The capital of Hawaii is the most common point of entry when visiting the incredible islands of Hawaii and if you make it there, you must go hiking around Honolulu to realise even more on how beautiful this place is!
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If you’re backpacking in Hawaii is very likely you know many things on the natural beauty present everywhere on this remote part of the world, from stunning beaches and lush green forests to active and extinct volcanoes.
What to take when Hiking in Honolulu
As with almost anywhere you go in the world, it’s important to prepare yourself for a hike, always check how long it’s going to take and as a general rule always take some snacks and plenty of water for hikes over 2 hours long.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
Check if the terrain is going to be technical, steep, slippery and get yourself a good pair of hiking boots instead of regretting it when you’re out in the wild!
Where to stay in Honolulu
Hawaii is not the cheapest destination for a backpacker on a budget, but sometimes you may find a good deal on a hostel or AirBnB. Check your luck with couchsurf as well as my Hawaiian budget was saved thanks to a great host in Honolulu!
Hiking in Honolulu
I only spent a few days in Oahu, but I had enough time to do quite a few hikes, some super easy and some more challenging. These are my picks:
Hking the Ka’au Crater Trail
This was my favourite hike in Honolulu! a really cool mix of terrains and views with some super slippery areas.
If happiness could be described with a trail it would probably be the Ka’au Crater Trail!!
It has it all: waterfall climbs, windy and narrow volcano crater rim, clad-like slippery slopes, steep descents, steep ascents, mud, mud, mud, lots of stream crossings, wild narrow paths and peace, so much peace……so awesome!!!!
At just over 7.5km and some 600m of climbing is not super long in distance but due to the difficulty of the terrain it takes a good 5 hours to complete, including marvelling a lot and some time lost cross-crountrying a bit of a dangerous cliff.
From the main peak there’s almost a 360° view of Oahu, speechless.
To go down is not any easier, it’s in fact much harder! do not miss this hike if you love the outdoors as much as I do!
Read my post about hiking the Ka’au Crater Trail for more details of this awesome hike in Honolulu!
Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail Hike
The Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail feels like two different places, as you start on a dense beautiful pine forest and then clears up once you reach the ridge of the mountain offering some more wonderful views of the island.
This is not a difficult hike even that you do climb a little, if it has been raining you will find some slippery and muddy areas though.
This is a cool alternative to the most crowded hikes in Honolulu as I didn’t see many people at all during my hike.
Check out my post about hiking the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail for all the details you need to know for doing this hike in Honolulu!
Hiking to Manoa Fall
The walk to the Manoa Fall is touristy yes, but as it’s really flat I think it’s the best hike you can do if you’re just landing and want to shake the jet lag and stiffness of a long flight out of your body!
Prepare to find crowds as this place was a filming location for Jurassic Park, so…touristy…
Hiking to the Manoa Fall is just an easy short day… but what a beautiful landscape to find just 20 min away from the city!
You can make your day much longer by hiking on the Aihualama Trail which is just on a diversion a few meters before you arrive to the Moana Fall. Not many people enters this trail so you can enjoy there a stunning forest hike!
It’s very easy to get there by bus from many points in Honolulu, check on google maps for the timings as the buses are just not so frequent though. If going by bus, get a day pass instead of buying single tickets as it’ll be cheaper that way!
Diamond Head Hike
Surely the most crowded hike in Honolulu. If you’re in Waikiki you will quickly spot the Diamond Head mountain so a sort of hiking playground has been developed at the start of the walk.
More than a trail is just a short walk up to the rim of the Le’ahi crater which was renamed as “Diamond Head” in the late 1700’s when western explorers mistook the calcite crystals in the crater for diamonds.
This is a really touristy spot with over a million visitors per year although until 1976 it was a restricted military area. Today some areas are still restricted.
The fire control station built at the top of the volcano over 100 years ago was part of the coastal defence system.
There’s a $1 entry fee for walk-in visitors and it’s very easy to get there by bus from Waikiki or Ala Moana areas in Honolulu. This was the only paid hike in Honolulu that I did.
Koko Head Crater Trail
The Koko Head Crater Trail is short, sweet and steep!
Climbing up almost 300m spread over just 1km long, this little trail is a really cool workout!
The railway line going up to the top was created to carry supplies and was used until the 50’s when a military outpost was located at the top of the crater.
Now all that remains is the incredible views and 1048 “steps” of the railway line. A section of which is a bridge that is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Make sure to explore the side trails at the top as you will keep finding awesome viewpoints of different areas of the island as well as cool views of the rim that remains from this extinct volcano!
Check my post about hiking the Koko Head Crater Trail for more details on everything you need to know for this cool little hike!
Planning to go hiking in Honolulu?
You must do it!! Hawaii is not all about the beach and some Oahu Hikes are breathtakingly beautiful!
Have a look at the rest of my posts about hikes in Hawaii for more ideas on your backpacking adventures in paradise!
Have you got any suggestions for other hikes in Honolulu or a question about the listed ones? drop a line below!
Happy adventures! 🙂