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The top 13 hikes in Hawaii

A white man in a baseball cap and shorts hikes along the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail in Hawaii with the lighthouse itself in the far background, overlooking the sea

There’s no better way to explore Hawaii than by hitting one of the dozens of hiking trails that weave across the state.

Trekking here can mean an escape into a native rainforest or cutting along secluded coastal trails. Indeed, the diverse range of trails in Hawaii can give visitors a true appreciation of the islands’ natural beauty. 

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Despite Hawaii accounting for less than 0.2% of the land in the USA, more than a quarter of species found on the nation’s endangered species list are endemic to the state. Hiking is one of the best ways to see some of Hawaii’s endangered plants and animals, whilst also experiencing its unique ecosystems

From strolls along secluded shorelines to walks across volcanic landscapes, there are hikes for all abilities, including first-timers and families, too. These are the 15 best hikes in Hawaii.

The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a great first hike to try in Hawaii © Rosanna U / Getty Images

1. Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail, Oʻahu

Best for beginners and parents with strollers
2 miles round trip, 1 hour, easy

Leading to a historic lighthouse on Oʻahu, this is easily one of the most scenic – and accessible – hikes on the island. Perched on a 600ft-high sea cliff on the easternmost point of the island, Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse was built in 1909. The mile-long trail that leads to the red-roofed lighthouse was recently renovated and is entirely paved, making it a great option for non-hikers, pets, and strollers.

Avid hikers love this trail too. It meanders along windswept cliffs with stunning views of the rugged Kaiwi Coast and the Pacific Ocean. In the distance, you can see the offshore islets Manana and Kaohikaipu, as well as Molokai, Maui, and sometimes Lanai on clear days. Hike the trail between November and May and you’ll likely spot some of the 12,000-odd North Pacific humpback whales which swim down to Hawaii from Alaska to mate, play, and give birth in the warm, shallow waters around Oʻahu.

For the more adventurous, you can walk to the tide pools below – the trailhead is located just after a lookout with whale information signs. Check ocean and wind conditions and be careful of big surf crashing onto the ledge.

2. Kaiwa Ridge Trail (a.k.a. the Lanikai Pillbox Trail), O‘ahu

Best sunrise hike
1 mile, 1 hour, moderately difficult

If you want to catch the sunrise over one of…

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