4 Easy Non-Touristy Honolulu Adventures
I get a lot of questions about the places I’ve hiked on O’ahu mostly relating to locals trying to find new trails or visitors looking for ideas while they’re on the island. If you are looking for ideas to do in the Honolulu area that don’t necessarily mean you need a rental car then here’s a list of four trails I wish I would have known about if I wasn’t familiar with O’ahu.
Kuli’ou’ou Ridge is a state trail on the southeast side of O’ahu that makes a perfect sunrise or day hike. You’ll get views of Waimanalo, Makapu’u, Kaneohe, and Koko Crater. I recommend this on a bright sunny day because the hike is mostly shaded, or starting early to catch a good sunrise. Either way this is a well trafficked 4 mile round trip trail that won’t take all day.
Hawaii Loa Ridge
Not as far east as Kuli’ou’ou, Hawaii Loa Ridge trail is another state trail that will take you to the summit of O’ahu’s Ko’olau Mountain Range. Of the ridge trails on southeast O’ahu this one is definitely the longer harder one but nothing to overlook or something the average hiker can’t do. In comparison it is much easier than Mount Olomana. Being a state sanctioned trail it is very well trafficked all the way to the summit. The trailhead is located in a private neighborhood, and because of this you won’t be able to hike this for sunrise or past sunset. Day hiking this beautiful ridge will give you incredible views of O’ahu’s east side on a clear day.
Koko Crater (Koko Head)
While this is probably second for being well-known compared to Diamond Head, you will find a lot less tourists here in comparison. Locals primarily use Koko Crater as quick workout trail on O’ahu’s southeast side. The reason why Koko Crater is much less popular is because of it’s location away from Waikiki, but even more so it’s difficulty. Standing at the bottom it looks as if the summit is so close, but this half mile roughly 1,000 foot elevation gain will put your legs and cardio to the test. Koko Crater is an awesome hike for sunrise and sunset, but it is definitely smart to avoid the midday heat on this trail. The best of the best can complete this trail in under 10 minutes while the averages are somewhere between 15 - 30 minutes. Bring your running shoes and see where you stand!
Hanauma Bay Rock Bridge
Most tourists want to go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay because it is recommended in many Google searches and at the resorts in Waikiki, but here is a better adventure just around the corner. First of all skip Hanauma Bay all together. There’s better less crowded beaches and better diving you don’t have to pay for on other parts of the island. You need to be aware that going to the rock bridge is trespassing, but you should be okay for a couple hour adventure. Park on Nawiliwili Street then walk toward Kalaniana’ole Highway and take a right. You will pass two drive ways and right on the other side of the second you should see a trail leading you through some grass up a hill. When you reach a road walk uphill until you’re at the very far side of the beach. This part might be vague, but look for little trails leading through the grass heading downhill on the left. If you’re confused just use satellite on your maps app to find your way all the way out to the furthest point of the bay. The bridge can be hard to see unless you’re looking at it from the right angle. DON’T stand on it unless it is the calmest of days and even then be careful. If you slip or get washed off you first of all risk getting smashed into the rocks below as well as drowning. The closest safest place to get out of the water down there would be Hanauma Bay Beach which is very far. Most days the swell is extremely rough and dangerous. Please don’t take this advice lightly. You could put yourself and others in your group in danger if someone has to jump in after you. Going back the hike is nothing more than retracing your steps, and a lot of uphill. You’ll see what I mean.
If you’re looking for other Honolulu trails that I didn’t include on this list I have also written more detailed blogs on the Pali Notches and Lulumahu Falls that might interest you. If you are looking for something more adventurous Pu’u Manamana, and Mount Olomana are favorites among hikers that I have also written about. Koloa Gulch which was one of my first posts has some of my favorite waterfalls on O’ahu. This is a detailed blog that will help you find a couple of waterfalls where you will rarely find other hikers. For any other trails or Hawai’i related adventures you can search my page under the category “Hawaii Adventures” as I am always continuously adding more.
All hikes in Hawai'i are extremely dangerous and require caution when attempting. Hawai'i is known for hot humid weather, steep dramatic cliffs, and flash floods which can occur at anytime. It is important that you check the local weather, and understand the physical condition of your entire group before attempting any hike. All being said, this blog is for information purposes only and I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INJURY, LOST INDIVIDUALS, OR LEGAL TROUBLE ENCOUNTERED WHILE FOLLOWING THE INFORMATION POSTED HERE.