When most people think of Hawaii, they envision relaxing on a pristine beach beside azure waters. But the Big Island has much more to offer than just beaches. For a little more adventure in your visit, check out Hawaii’s best hiking trails.
Akaka Falls Loop
On one short hike on the Akaka Falls Loop trail you can see both the beautiful Kahuna and Akaka Falls. The trail passes through lush foliage of ferns, orchids, and other rainforest vegetation. First you see the 100-foot tall Kahuna Falls then around the bend is Akaka Falls, which is regarded as Hawaii’s most scenic waterfall, plummeting from 442 feet. One of the shortest of Hawaii hiking trails, it is .4 miles and easy difficulty level.
The Ala Kahakai Trail can be accessed from the Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area. Called one of the best beaches in the world, Hapuna Beach is a great area for all ages, but if hiking is more your interest, hike the trail. The trail follows the coast along trails used by native Hawaiians. It passes by some of the most pristine beaches and numerous bodies of water through public and private land. The hike is 15.4 miles round trip and moderate difficulty level.
Hike down through lush rain forest to Kīlauea Iki Crater lava lake. The vent erupted in 1959 shooting lava 1,900 feet in the air. Steam can still be seen coming from cracks in the earth, and some rocks can still be warm to the touch. The trail follows the northern rim and then descends into the crater. The descent and ascent are steep and rocky. The trail is 2.4 miles and moderate difficulty.
Manukā Nature Trail
The Manukā Nature Trail is part of the Manukā Natural Area Reserve. The trail allows you to experience a variety of Hawaiian natural history with lava flows, cultural sites, and native species of plants and animals. The trail is 2 miles round trip and moderate difficulty.
Papakolea Beach (Green Sand Beach)
Made green by the mineral olivine, Papakolea Beach is one of the only two green sand beaches in the world. Because of the remoteness of the beach, hikers often have most of the beach to themselves if they arrive early. Papakolea is near what is informally known as “South Point” peninsula, which is the southernmost point in the U.S. The hike is 5 miles round trip and is a fairly easy difficulty level.
Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has many hiking trails, and the hike to Thurston Lava Tube is among the easiest. The trail through a thick fern forest leads to a 500-ft lava tube, once filled with molten lava. The tube was created by a large eruption of Kilauea volcano 550 years ago. When the lava drained away, the huge tube (up to 20 feet tall in places) was left behind. The tube interior is illuminated during the day but bring flashlights to explore at night.
Waipio Valley is known as the “Valley of the Kings” because it was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I. Hike down 800 feet into the lush tropical Waipio Valley. The trail passes a scenic black sand beach with views of two waterfalls. The hike is 6.5 miles round trip and medium difficulty level.
Take the time to visit Hawaii hiking trails. Get some exercise while enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.