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The Best Hikes in Hawaii For Any Skill Level

Hawaii offers some of the dreamiest hiking trails in the world, combining magnificent scenery, lush tropical forests, and fascinating historical sites. Whether you're in the mood for lava rock climbing on active volcanoes, serene beaches, or stunning waterfalls, Hawaii will deliver. And with trekking trails ranging from easy to very challenging, Hawaii has something for everyone.

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01Trek the Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach

Kalalau Train in Kauai, Hawaii Photo by malte on Unsplash

The Kalalau trail is located on the island of Kauai and probably the most well-known hike in Hawaii. It entails twenty-two miles of walking and is famous for the spectacular views of the Na Pall Coast. Hiking this trail is also the only way you can access the dreamy Kalalau Beach by land. Kalalau beach epitomizes a tropical beach with its turquoise blue waters and fine white sand. But beware; this is a challenging hike that can be pretty treacherous. In rainy weather, the narrow trails can get slippery and even flooded. Also, watch out for falling rocks and unsafe swimming waters.

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02Climb the Diamond Head Trail for a stunning coastline view

This trail has its name from Oahu's most famous landmark, Diamond Head. Diamond Head is an enormous volcanic rock that spans 450 acres, and climbing to the top of it is a popular hike. The climb is around two miles, but the trail is very steep and challenging to by no means is this an easy hike. However, once you reach the summit, you get rewarded with one of the most spectacular views that Oahu has to offer.

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03Hike to the Kaena Point Lighthouse

View from Diamond Head in Hawaii. Photo by Roméo A. on Unsplash

If your travel to the very end of the road on Oahu, you'll get to the beginning of the Kaena Point Trail. Here you'll find a dry, remote, and rugged coastline with a natural beauty different from the rest of the island. The western tip of Oahu is a spiritual location in Hawaiian folklore, as it is said to be where souls go after death to enter the otherworld. The finale of the hike is the lighthouse, which you will reach after a pretty easy walk of around three miles. The beach here is quiet and serene, and if you're lucky, you'll bump into one of the elusive monk seals that live here.

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04Climb the stairs of the Koko Crater Trail

The Koko Crater trail is an uphill trail made up of steep stairs with more than 1,000 steps. This trail is popular with those on the more fit side, as it takes at least half an hour to complete. And half an hour of stairs, well, that requires some leg muscle. It may be one of the most scenic hikes in Hawaii, and if you take on the challenge of this massive stairway, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Diamond Head and the lava beaches. Just don't forget to bring plenty of water!

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05Trek the Manoa Falls Trail

This popular hike leads you to the stunning Manoa Falls, and the scenery that will meet you here is beyond beautiful. Amid the lush tropical forest vegetation, the falls are around 150 feet tall, and sometimes they catch the sun to create the dreamiest rainbows and color prisms you can imagine. There is a variety of wild birds and wildlife in the area, and the trail is beginner-friendly. Just make sure to choose sturdy shoes, and watch out for muddy parts of the route that can get very slippery when wet.

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06Experience the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail

While the other trails are about experiencing Hawaiian nature, this one is more about the history of this location. Pearl Harbor is where, on December 7th in 1941, Japanese bombings took the United States entirely by surprise and catapulted the US into World War Two. Walk the six mile-trail to experience a visual history of this area, and finish your hike with a visit to the Pacific National Monument and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

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07Hike to see the Hi'ilawe Falls

This remote jungle area is known as the Valley of the Kings. If you're looking for more wild and isolated trekking, this trail is a great option. The Waipio Valley is sacred in Hawaiian culture and offers incredible nature experiences on your way to the Hi'ilawe Falls. The falls drop almost 1,500 feet, and against the backdrop of lush tropical greenery, it provides some very Instagrammable photo spots.

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08Visit the Halemaumau Crater

One of the most popular hikes in all of Hawaii is located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If you are curious about volcanoes, this trek will offer you the amazing opportunity to get an up-close view of an active volcanic crater with actual lava flowing. The walk takes around an hour or two and is moderately challenging.

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09Visit military bunkers on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike

This hike has gotten its nickname from the military "pillboxes" scattered along the trail. It's a 1 hour to 90-minute hike, and you can reach the first pillbox bunker in around 30 minutes, and if you want, you can turn back after that. But many visitors agree that this is one of the most picturesque hikes in all of Hawaii, with incredible views of Lanikai Beach and Mokulua Islands. This trail is rated moderate due to an initial steep climb, but many kids and families take it on and enjoy the beautiful views.

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10Climb Mauna Kea – Hawaii's Highest Mountain

A sunset and star gazing tour to the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii Photo by Bruce Irving on Unsplash

Ready for an exciting hiking challenge? Then consider taking on Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in all of Hawaii. Almost 14,000 feet tall, this mountain is not an easy hike, but once you break the cloud line, you're in for a visual treat. This is the place to enjoy some of the most spectacular sunsets imaginable in an environment sacred to native Hawaiians. This hike is simultaneously one of the most challenging and most rewarding in Hawaii.

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