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11 Easy Hikes on Oahu That Are Perfect for Beginners

Searching for a list of the best easy hikes on Oahu? This list from an Oahu local has got you covered!

Easy hikes on Oahu opener

There are so many wonderful Oahu hikes that sometimes it can be difficult to pick which ones to go on, especially when you’re trying to find ones that are easy. After all, you want trails that are doable for everyone in your group! Luckily, there are lots of easy hikes to choose from on Oahu.

Waterfall chasers will love the hike to Lulumahu Falls, and the Lanikai Pillbox Trail and its epic views are always sure to please. Really, the only question is how many of these easy Oahu hikes you’ll go on!

What Exactly Counts as an “Easy” Hike on Oahu?

I’ve seen some of the articles about easy hikes on Oahu in the past, and I can’t help but think that they’re really trying to squeeze as many hikes into the “easy” category as possible. They’ll put hikes like Koko Head, which is basically 1,000 rickety steps at the steepest possible incline, or even the nearly five-mile Kuliouou Ridge Trail. That’s not easy.

The hikes that I’ve listed below are ACTUALLY easy. While they may require dealing with some mud or a decent incline every now and then, none are more than three miles round-trip, require rock climbing, have dangerous winds, or have absurdly steep inclines.

If you’re familiar with my articles, including the one on the best hikes on Oahu, it doesn’t go past a level two on the effort scale. In other words, you’ll say to yourself, “Ok, this is a little bit difficult, but it’s still fun,” which I think is an ideal level for hiking.

lighthouse with bright red top near ocean easy hikes on Oahu

What Are Some of the Easiest Hikes on Oahu?

Without further ado, here are the best easy hikes on Oahu for you to enjoy!

1. Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 649 feet

Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Price: Free

Permit Required? No

Parking: Makapuu Lighthouse Trailhead Parking Lot

If anyone asks me for an easy hike on Oahu, Makapuu Lighthouse is always my first recommendation. After parking in a designated parking lot, you’ll begin the hike on a paved hiking trail — talk about a nice, easy start!

While the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail can get a bit steep at times, this trail is one of the only paved hiking paths on the island. Plus, there is a nice ocean breeze to cool you off the entire time. (On a similar note, hold on to your hats! Lots of hikers lose their hats to the wind on this Oahu hike.)

And that doesn’t even touch upon the stunning views you’ll see at the end. First of all, you’ll get an unobstructed view of the vast Pacific Ocean. You’ll also see two little islands, which are Rabbit Island and Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary.

Then, to the left, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the stunning green hills on the eastern side of Oahu, along with Makapuu Beach Park (try to spot some surfers!).

If you look directly below you, you’ll see the famed Makapuu Lighthouse. Lastly, if you’re hoping for some animal sightings, during the winter months, you may be able to catch a glimpse of some whale spouts!

extra large Manoa Falls waterfall surrounded by greenery. This beautiful trail is one of the easiest hikes on Oahu and is particularly popular with families

2. Manoa Falls Trail

Distance: 1.9 miles

Elevation: 616 feet

Time: 1 hour

Price: $7 per car for parking (discounts available)

Permit Required? No

Parking: Manoa Falls Parking Lot

There are tons of amazing Oahu waterfall hikes, and Manoa Falls has to be one of the most accessible. As a matter of fact, if you’ve done any Oahu waterfall hike, odds are you’ve tackled Manoa Falls.

This 1.9-mile round-trip hike has a clear path and is nicely shaded. While it can get muddy during the rainy season (pretty much wintertime), that’s to be expected from a waterfall hike. Unfortunately, unlike many of the Oahu waterfalls, you cannot swim in the pool at the base of Manoa Falls.

3. Waimea Falls Trail

Distance: 0.75 miles

Elevation: 300 feet

Time: 30 minutes

Price: $25 per person (discounts available)

Permit Required? No

Parking: Waimea Valley Parking Lot

While I’m not the biggest fan of Waimea Falls because they make visitors pay an absurd entrance fee (can anyone say, tourist trap?), I will concede that the hike to Waimea Falls is one of the easiest hikes on Oahu. As a matter of fact, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a hike. It’s more of a walk.

This three-fourths of a mile hike is pretty much flat the entire time. Along the way, you’ll basically be walking through a botanical garden of sorts, filled with all sorts of beautiful Hawaii flowers and plants. There are even a couple of ancient Hawaiian buildings and exhibits for you to peek at on your hike.

At the end of the trail, you’ll reach a decently-sized waterfall — a.k.a. Waimea Falls. Depending on the weather, swimming may be allowed at Waimea Falls, but you do have to wear a lifejacket. (That takes a little bit of the fun out of it for me, but I get it, since it’s for safety and liability purposes.)

Since this hike is within the more accessible Waimea Valley area, there are parking areas, changing areas, showering areas, and lifeguards. This also means that the hike to Waimea Falls is one of the busiest hikes on Oahu.

*Pro Tip: If you visit on Thursday afternoon, the Waimea Valley Farmers Market (also known as the Haleiwa Farmers Market) will be in full swing. Why not stock up on some local goodies while you’re there?

view of Diamond head and Waikiki Beach

4. Diamond Head Hike

Distance: 1.9 miles

Elevation: 560 feet

Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Price: $5 per person for entry, $10 per car for parking

Permit Required? No

Parking: Diamond Head Trailhead Parking Lot

I’m also not a huge fan of the Diamond Head hike, mostly because of the crowds. I like my hikes to be a peaceful getaway far from people, and Diamond Head (officially known as Leahi) doesn’t really provide that. That said, it does have some amazing views, considering it is one of the easy hikes on Oahu.

The path is clear and paved. There is a section with some very steep stairs, but there is an alternative to follow a less steep path and just take a little more time. In other words, if you’re looking for the easiest possible route, skip the stairs. When you finally reach the end of your trek, you’ll get to see beautiful views of Waikiki and the southeast coastline of Oahu.

There is a designated parking lot for the Diamond Head hike.

sunrise at Lanikai Pillbox hike on Oahu

5. Lanikai Pillbox Trail

Distance: 1.6 miles

Elevation: 613 feet

Time: 1 hour

Price: Free

Permit Required? No

Parking: Anywhere near the Lanikai Pillbox Trailhead. Keep in mind that this is a residential neighborhood, so please be respectful and don’t block any driveways.

The Lanikai Pillbox hike (officially known as Kaiwa Ridge) has consistently made it onto my lists of best Oahu hikes, including the best Oahu sunrise hikes list. That said, I may be pushing the definition of “easy hikes on Oahu” when it comes to this hike – that’s just a testament to how good it is!

When you start the Lanikai Pillbox hike, it’s very steep – like steep enough that you may have to use a provided rope to steady yourself – but it’s only for a minute or two! Once you reach the first scenic lookout point right after the steep rope section, you’ve already passed the hardest part of this hike! As a matter of fact, you can make it to the first pillbox (which, for many, is the end of the hike) in 25 minutes.

After about 0.8 miles, you’ll reach the first pillbox. This famed pillbox is a graffiti-covered World War II lookout point with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and two islands known as the Mokulua Islands. While you can continue to a couple of other pillboxes, the view is essentially the same, so it’s not really worth the effort.

view of sunset beach from Ehukai Pillbox easy hikes on Oahu

6. Ehukai Pillbox Trail

Distance: 2.3 miles

Elevation: 738 feet

Time: 1 hour

Price: Free

Permit Required? No

Parking: Sunset Beach Neighborhood Park

If you’re looking for an easy hike on the North Shore of Oahu, Ehukai Pillbox is a great option. There are usually only a few hikers on the path, and the path is clearly marked – a rare combination. If you are still unsure of the path, when in doubt, just veer towards the path that is closer to the ocean.

About halfway up, you’ll reach a picnic bench covered with small painted handprints (probably from some of the children from the nearby elementary school). And, at the end of just over a one-mile hike, you’ll make it to a graffiti-covered pillbox with breathtaking views of the famous Sunset Beach.

There are a handful of parking spots near the Ehukai Pillbox trailhead. There’s a chance that they’ll all be full, especially in the middle of the day on a weekend. But overall, this hike is pretty under-the-radar, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find a space regardless.

thin, tall waterfall flowing through lush greenery

7. Lulumahu Falls

Distance: 1.6 miles

Elevation: 843 feet

Time: 1 hour

Price: Free

Permit Required? Yes, via the Hawaii Division of Forest & Wildlife website

Parking: Technically, there is no legal parking for Lulumahu Falls. The Hawaii Division of Forest & Wildlife recommends that you be dropped off. That said, there is a muddy, makeshift lot near the trailhead just off Pali Hwy.

Lulumahu Falls is definitely in my top three favorite easy hikes on Oahu. At less than two miles round-trip, the hike to Lulumahu Falls is totally doable. It recently changed from an illegal hike to a permitted one (woohoo!), so make sure you get your permits in order (from the Hawaii Division of Forest & Wildlife website) before heading out on the trail. 

The hike to the falls does require a few river crossings, so try to do this hike after it’s been sunny for a couple of days. (That will allow the water level to go down.) Once you reach the end of the hike, you’ll be greeted by one of the tallest waterfalls on Oahu! It’s truly magical. Lastly, while there is a pool at Lulumahu Falls, it’s not quite deep enough to swim in.

couple on top of bright pink pillbox with ocean background Maili pillbox

8. Maili Pillbox Trail

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 613 feet

Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Price: Free

Permit Required? No

Parking: Kaukama Road (ideally near the 10th and 11th light pole, where the trailhead starts).

If you’re looking for a hike on the West Side of the island (say, if you’re staying in Ko Olina or Kapolei), Maili Pillbox (also called Puu O Hulu and Pink Pillbox) is a fantastic choice. Without a doubt, this easy hike on Oahu is one of my favorites! While it can get quite hot on this trail (as the West Side in general is hotter than the rest of the island), that’s pretty much the only downside of this hike.

The two-mile round-trip trail is pretty straightforward. While there are many path options, they all get you to the pillboxes at the top. (I know, it can look confusing and overwhelming. But in all of the times I’ve hiked Maili Pillbox, I’ve literally never found a path that didn’t work.)

If you’re still doubting yourself and your navigational skills, see if you can get a glimpse of the bright pink pillbox at the top. From there, you can try to take the paths that head in that direction.

At the top, you’ll see four World War II pillboxes, one of which is bright pink and filled with memories of breast cancer survivors. You’ll also get unobstructed views of the West Oahu coastline, which is something you can’t get anywhere else on the island.

huge Banyan tree from LOST

9. Kahuku Pillbox Trail

Distance: 1 mile or 0.5 miles (two possible trails)

Elevation: None

Time: 30 minutes or 15 minutes

Price: Free

Permit Required? No

Parking: Turtle Bay Resort or Kamehameha Hwy.

I haven’t found an official name for this easy North Shore hike on Oahu, so I’ve decided to call it Kahuku Pillbox. (Plus, it fits quite nicely with the names of the other pillbox hikes on this list.) The Kahuku Pillbox is located on a small peninsula about a mile west of Turtle Bay Resort. There are actually two routes to reach the Kahuku Pillbox: one from the resort and one from the road.

The approximately 1-mile path from the Turtle Bay Resort winds through the ocean front cottages, onto the Kawela Main Trail, and then onto the Hidden Beach Loop. The path from the road, which is only 0.5 miles, starts from Kahuku Land Farm (NOT Kahuku Farms) starts on the last loop, transfers to the Kawela Loop, and then finally to the Hidden Beach Loop.

The obvious question now is which loop should you take. While the path from the road may seem like the obvious choice, I would actually recommend the path from the resort. First of all, there is easy, safe parking at the resort. And along the hike, you’ll see a couple of hidden beaches, some horses, and an ancient Hawaiian ahu (sort of like a boundary line between ahupua’a or “states”).

That said, the path from the road isn’t without its benefits, especially if you’re a fan of the TV show, LOST. In LOST, there is an iconic banyan tree that repeatedly makes an appearance. That very same banyan tree can be seen on the route from the road to the Kahuku Pillbox. Plus, you’ll end up pretty darn close to both of the secret beaches from the first hike route.

Unfortunately, the stretch of road where you would park to do this version of the hike is prone to petty theft. If you MUST do this version of the Kahuku Pillbox hike for some reason, hide all of your belongings or anything that could hide or hold your belongings (for example, a bag or a towel).

10. Maunawili Falls Trail – TEMPORARILY CLOSED

Distance: 2.3

Elevation: 547 feet

Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Price: Free

Permit Required? No

Parking: Prior to the temporary closure, hikers would park on Kelewina St/Maunawili Rd. There are rumors that the hike will be rerouted (and maybe even have a different entry point) or that a small parking lot will be added once it reopens, but I wouldn’t bank on either.

Maunawili Falls is one of the smaller Oahu waterfalls, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. This 2.3-mile hike requires a few stream crossings, so your feet will get wet! It also means that you should do this hike on a sunny day, as that’ll make it quite a bit easier than on a rainy day.

An added perk of Maunawili Falls is the fact that there are a ton of lilikoi (passion fruit) trees (which, just by the way, are included on the Hawaii Food Bucket List)! So if you see those purple or yellow spheres dangling from the trees, pick a few and enjoy this delicious fruit!

*Local Secret: if you scramble your way up over Maunawili Falls and hike a bit further, you’ll actually make your way to an abandoned wooden bridge, if that sort of off the beaten path adventure is up your alley.

*As of summer 2021, Maunawili Falls is closed to the public. Prior to that, hundreds of people were visiting this waterfall every day, so the State of Hawaii decided to give the land some time to heal. As of spring 2024, this hike still hasn’t reopened. There is still the option to reach Maunawili Falls via the much longer Maunawili Demonstration Trail.

children playing in front of Likeke Falls

11. Likeke Falls – ILLEGAL

Distance: 0.8 miles

Elevation: 216 feet

Time: 45 minutes

Price: Free

Permit Required? No, but the trail is technically on private property, making it illegal.

Parking: Since the trail to Likeke Falls is illegal, there’s technically no legal parking. That said, those who do choose to hike this path tend to park at the back corner of the Koolau Ballrooms parking lot.

The hike to Likeke Falls may be the easiest waterfall hike on Oahu of all. The past couple of times of tackled this hike, I’ve seen Mommy & Me groups doing it too! That’s how easy this Oahu hike is.

At the end you’ll get to enjoy a crystal clear 30-foot waterfall! There is also a very small, shallow pool that your little ones can splash around in (with the proper water shoes, of course) at the base of the waterfall.

One of the downsides to Likeke Falls is the fact that there are a couple of unexpected turns, so, if possible, it would be wise to do this hike with an Oahu local who knows the trail well. If that’s not at all possible, I’ve tried to outline these turns in this more detailed Likeke Falls post.

The unofficial parking for Likeke Falls is in the back corner of the parking lot for the Koolau Ballrooms. (This is also where you’ll route your GPS.)

While I try my best to update this list whenever I become aware of a change, please check to see if these trails are still legally open before you do them. The statuses of trails in Oahu do change, so any of these trails could become illegal, either temporarily or permanently, at any time.

arrow on tree trail markers

Oahu Hike Safety

Many of the most frequently asked questions about Hawaii revolve around hiking safety. Overall, hiking in Hawaii is pretty safe. We don’t have any dangerous animals to look out for, and the weather is usually pretty favorable.

That said, there are a couple of safety tips I should point out. After all, just because these Oahu hikes are easy, that doesn’t mean that they should go without their safety warnings.

Trail Markers

On most of easy hikes on Oahu listed below, the trails are pretty clear. However, there are a couple with slightly confusing paths, which is not ideal.

To stay on the path, keep your eyes out for brightly colored (usually orange, pink, or blue) flags tied around tree branches to guide you. If the trail has recently changed (which does happen sometimes), the trail markers may instead be carved into trees or
marked with spray paint.

Leptospirosis

If you’re planning on doing one of the easy Oahu waterfall hikes you should be aware of a bacterium called leptospirosis that is present in the water.

Leptospirosis can only be harmful if it enters the body through an open cut (so if it’s scabbed over, you’re fine) or by drinking it. While some cases of leptospirosis may have bad flu-like symptoms, others have no symptoms at all. Personally, I have not heard of anyone actually getting leptospirosis on these hikes.

If you would like to read a bit more on leptospirosis, here’s a page from the CDC.

How Can I Get to These Easy Hikes on Oahu?

As with most Oahu hikes, a car is necessary to get to the vast majority of the easy hikes on Oahu. While there are a couple of exceptions that can be reached by bus, including Waimea Falls and Ehukai Pillbox, I highly recommend renting a car if you plan on doing some hiking on your trip to Oahu.

Waikiki hotels on beach easy hikes on Oahu

What Should I Bring on These Easy Oahu Hikes?

Bug Repellent

Bug repellent is highly recommended for hikes on Oahu, particularly the waterfall hikes. Sometimes I get lazy and don’t use bug repellent and I end up with bites on my arms and legs that don’t go away for a month.

Save yourself the trouble and use some bug repellent. There are both traditional and natural options to help you ward off the little critters.

Athletic Shoes

Your shoes will never fully recover from the dust, dirt, and mud on some of these hikes. That said, intense, professional hiking boots are not at all necessary.

Washable Reusable Bag

Most people forget to bring washable reusable bag along with them on hikes to put their muddy or dusty athletic shoes in after hiking. If you don’t have a washable reusable bag, a plastic bag will do just fine.

Flip-Flops

A.K.A. slippers in the local lingo. You’ll need something to wear after you shove your muddy or dusty athletic shoes into that washable reusable bag.

If you want to support an amazing local Hawaii business, you can buy a pair of Olukai slippers (available for both men and women) for your adventure.

Water

Water a necessity for hiking. Even though this is a list of easy hikes on Oahu, hydration is still important! When you sweat out water, you have to replace it. If you don’t, you’ll be dehydrated and miserable for the rest of the day.

To help the environment and stay hydrated, swap your plastic bottle for a nice reusable bottle to help the environment out.

Snack

Keep your energy levels up on your Oahu hike with a snack. Maybe something from the Hawaii food bucket list. You’ve got to maintain your energy!

Camera

You want to capture a bunch of shots of your adventure, don’t you? Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Hoping to do one of these easy hikes on Oahu? Pin this post for later!

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