Feb 15, 2018
Take A Hike - A Guide To Our Favorite O'ahu Hikes
Hawai'i has always been revered for its beautiful beaches and myriad of ocean activities.
Sink your toes into the sand, feel the sun on your face, gaze out to the horizon, then turn around 180 degrees and gaze up at the ocean's nearly forgotten counterpart, the mountains. Thanks to social media posts peppered with amazing vistas from far-flung hiking trails, the mountains have become a new frontier for exploration and activity, and hiking is one of the best ways to get up to the ridges and check out the views. Tackle these three hikes and you'll be able to say that you've seen almost half of O'ahu's 227 miles of coastline. File that under #winning.
Distance from Ward Village: 16.4 miles
Scattered along the South Shore and windward coast are the remnants of pillboxes from World War I and II, cement defensive structures dug into the hillsides used to spot and attack enemy ships and planes. This short and shady hike ends at one of these pillboxes and offers breathtaking views of the expansive Kāne'ohe Bay.
The 2.2-mile round-trip hike is great for intermediate hikers who can handle a little bit of mud, terrain and incline. There's only an elevation gain of 650 feet, but it happens quick and offers an amazing experience. For how beautiful the views are, the foot traffic on the trail remains relatively light. The trail stays under the canopy for most of the hike, with peek-a-boo views of the bay as you gain elevation. The payoff is at the end of the hike, where you can test out the panoramic setting on your smartphone. Show that off on social media!
Koko Head Crater
Distance from Ward Village: 12.6 miles
Some people call the Koko Crater Stairs a hike. Some people call it a workout. And others just call it crazy. Why? Because this hike is one-way up and one-way down, a challenging 1,048 steps (railroad ties, actually) to the top of Koko Crater on the southeast tip of O'ahu.
During the Second World War, the military constructed several bunkers on the top of Koko Crater, seeking the same vantage point that hikers today are after. They installed a railway system to haul supplies up and down from the summit. Today, the "stairs" are famous for the thigh-burning workout they provide and the view at the end of the hike. Once you get to the top, you are rewarded with views from Waimanalo to Diamond Head. You'll even be able to see down into the famous Hanauma Bay. Make sure and wear sun protection and bring lots of water. There is no shade and the sun can be intense—mornings and evenings make for a more enjoyable experience.
Round Top — Pu'u 'Ōhi'a Trail
Distance from Ward Village: 5.8 miles
Round Top Forest Preserve is nearly in the heart of downtown Honolulu, in between Mānoa and Nu'uanu Valleys. It's verdant, cool, gets a lot of rain, has great views of the south shore, and is full of hiking trails. In fact, Round Top has an entire system of trails—valley trails, ridge trails, short walks, and long hikes—that link the surrounding valleys and ridges.
The Pu'u 'Ōhi'a trail is a great introductory hike to the Round Top trail system. It's 2.8 miles, has an elevation gain of 736 feet, and is classified as a moderate hike. The trail begins near the summit of Mt. Tantalus, and the trailhead is clearly marked near the top of Round Top Drive. The trail climbs through a bamboo forest, and has great views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean beyond. There are several side trails, but the Pu'u 'Ōhi'a trail is clearly marked. After a lookout that gazes across the rugged peaks of the Ko'olau Mountains, you'll pass through a small gate marking a native forest restoration project. Take time to enjoy the native Hawaiian plants and the majestic koa trees, sickle-shaped leaves slave to the breeze. At this point the trail meets other trails in the Round Top preserve. Pull out your hiking book and continue on!
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