Top 10 Hawaii Mountain Hikes

19 January 2017

For the outdoor enthusiast who enjoys time spent in nature, there’s no shortage of hiking trails to enjoy in Hawaii while on holiday. And with so many different settings to explore, setting out on a nature walk is bound to reveal something new each time. In fact, few destinations offer the topographical diversity of Hawaii. Lava hardened rock paths on the Big Island, canyons on Kauai and the dense green rainforests of Maui and Oahu all come together to create a nature filled paradise.  

Manoa Falls, Oahu

The path to Manoa Falls can get muddy in parts, so be sure to wear proper shoes. (Image: Getty)

This rainforest trail about 30-minutes north of Honolulu is special for its winding mountain pathway through the verdant mountain settings of the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve. Hike along a narrow dirt pathway for about 30 minutes, and the reward at the end is a stunning 61-metre-high waterfall. The hike there can be muddy in parts, so where proper shoes, but the waterfall views and lush forest setting make every step a joy.  

Diamond Head, Oahu

The hike up Diamond Head is an easy, close walk that rewards with views right across Waikiki and Honolulu. (Image: Getty)

Possibly the most famous natural landmark in all of Hawaii, Diamond Head is the beautiful tuff-cone mountain which dominates the coastal views from Waikiki Beach. Stopping along the way for natural attractions and lookout points, visitors will climb the 233 metre trail to the summit, where the ultimate lookout reveals all of Honolulu below. 

Waimano Falls, Oahu

Be sure to take your swimmers for a dip in the swimming hole at the base of the waterfall. (Image: Getty)

At around three miles (4.5km) roundtrip, the hike may be a bit long for some, but it ends at beautiful Waimano Falls, a popular swimming hole. Here, the cascading waterfall empties into the lovely pool. Access to the falls is via Manana Trail with travel time each way of about an hour when hiked at a moderate walking pace. The trail is unpaved and rough in parts, but the beautiful forest location offers lovely scenery. 

Koko Crater Arch, Oahu

Koko Crater is a great choice for sunrise as the summit is actually only a 15 minute walk from the carpark. (Image: Getty)

Another of Oahu’s invigorating hiking trails, Koko Crater, like Diamond Head, is a tuff cone that provides excellent views out to beautiful Hanauma Bay. The trail can be steep and rocky in some parts, but experienced hikers and fit walkers should have no problem navigating the terrain. The natural arch offers a picturesque setting and is just a 15-minute walk from the area’s parking lot. 

Na Pali Coastline, Kauai

One of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, this is not an easy hike, but the views are well worth your efforts. (Image: Getty)

View some of Hawaii’s most stunning scenery on Hawaii’s oldest inhabited island, Kauai. Rated ‘moderate to difficult,’ this hike can be strenuous in parts, but the views from the mountain top vantage point reveals the stunning Na Pali coast in all its glory.  

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Often called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii, Waimea Canyon is easily accessibly by road, with many hiking trails for all levels. (Image: Getty)

Resembling the Grand Canyon in many ways, Waimea Canyon’s colourful layers of sediment are clearly visible, providing the geologically curious with incredible sights. Simply drive up the winding state park road and stop at one of the designated lookout areas. Hiking trails are accessible from each of these areas. 

Koke’e State Park, Kauai

Just north of the Waimea Canyon, Koke'e State Park has views over the Na Pali coastline. (Image: Getty)

Just north of Waimea Canyon State Park, Koke’e State Park provides a range of facilities and activities. There are almost 2 dozen hiking trails to choose from, and they range in length from 0.6 of a kilometre, to over six kilometres. The lush rainforest trails take hikers through beautiful canyons and to the top of towering mountain peaks. This state park is ideal for bird watching and for sighting native flora. 

Thurston Lava Tube, The Big Island

The lush greenery around the entrance to the lava tunnel shows how fertile the ground is in Hawaii's volcanic landscape. (Image: Getty)

Located on the edge of the dramatic and beautiful Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Thurston Lava Tube Trail is just a 20-minute walk from the carpark area. The easy trail winds through a forest of ferns and tall trees and comes out at the ancient looking lava cave. The cave was formed several hundred years ago by passing lava. 

Volcanoes National Park, The Big Island

The mighty Halemaumau Crater is certainly a highlight of the Volcanoes National Park. (Image: Getty)

From Thurston Lava Tube, venture further into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Begin your tour at the Visitor Center and Museum, located at the park entrance. Information on hiking trails, camping areas and historic places can be found here. There are over 150 miles of hiking trails to enjoy, taking visitors through lush rainforests, past long cooled lava fields and up to scenic lookouts. 

Iao Valley State Park, Maui

The distinctive Iao Needle can be seen peeking out above the surrounding scrub on the trails all around. (Image: Getty)

This stunning state park is known for its lush rainforests, trickling streams, beautiful waterfalls, its swimming holes, and welcoming picnic and rest areas. All of these attractions are accessible by the many hiking trails made available. The Iao Needle mountain peak is a popular attraction due to its tall, narrow proportions and lush green foliage. The park is open from 7am to 7pm. 


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