1. Diamond Head Summit Trail

Diamond Head Summit Trail is a 1.6mi (2.5km) roundtrip hike that ascends 560ft (170m) up the southern slope of Diamond Head, Hawaiʻi’s most recognized natural landmark. With 3,000+ visitors per day, this volcano tuff cone is the most popular attraction in the state. It was previously used to house military weapons and equipment including cannons, bunkers, and pillboxes, and remains an active military site. The trail is a relatively short but steep climb with 200+ steps and dimly lit tunnels. Those who make it to the top are rewarded with expansive views over Honolulu.

2. Mānoa Falls Trail

Mānoa Falls Trail is a 1.6mi (2.5km) roundtrip hike with an 800ft (243m) elevation, it’s a short drive from Waikīkī making it one of the most accessible waterfall hikes on the island. It’s a fairytale setting with huge century-old trees and an enchanting bamboo forest, the backdrop of TV shows and films including scenes from LOST and Jurassic Park. Year-round rainfall ensures a tropical jungle-like track that is often muddy; hikers should wear proper footwear and bring bug spray. The path is short and well-trafficked but worth it for the tall and visually-pleasing waterfall (non-swimmable).

3. Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Lookout Trail

Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Lookout Trail is a 2mi (3.2km) roundtrip paved uphill road to an elevation of 500ft (152m), easily navigated with strollers. Located on the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline on Oʻahu’s south-east edge, it’s an excellent hike to spot seabirds and humpback whales (Dec-Apr). The path meanders along sea cliffs to an observation deck and lighthouse and offers outstanding coastal views. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the islands of Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and West Maui in the distance. There are no drinking fountains or restrooms, plan accordingly.

4. Kaʻiwa Ridge Trail

Kaiʻwa Ridge Trail also called the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, is a 1.8mi (2.9km) roundtrip intermediate-level narrow trail up 659ft (198m). It’ll get your blood pumping on in Kailua on Oʻahu’s East Coast, a 45-minute drive from Waikīkī. It’s a steep and rocky 30-minute journey to the top, where two military bunkers reside. This vantage point offers a premium view over Kailua, Lanikai Beach, and out to sea towards the Mokulua Islands. It’s a magical choice for sunrise viewing. You’ll want to investigate the parking situation beforehand, that part can be tricky due to the residential nature of the area.

5. Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail

Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail is a 5mi (8km) moderate hike to an elevation of 1800ft (548m). Patience is required through dense woodlands with “big views” over Oʻahu’s east-side not visible until the last part of the trail. This is a scenic and active outdoor experience with the terrain and environment changing dramatically throughout the trip. It encompasses steep ridges and hikers can rest and catch their breath at conveniently located picnic tables halfway up. The peak of this trail is a glorious finale, an almost 360-degree vantage point that takes in the stunning beauty of the Kailua coastline, Kāneʻohe peninsula, and Hawaiʻi Kai landscapes.