Hawai‘i offers some of America’s most exciting and varied hiking trails, with routes traversing volcanic craters, jungle ridges, bamboo forests, waterfalls, sandy beaches and rugged coastlines.
Each of the six islands offers travellers something unique and enticing, giving hikers the chance to explore scenes that have been used as the backdrops of Hollywood blockbuster films, including Jurassic Park, or spot whales from the shore.
Comprising beginner trails, moderate treks, and more challenging routes, the volcanic archipelago is a haven for those looking for a walk with a view, as well as an opportunity to find out about the culture and history of the islands.
Where: Pu‘u Pehe
Situated between Mānele Bay and Hulupo‘e Bay, hikers can climb to the Pu‘u Pehe viewpoint to see the giant 80-foot islet rising from the sea. The 20-minute walk to the viewpoint is particularly well rewarded at sunset and some lucky visitors will even see spinner dolphins off the coast. Dubbed as ‘Sweetheart Rock’, the landmark boasts a wealth of Hawaiian culture and folklore.
Where: Lē‘ahi (Diamond Head)
Level: Easy – Moderate
Offering travellers panoramic 360 degree views from the top of the iconic state monument, Diamond Head is a must do hike whilst in O‘ahu. The trail consists of stairs, tunnels and old military bunkers before reaching the 760-foot summit, which offers views of Waikīkī, Wai‘anae, the Pacific Ocean and the Ko‘olau Mountains. Visitors can learn about the history of the dormant volcano, including how the trail was originally built in 1908 by the US army as a military base, and the background of why the crater was given the name Diamond Head.
Island of Hawai‘i
Where: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Level: Easy – Difficult
Home to two volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the national park offers hikers the chance to explore over 150 miles of walking trails. The 333,000-acre park includes a number of easy routes such as Crater Rim Trail to Waldron Ledge, moderate hikes including Pu‘u Huluhulu, and challenging routes such as the Kīlauea Iki Trail. Visitors will have the chance to see volcanic craters, steam vents and sulphur crystals up close, whilst spotting native birds and animals in the rainforest.
Where: Hālawa Valley
The hike to Mo‘oula Falls is approximately 1.7 miles each way, passing by rivers, native wildlife and fauna. Hikers will also see ancient Hawaiian temples as they pass deep inside the valley, believed to be relics from when Polynesians first settled on the island.
Where: Waimea Canyon
On the southwest side of Kauai in Waimea, the canyon is dubbed ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. Stretching 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep, the Canyon offers numerous trails for hikers to traverse, including the Iliau Nature Loop and Kukui Trail.
Where: Haleakalā National Park
Level: Moderate – Difficult
Visitors can join a guided tour or take part in a self-guided hike in Haleakalā National Park. Hikes vary from a short half hour circuit, to a three-day camping trip, offering visitors the chance to explore some of the park’s 30,000 acres. The volcanic crater, towering at over 10,000 feet above sea level, is known as ‘the house of the sun’. Hikers can marvel at the spectacular light show as the sky fills with an array of colours during sunrise and sunset or take advantage of the stargazing opportunities at nightfall.
The Official Hawaiian Islands Tourism Board