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Discover Oahu: The Best Hikes on Hawaii's Most Populous Island

Home to Hawaii's capital of Honolulu, Oahu offers a fantastic array of hiking trails to explore.

Hiking Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Severe, Extreme

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Even though the island of Oahu is far and away Hawaii's most populous island (thanks to the presence of the metropolitan capital of Honolulu), this gorgeous tropical island still offers incredible natural beauty and seemingly endless adventures! While Oahu is best known for surfing and snorkeling, the center of the island rises in a conglomeration of volcanic cones and jagged ridgelines, creating a landscape that is, at times, unbelievably steep. While it seems improbable, a thick rainforest blankets the nearly-vertical mountain slopes, adding a dense layer of mystery and intrigue to the volcanic formations.

Hiking through these rainforest-covered mountains is generally a very challenging endeavor. While the tough climbs in near-vertical terrain would be difficult enough on their own, the rainforest ecosystem means that the trails are laced with endless webs of roots that are usually very slippery due to the near-constant rain. In between the roots, slick mud prevails and is only replaced by massive rocks and sections of technical scrambling. On many Hawaiian hikes, you'll find knotted ropes hanging from the trees in the steeper sections to aid you in your climb. However, these ropes can sometimes be quite sketchy and unreliable due to the pervasive inclement weather.

The most challenging hikes in this guidebook will definitely put your skills and fitness to the test, especially the climb up Mount Olomana and the Moanalua Valley and Tripler Ridge Loop. The most technical hikes on the island should be approached with extreme caution, as some trails, like Mount Olomana, have claimed many lives.

Despite Oahu's renowned difficulty, the hikes on the island still exist on a spectrum. Other trails deep in the mountains are a bit more reasonable, such as the Aiea Loop Trail and Kuliouou Ridge. As you head closer to the ocean, the hikes tend to get a bit flatter and more gradual. In fact, you'll find some easy hikes along the coast, such as the beautiful jaunt to Makapu'u Point Lighthouse. Other can't-miss hikes on the easier end of the spectrum include the short climb to Diamond Head Summit directly above Honolulu and the hike to the stunning Manoa Falls.

You'll find all these hikes and more in this detailed guide to the best hikes on Oahu!

Routes included

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