Just an archipelagic speck in the middle of the Pacific, Hawai'i is a green gem in an otherwise endless stretch of blue. It may come as a surprise, then, that this small island chain in the middle of the ocean has a variety of day hikes to enjoy. Its roughly 6,000 square miles encompass several active volcanoes whose summits puncture the clouds, rugged ridgelines, dense jungles, and a canyon they call the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Some visitors are drawn to the beach and the lifestyle it supports, others are called by the intimate culture of the locals; whatever draws you to the islands of Hawaii, make sure you carve out some of your time to explore the islands on foot. Here are some suggestions to get you going.
- Pu’u Ma’eli’eli Trail: Less often visited than others on the most populous Hawaiian island, this is a mild hike to World War II pillboxes with a stunning overlook of the Pacific.
- Kulana’ahane Trail: One of many overlooks of the Pacific, this trail crosses the Moanalua Stream 28 times—not normally a positive, but in this case it offers swimming holes along the way. The end of the trail is a scramble.
- Kuli'ou'ou Ridge: A moderate 5-mile hike through forest of invasive evergreens to an overlook of the town of Waimanalo.
- Konahuanui Summit via the Pu’u Ohia Trail: Oahu’s K2 is far less intimidating than the world’s most dangerous peak. The trail to its summit climbs about 1,600 feet over 6 miles, including an off-trail portion to the summit. Panoramic views abound.
- Pu’u Manamana Turnover Trail: One of the most dangerous trails in Oahu. Not long, with little elevation gain, it follows a ridgeline just feet across in places where the drop-offs are deadly on both sides. Not for the faint of heart.
- The Kalalau Trail: A backpacker’s classic. Hike a portion of the Kalalau or hike the whole thing and spend a few nights on a remote beach on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Complete with stream crossings, some of which lead to spectacular, remote waterfalls and feral kittens.
- Nounou Mountain: The Sleeping Giant offers views over Kapaa and Kauai’s jungle flora. Go before sunrise to experience a trail overrun with frogs.
- Alakai Swamp: The world’s highest swamp is a novelty, but the trail also features beautiful views to Hanalei Bay.
- Kīlauea Iki Trail: One of the more popular hikes in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, a short 4-mile loop traverses the Kīlauea Iki Crater, once the site of a lava fountain. Imagine the fire hose that erupted in January on a monumental scale—two Eiffel Towers tall. Fascinating geology coincides.
- Lava Flow Hike: This hike is monotonous, unshaded, hot, and 10 miles long round trip—but sacrifices must be made to the lava goddess in order to see an active lava flow.
- Awini Trail: Noticeably absent from the average visitor’s hiking list, Awini boasts prototypical Hawaiian ocean views and black sand beaches.
- Devastation Trail: Another of the popular trails in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, hike the edge of the blast zone from Kilauea Iki’s violent 1959 eruption.