If you’re looking for information on the best hikes in Hawaii, you’re in the right place!
The Hawaiian word, Mauka refers to the side of the Island facing the mountains, as opposed to Makai which is the ocean side. While Hawaii is filled with beautiful sandy beaches, the Mauka side of the island is the best place to hike!
Hiking is an amazing way to get some exercise and stay in shape, but it’s also one of the best ways to truly explore the Big Island. Being on foot gives one more opportunities to venture out and discover the natural beauty that this tropical destination provides.
Best hikes in Hawaii: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
When it comes to the best hikes in Hawaii, the Big Island is definitely known for the impressive Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which as a matter of fact, is one of the coolest places to hike and explore! I mean, our favorite little islands wouldn’t even exist without volcanoes. With a total of 13 main trails, the level of hiking difficulty desired is up to you. The trail lengths range from around 2 miles to a little over 30 miles! Depending on which you choose, you could find yourself at an elevation reaching 13,513 feet above sea level! That’s pretty amazing!
A popular trail in this national park is the Crater Rim Trail. Just the name of it sounds pretty intriguing (and self-explanatory). Here, steam and gases hover eerily just along the cliffs. As with any nature trip, there is plenty of native wild-life to be discovered. From birds, to bugs, to trees, and even rock types, there is a large variety of nature to amaze you. The weather on the volcanoes in general can be harsh. Prepare for scorching dry heat and/or windy rain. There’s no telling what mother nature will reveal!
Of course HVNP is a must see when on the Big Island, but the adventurers know no bounds when visiting such a beautiful place! Hawaii has many different climate zones, which makes each excursion unique.
Other top places to hike in Hawaii
So what about all the greenery? The tropical animal species? The waterfalls? The aroma of tropical flowers and growing fruit? The calls of birds perched in native trees?
Sometimes when it comes to the best hikes in Hawaii, some people prefer to take short hikes, because of physical comfort or because of time limits.
The Hawaiian Botanical Gardens
The Hawaiian Botanical Gardens offers an easier level of hiking. The distance is around 1.5 miles. Within the gardens there are over 2000 species of plants! Like many botanical gardens, there are a ton of beautiful birds to check out. The trail is pretty straight-forward, as the trail is paved and the garden provides a map. Be sure to bring your umbrella! You never know when rain will pass over but you can expect at least a drizzle.
A more difficult trail to explore on the Island of Hawaii would be Waipi’o Valley. The total round trip distance is 6.5 miles, but the views are so amazing! This is one of the best hikes in Hawaii and it is considered medium level difficulty online (but if you’re asking OUR opinion…it scores much higher than that). If you’re looking for lush landscape and waterfalls however, the trip is totally worth it! Imagine starting a trail, and seeing only green forest on either side of you, until you reach the amazing lookout point where you discover an EPIC view of what is often called, “The Valley of Kings.”
Now, a hike that is considered extremely difficult, that is a little bit “off the beaten path,” would be Waimanu Valley. Waimanu, translated, means “river of birds” and is named so because of the vast waterfalls located there along with the abundant, green vegetation and of course, the many island birds. The reason this 16 mile hike is considered difficult and dangerous is because it is wet, rocky, and steep (not to mention long). Put those three elements together and you can imagine that it could get a little treacherous! The elevation reaches well over a vertical mile, and there are many streams that can often cause flash floods. Not to mention the risk of rock falls and the hazardous heights this trail reaches! Despite all the dangerous possibilities this trail holds, it is one of the best hikes in Hawaii! What an accomplishment to finish it. Just plan on spending the night, since this trail can take all day.
Remember to stay safe as you go hiking in Hawaii
When hiking, remember to always observe. The native species are fascinating, but it is important to be as aware as possible in order to be safe. Always bring water and keep yourself hydrated! Also, be sure to remain on the marked paths for your safety and the safety of the plants and animals that reside there. Regardless of which type of hike is up your alley, keep an open mind, a cautious nature and have fun. With so much to see and appreciate, we are lucky to have magical places like Hawaii.