Though the most urbanized of the Hawaiian Islands, Oʻahu’s many hiking trails do not disappoint. Some of the island’s most stunning views, waterfalls, and tropical plants can be seen with just a short trek. Here are some of Oʻahu’s shortest hikes that are worth the rewards.
For panoramic views of Kahana Bay, hike the half-mile unmarked trail up to a rock formation known as the Crouching Lion. The trail goes straight up the mountain and although it’s short, it can be very dangerous and slippery if done after a rainstorm—there have been many fatalities on this trail so hike in a group. From the top, hikers see all the way into Kahana Valley and much of the coastline.
From the summit, visitors take in sweeping views of sea cliffs and beaches on the left, and the urban centers of Waikīkī and Honolulu on the right. Though only 1.5 miles, the trail climbs 500 feet through tunnels and up steep stairs to a set of bunkers up on the volcano’s crater rim.
Starting from the Turtle Bay Resort parking lot, this 2.5-mile walk follows the pristine shoreline and finishes at the northern-most point on Oʻahu, Kahuku Point. The trail is completely flat and kid-friendly, with many places to take a swim, lie on a secluded beach, view native birds nesting in the sand dunes, go tide pooling, or watch Hawaiian monk seals. It’s possible to connect to other trails or head west instead of east from Turtle Bay Resort for an extended adventure.
Part of the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline, the two-mile paved trail winds up the southeastern-most point of the island and overlooks the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse built in 1909, which is listed as having the largest lens in the country. From the lookout, it’s possible to see humpback whales in Spring as well as the nearby islands of Molokaʻi and Lanaʻi on a clear day.
To appreciate the beauty of this dormant volcanic crater, hikers set out to tackle over a thousand wooden railway tracks that act as steps leading to the summit. Though clocking in at less than two miles roundtrip, this strenuous uphill hike is only for those who want a serious workout—the extremely fit run up and down in about 20 minutes— but it’s well worth the effort for the spectacular panoramic views. East Honolulu and Hanauma Bay can be seen from above, while looking down into the crater provides a birds-eye view of the Koko Crater Botanical Garden.
This easy 1.5-mile out-and-back trail takes hikers to the base of Manoa Valley and is suitable for all skill levels. The path winds through the lush Hawaiian rainforest, ending with a close-up of Manoa Falls.