Oahu, The Big Island, and Kauai each have unique aspects to consider for hiking.

The next four blogs will be about some of these hikes.

Oahu is congested, with a population of one million and monthly tourists swelling that number by half a million more. Honolulu has just over 375,000 residents in 68, relatively flat, square miles. Getting away from the metro areas of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, it’s relatively easy to reach rural turf. What can be a challenge is finding the hiking trails. Check the Hawaiian Division of State Parks site before going and carefully follow their directions. The GPS is not going to do the trick.

Here are a few easy-to-locate hikes:

The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

This is an easy 2-mile, paved hike. Go at dawn or late in the afternoon. Walking at the height of day, with no shade, is hot. The lighthouse is not open to hikers. Nor, with work being done on the trail and the last segment was closed off, is it visible from the path. When you finish the walk, if you drive north, pull over and see the lighthouse from that vantage point. The hike is enjoyable and the views are worth it. Take lots of water and a hat! Meandering up and back, soaking in the views, can take about 1.5 hours to do the four miles.

There is also a meadow hike that takes you to the shore. It is unpaved and can be very muddy. Puppies love it.

The Waimea Valley,

Here, you can opt to walk around the visitors’ center and the adjacent grounds. It costs $16 per person for a pass to hike the 1.5 miles roundtrip through the botanical gardens to the waterfall. Swimming is permitted there, at times, but you have to wear a life jacket—no real explanation available. Just across the highway from the entrance is a small beach that seems a place locals go to lay out and enjoy the sun and crashing of the waves.

Another notable walk is the Diamond Head State Monument.

This trail is less than one mile, but it is vertical. There is little shade along the way, so a hat and lots of water are both vital, along with a good pair of walking shoes. While optional, trekking poles come in handy in certain spots. The trail is packed earth, metal steps and stone steps. It is not a walk for the faint-hearted. If you are claustrophobic or have problems with narrow stairs, don’t venture into the former gun turret. It’s a tight fit and the views are just as stunning outside.

Diamond Head is a State Park and there’s either a $1 fee per person or a $5 fee per car to enter. If the parking lot is full, park outside the tunnel and walk in. Although the hike takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, turnover is rapid with the average 3,000 visitors a day rotating fairly quickly.

Oahu is beautiful and if you’re there at the time of year when the North Shore is hopping, watching the surfers is a treat. Being as crowded as any other big city makes getting around the Honolulu area a bit more difficult, but not impossible with the local drivers having infinite patience with the tourists.


Read: Hawaii blogs