Hikes and beaches you can’t miss in Oahu

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Hawaii has everything I love in one place. Beautiful scenery, amazing food, genuinely friendly people, adventure. If this is your first time there, here are some of the major hikes and beaches you have to check out!


Diamond Head

This is one hike everyone talks about. It’s super easy- I did it in flip flops and was fine (well, I did it in flip flops by accident and probably wouldn’t recommend it). The path can be slippery, but there’s a handrail. The hike is around a gigantic crater, and supposedly if you wake up early enough, this has some of the most beautiful sunrises on the island. I kept missing the early bus so I didn’t do this, but I hope you can make it. This was the very first thing I did on the island, so I was absolutely stunned at how perfectly blue the water was when I got to the top!

Note: This hike costs $1 for pedestrians to enter. For more information, check out their website.

diamond head at sunrise

trail in diamond head

view at the top of diamond head


Koko Crater Trail

This one is not easy if you don’t like stairs (i.e. me), but it has a beautiful view and is another popular hike. On the flip side, in the time it took me to go up, a couple of people (including one with a dog and one over 60) did the hike multiple times! It’s basically 1.8 miles of stair master along old railway tracks. Some parts get sketchy as you can see a drop below you in the middle of the hike, while you’re going up creaky, delicate pieces of wood, but it’s fine…

view at the top of koko crater hike

view at the top of koko crater hike

Manoa Falls

This hike was filled with grade schoolers while I did it, so it’s also pretty accessible. But the waterfall had actually dried up the day that I went! The hike was really cool otherwise; it’s in a tropical rainforest so the air feels so clean and heavy with moisture.

trees in manoa falls



I almost died when I saw how beautiful this beach for the first time. I was actually on the way to a different beach on the bus and passed through many things that were beautiful. I wanted to get off and explore them, but I was in one of those moods where I’m super determined to finish whatever I planned. Then, when we passed by here… I ran out of the bus because I couldn’t believe that such beauty existed! There’s also a hiking trail here called Makapu’u Lighthouse which is absolutely gorgeous.

picture of me in hawaii

picture of me in makapu'u beach


Honestly, I thought Waikiki was pretty and the sunrise on the beach was gorgeous. Waikiki’s main road is your standard tourist area with lots of shops, but with tropical decorations so it felt so unique. There are also a ton of activities you can do in the resorts and hotels, including this cultural lei making event.

Unrelated note: I also stopped by a 7-11 for breakfast- they’re so different from the ones in the mainland! They have Hawaiian and Asian food!!!!!! Like they sold things I literally make when I’m feeling lazy and uncreative and poor. I cannot believe you can buy that in a store.

beach at sunrise in waikiki


My friend took me around one day and showed me some of her favorite places- including this park (okay it’s not a beach but you could still see water), which used to be a landfill. But, because Honolulu was being gentrified, it was full of people who had been kicked out, which was unfortunate. If you’re going somewhere, seriously be mindful of the people you may be pushing away. On the flip side, this place during sunset was hands down the most vibrant sunset I’ve ever seen. With the palm trees in the distance, it looked like a postcard! Apparently, February sunsets in Hawai’i are usually like this. It was unreal!

kaka'ako park at sunset

North beach

This area is extremely windy in February but because of that, there were some huge waves- the biggest I’ve ever seen in real life! It was unreal (and scary). I went as I was hanging out with my family, and we drove the perimeter of the island with many stops along the way. If you have more money to spend than me, renting a car for this drive would be so worth it.

hikes and beaches in oahu

Hopefully this helped show you that, despite my terrible photography skills, absolutely everything about Hawaii is beautiful. Do you have any other major hikes or beaches in Oahu to add? Let me know in the comments!


Traveler. Foodie. Student debt haver. I love finding the best things to do and eat when traveling, and sharing them with everyone else who likes experiencing local culture or exploring the outdoors too! You can read more about me in my about page.

Note: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you (thank you!). For more info, check out my disclosure policy.


    • Angelica
      March 11, 2017 / 6:30 pm

      Awwww glad to hear that 🙂

  1. March 16, 2017 / 11:51 am

    Yes!! Oahu has some incredible hikes! Makapu’u was my favourite, even though it’s so easy! I wish I’d gone to the bottom now though, that area looks so so nice. I ran out of time to do Koko Head unfortunately but that was on my list!

    • Angelica
      March 16, 2017 / 1:45 pm

      Oh man I never did the hike at Makapu’u but now I wish I did! Sometimes there’s never enough time while you’re traveling, there’s so much to do! ?

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