5 Beautiful Yet Moderate Challenging Hikes to Explore While In Hawaii
Does the excitement of exploring a new place thrill you as much as it does me? Just the thought of seeing new landscapes and unfamiliar nature trails can get those butterflies buzzing around in my stomach! Then if you add the adventures and activities planning; whoa, the excitement plunges through the roof! The place that brings an abundance of excitement to me is visiting Hawaii.
Hawaii is such a magical place and presents a vibe that is like no other. While many people think of Hawaii as a place for charming resorts, sparkling swimming pools, and relaxing patios. Hawaii to me is full of nature, beautiful landscapes and adventure. There are so many hiking trails to explore in Hawaii, that we have yet to scrape the top 10 of them yet. So if you are someone who wants to get more out of your visit to Hawaii and create unique extraordinary memories, then you must explore these wonderful yet moderate challenging hiking trails.
- Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail: 4.5 mile roundtrip. Elevation 1597 feet Directions
If you are hungry for a scenic yet challenging and adventurous hike while on your visit to Hawaii, then this one will surely put a smile on your face. We started off the day with a little sun and clouds hoping that the rain might stay away for this particular hike. I don’t know about you, but the word Ridge places just a tiny bit of fear in me being this is the first time we’ve hiked this trail.
Ignoring the on-slot of a bit of fear I seemed to develop, we proceeded to gather our water, hats, sunscreen and sunglasses and piled in the car and drove towards East Honolulu area. Actually, the journey to get to the trailhead was quite spectacular by itself as we cruised to higher altitudes through what seemed to be an upscale neighborhood of homes and hills. I noticed as we reached the trail head there was no guard or official person around at this time, so we proceeded to park in the appropriate designated spots. Usually you do need a permit to park in the designated areas to hike this trail.
The clouds started to build up around us making for a possibly muddy, wet, and slippery hiking experience. Early in the hike, we approached a beautiful canopy of trees of all sizes but mostly tall and large. The wind began to swirl and howl making for an eerie stroll through this part of the trail.
As we made our way through the tree tunnels, we encounter some of the challenges and views that this hike presents. The steeper sections of the ridge continue closer and we used the ropes when needed to assist in the climb to the top.
This part of the hiking trail offered a few challenges and obstacles. The rope was very helpful in climbing to the next phase. This trail can be muddy and slippery when it rains, so take it slow and careful and you will gradually make your way to the summit.
The views and beauty of the trail aren’t the only things to be excited about. If you blink you may miss some of the most beautiful plants and flowers that are displayed on this adventure nature trail!
Be sure to take a rest on the ‘Swing’ and tree area, and if you are hiking the trail on a weekday, you may be lucky enough to get a seat on the one lonely bench that sits at the summit of the trail. There are 360 views everywhere up here and they are incredible! Hang on to your hat as the winds can be quite wicked up at the top.
- Aiea Loop Hiking Trail: 4.8 mile Roundtrip. Elevation 900 Directions
The Aiea Loop trail is located in Aiea – Pearl City area of Honolulu and is an interesting path as you begin at the trailhead located within a park. There are a few scattered picnic tables and the park is quite large in size. The trees are massive and the lemon eucalyptus trees offer a scent of sweet citrus as you ponder further into the trail. There are a few trail road blocks of large tree trunks, and you’ll climb a few steep switchbacks along the loop.
You will catch some views of the freeway H-3 from particular areas on the trail. This trail can also be a little muddy if you experience the hike on a misty or rainy day.
On this trail, I ended up hiking part of it on my own as my husband went on ahead of us, then my in-laws were slowing and I went ahead of them. I was beginning to question if I was going in the right direction at one point and if I might catch up with them or get to the end of the loop. There is an area where one bench sits at peak of a slight climb and elevated area, and I sat there for a moment hoping I wasn’t lost. I finally came to the end of the loop and saw my in-laws trying to approach the friendly cat that hung around the park that day. This hike is considered an easy hike with a few areas of moderate challenge.
- Waimano Falls and Pools Trail: 3 Mile Roundtrip. Waterfall Hike Directions
This hiking trail was both challenging and rewarding. The trailhead is located near or in the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. Parking is limited, so you may wish to start this trail early. The trail begins with a smooth wide pathway of red dirt and rocks with plants lining the path.
As you continue further on the trail, it can become muddy and slippery depending if you hike this one on a misty or rainy day. You’ll have to keep an eye out where you walk and step because there are large tree roots everywhere and the elevation can create a slightly dangerous trail.
Going downhill may be easy and you can use the tree roots for stepping, but coming back up can get you huffing and puffing. This part of the trail is known as ‘Cardiac Hill’.
Again, this trail is really not that difficult, but it becomes slightly dangerous if it’s a rainy or misty day and especially when you are descending down towards the beautiful pools and waterfall, it can be very slippery.
This hike presents a wide variety of plants and trees to ponder over as you slither your way carefully down the path over red dirt hillsides, trees, and slippery mud. I lost the soles of my shoes and mud was everywhere. There are a few spots where you use a rope to help you down steeper rocks or hillside parts of the trail. You may encounter a wild pig or hunters with dogs so just be aware and don’t be alarmed. There are plenty of birds to listen to as they sing and fly from tree limb to limb. The hidden gem on this hike is the infamous Waimano Pools and Waterfall.
- Manoa Falls Hike: 1.6 mile roundrip. Waterfalls (150 feet falls) Directions
If you are looking for an easy yet very rewarding and full of nature and very large trees, then this is the hike for you. At times, this hike can also be slippery and muddy depending on rain. The trees are wide, tall, and giants on this very interesting yet enjoyable trail.
On the day we hiked this trail, the falls didn’t seem as large as I expected, but it is still a beautiful scene of maze and wonder. If you are someone who wants to get away from large crowds and noise, and have a desire to explore and surround yourself with nature, then you’ll have to check this one out. This hike is considered an easy rated trail.
- Koko Head Stairs Trail: 1.8 mile roundtrip. Elevation 990 Directions
The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing during this extraordinary hike up the Koko Head stairs. This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad tithes) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast and will definitely offer a cardio workout like no other. This is rated as difficult.
Koko Head is the eastern side of Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai. You will enjoy wonderful views of Haunama Bay and beyond. The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and take in the views.
There is a section where a larger drop to a ridge is located below, so you take your time and go slow if needed.
You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go and are getting higher.
This is a view from below it may be approximately half way up, but it still looks like there are quite a few steps to go to reach the top. You will be huffing and puffing by this point.
There is an no doubt an abundance of excitement and adventurous activities for those thrill seekers visiting Hawaii on travel. But don’t be tempted by those fancy boutique shops, crowds, and lounge bars that bombard you at the tourist beaches. You may want to change your travel strategies to add exploration and hiking to your itinerary. This will no doubt make the most out of your visit to Hawaii and create remarkable memories.
When you travel, do you plan for hiking or exploration to be added into your travel itineraries? If yes, which hiking trails or mountains are your favorites and describe them.
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Read more about Hawaii: Hawaii Islands Uncovered
More hiking adventures here: Utah: Arches & Canyonlands