Oahu Hiking: The 3 Must do Hikes on Oahu

Hawaii Hiking

Hiking and Hawaii may not the be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing Hawaii. However, Oahu is blessed with some incredible mountainous terrain that is just as or even more astonishing as the deep pacific below. For those in the know, there are many many scenic and challenging terrain to traverse. Here we will look at the three hikes that any and every visitor should put on their Oahu hiking list.

Diamond Head

diamond head

The giant mountain that makes up the backdrop of Waikiki is Diamond Head. Diamond Head aka Leahi, is the most hiked of this list and is well worth the pricey admission of $1 (cash only). The trail is a paved path that fluctuates between switchbacks, staircases and a tunnel that provides those who reach the summit with the best accessible view of Waikiki.

diamond head hike

Hiking Diamond Head gets very hot! Ideally you can do a sunrise hike here and beat the heat and crowds. If not, no problem, just bring water, sunscreen and a hat. Forgot food and drink? You’re in luck. Food and drinks are abundant but opening hours are not. Be aware of time as the park is open 6-6 with the last admission at 4:30.

Lanikai Pillboxes “Pillboxes”

pillbox hiking hawaii

A heavily debated topic for best hiking view on Oahu is Lanikai Pillboxes. “Pillboxes” as locals call it, provide stunning views of Hawaii’s East side and one of the prettiest beaches on Oahu, Lanikai Beach. This is one of my favorite hikes because of the short hike for such stunning scenery.

The hike begins with an immediate steep climb that eventually transitions into a lovely ridgeline stroll. The hike has two sets of pillboxes that take roughly 20-30 minutes to reach. The scenery from both is excellent but the second pillbox shows off the lovely scenery of Waimanalo.

lanikai pillbox hiking

Head down to Lanikai beach post hike to cool off and to experience arguably the best beach in Hawaii. Don’t believe me? Take a peek at the picture below.

Lanikai Beach

Koko Head

koko head hike

Koko head is easily the most challenging of the three but nothing that should stop you from not attempting. Hike straight up an old railroad track to the summit, provides expansive views of Hawaiis east side and Hawaii Kai. If you’re afraid of this from the jump DO NOT do this midday as the sun will beat you down and zap every and all energy and particle you have in your body.

koko head

Hike early or late to avoid heat exhaustion. The hike will take roughly 45 minutes – 1 hour depending on physical ability. Shorter if you’re in good shape.

koko head

These are some of the most recognizable hikes on Oahu and I hope you can find your way to them. These are all well worth your time and can provide stunning images and memories if you make the effort to go see them. There are also numerous others that you can find but for the first timers, these are where you should start.

waikiki sunset

Not hiking? Looking for some surf? Check out my Waikiki Surfing piece to figure out your Waikiki surfing spot and get some fun long waves. Heading to the North Shore and need some ideas of what to do? Check out my North Shore Stop Guide for some places that will make your North Shore experience a memorable one.

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