If you want to experience the exotic wilderness found only in the jungles of Oahu but aren’t a fan of strenuous and extreme hikes, you’ve come to the right place.
These hikes are not just easy to do, but they offer beautiful botanical gardens, bamboo forests, waterfalls, swimming holes, and panoramic views.
My boyfriend and I wanted to experience the beautiful sunsets, panoramic views, and jungle-like vegetation of Hawaii but didn’t want too strenuous hiking. So we did a lot of research on easy hikes and ended up falling in love with all the options on Oahu.
You may be cautious, but believe me, these hikes are easy and beautiful. Each one is well worth the effort and provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We guarantee that each option is safe, easy, and provides an exotic experience.
So grab a snack and some drinks, and let’s explore.
I’ve ranked my favorite 5 easy hikes on Oahu based on length, elevation, terrain type, things to see along the trail, and quality of the destination.
Don’t miss out!
#1. Waimea Valley Trail – Best Botanical Gardens & Waterfall
Trail info: Roundtrip: 1.9 mi. Elevation: 272 ft. Entrance fee: $25 / person
This easy and family-friendly trail is also known as the Waimea Falls trail because it ends at a beautiful waterfall. There is also a swimming area and beautiful, diverse vegetation.
We made this trail right after an early breakfast, and it took us about 1 hour to complete with breaks. Paved trails make for a pleasant, easy walk (on a dry day). There is not too much elevation, but we took it slow because of all the beautiful tropical plants along the way. I saw more diversity in plants and flowers on this trail than on any other.
We stopped for a short swim and had a picnic at the top of the trail, right by the waterfall. Life vests are required for the swim and are provided at the sight. They are included in your fee (so take advantage!) Everything felt safe, and it wasn’t overcrowded. I appreciated the views and took some fantastic pictures.
You can make it a day by traveling to Waimea Bay, where the most exciting surfing happens in the winter.
This was the best easy hike in Oahu because:
- The trail is paved and not very steep, so that anyone can make the trip in an hour or less.
- The botanical plants throughout the trail are amazing and have the largest collection of native and foreign plants on the shore.
- The waterfall area is beautiful for a picnic or snacks and drinks.
- There is an excellent pool under the waterfall for swimming, and the vests are included in the admission price.
Address: Waimea Valley Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712 (visitor center)
#2. Diamond Head Summit Trail – Best views of downtown Honolulu
Trail info: Roundtrip: 1.6 mi. Elevation: 560 ft. Entrance fee: $5.00 per vehicle/parking Fee: $10 per vehicle
This is the most popular hike on Oahu (for a good reason)! It took us about 45 minutes to reach the old war bunkers at the top of the trail. There were multiple worthwhile opportunities for taking photos along the way.
The hike is from the bottom of the crater to the top of the ancient volcano, which makes it exciting. We did an afternoon hike, and the path was gorgeous on a sunny day. Water and a snack are a must. A large part of the trail is paved; the rest is a dirt road with a few rocks. As we got close to the war bunker, there were stairs leading up.
The view at the top is the most breathtaking on the island by far. When I say best, I mean 360 degrees of ocean, beaches, and city views of the island’s West and Eastern Shore. We did this hike first (as recommended by the locals), and it gave us a detailed live map of our vacation. However, the trail had a bit more tourist traffic than I would have liked.
Taking the most impressive pictures ever made it worth it.
This is my second pick for the most enjoyable easy hike on Oahu because:
- A large part of the trail is paved and is ideal for beginners.
- There are natural resting spots, and the trail is less than 1 mile to the top.
- It has the most beautiful panoramic views on the island, and both the West and East shorelines can be seen.
- It’s a great first hike to see and learn the layout of the coast.
Address: The entrance to the parking lot is off Diamond Head Road between Makapuu Avenue and 18th Avenue in Honolulu.
#3. Manoa Falls Trail – Hike to a Waterfall
Trail info: Roundtrip: 1.6 mi. Elevation: 800 ft. Entrance fee: $10.00 parking fee
This is your pick if you are looking for a short and pleasant hike. The trail is so beautiful. It’s famous and featured in both the series Lost and Jurassic Park. The trail is well-defined the entire way, making it super safe.
We started the trail at the end of Manoa Road and parked in Paradise Park. Since our hike was in the morning, there was plenty of parking and not too many people on the trail. Guided tours are available, but save your money because this is a beginner-friendly trail. Be safe, wear sensible shoes, and bring water and sun protection (I do this even on trips to the beach!).
The hike up took about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. It looked very exotic, and the vegetation was beautiful. (I did feel like I was walking through my favorite dinosaur movie!) At the end of the trail is a gorgeous 150 ft. waterfall. Standing so close to it, the size was quite impressive. I also loved the sound of running water. We had a tasty snack at the top and made our way back in about 30 minutes. Overall, the hike is exotic.
Note: There are seasonal closures of the trail. Make sure it is open when you visit and that the weather is warm and sunny. Otherwise, there’s some mud!
This is a pleasant and easy hike worth your time because:
- The hike is relatively easy and less than 2 miles round trip.
- The trail is free, and if you are willing to walk a little further, you can also find free (street) parking.
- The trail is full of beautiful trees, birds, and plants. Made famous by several movies and TV shows.
- The waterfall is impressive and approachable. Perfect for a picnic or short rest.
Address: 3860 Manoa Rd. Honolulu, HI 96822
#4. Lanikai Pillbox Trail (The Ka’iwa Ridge Trail) – Best View of the East Oahu Beaches
Trail info: Roundtrip: 1.8 mi. Elevation: 649 ft. Entrance fee: free
This is a beautiful short hike. Since we were already spending time (swimming) at sandy Lanikai Beach, we decided to do this hike in the evening. It was a two-block walk from the beach. Even though it is famous for its sunrise, the sunset is beautiful too.
This is a short and steep hike. It took us about 35 minutes one way. There are plenty of picture opportunities along the way, so we took it slow. (Wear sun protection – not much shade!) Most of the trail is a narrow dirt road with some rocks. But it’s easy enough that most families can do it.
You’ll find 2 funky and art-covered military boxes on the top. This is where we watched the sunset. We had a blanket and some snacks and drinks. This spot has a panoramic view of Lanikai Beach (very romantic at sunset!)
This is the perfect easy hike because:
- The hike is short and relatively easy, without many rocky areas.
- The view from the top is fantastic, and you can enjoy a sunrise or sunset here.
- The trail is not crowded, and there is no entrance fee.
- It’s a great way to make a day trip and visit the nearby beach.
Address: 382-498 Kaelepulu Dr Kailua, HI 96734
#5. Judd Trail to Jackass Ginger Pond – The Best Swimming Hole on a Hike
Trail info: Roundtrip: 1.2 mi. Elevation: 170 ft. Entrance fee: free
I enjoyed this hike more than I expected. This is a loop trail in the jungle, like Nu’uanu region. After a beautiful walk, you end up at the Jackass Ginger waterfall and pool. The trail has little elevation, and the waterfall is super accessible.
We did an after-lunch hike, which was easy because the area is rich in trees and shade. It took us about 20 minutes one way, and the vegetation was amazing. I particularly loved the bamboo forests and guava trees. The entire time I could hear the sound of water, which was relaxing. Right at the beginning of the trail, there is a small waterfall with a small number of streaming water shoots on the edges.
At the trail’s end is a beautiful 10-foot waterfall and swimming hole. We heard children swimming, so we knew we were close. It looked like so much fun. My boyfriend made a couple of jumps into the pool off the rocks. The water was calm and pleasant after the hike.
Check out the Judd Trail to Jackass Ginger Pond because:
- The trail is naturally beautiful and rich with high trees, bamboo forests, and other exotic plants and flowers.
- The hike is suitable for beginners and families.
- There are some shaded areas and resting spots along the way.
- The swimming hole and small 10-foot waterfalls are pleasant places to swim or picnic.
Address: Nuuanu Pali Dr. Honolulu, HI 96817
Conclusion on the Best Easy Hikes on Oahu
You won’t find better hiking trails and views than those on Oahu. Easy short trails, beautiful vegetation, family-friendly roads, and breathtaking views are just some of the things these trails offer.
Visit any or all of the trails mentioned above to create memorable pictures and experiences. Regardless of your ability, you will be satisfied.
Most of these trails are under 2.0 miles round trip and have waterfalls, bamboo forests, and city and beach views to offer. There are paved and dirt trails, so there are safe options no matter what time of the year you visit.
The top easy trails on Oahu genuinely have it all!
Don’t miss out.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What is the easiest hike on Oahu?
There are several easy and short hikes on Oahu that are fit for the entire family. The two most viable options are the Waimea Valley Trail and Manoa Falls Trail. Each hike is under 2.0 miles round trip. And takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on your sightseeing and picture-taking. Both hikes are well-marked and safe. The coolest part is they have rewarding waterfalls at the end of your trail. If you are looking for the most spectacular view on the island, including the complete view of the West and Eastern Shore of Oahu – choose Diamond Head Summit Trail. It is also a short trail suitable for beginners and is mainly paved.
Is Lanikai Pillbox hike hard?
No. The Lanikai Pillbox hike (or The Ka’iwa Ridge Trail) is short and steep. It’s less than 2.0 miles round trip. Generally, it’s considered an easy hike suitable for all ages. The trail doesn’t require any climbing, and there is not too much tourist traffic. This trail is perfect for sunrises and sunsets. From the top, you can see views of the East Oahu beaches.
Is Manoa Falls an easy hike?
Yes. Manoa Falls is generally considered an easy hike. It’s less than 2.0 miles round trip and takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on your interests. There are tour-guided hikes on this trail, but since it’s a beginner-level trail, it can be completed by families of any age – or alone. It’s one of the most beautiful hikes, and the vegetation and waterfall are unique. This is a famous filming location for Jurassic Park and the TV show Lost. The trail is well-marked and clear. There is shade available.
Last Updated on January 17, 2023 by Brigitte