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Hiking Oahu

When In Oahu…

Hawaii has some incredible view points, scenic destinations, historical landmarks, and what I believe to be some of the best hiking spots in the U.S. Yeah, a few of them will give you grey hairs early, but they are TOTALLY worth it!! If you are an outdoor enthsiast, the next time you vacay in Oahu, make time for a hike… or two, you won’t regret it!

This last trip I checked out 5 different spots and rated them based on level of expertise, time it took to complete the hike, history of the trial (yessss Hawaiians have a story for everything and every place!), and most importantly my opinion. ha,ha!

1. Koko Crater Trail

Background Info: Koko Head Railway, now known as KoKo Head Stairs, was built during World War 2 as a lookout point for the military. The railway lead all the way up this very steep mountainside to haul cargo, supplies, and military personnel. Since this the abandonment of this bunker shortly after the war, locals turned this railway into their own stairmaster.

Intensity Level:  Intermediate to Expert. Consisting of stairs the entire way so not recommended for people with bad knees. Though there were all types of hikers, including those who were both in and out of shape, children hiking up, and even a few who were walking up in flip flops! Personally I’d never do this hike in flip flops as it seems to dangers.

Time: 1-4 hours. At the top it splits off into several other INTENSE hikes so you could essentially spend an entire day hiking Koko Head.

My thoughts:

Shortly after completing this trail, I googled to find out more history on it and the first article labeled it as, ” 1,048 torturous stairs.” To me this was extremely humourous, well because it was pretty dang intense and very close to being torturous.

This hike consists of 1,048 railway ties aka stairs, so ladies and gentlemen get ready to feel those thighs buuuuurn. I started this hike mid-day which was not smart, let me tell you. Try and get to this one early in the morning when it is cooler. You will notice that about 95% of this hike was in the sun, which makes it no fun in the heat of the day.

Initially it starts off failry simple, a slow continuous incline with consistent railway ties, and then BAM everything is changed up. Oh boy is that incline dramatically increased; you’ll begin to notice your breath getting heavy and you’ll feel it in the legs. After about step 300 or so you’ll hit a nice flat plane, but don’t get to lax as underneath the tracks is a 40+ foot drop so make sure to take it easy and use each tie!!

For those that aren’t dare devils, you can skip this part and take a small dirt path (labeled) to the side of it.

I highly recommend bringing a camelback FULL of water, a hat, sunblock, maybe a snack or two, oh yeah and more sunblock.

How pretty is this hike?? Insanely gorgeous! As you can see, it’s defintely a good picture spot so if you have a GoPro strap that badboy on and make sure it records you as you hike up… that is evidence you’ll want to have.

One fascinating thing about Hawaii is that there is ALWAYS a hidden treasure somewhere in each hike. This hike had an old pillbox – you can find many pillboxes throughout the island.

BE CAREFUL. There are a lot of materials lying around and dangling from the ceiling. I would not recommend taking a child in there.

&& just like that the adventure has come to an end. This hike was defintely my favorite hike thus far! If you are looking for a strenuous yet exciting hike, this is the one for you!

I was just a bit excited when I completed the entire hike.


2. China Wall

Background Info:  A large stretch of lava rock formations that attract experienced surfers, boogie boarders, and cliff jumpers.

Intensity Level:  Easy

Time: 10 minutes ( minuted from parking)

My thoughts:

This is a popular destination for groups of people to hangout, barbeque, soak up some rays, boogie board, and watch the sunset. Though the most popular reason for people to visit is to induldge in the ideal cliff jumping ledges. I am not a fan of heights (even though it is only 15ish feet high) so I opted out for this, but I did enjoy watching all my friends having a blast and marking this spot off their bucket list.

Hawaii has many beautiful cliff jumping locations, but becareful. I highly recommend checking in with a local or someone that frequents that particular spot as a low or even high tide can cause serious injuries or even death.



3. Pele’s Chair

Background Info: Pele is known as Hawaii’s Volcano Goddess. The story is that Pele created all the islands by volcanic activity; after completing Oahu she sat in that chair admired her work and then continued on her way to complete Lanai & Molokai. The chair is located on the youngest part of Oahu geologically and is facing Molokai and Lanai.

Pele’s Chair can be spotted from the road to Makapuu; from a distance it looks like a giant chair, but as one gets closer to it, it loses this appearance.

Intensity Level:   Easy to Intermediate

Time: 1 hour (roundtrip). Though I would highly recommend planning for more hours, taking in the beauty, and bring your bathing suit so you can hang by the water for a bit.

My thoughts:

One of my top hikes, why? Well because it was much different than what I was expecting. The reason I labeled this one as Easy to Intermediate, is becuase the one main trail splits off into several other trails and free climbing adventures.

The first fork will take you to a beautiful cove, with calm waters, and a serene beach. Pack an ice chest, a blanket, and a bluetooth speaker becuase this place can be the perfect place to spend your entire day! Not many people frequent this location so don’t worry about sharing the beach with a bunch of families… you’ll probably have this spot all to yourself.

Continue on this path and it will take you to the base of Pele’s Chair.

Even if you don’t plan on hiking to the very top of the chair, I highly recommend going to the top of the trail (base of chair) there are some spectacular views! This is an ideal spot for pictures or to just sit and enjoy the scenery.

4. Lanikai Pillbox

Background Info:  The United States military created pillboxes (lookout bunkers) throughout Oahu during World War 2. Lanikai Pillbox overlooks the beautiful Lanikai Beach in Oahu.

Intensity Level:  Intermediate

Time:  2-3 Hours

My thoughts:

You might here people talking about Kaiwa Ridge Trail, that is another name for it. This hike splits off into several different trails as well. So how long you plan on exploring is completely up to you. It took us 2 hours becuase we stopped for pictures and sat up at the top for awhile.

There is a steady and steep grade to this trail so it is on the lower end of intermediate intensity level. Just a heads up there is no restroom on this trail so make sure to stop before you go. If you really need one, you can make a pit stop at Kailua Beach Park

Recommended for this hike: Sunscreen, hat, water, good hiking shoes. If you have a good SLR camera and wish to take some beautiful shots, I’d highly recommend bringing it.

What is your favorite hike in Oahu?

I hope you all found this article informative and enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any posts.


Kara Duenas

19 thoughts on “Hiking Oahu

    1. Hawaii has some of the most gorgeous hikes! They also have such a wide range of intensity levels which is great for whatever style of hike you are looking for. Thanks for reaching babe! Happy Holidays! Xx

  1. This article is INSANE! I love all your pictures and the info on each one is perfect. After reading this I contemplated doing a spontaneous trip to Oahu. LOL no joke!! Thanks for sharing babe!

    1. Awwwww… YAY! I am so thrilled you enjoyed reading this. Hahaha you should, spontaneous trips are the best. Xx

  2. Great article!! Honestly never thought to go hiking while I was in Hawaii. I tend to stick with beach days, but now I want to make sure and fit in at least one hike while I’m out there next.

    1. Most people I have spoken with do the same. Beach days are good too! I hope you do try out one of these hikes the next time and let me know your thoughts!! Happy Holidays! Xx

    1. Hawaii is a magical place! Thank you so much, I had so much fun taking these pictures. Every place was so beautiful so it makes for a great time. Xx

  3. Take me to all of those please? I’ve never been to Hawaii and now I want to go even more! Great post and if I ever get the chance to go to Hawaii I’ll have you to thank you for the suggestions!

    1. You are so sweet! I hope you do plan a trip there soon and if you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!! Xx

  4. Thanks for reading my blog Kara markbruhwiller.blog We spent time there and on Maui….we love your home. Cheers from Mark and Lisa

    1. Yesss! Maui is beautiful! haven’t been there in a while, but definitely want to go back soon! I’m glad you enjoyed my article! Thanks for stopping by. Xx

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