Searching for a list of easy hikes on Oahu that are worth your time? This list from an Oahu local has got you covered! There are so many wonderful Oahu hikes that sometimes it can be difficult to pick which ones to go on, especially when you’re trying to decipher which ones you can physically do. This guide filled with the easy hikes on Oahu answers all of the questions that you may have.
What Exactly Counts as an “Easy” Hike on Oahu?
I’ve seen some of the articles about easy hikes on Oahu in the past, and I can’t help but think that they’re really trying to squeeze as many hikes into the “easy” category as possible. They’ll put hikes like Koko Head, which is basically 1,000 rickety steps at the steepest possible incline, or even the nearly five-mile Kuliouou Ridge Trail. That’s not easy.
The hikes that I’ve listed below are actually pretty easy. While they may require dealing with some mud or a decent incline every now and then, none are more than three miles round-trip, require rock climbing, have dangerous winds, or have absurdly steep inclines. If you’re familiar with my articles, including the one on the best hikes on Oahu, it doesn’t go past a level two on the effort scale. In other words, you’ll say to yourself, “Ok, this is a little bit difficult, but it’s still fun.”
What Should I Bring on These Easy Oahu Hikes?
Bug repellent is highly recommended for hikes on Oahu, particularly the waterfall hikes. Sometimes I get lazy and don’t use bug repellent and I end up with bites on my arms and legs that don’t go away for a month. There are both traditional and natural options
to help you ward off the little critters.
Your shoes will never fully recover from the dust, dirt, and mud on some of these hikes. However, intense, professional hiking boots are not at all necessary. Recently, I’ve been putting my Fila Women’s Day Hiker Shoes to good use, and they’ve held up quite well. And there’s also a men’s version.
Washable Reusable Bag
Most people forget to bring washable reusable bag along with them on hikes to put their muddy or dusty athletic shoes in after hiking. If you don’t have a washable reusable bag, a plastic bag will do just fine.
A.K.A. slippers in the local lingo.You’ll need something to wear after you shove your muddy or dusty athletic shoes into that washable reusable bag.
It’s a necessity for hiking. When you sweat out water, you have to replace it! If you don’t, you’ll be dehydrated and miserable for the rest of the day. Perhaps put your water in a nice reusable bottle to help the environment out.
Maybe something from the Hawaii food bucket list. You’ve got to maintain your energy!
You want to capture a bunch of shots of your adventure, don’t you?
Oahu Hike Safety
Just because these Oahu hikes are easy, that doesn’t mean that they should go without their safety warnings.
On most of easy hikes on Oahu listed below, the trails are pretty clear. However, there are a couple with slightly confusing paths, which is not ideal. So keep your eyes out for brightly colored (usually orange, pink, or blue) flags tied around tree branches to guide you. If the trail has recently changed (which does happen sometimes), the trail markers may instead be carved into trees or
marked with spray paint.
If you’re planning on doing one of the easy Oahu waterfall hikes listed below, you should be aware of a bacterium called leptospirosis that is present in the water.
Leptospirosis can only be harmful if it enters the body through an open cut (so if it’s scabbed over, you’re fine) or by drinking it. While some cases of leptospirosis may have bad flu-like symptoms, others have no symptoms at all. Personally, I have not heard of anyone actually getting leptospirosis on these hikes.
If you would like to read a bit more on leptospirosis, here’s a page from the CDC.
How Can I Get to These Easy Hikes on Oahu?
As with most Oahu hikes, a car is necessary to get to the vast majority of the easy hikes on Oahu. While there are a couple of exceptions that can be reached by bus, including Waimea Falls and Ehukai Pillbox, I highly recommend renting a car if you plan on doing some hiking on your trip to Oahu.
11 Easy Hikes on Oahu That Are Absolutely Amazing
If anyone asks me for an easy hike on Oahu, Makapuu Lighthouse is always my first recommendation. After parking in a designated parking lot, you’ll begin the hike on a paved hiking trail. While it can get a bit steep at times, this trail is one of the only paved hiking paths on the island. Plus, there is a nice ocean breeze to cool you off the entire time.
And that doesn’t even touch upon the stunning views you’ll see at the end. First of all, you’ll get an unobstructed view of the vast Pacific Ocean. You’ll also see two little islands, which are Rabbit Island and Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary. To the left, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the stunning green hills on the eastern side of Oahu, along with Makapuu Beach Park (try to spot some surfers!). And if you look directly below you when you are at the top, you will also see the famed Makapuu Lighthouse. Lastly, if you’re hoping for some animal sightings, during the winter months, you may be able to catch a glimpse of some whale spouts!
There are tons of amazing Oahu waterfall hikes, and Manoa Falls has to be one of the most accessible. As a matter of fact, if you’ve done any Oahu waterfall hike, odds are you’ve tackled Manoa Falls. This 1.6-mile round-trip hike has a clear path and is nicely shaded. While it can get muddy during the rainy season (pretty much wintertime), that’s to be expected from a waterfall hike. Unfortunately, unlike many of the Oahu waterfalls, you cannot swim in the pool at the base of Manoa Falls.
There is a designated parking area for Manoa Falls that costs $5 per car.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Waimea Falls because they make visitors pay an absurd entrance fee (can anyone say, tourist trap?), I will concede that the hike to Waimea Falls is one of the easiest hikes on Oahu. As a matter of fact, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a hike. It’s more of a walk.
This three-fourths of a mile hike is pretty much flat the entire time, and it leads to a decently-sized waterfall. Depending on the weather, swimming may be allowed at Waimea Falls. If you do wish to swim under the waterfall, you are required to wear a life jacket.
Since this hike is within the more accessible Waimea Valley area, there are parking areas, changing areas, showering areas, and lifeguards. This also means that the hike to Waimea Falls is one of the busiest hikes on Oahu.
I’m also not a huge fan of the Diamond Head hike, mostly because of the crowds. I like my hikes to be a peaceful getaway far from people, and Diamond Head doesn’t really provide that. That said, it does have some amazing views, considering it is one of the easy hikes on Oahu.
The path is clear and paved. There is a section with some very steep stairs, but there is an alternative to follow a less steep path and just take a little more time. In other words, if you’re looking for the easiest possible route, skip the stairs. When you finally reach the end of your 0.8-mile trek, you’ll get to see beautiful views of Waikiki and the southeast coastline of Oahu.
There is a designated parking lot for the Diamond Head hike.
The Lanikai Pillbox hike has consistently made it onto my lists of best Oahu hikes, including the best Oahu sunrise hikes list. That said, I may be pushing the definition of “easy hikes on Oahu” when it comes to this hike – that’s just a testament to how good it is!
When you start the Lanikai Pillbox hike, it’s very steep – like steep enough that you may have to use a provided rope to steady yourself – but it’s only for a minute or two! Once you reach the first scenic lookout point right after the steep rope section, you’ve already passed the hardest part of this hike! As a matter of fact, you can make it to the first pillbox (which, for many, is the end of the hike) in 25 minutes.
After about 1.25 miles, you’ll reach the first pillbox. This famed pillbox is a graffiti-covered World War II lookout point with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and two islands known as the Mokulua Islands. While you can continue to a couple of other pillboxes, the view is essentially the same, so it’s not really worth the effort.
Only street parking is available for the Lanikai Pillbox hike. Please be mindful of the residents living in the area! Be respectful and please do not block their driveways!
If you’re looking for an easy hike on the North Shore of Oahu, Ehukai Pillbox is a great option. There are usually only a few hikers on the path, and the path is clearly marked – a rare combination. If you are still unsure of the path, when in doubt, just veer towards the path that is closer to the ocean.
About halfway up, you’ll reach a picnic bench covered with small painted handprints (probably from some of the children from the nearby elementary school). And, at the end of just over a one-mile hike, you’ll make it to a graffiti-covered pillbox with breathtaking views of the famous Sunset Beach.
There are a handful of parking spots near the Ehukai Pillbox trailhead.
If you’re looking for other hikes on the North Shore of Oahu, we’ve got a guide for that too!
If you’re looking for a hike on the West Side of the island (say, if you’re staying in Ko Olina or Kapolei), Maili Pillbox is a fantastic choice. This easy hike on Oahu is one of my favorites! While it can get quite hot on this trail (as the West Side in general is hotter than the rest of the island), that’s pretty much the only downside of this hike.
The two-mile round-trip trail is pretty straightforward. While there are many path options, they all get you to the pillboxes at the top. If you’re doubting yourself, see if you can get a glimpse of the bright pink pillbox at the top and try to navigate yourself in that direction.
At the top, you’ll see four World War II pillboxes, one of which is bright pink and filled with memories of breast cancer survivors. You’ll also get unobstructed views of the West Oahu coastline, which is something you can’t get anywhere else on the island.
The parking for the Maili Pillbox Trail is along the street near the start of the hike on Kaukama Road (between the 10th and 11th light poles).
I haven’t found an official name for this easy North Shore hike on Oahu, so I’ve decided to call it Kahuku Pillbox. (Plus, it fits quite nicely with the names of the other pillbox hikes on this list.) The Kahuku Pillbox is located on a small peninsula about a mile west of Turtle Bay Resort. There are actually two routes to reach the Kahuku Pillbox: one from the resort and one from the road.
The approximately 1-mile path from the Turtle Bay Resort winds through the ocean front cottages, onto the Kawela Main Trail, and then onto the Hidden Beach Loop. The path from the road, which is only 0.5 miles, starts from Kahuku Land Farm (NOT Kahuku Farms) starts on the last loop, transfers to the Kawela Loop, and then finally to the Hidden Beach Loop.
The obvious question now is which loop should you take. While the path from the road may seem like the obvious choice, I would actually recommend the path from the resort. First of all, there is easy, safe parking at the resort. And along the hike, you’ll see a couple of hidden beaches, some horses, and an ancient Hawaiian ahu (sort of like a boundary line between ahupua’a or “states”).
That said, the path from the road isn’t without its benefits, especially if you’re a fan of the TV show, LOST. In LOST, there is an iconic banyan tree that repeatedly makes an appearance. That very same banyan tree can be seen on the route from the road to the Kahuku Pillbox. Plus, you’ll end up pretty darn close to both of the secret beaches from the first hike route.
Unfortunately, the stretch of road where you would park to do this version of the hike is prone to petty theft. If you MUST do this version of the Kahuku Pillbox hike for some reason, hide all of your belongings or anything that could hide or hold your belongings (for example, a bag or a towel).
Maunawili Falls is one of the smaller Oahu waterfalls, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. This 2.5-mile hike requires a few stream crossings, so your feet will get wet! It also means that you should do this hike on a sunny day, as that’ll make it quite a bit easier than on a rainy day.
An added perk of Maunawili Falls is the fact that there are a ton of lilikoi (passion fruit) trees (which, just by the way, are on Part 2 of the Hawaii Food Bucket List)! So if you see those purple or yellow spheres dangling from the trees, pick a few and enjoy this delicious fruit!
There is limited street parking for this hike. Be courteous to those who live in the area and please do not block the driveways.
*Local Secret: if you scramble your way up over Maunawili Falls and hike a bit further, you’ll actually make your way to an abandoned wooden bridge, if that sort of off the beaten path adventure is up your alley.
Likeke Falls – ILLEGAL
The hike to Likeke Falls may be the easiest waterfall hike on Oahu of all. The past couple of times of tackled this hike, I’ve seen Mommy & Me groups doing it too! That’s how easy this Oahu hike is. And at the end you’ll get to enjoy a crystal clear 30-foot waterfall! There is also a very small, shallow pool that your little ones can splash around in (with the proper water shoes, of course) at the base of the waterfall.
One of the downsides to Likeke Falls is the fact that there are a couple of unexpected turns, so, if possible, it would be wise to do this hike with an Oahu local who knows the trail well. If that’s not at all possible, I’ve tried to outline these turns in this more detailed Likeke Falls post.
The unofficial parking for Likeke Falls is in the back corner of the parking lot for the Koolau Ballrooms. (This is also where you’ll route your GPS.)
Lulumahu Falls – ILLEGAL
Lulumahu Falls is definitely in my top three favorite easy hikes on Oahu. At about two miles round-trip, the hike to Lulumahu Falls is totally doable. Do note, however, that the falls are on the property of the Hawaii Board of Water supply, so it’s not quite legal. That said, it is quite a popular hike.
The hike to the falls does require a few river crossings, so try to do this hike after it’s been sunny for a couple of days. (That will allow the water level to go down.) Once you reach the end of the hike, you’ll be greeted by one of the tallest waterfalls on Oahu! It’s truly magical. Lastly, while there is a pool at Lulumahu Falls, it’s not quite deep enough to swim in.
*Note: If you happened to do the hike to Lulumahu Falls prior to 2017, the path has changed since then. Instead of immediately turning left according to the old path, continue to go straight for a bit. Once the path naturally veers to the right, keep your eye out for a path on the left. Take that path and you’ll be on your way!
While I try my best to update this list whenever I become aware of a change, please check to see if these trails are still legally open before you do them. The statuses of trails in Oahu do change, so any of these trails could become illegal, either temporarily or permanently, at any time.
What are you favorite easy hikes on Oahu? Are there other hikes that you think should have made it onto this list? Tell me about it in the comments!
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