Trails In Maui

Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is home to world-famous beaches and the Haleakala National Park. The island’s highest point is a volcano called Haleakala – the perfect sunset or sunrise spot!

Here are some of the best hikes on Maui:

Waiheʻe Ridge Trail

In the mountains of the west of the island, Mauna Kahalawai, you will find the Waiheʻe Ridge hiking trail. It is considered amongst the best hikes in Maui.

This 5-mile round-trip hike generally takes people 3 hours to complete. There is a vertical elevation gain of 1700 feet along the trail, so it is moderately intense. The Waiheʻe Ridge trail is perfect for a morning hike.

The trailhead is easy to find on highway 340, and there is a parking lot and toilet for hikers. The trail is open from 7am to 7pm every day.

Hikers start by walking through dense jungle and then begin the ascent up the ridge. Enjoy the view of the beautiful Makamaka’ole Falls, and then continue to climb all the way up to Lanalili – 2500 feet above sea level!

Pipiwai Trail

In the Haleakala National Park, hikers will find the Pipiwai Trail – a 4-mile round-trip hike. It generally takes about 2 hours to finish this moderately difficult trail. The end of the hike is at the base of the spectacular 400-foot tall Waimoku Falls.

This trail is very well maintained, and there is a boardwalk to get hikers past muddy sections. Hikers are treated to multiple waterfalls and spectacular pools along the valley floor and dense rainforest that is home to a diversity of birds.

There is a $15 fee to get access to the National Park and the trail.

Best Hiking Trails On Molokai

Molokai is the fifth-largest Hawaiian Island and is one of the less popular destinations for tourists. If you want to slow down, skip the crowds, and enjoy some solitude, Molokai is the island for you!

Here are some of the most popular hikes on Molokai:

Halawa Valley Cultural Hike

The Halawa Valley Cultural Hike is a guided trek that takes you to the sacred Mo’oula Falls. The hike is facilitated by locals who are proud to share their heritage and culture with tourists. Before you begin the hike, you experience a traditional Hawaiian ceremony.

The trail is a 3.4-mile round-trip hike. It is rated as intermediate to advanced because the trail includes two river crossings, rocks, and muddy sections. The hike costs $70 per adult and $45 per child, and it is essential to book in advance.

Palaau State Park Trails

The Palaau State Park is on the north side of the island, about 10 miles from the main town of Kaunakakai, on Kalae highway.

The park is home to many unique cultural sites, like Ka Ule o Nanahoa, or phallus rock. Ancient Hawaiian women used to visit this sacred rock to pray for fertility. Another interesting site in the park is Kalaupapa. This is a peninsula that was a leper colony in the 1800s.

There are short hiking trails to both of these sites. All the trails are easy and short, and there are many picnic and lookout spots to enjoy.  

Best Hiking Trails On Lanai

Lanai is the sixth-largest Hawaiian Island and is definitely the quietest and least touristy. There are only just over 3000 inhabitants in Lanai! If you want to experience old Hawaii, this is the place.

There are several hikes one can do in Lanai. Here are some of the best trails:

Munro Trail

The Munro trail takes hikers to the highest point in Lanai, Lanaihale – a whopping 3370 feet above sea level! On a day with good visibility, you get a view of all five of the other Hawaiian Islands.

This moderate 13-mile day hike has a vertical ascent of 1600 feet. It takes half a day to complete the Munro Trail. It is an easy walk because the entire trail is a dirt track. Look out for motorcycles and ATVs, as hikers are not the only ones who use this trail.

Koloiki Ridge Trail

The Koloiki Ridge Trail is the most popular hike on Lanai. It takes you through some of the island’s beautiful forests and to the majestic, sheer sea cliffs. It is a 4.2-mile out-and-back hike. Part of this trail is on the same route as the Munro trail.

The trailhead is at the Sensei Four Seasons Resort. You will be given a map at the start of the hike, but the trail is extremely well maintained, and trail markers are very clear. This is a perfect solo hike because it’s difficult to get lost.

Conclusion

There is no shortage of incredible hiking trails in Hawaii. It is impossible to do them all, and you will find yourself wanting to come back for more. Hopefully, this guide to some of the most popular trails on the six main islands helps you plan your trip to Hawaii!