There are plenty of famous things to do in Hawaii like surfing, snorkeling, eating, and just being lazy on the beach.
One of the more overlooked attractions is the beautiful hiking opportunities that all the Hawaiian islands present.
The Hawaiian archipelago is a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean created by volcanoes.
Jagged mountains, dramatic cliffs, beaches, rocky coastlines, and gorgeous tropical flora and fauna are a few of the aspects that add to the beauty of Hawaii.
On the island of Oahu, the leeward side is the drier side that receives far less rain than the windward side, which seems almost constantly to be drizzling.
The two differentiating climates of the island make it possible to take a hike in almost desert conditions or mountains surrounded by misty tropical rainforest.
While Oahu, The Big Island, Maui, and Kaua'i all have great hiking routes and national parks, most of my hiking experience is right on the most populous island of Oahu.
Here are a few hikes I was able to enjoy on my last trip to Oahu.
Round Top / Tantalus
Just moments from central Honolulu, Tantalus is a convenient place to hike and offers the perfect green escape from city life.
While many tourists and locals choose to drive to the top for the picture-perfect view of the city of Honolulu, not so many choose to hike to the top.
The tree and plant-filled trail is quiet and relaxing; it's easy to forget you're still so close to a city of a million.
As soon as you emerge at the top of Tantalus, you'll' remember how close you are to the city and be grateful to be taking such a fantastic hike.
Koko Head Crater Hike
For a hardcore dose of exercise, Koko Head Crater makes the heart race.
Formerly a military bunker and lookout, the trail follows a railroad supply track straight up the side of the cone-shaped crater.
In good shape, it's possible to scale the beast in around 20 minutes, but feeling the effects of eating all the Hawaiian food, it may take up to 45 minutes.
At the top, the views of Honolulu, the mountains, and the zigzagging coastline, are remarkable to see and justify every single step to the top.
Koko Head Crater is on the leeward side of Oahu, making it a dry but wonderful hike!
Related: Oahu Scenic Drive – A One-Day Itinerary
The trip to the breathtaking Makapu'u Lighthouse is not a hike but more of a leisurely walk that winds its way up the side of a small hill on the very southeastern part of the island.
One of the highlights of Makapu'u point is the whale watching opportunities.
The last time I went, it was luckily a very clear day, and we were able to see two humpback whales breaching not so far away from the coast. It was incredible to watch.
Though the trail doesn't' exactly provide any opportunities for being alone (due to lots of other hikers), the scenery makes it worthwhile.
There are many more hiking routes located throughout all the islands of Hawaii and Oahu, but these are just the few I was able to do on my last visit.
When you visit Hawaii, be sure to enjoy relaxing on the beach, but also take a day to do some hiking and see the incredible beauty the islands have to offer.
Mark was raised in central Africa before migrating back to the U.S. for University. After graduating, he decided to continue traveling the world. On Migrationology, he shares the cultural side of travel from a slow-paced local perspective that often revolves around his love for eating all forms of food. Join him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @migrationology.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.