Sometime in the middle of last year, I went on a little field trip with the Sierra Club of Hawaii – Oahu Chapter to visit Lulumahu Falls, Kaniakapupu, and Luakaha Falls. You can check out the Kaniakapupu post here, but for some reason, I never got around to sharing photos from Lulumahu Falls. Oddly enough, when this blog first started in 2011, Lulumahu Falls was one of the most requested posts from readers. We never got around to making a post, despite a memorable experience trying to find it.
If you enjoy the outdoors, then Hawaii is an exceptional place to live. Many say that Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches and best waves in the world. However, if you look mauka, or towards the mountains, you’ll also notice her beautiful valleys and ridges. Comprised of volcanic rock, Hawaii’s hiking options are unique and in a class of its own. Below are seven reasons why hiking in Hawaii is indeed awesome. However, be warned. A spur of the moment hike might lead to the start of a new hobby, and then a lifelong obsession.
Over Spring break, Ikaika and I decided to hike Hawaii’s best known trail: Kalalau. The trail is 11 miles long one way and ends at a famous camp spot. Originally planned as a 4 day and 3 night event, we ended up shortening it to 2 days and 1 night while still completing all of the 22 miles, camping at the beach, visiting one of the major waterfalls, and capturing the Milky Way along the way.
Looking to waste sometime before our flight home during a recent trip to the Big Island, Michelle and I visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. I sold Michelle on the colorful, tropical fauna. All I really wanted see was Onomea Falls. The waterfall itself is very easy to access. It’s actually one of the first attractions that you’ll encounter as you work your way downhill and through the botanical garden.
Although I have seen a lot of Haleakala National Park, I have not seen it all. In fact, it is likely that I will never be able to see all that this Hawaiian volcano has to offer. But I can try. I was eager to return to Haleakala after having hiked through the volcanoes most prominent hiking trails on a four-day backpacking trip. This time, though, I would be exploring upcountry Haleakala by hiking through the Pipiwai Trail which leads to the spectacular Waimoku Falls. This hike was also special because we did it on my wife’s birthday. I though that it would be cool to give her a 400-foot waterfall for her birthday.
One of the most frequent email questions that I receive from Exploration: Hawaii readers is: “What are some kid friendly hiking trails on Oahu?” This post will help to answer that question. First of all, I will disregard the three hikes that both you and your children probably have already done: Diamond Head, Makapuu Light House, and the Manoa Falls Trail. Of course, these three hikes are definitely good options if you haven’t already completed them. I’d like to focus a bit on the more obscure, or out-of-the-way trails. It’ll add to your child’s sense of adventure, and maybe get them hooked on the outdoors. You’ve been warned.
NOTE: none of the trails listed below are probably appropriate for infants or toddlers. These are NOT the kind of hikes meant for infants or toddlers. I’d probably say kids 10 and older can manage the trails below, but of course, you, the parent, is the best judge of whether or not your child can hike the trails listed below. Try these hikes first: Diamond Head, Makapuu Light House, and the Manoa Falls Trail, before you try the ones listed below. I have no hikes to suggest for those looking to hike with an infant or toddler in a hiking backpack.
With that said, here are 5 great kid friendly hikes on Oahu. Below each description, I provide estimates for time and distance, a few tips, and trailhead directions. Each of these hikes were also previously mentioned in depth here and I have provided links to those posts as well. Before you venture out on any of these hikes, please review these tips on hiking safely in Hawaii. Have a suggestion for a great kid friendly hike? Leave it in the comments!
A combination kayak and hike to a waterfall would be the final adventure of our recent Kauai Waterfall Trip (see Wailua Falls, Hoopii Falls). We actually had this planned for earlier in the week, however, flash flood warnings kept kayakers out of the Wailua Stream. Hey, safety first! This was the only adventure during this trip that we hired a guide for, mainly because of unfamiliarity with the area. We decided on Wailua Kayak Tours.
While en route to the Maniniholo dry cave and the Waiakanaloa wet cave, on Kauai’s North Shore, we were treated to some very lush vistas. A recurrent theme that we noticed? Waterfalls. A lot of waterfalls. With so many waterfalls around, we found ourselves making frequent stops to gawk at them and soak in the views. One of the sweet spots was near Hanalei Elementary School. The students of this particular school are indeed very lucky. On any given day, they are able to step out of their classrooms and experience the majestic views of the three peaks that form Hanalei Valley: Hihimanu, Namalokama, and Mamalahoa. On the day that we were there, these mountains were free flowing with waterfalls. On your next visit to Kauai, look mauka (toward the mountain) from Hanalei Elementary, and you might see Waioli Falls, one of Kauai longest flowing waterfall. I didn’t have nearly as great a view from my elementary school in Kalihi.