Oahu’s spectacular landscape of dense green bush and volcanoes provides numerous hikes on the island.

Setting a day or two aside to hike through bush, around coastlines, and to places where panoramic’s of the island paradise can offer some of a holiday’s highlights is worth the effort. Here are some of Oahu’s best short hikes.

oahu on a budget

The Stairway to Heaven (AKA The Haiku Stairs)

When you see photos of hikes in Hawaii it is most likely the Haiku Stairs are one of the most common images you have seen. Located on Oahu this hike comprises of almost 4000 stairs up a steep mountain with absolutely spectacular views of the island from the top.

Originally built in the 1940’s to support a radio station the stairs have had little refurbishment since. Although this hike in Hawaii will give the best views around, it is also sadly now an illegal climb. Security guards man the entrance from dawn to dusk issuing hefty monetary fines of a few thousand dollars to those who are non-compliant. The reality is that the stairway to heaven is not safe enough for climbers as little by way of hand rails are there to prevent fatal falls.

This is one hike in Hawaii to oogle views from the safety of a computer.

The Diamond Head Trail

The Diamond Head Trail (AKA Diamond Head crater hike)

If you’re staying in Waikiki, a hike up Diamond Head Crater is a must do. This hike is such a popular one that the Waikiki Trolley buses travel from Waikiki Beach to the start of the hike, making it easy for travellers to access.

The hike takes around 60 – 90 minutes return and is steep in sections. It begins at the ticket kiosk (which is where the trolley drops passengers off) with concrete path before quickly becoming an uneven paved surface, and eventually stairs. Lots of stairs. (Hint: if you want to avoid some of the stairs close to the top, take a left where the arrow points right. This is a loop that takes you to the top but without hte stairs).

The 360degree view from the summit makes the climb worthwhile, capturing Waikiki, Honolulu and the serene coastline, with lush bush inland. There are also interesting historical signs detailing the volcanic acticity and war remnants at the lookout.

The cost is $1pp and for those driving, parking is only available outside the park’s entrance which adds just a few more minutes to the walk. It’s best to hike Diamond Head as early as possible in the morning to avoid crowds and heat. Bring a sunhat, drinking water and suncreen regardless of when you plan to hike as shade is minimal and the sun becomes fierce quickly.

oahu best hikes

Koko Crater Trail

On the Southern most tip of Oahu is a small section of old railway track which is now a popular hike in Hawaii.

Cleverly created from the railway sleepers themselves the entire track requires the steady footwork of stair climbing, even in flat sections. More than 1000 stairs in total to the summit will test the strength and endurance of all hikers even though the distance will take only 30 – 60minutes in duration.

This Hawaii hike is different to others in the region. Unlike a backdrop of deep green bush that is noticed in others, the Koko Crater Trail travels through a combination of dry green bush and overgrown grasses. From the summit a Northward view of Waikiki and Diamond Head can be seen and a rear view of unspoilt coastline. The climb is an arduous one but the rewards are plentiful.

Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

On the southern point of Oahu not far from Koko Crater, is the Makapuu Point lighthouse trail. This Hawaii hike is a short one (3 kilometres distance) that ascends to a truly spectacular vista of Makapu’u beach stretching to the North Shore and the famous Koko Crater volcano in the distance. The trail itself doesn’t take walkers directly to the lighthouse itself. For safety reasons the lighthouse is fenced instead awarding views at a short distance with a backdrop of bright blue ocean behind the restored red and white structure.

One of the true highlights of this majestic hike in Hawaii is that there is an opportunity to see whales in the ocean below.

Gates open at 7am for cars to travel to the carpark and it is recommended to hike this trail early in the morning when the sun is cooler and crowds fewer. The trail is moderate to easy as it traverses over sealed paths, Although is a relatively steep incline.

A must visit hike in Hawaii for all members of the family.