Set on Oahu, Honolulu is easily the bustling center of the island. Rich in historical sites, dining, and shopping, Hawaii’s largest city still boasts other draws beyond its cosmopolitan side. If you love hiking, you’ll unearth several great trekking spots just outside of town. From chasing waterfalls to climbing up craters, these hikes around Honolulu won’t disappoint.
Mānoa Falls Trail
If you don’t mind chasing waterfalls with crowds, it’s hard to beat the proximity to Honolulu and the relative ease of hiking offered by Mānoa Falls Trail. Covering just 1.6 miles round-trip, this trail 5 miles from downtown Honolulu takes about an hour to complete. Because it’s such an easy hike, you can expect plenty of other travelers joining you on the trek. You’ll pass through tropical rainforest scenes sprinkled with eucalyptus trees and be totally awed by the gorgeous Mānoa Falls — a cascading waterfall featuring a small pool. While it may be one of the easiest hikes around Honolulu, you can still slip and slide on this route so it’s best to put on your best hiking shoes for the trek.
Diamond Head Summit Trail
Located close to the eastern side of Waikiki’s coastline is Diamond Head State Monument. Centered around a 300,000-year-old crater, the monument is known for its hiking trail, Diamond Head Summit Trail. The 1.6 mile round-trip trail takes hikers up to the summit of the Diamond Head crater. Originally laid out in 1908, the trail features switchback after switchback, gaining 560 feet in elevation quickly. Toward the end of the trek, you’ll encounter steep steps and a 225-foot tunnel. At the summit, those burning thighs will be rewarded with commanding views of the shoreline of southeastern Oahu. In the winter, you might even be able to spot humpback whales in the Pacific Ocean! The entrance to Diamond Head State Monument is around 20 minutes by car from the center of Honolulu.
‘Aiea Loop Trail
Just over 11 miles outside of Honolulu, the ‘Aiea Loop Trail presents a dramatic ridge trek. The 4.8-mile round-trip hike covers the western ridge of the Halawa Valley. Found within the Keaīwa Heiau State Recreation Area, this trail takes around 3 hours to complete. You’ll be graced with views from Pearl Harbor to Honolulu to Diamond Head. The journey is also not without high points. You’ll wander along eucalyptus trees and maybe even spot the remains of a B-24 bomber that crashed here in the 1940s.
Koko Head Crater Trail
If you tend to always try and take the stairs, there’s just the hike for you around 12 miles outside of Honolulu. Composed of 1,048 steps, the trail follows a road of old railway ties. The path was first formed during World War II to transport soldiers and supplies up to a lookout at the summit. You can cover the old railroad and ascend some 1,200 feet up the ridge of the crater of Koko Head. Measuring over a mile and a half round-trip, the Koko Head Crater Trail lends views of Hanauma Bay. Frequently referred to as the Koko Head Stairs, this climb is steep and strenuous. As you’re huffing and puffing, you might recall President Obama made this famous climb over his Christmas vacation in 2015, much to the surprise of hikers that day!
Have you been on a hike around Honolulu? Share your favorite perch with us in the comments below.