Beautiful scenery, the best food, genuinely friendly people– Hawaii is an amazing place.
If this is your first time there, here are some of the major hikes and beaches you have to check out!
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Before you go on your hike, here are some tips to keep you safe and happy:
- You don’t need to rent a car to do most of these hikes. Depending where you stay, there are bus lines that will take you, and if there’s no bus, you can always Lyft or Uber! This was awesome since basically everywhere else I travel in the US, you need a car to go hiking.
- I personally chose to stay in Waikiki since there were so many bus lines that travel through there!
- Don’t forget water and a sun hat! If you’re not used to the heat and sun in Hawaii, you might end up with heat exhaustion on these first two hikes, because there isn’t a lot of shade.
- For more on preventing heat exhaustion when hiking, check out this site.
- Since Hawaii is gorgeous, these trails do get busy. If you want to avoid the thickest of the crowds, head early in the morning. You can double check all of their official websites to see exact opening times. But really, what’s wrong with being around people who also want to enjoy the beautiful things in life?
Diamond Head State Monument is home to a trail that takes you up a volcanic crater. At the top, you’re rewarded with beautiful views of the ocean, mountains, and city! This hike was highly recommended to me by my friends. It’s less than 2 miles long and can take about 1.5 – 2 hours to do, so it makes a great first hike in Hawaii.
This was not only my first hike in Hawaii, but also my first time in a beautiful island, so I was absolutely stunned at how perfectly blue the water was at the top!
To enter, there’s a small fee for pedestrians, and it’s a bit higher for cars. For the latest prices, check out their official website. And note that the path can be a bit slippery, but there’s a handrail in some parts to help. I also did this hike in flip flops so that may be why it was slippery.
Koko Crater Trail
While Koko Head Crater Trail is also less than 2 miles of hiking, this one is much harder than Diamond Head if you’re not a fan of stairs. Picture a stair master with 302 meters of elevation gain on sketchy train tracks, and you’ll get this 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!
Once you make it to the top, you’re once again surrounded by gorgeous, panoramic views of the island. In some ways, it feels even more beautiful than Diamond Head because you worked so much harder to reach it!
For a totally different hike and view compared to the two above, check out Manoa Falls!
While it’s around the same length, this hike takes you through a rainforest that ends in a (supposedly) gorgeous falls. I say supposedly because I went at the wrong time and the waterfall had dried up. People say that you should go after it rains to see the falls.
Even though the falls were dry, this hike was awesome and unique because the air is so fresh, cool, and heavy with oxygen. You might recognize it from TV because Jurassic Park and Lost have filmed on this hike too! Make sure you wear good shoes, because the trail can get muddy.
This is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!