Aaron Ramirez

6 minute read

There is no better way to take in the beauty of Hawaii, than by strolling through it directly. Here are the top 5 hikes I recommend, which range from an easy walk, to a heart-pounding 2 day trek. So let’s get to it.

  1. Koko Head Crater, Oahu
  2. Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Oahu
  3. Diamond Head, Oahu
  4. Kilauea Iki Crater & Thurston Lava Tube – Volcanoes National Park, Big Island
  5. Kalalau Trail A.K.A Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Koko Head Crater – Oahu

My personal favorite hike in Oahu. Mainly due to how grueling it is. With that said, you need to be in decent shape to take this hill on. How I gauge decent shape: a 3 mile jog will not challenge you too much. This hike takes you to the top of Koko Head Crater, which is the the prominent hill near Hanauma Bay, which is about a 25 minute moped ride from Waikiki. It is plain and simple, follow the tracks all the way till they end, and continue on a dirt path about an additional 200 feet to the top. It’s all up hill, and once halfway, it just gets steeper.

image-1 image-2 image-3 image-4 image-6 image-7

What to Know

Difficulty level is hard.

Time needed: If you want to take plenty of breaks, expect 1 ½ – 2 hours. 45 minutes, if you push through it

Pace yourself: Save plenty of energy for the way down, the steep tracks are killer on the knees.

Avoiding hazards: You can sidestep the sketchy section of the hike, which involves balancing across raised tracks, by taking the dirt trail to the right (left if going downhill).

Location on Google Maps

Koko Crater Botanical Garden – Oahu

You think you would be sick of all plant life after being in a tropical rain forests for several days, but this botanical garden is not to be missed. A pleasant relief to your burning legs, if you had just done the Koko Head trail the day before. This hike is more of a pleasant walk, which is best done as a 5 mile loop. Take in the beauty and calmness of the gardens, which feature unique fauna that originate from all over the world.

image-8 image-9 image-10 image-11 image-12 image-13 image-14 image-15 image-16

What to Know

Difficulty level is easy.

Time Needed: 2 – 4 hours. Gate closes at Sunset.

Location on Google Maps

Diamond Head State Monument – Oahu

Probably the most famous hike in all of Oahu, and for good reason. You are treated with an ever changing trail, and amazing panoramic views. The hike starts from a convenient parking lot, which is situated at the bottom of an extinct volcanic crater that is almost perfectly round. Dry and arid is how this hike begins, with little protection from the sun. So bring plenty of sunscreen. If you are self diagnosed with A.D.D., as I am, you will not have to worry about becoming bored. You’ll come across long dark tunnels, spiral stair cases, and ultimately an amazing breeze while enjoying the view from up top. You will be able to see all of Waikiki to the west, and as far as Koko Crater to the east.

image-17 image-18 image-19 image-20 image-21 image-22

What to Know

Difficulty level is moderate

Time Needed: 2 hours, from start to finish. Gate closes at 6 PM.

Fees: $5 entrance fee per vehicle, or $1 per person.

Alternative ways to getting there: Take a bus to the community college, 15 minute walk to the parking lot from there. 1 hr/30 min walk/jog directly from Waikiki.

Location on Google Maps

Kilauea Iki Crater & Thurston Lava Tube – Volcanoes National Park, Big Island

This hike takes you to the depths of a sleeping volcanic crater, where you can walk right past steam vents, and touch ground that is warm due to the underground thermal activity. For as huge as it appears, this 4 mile hike goes fairly quick. I was able to stop for many photo opportunities, and still complete it within 2 hours. Finish it up, by allowing 30 extra minutes to check out the lava tubes before making it back to the parking lot.

image-23 image-24 image-27 image-28 image-29 image-30 image-31 image-32 image-33 image-36

What to Know

Difficulty level is intermediate.

Time Required: 2 hours for the crater. 30 additional minutes for the lava tubes.

Starting the hike: Best to take the rim trail south into the crater.

Location on Google Maps

Kalalau Trail A.K.A Na Pali Coast – Kauai

To avid hikers, this is the most sought after trail in all of Hawaii. 11 miles of rugged and challenging coast line. Never have I been so intimidated by an ocean before, as I heard it boom against the rock walls that faced the brute winter swells, hundreds of feet below me. It all leads to Kalalau Beach, which also serves as a commune to many. Often labeled as “hippies”, the people that have made Kalalau their home, are really interesting, and a pleasure to talk to. There is also much more nature to take in as well, which include waterfalls, caves, and pools along the river for swimming in. I recommend 3 – 4 days for this hike. 1 day to hike in, 1 day to relax, and 2 days of time allowed to make it back, as portions of the trail are just too dangerous to hike during heavy rain. That, and you might receive a tsunami warning, as I did, while making your way back. At around the halfway point, there is Hanakoa Valley, which offers a great location for camping, along with a large swimming hole which is even equipped with a sketchy looking rope swing. I really need an entire blog post to describe this trail in proper detail. I will not attempt to do that, but I will provide some amazing photos from my experience:

image-37 image-38 image-39 image-41 image-47 image-48 image-49 ![image-50] image-51 image-53 image-54 image-55 image-57 image-59 image-60 image-61 image-63 image-64

What to Know

Difficulty is level is hard, as this hike is for experienced backpackers only.

Time required: At least 2 days. 3-4 recommended. Be prepared: Kauai is host to the wettest place on earth. A tarp is a highly recommended if you do not bring a tent. This also means that there are plenty of streams and other opportunities along the trail for water, but it needs to be purified.

Free food: Look out for guava on your way in. The ripe ones are big and yellow, and most easily found on the ground.

Location on Google Maps

Of course, there are many more hikes that I can recommend. I would have you scrolling for days if I mentioned them all though. What are your personal favorites? Or your experience with the hikes I’ve mentioned? Please share your thoughts through the below comments section.

Happy trails!

comments powered by Disqus