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Back in October, I visited Hawai'i for the first time and stayed at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. While we had tons of fun soaking up the sun by the lagoon at the resort, no trip to Hawai'i is complete without hiking.
Some of the hiking spots in Hawai'i are absolutely iconic, and it's no wonder why. The land and views are absolutely breathtaking (and please remember to treat the land with the utmost respect when you visit!).
Growing up, I didn't do much hiking - just a few little forest paths as a kid in Rhode Island, but nothing major since my family wasn't exactly the outdoorsy type. I've run a few half marathons, too, but never had been hiking before, especially with incline since my husband and I were coming from Florida. So, to get the best of both worlds, we stuck to trails we could find that were beginner-friendly but still provided some amazing views. Here are some of the four best hikes for beginners in Oahu, Hawai'i.
Worth noting at the time of this posting that Hawai'i is currently undergoing a bit of a water crisis - everyone has been asked to conserve water when they can because some jet fuel made its way into the water supply. If you're visiting, do your best to practice sustainable, responsible tourism. Support local, be conscious of your water use, and consider volunteering somewhere on the island or donating to organizations like the Hawai'i Community Foundation.
My husband and I both agreed that Manoa Falls was our favorite hike on the entire trip and one of the best places we visited. Manoa Falls in Honolulu is only about 1.7 miles and is out and back trail, though there is an option to add an additional, longer loop if you want to go further and spend more time here. The trail can get a bit muddy at parts, but was overall safe and easy to navigate. Just watch your step - this is a rainforest, after all!
This trail takes you through a part of Manoa Valley. There are tons of trees the whole way, so even if you go mid-day like we did, you'll get plenty of shade. Some scenes in Lost and Jurassic Park were filmed here, and it is incredibly easy to see why. Going through Manoa Valley felt like being in a whole other world. The valley eventually takes you through to a bamboo field, where the extra trail loop is, before you reach the main attraction: Manoa Falls. The 150-foot waterfall is gorgeous, but swimming in the pool is not recommended. If you do want to swim in a waterfall after a hike, keep reading - there's a place you can do this safely!
Definitely wear some mosquito repellent and some good hiking shoes that are waterproof. You'll need them! Luckily, at the end of the trail, there are some hoses you can use to clean your shoes.
Diamond head State Monument
Diamond Head in Waikiki may seem like an obvious choice, but this approximately 1.6 mile hike did live up to the hype. This volcanic tuff cone makes for a beautiful hike with a few places to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way.
Part of the path is paved, and when you get closer to the top, you have a few options: some really steep stairs, or just more of the path. We opted out of the stairs and had a great view along the way. Don't worry - you'll get to climb more stairs later anyway! I got some training in on the stair master at the gym before our trip and I am glad I did.
We went just after sunrise to beat the sunrise crowd and it wasn't too terribly busy. We were lucky enough to catch a rainbow over Waikiki Beach from the very top!
There are also some old military forts from World War II that you can explore here. Just watch your step and you head coming out. If you've watched our recap video, you'll see me bonk my own head on the way out. Oops!
Also, hold on to your hats. It gets windy at the top!
Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail
The Makapu'u Point Trail is completely paved and a 2.5 mile out and back trail. It being paved makes the incline a bit easier, but the higher you go, the more windy it gets, which was admittedly a bit heart-pumping at the top!
But this is a super beginner-friendly hiking trail. There's a small unpaved section along the way, but other than that, this was a hike where a lot of people brought their kids or their dogs. It's along the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline near Waimanalo.
There are some really nice views from the top. Not only do you get to see the lighthouse from here, but you also have a great. view of some tide pools and Koko Crater.
Waimea Valley Trail
My husband considers this more of a walk than a hike, and I'd say I agree with him. You can go anywhere from 2 to 3.5 miles on this out and back trail depending on how you weave and how much of the botanical gardens you explore. This visit was part of our Majestic Circle Island Tour that we took out of Aulani and I'm so glad it was included.
The botanical gardens and lush valley along the way are gorgeous and are worth thoroughly exploring, but getting to Waimea Falls is truly a treat. Bring a bathing suit here because you get to swim in this waterfall - and if you're a fan of Lost, you'll definitely want to as you'll recognize this spot.
Life vests are included when you swim in the waterfall (and required). It's pretty rocky getting in, so just watch your step as you make your way into the pool. The water had a slight chill to it but was not unbearable, making it perfect after hiking up through Waimea Valley.
Jessica is a huge Disney, anime, and Star Wars nerd who channeled that love into motivation to lose 75 lbs.