Best Easy Day Hikes Hawaii Oahu  by Suzanne Swedo

Best Easy Day Hikes: Hawaii: Oahu Guide Book

by Suzanne Swedo (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Hawaii Oahu  by Suzanne Swedo
Best Easy Day Hikes Hawaii: Oahu includes concise descriptions and detailed maps for 20 easy-to-follow hikes on the island that is home to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. This Capital Isle is often the place that comes to mind when you think of Hawaii. Discover a landscape of diverse scenery and natural splendors, from the Ko'olau Mountains to Maunawili Falls and from Makapu'u Point to Ka'ena Point.

© 2010 Suzanne Swedo/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Hawaii: Oahu" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

Just above Honolulu, but high enough into the Ko’olau mountains to feel wild and remote, this relatively level loop is a great favorite with both locals and visitors. In fact, it can be crowded on weekends. There are some interesting views and a variety of tropical trees and flowers. It can be slippery when wet so hiking poles and caution are recommended if it has been raining.
Aiea, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
Diamond Head, or Le’ahi to Hawaiians, is the most famous landmark in all Hawai’i, the classic hike everybody must do when they come to O’ahu. Wilderness it is not. From beginning to end a steady stream of hikers of all ages, sizes, and states of physical fitness (or lack thereof) puffs up and down the steps. For many locals, it’s a popular conditioning run. (Yes, run!) The view from the top is superb in all directions, as you would expect.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
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This surprising green oasis is right in the middle of downtown Honolulu. It is the oldest of the five Honolulu Botanical Gardens, each of which protects a different habitat with its own specialized kinds of plants. If you visit them all, you will be surprised at how many widely differing environments exist on this one small island. This one features subtropical and tropical species. It was opened to the public in 1931, but its history goes clear back to 1853. The stupendous size of some of the trees confirms its venerable history.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
This may be the most popular short hiking destination on O’ahu, a place for socializing and swimming as much as communing with nature. Nu’uanu Stream flows along the southwest side of the elongated loop and widens into a pretty ginger-lined pool fed by a 10-foot cascade. The short loop trail is named for Lawrence Judd, who was a governor of Hawai’i in territorial days, and tradition has it that somebody grazed a donkey in the grass near the pool at one time. It is often crowded, especially on weekends, and parking is sometimes a problem. The best time for a hike is early in the morning on a weekday.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 1
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This popular hike offers some of the best sea views on O’ahu, a photogenic lighthouse, and a special bonus from December through April: migrating humpback whales, lots of them, just offshore. It’s the easternmost point of O’ahu, affording views southwest back to Koko Crater and Koko Head, and northwest along Waimanalo Bay and out over several islands protected as sanctuaries for seabirds. This walk is sunny and shadeless, but open to the sea breeze. Take water and sunscreen. Take binoculars too, if you have them. Start the gentle climb up a hill covered with koa haole, kiawe (mesquite), and prickly pear cactus, enjoying ever-improving views back toward the rocky coastline toward Koko Head. If you are here between December and April and notice an excited group staring out to sea, you can bet you’ll see humpback whales blowing, breaching, and doing whale things.
Waimanalo, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
This walk follows a beautiful shoreline, with tide pools to explore and endangered species of Hawaiian flowers to examine along the way. From December to May you are almost guaranteed sightings of nesting albatross and migrating humpback whales. You can sometimes spot rare Hawaiian monk seals on the rocks. There is no shade or water and it can be hot even with the sea breeze. Take lots of water and sunscreen.
Waialua, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5
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Don’t miss this one. It is an easy walk on a stunning shoreline, with possible sightings of nesting albatross, rare monk seals, and even whales. There are endangered species of native Hawaiian flowers, tide pools, and blowholes. The hike begins at the foot of the cliff, upon which squats a white object that looks like Paul Bunyan’s golf ball (actually one of the domes of the nearby military satellite tracking station). The hillside mauka (toward the mountain) is mostly covered with koa haole and other dry scrubby plants. Makai (toward the sea) is one of the most wild and wonderful shorelines ever. Clear turquoise water breaks into waves that thrash the rugged black lava cliffs.
Waialua, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5
This is one of the City and County of Honolulu’s five botanical gardens, and arguably the most interesting, set as it is inside Koko Crater, the largest cone made of volcanic ash on O’ahu.
Waimanalo, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
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A shady stroll takes you through a lush green valley toward the heart of the Ko’olau Range. Pass the stone barrier marked kuli’ou’ou reservoir, sign in on the sheet in the mailbox to your left, and follow the clearly marked trail northward into the valley. In 0.2 mile the trail splits. Your route continues straight ahead (north), while the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail cuts off to the right (east). Use a set of built-in boot brushes at this junction to scrape off any noxious weed seeds you might have picked up elsewhere. Hawaii’s native vegetation is under siege from aggressive introduced species. The trail follows alongside a (usually) dry streambed lined with dense ferns and strawberry guava trees. Take your time beside a little stream to savor the ferns and flowers. You’re almost certain to hear the clear, melodious song of the shama thrush, and have a good chance of seeing one.
Waimanalo, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2
This is a compact little jewel crammed in among apartment buildings, just right for a stroll and a picnic in the heat of the day. This quiet little garden is within easy walking distance of the Foster Botanical Garden (though you can drive if you like). It was a favorite of Queen Lilioukalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawai’i, who bequeathed it to Honolulu for everyone to enjoy. It has a grassy lawn to stroll along, planted with native Hawaiian plants with identifying labels. Its best feature is a stream that tumbles over a little waterfall and splashes through the middle of the park from end to end. At the upper end are some big old banyan trees whose curtains of aerial roots screen the park from the city outside. You can cross the stream on a bridge and picnic on the lawn, as do many of the locals at lunchtime.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3
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Right next door to Manoa Falls is an opportunity to see some beautiful ornamental flowers and native Hawaiian vegetation in a more open and manicured setting. There are no slippery tree roots or muddy steps to negotiate in the lower section—a good choice if you didn’t bring good walking shoes. Lyon Arboretum is part of the University of Hawai’i and is devoted to saving and propagating threatened native Hawaiian trees (which banyans are not), along with plants from elsewhere in the tropical world. You might encounter clumps of students engaged in research projects here and there on your walk. You can stroll as far and as long as you like, following any one of several loops, or hike 1.5 miles all the way to the arboretum’s upper end to little ’Aihualama Falls, where sturdier footwear is advised.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4
This is one of the prettiest and most popular hikes on O’ahu. It’s a perfect family ramble along a stream amid lush tropical vegetation to a waterfall and pool. You’ll be following Waihi Stream all the way to the falls. In the stream gully to your right (east) are several monstrous strangler figs dripping with aerial roots, vines, and creepers, many of which you will recognize as ordinary houseplants like philodendrons and pothos run amok. You’ll feel as though you’ve entered a Tarzan movie. Cross a tributary creek on a bridge and proceed amid wild ginger, bamboo, huge tree ferns, and tangled thickets of hau. This shrub or small tree is a kind of hibiscus found all over the South Pacific. You can see why it is often planted as natural fencing.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
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This is a very popular hike to a pretty little waterfall and pool. You will probably enjoy it more if you get there early in the day. The surrounding area was once farmed by the early Hawaiians, later planted with sugar, coffee, and rubber, and grazed by cattle, but is now lush and green again and blooming with flowers. It is shady most of the way, usually damp and sometimes muddy, with three slippery stream crossings. Follow the shady private paved road alongside Olomana Stream, which is audible but not visible, to where the road is very clearly marked closed. Turn right (north) onto the Maunawili Falls Trail, which is fairly flat and wide at first beneath tall straight trees draped with huge houseplants. Alongside the trail you’ll see several different kinds of colorful gingers, showy heliconias (lobster claws), and birds-of-paradise, as well as occasional coffee plants left over from agricultural days.
Kailua, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
The view from the Nu’uanu Pali overlook is truly stunning, but you have to share it with hundreds of chattering tourists and rumbling tour buses unless you walk a bit. With very little effort you can wander past the chaos down the Old Pali Highway and have the views almost to yourself. This is the site of perhaps the most important battle in Hawaii’s history. Nu’uanu Pali is the place where King Kamehameha drove his enemies over the cliff in the battle that won him the power to unify the Hawaiian Islands. There are some interesting interpretive panels at the overlook, where you can read about King Kamehameha I, probably the most colorful and celebrated figure in the history of the islands, about the construction of the Pali Highway, and view a map naming the features spread out before you.
Kailua, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 1.5
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A heiau is a temple or place of worship, usually a raised rectangular platform built from lava rocks by the early Hawaiians. In the old days there would have been altars, huts, and tikis, (carved representations of the gods) on top. A heiau might be dedicated to a god of war or have some specialized purpose: to propitiate the gods of agriculture or fishing, to teach sacred rituals like the hula, to glorify an ali’i (chief).
Waimea, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3
Pu’u Ohia is the Hawaiian name for Mount Tantalus, the high point on the edge of a volcanic cinder cone. The view from the summit is one of the finest, taking in Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, the Wai’anae Range, the Ko’olau Range, Nu’uanu Pali, and the Tantalus crater . . . weather permitting, of course. The crater is the remains of O’ahu’s last gasp (maybe) of volcanic activity—the same gasp that produced Koko Crater, Koko Head, and Diamond Head—so it’s one of the few spots on the island that actually looks like a crater. It’s not as obvious as Diamond Head because it is covered in vegetation. Still, you can look down into a bowl from the summit. It does rain a lot here and the path can be slippery.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
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This hike takes you through a forest of gaudy tropical flowers and singing birds to the top of a local landmark for a great view of the Ko’olau pali (cliff), Honolulu, and the sea. It’s a steady climb but on a well graded good trail. Begin at the trail sign on Alani Drive, which almost immediately turns into Alani Lane and becomes very narrow. The pavement ends after you have passed a few houses and a graffiti-covered wall. Step over the low cable that blocks vehicle access to the route and find yourself in deep forest all at once, beneath tall dark trees dripping with vines and creepers, most of them escaped houseplants.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
This short, almost flat loop gives you a taste of real tropical forest, even though you are only a few steps away from a suburban road. Head slightly uphill from the trailhead sign to find the beginning of the loop, which you can hike in either direction. Starting to the left (clockwise), you first have to negotiate a shallow, usually dry stream gully next to a broken footbridge. After that, the rest is easy walking. The forest is lovely and green, alive with birdsong, dense with ginger, palms, guavas, mosses, and ferns. You’ll feel as though you are inside a terrarium.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3
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This is one of the five gardens of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, operated by Honolulu’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Each one is part of a different environmental setting, and all are worth visiting. Wahiawa is particularly congenial to tropical moisture-loving plant species.
Wahiawa, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
There are lots of wild fruits and berries along this trail. The loop is a short sample of the much longer Waimano Trail, which struggles steeply up toward the rainy Ko’olau mountains. Overlooks along the upper section offer vistas over a patchwork of lacy textures and colors created by the treetops in Waimano Valley. Once you have descended to the valley floor, walking alongside a little stream, you can experience the forest more intimately from below the canopy. You can do this hike in either direction, but it is described counterclockwise, beginning on the upper trail and returning on the lower. There are so many kinds of wild fruits and berries along the route, you won’t make much forward progress in spring and summer if you try to sample them all. Surinam cherry, strawberry guava, Java plum, and mountain apple are all edible in season. Do not try anything you cannot identify with complete confidence.
Pearl City, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2
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