Long before your favorite resorts and restaurants in Hawaii existed, the natural beauty of the islands called people to explore its forests, heights, and history. Today, hiking trails allow you to explore more of Hawaii than ever before – and many, especially on Oahu, are great fits for children and parents.
Here are our five picks for kid-friendly hikes on Oahu, complete with trail details and a packing list for you and your young explorers.
What to Know Before Hiking in Oahu
- Go Early: Oahu’s hiking trails can be busy, hot, and tough to find parking for
- Call Ahead: Find out weather and trail conditions before heading out with your family
- Be Prepared: Check the clothing and packing lists below to have a safe, comfortable outing
- Protect Belongings: Don’t leave valuables in your car and have a backpack that is comfortable and secure while hiking
- Follow Rules: Stay on the trail, and avoid taking risks for photo ops or thrill-seeking
- Leave No Trace: Stow trash in backpacks, plan restroom trips and leave the trail better than you found it
- KNOW YOUR LIMITS: That includes your family. Though these hikes are some of the more “family-friendly” hikes on Oahu, they can still be challenging and require physical endurance. Please, know your limits.
Where to Hike on Oahu
1. Waimea Falls
Located on the North Shore of Oahu, this all-ages trail takes you through lush gardens and historical sites before revealing a spectacular 30-ft waterfall and swimming area. The entirely paved trail is perfect for strollers, and its gradual slope, numerous benches, and shuttle service allow for rest and snack breaks.
Owned by a Native Hawaiian governing entity, the valley is steeped in history. Featuring cultural presentations and displays from local artisans during the day. And when you reach the waterfall, lifeguards and life jackets make swimming safe for kids and adults alike.
Keep in mind that rainfall can drastically change swimming conditions, so call ahead if you plan to take a dip, and bring swimsuits and towels – there are changing rooms at the falls. With easy access to snacks, drinks, and restrooms, Waimea Falls is among the easiest, most accommodating hikes on Oahu.
Know Before You Go
- Paved: Yes
- Length: 1.9 mile roundtrip
- Price: $20 adults, $12 kids 4-12, $16 Seniors/Students
- Location: North Shore
- Stroller-friendly: Yes
- Handicap Accessible: Yes
- Elevation Change: 272 ft
- Hours: Tues-Sun 9am-4pm
2. Manoa Falls Trail
Another waterfall hike awaits outside Honolulu, where Manoa Falls offers a more rugged journey through shaded rainforest terrain. Beginning with breathtaking views of the Manoa Valley, the 1.7-mile unpaved trail passes through bamboo groves and diverse vegetation, including the Lyon Arboretum, home to over 5,000 plant species.
You’ll want sturdy shoes or boots, and consider hiking poles – rainfall can make the path slippery in spots – and baby carriers are recommended! The shade and wet, humid air attract mosquitos, so repellant spray or wipes also come in handy. Know your limits. This is an easier hike, good for families with older kids, but can be very wet and slippery. If in doubt, don’t go out.
June 5, 2021 – Reopening Update
The popular trail was originally closed in July 2019 for the installation of a rockfall hazard mitigation fence next to the falls. During the closure, Nā Ala Hele also installed some long overdue trail safety improvements.
The trail improvements include trail widening for safe two-way traffic, the trail bed resurfacing, new steps, trailside plantings, and erosion and water runoff control measures. New rest areas with benches and interpretive signs were also installed to allow hikers an opportunity to learn about the beautiful rain forest watershed.
“It’s really about safety,” said Aaron Lowe, Oahu Trails and Access Specialist for the Nā Ala Hele Program. “Before the COVID pandemic, the Manoa Falls trail attracted 700 to 1,000 people a day. In a lush valley that gets 160 to 170 inches of rain a year, the trail was an eroding, slippery, muddy mess. After a lot of work during this extended closure, we are very happy to reopen safer trail just in time for National Trails Day that is also better for the watershed.”
Source: khon2 news
The massive, 150-ft Manoa Falls is best seen a day or two after heavy rainfall. Although swimming is off-limits due to the risk of leptospirosis, the waterfall alone is worth the trek.
Helpful Tip: use the restroom at the trailhead before you set out, and pack diapers, wipes, and a wet bag for infants. At the end of your hike, stop by the Rainbow’s End Snack Shop for refreshments after your adventure – and use the hose in the parking lot to clean off before loading up the car!
Know Before You Go
- Paved: No
- Length: 1.7 mile roundtrip
- Price: $5 parking (doublecheck)
- Location: Manoa Valley
- Stroller-friendly: No
- Handicap Accessible: No
- Elevation Change: 633 ft
- Status: Reopens June 5th, 2021
- Hours: Sunup to Sundown; don’t hike after 5:30 pm
3. Diamond Head (Le’ahi) Summit Trail
How about a hike up to the edge of a volcano? It’s okay, it’ll only ever erupt once – and that was 300,000 years ago. Situated on the east end of the Waikiki coast, Diamond Head is Hawaii’s most recognized natural landmark nestled in the Aloha State’s most popular State Park.
This moderate trail cuts through 350 acres filled with wide-spanning views of inland Oahu, Waikiki Beach, and the deep blue Pacific. Among the best places to take in those views are from two pillboxes, built in 1908 and refitted after WWII. Families often rest and sit atop the pillboxes – just be mindful of high winds and the sun! Diamond Head’s trail will take some planning: little shade makes for a hot hike, so bring along hats and reef-safe sunscreen. This is another hike that may be on the tougher side for younger kids.
Like Manoa Falls, the only restroom sits at the trailhead. And the hike includes 173 steps, which can be especially tiring for young ones. Thankfully, a gift shop and refreshing treats offer shade and refreshment after a steep but stellar hike.
Know Before You Go
- Paved: Partially
- Length: 1.6 mi roundtrip
- Price: $5 Entrance Fee per person, plus $10 Parking per vehicle
- Location: Diamond Head Crater
- Stroller-Friendly: No
- Handicap Accessible: No
- Elevation Change: 452 ft
- Status: Open
- Hours: Daily 6am-6pm, Last entrance is at 4:30pm; gates lock at 6pm
4. Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail
With unparalleled views of Oahu’s southeastern coastline, Makapu’u’s paved trail allows for strollers, and its constant uphill incline also offers a nice workout. It’s well worth it: you’ll see Sandy Beach and Koko Head Crater as you set off, and you’ll spot glistening tidepools during the 500-foot ascent. With little shade, and no drinking water available, sunscreen and CamelBaks are your best friends.
Try to tackle this hike between November and May, when hundreds of migrating humpback whales can be seen offshore. Invest in good binoculars! The lighthouse along this trail is closed to the public, but the lookout at the summit actually overlooks the lighthouse and is perfect for whale watching and taking in the beautiful vistas of Oahu.
Know Before You Go
- Paved: Yes
- Length: 2.5 mi roundtrip
- Price: Free
- Location: Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline
- Stroller-Friendly: Yes
- Handicap Accessible: Yes
- Elevation Change: 505 ft
- Status: Open
- Hours: 7am-6:45pm
5. Kaiwa Ridge (Lanikai Pillbox) Trail
On the northeastern edge of Oahu sits one of the best sunrise/sunset hikes of your life. With two pillboxes to discover along the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, this is a short, yet moderate hike that begins with a steep ascent aided by ropes to help your family traverse the first 100 yards, however, there are no guardrails.
Beyond that, the climb is gradual, leading to the first pillbox and ending at the second. Sunrise and sunset are ideal times to venture out, but you can take in the nearby beaches and islands any time of day. To make the most of this hike, go early in the day to beat the crowds, and the rush for the (very) limited parking. Restrooms and water sources aren’t on the trail making the restrooms at nearby Kailua Beach extremely helpful.
Along the way, you may see hikers climbing on boulders or walking the trail beyond the second pillbox, but resist the urge to stray; boulders roll, and the path after pillbox 2 is actually private property. That said, there’s plenty to see and enjoy on this popular trail that sees nearly 1,400 visitors per day.
Know Before You Go
- Paved: No
- Length: 1.8 mi roundtrip
- Price: Free
- Location: Kaiwa Ridge Trail
- Stroller-Friendly: No
- Handicap Accessible: No
- Elevation Change: 649 ft
- Status: Open
- Hours: 6am-8pm
Have fun on these five beautiful, sun-soaked trails! For outdoor adventures in Hawaii, always strive to leave no trace, and stick to Covid-19 guidelines outlined in the trail/park website links above. Now that you know where to go…what should you bring?
What To Bring For Hiking In Oahu
- Light, comfy clothes
- Hats for shade
- Swimsuits and towels for waterfall hikes
- Comfy, sturdy walking shoes (or hiking boots for unpaved, steep, muddy trails)
- Foldable/compact backpack
- Reef-Safe Sunscreen – lotion is better than an aerosol spray and carry-on friendly
- Water: Camelbak, Water Bottles
- Mosquito Repellent – spray or wipes
- Light, healthy, filling snacks
- Phone/camera and memory card
- Flashlight – for sunrise hikes
- First Aid Kit
- Hand Sanitizer
- Band-Aids and Neosporin
- Wet Wipes
- Rechargeable Handheld Fan
- Ziplock Bags for trash
- Collapsible Hiking Poles
- Breathable Baby Carrier
- Wet Wipes
- Wet Bag
Travel Pono (responsibly)
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Bryan Murphy 0:00
So you finally got the family to Oahu. And you're ready to go out on a hike to truly explore the beauty of Hawaii. But you have a family now and you don't know which I could choose a whole slew of new questions kind of emerge. You know, where are the restrooms is the hike stroller friendly? Is it sunny? Is it wet? is a both do we pack reef safe sunscreen. Today we are unpacking five Oahu hikes that are kid friendly, what to know what to bring and how to explore Hawaii as a responsible visitor. So let's go. Welcome to
Hawaii's Best 0:37
Hawaii's Best podcast where we help you prepare for your next trip to Hawaii. Discover the experiences businesses and stories that make Hawaii the Aloha state. And now your host, Brian Murphy.
Bryan Murphy 0:51
Hello and welcome to another episode of Hawaii's Best where we help prepare you for your next trip to Hawaii. And I just want to say thank you so much for tuning in today to our podcast. So excited for this one. Before we dive in to the five kid friendly hikes on Oahu that we recommend. Just want to give you a little bit of travel news. Probably the most major news is coming out of Maui County recently, Maui County Mayor Mike victory now announced that the islands post arrival COVID testing program at Gao Louis airport will end on Friday, June Fourth. So at the time of this release, this is releasing on June 3, so basically tomorrow that this post travel COVID testing will end and for those of you who don't know what that is basically Molly put into place. I think it was like a couple months ago for Trans Pacific travelers that were not vaccinated. Now he was doing a secondary testing on site after people would arrive to the airport. So that is ending. That's good news that's ending tomorrow. In a press conference on Tuesday victory no said that decision was made as testing showed low positivity rates amongst travelers. Another big hot topic right now is the vaccine passport. We reported on a previous episode that the vaccine passport is only available for inner Island travelers for those whom have already been vaccinated in Hawaii only. So if you were not vaccinated in Hawaii, this inner Island passport does not apply to you. This is kind of like phase one into this vaccine passport. And if you had been a listener of the show, you know that I spoke with lieutenant governor Josh green on episode 62. And the timeline that he gave us is that more than likely vaccine passports will be available for Trans Pacific travel sometime after July 4. So we'll keep you posted on that. Now the current testing the 72 hours prior to your final departure to Hawaii, that'll still be an option even once the vaccine passport rolls out. And that is still the only option right now if you are traveling from the mainland of the US. So stay tuned by subscribing to the podcast on Apple or clicking the Follow button on Spotify. And we'll be sure to keep you updated on all that good stuff and also take you know 30 seconds and leave an honest review on Apple about the show really appreciate that. Whenever I travel there are a few necessities that I make sure I always bring one as a water purifier. So we don't have to buy water whenever we travel and the other is CBD oil and CBD gummies materias new full spectrum CBD gummies help to curb any travel anxieties that I've had and have helped reduce pain like after a long hike and unlike many gummies out there on the market that use animal products materia gummies are vegan, free of additives, fillers and processed sugar. To try CBD for yourself go to Hawaii's Best travel.com slash CBD and use code Hawaii at checkout for 50% off your first purchase go to Hawaii's Best travel comm slash CBD and use Hawaii at checkout.
Longer for your favorite resorts and restaurants in Hawaii existed the natural beauty of the islands called people to explore its heights and history today hiking trails allow you to explore more of Hawaii than ever before, and many especially on Oahu are great fits for children and parents before you go out hiking, you know anywhere anytime there's just a few things just to be mindful of one of those things is to go early Wahoos hiking trails can be busy, hot and tough to find parking for so be sure to go early. Also call ahead, find out whether in trail conditions before heading out with your family, sometimes some of the trails are closed for renovation, and sometimes due to weather. So just be sure to call even some of the things that we're going to mention some of those clothes periodically. So just be sure to call ahead. And also be prepared, we're gonna talk about a packing list for clothing. So you can, you know, be able to have a safe, comfortable outing. Another thing is protect belongings Be sure not to leave any valuables in your car, keep them out of sight, there are break ins they do happen, they happen everywhere, and you know, so just be aware that and also have a backpack that is comfortable and secure while hiking. Another thing to be reminded of, as you're going out is follow the rules stay on the trail, avoid taking risks for photo ops, thrill seeking, it's, it's it's not worth it, you know, trying to get the shot or trying to explore just beyond the trail a little bit, just you know, that doesn't look too bad, but accidents happen. And resources in Hawaii are limited. So making a decision to head off the trail. And if you get in to trouble, it takes resources away from other emergencies that the first responders need to be responding to. So just be mindful that also leave no trace. So basically, still trash in backpacks, plan restroom trips accordingly and leave the trail better than you found it. Probably the most important thing to know before you head out is simply no your limits and not just your limits, but your family's limits too. Though these hikes are some of the more quote family friendly hikes on Oahu. They can still be challenging and require physical endurance. So please know your limits. Some of these hikes that we're going to talk about are kind of moderate hikes that are probably better for older families, you know, kids who are a little bit older in age. And some of these hikes are, you know, stroller friendly. So maybe for young family so know your limits, know your family's limits. Alright, so now that's all out of the way where to hike on Oahu for kid friendly outings. So the first one we're gonna recommend is Waimea falls. This is located on the North Shore of Oahu and this all ages trail takes you through lush gardens and historical sites before revealing a spectacular 30 foot, waterfall and swimming area. The entirely paved trail is perfect for strollers, and its gradual slope, numerous benches and shuttle service allow for rest in snack breaks. This is probably one of the trails that it gets a lot of traction, it's definitely gets a lot of visitors a lot of tourists. But this is probably one of the most family friendly hikes that we recommend. This Valley is owned by a native Hawaiian governing entity, the valley is steeped in history. So even though if you're going here for a hike, you're going to get a lot of culture and a lot of history. And really that's really at the heart of going Hawaii and experiencing the culture. So this is a great chance to do that. And also get a hike in and get out and see the beauty of Hawaii. When you reach the waterfall. lifeguards and life jackets make swimming safe for kids and adults so but also like I said call ahead and just make sure if you do plan on swimming, that that is open and IT staff with lifeguards. And also keep in mind that rainfall can drastically change swimming conditions. So like I said call ahead before you take a dip and bring swimsuits in the towel. There are changing rooms at the fall. So just be aware of that and with easy access to snacks, drinks and restrooms. Why may a Falls is amongst the easiest and most accommodating hikes on Oahu. And for each hike we're gonna do like a quick note before you go and these are the some of the know before you goes is a paved yes length is 1.9 miles round trip price $20 per adult $12 kids that's four to 12 years of age and $16 for seniors and students location nor short stroller friendly. Yes. handicap accessible yes elevation change, you're looking at only about a 272 foot elevation change in hours as of right now are Tuesday through Sunday 9am to 4pm. And like I said call ahead and make sure all that is up to date. We'll also I'm going to link in the show notes, a blog article that will have all the links to the websites and the locations of these hikes.
Alright number two Manoa falls trail. This is a trail that has been closed for about two years actually. It is set to reopen june fifth the trailer was originally closed for the installation of a rockfall hazard mitigation fence next to the falls also during the closure, long overdue trail safety improvements. Were in stalled. The trail improvements include trail widening for safe two way traffic, the trail bed resurfacing new steps trail side plantings in erosion and water runoff control measures near rest areas with benches and signs were installed to allow hikers in opportunity to learn about the beautiful rain forest watershed. benoa Falls offers a more rugged journey through shade rain forest train, beginning with breathtaking views of Manoa Valley. The 1.7 mile unpaved trail passes through bamboo groves in diverse vegetation home to over 5000 plant species. For this hike you'll definitely want sturdy shoes or hiking boots. hiking poles if you have them rainfall can make the path slippery. The shade and wet humid air attracts mosquitoes so also be aware that you want to make sure you bring some repellent with you. The massive 150 foot Manoa Falls is best seen a day or two after heavy rainfall although swimming is off limits. The water alone is worth the trek. Kind of a helpful tip on this one. Use a restroom at the trailhead before you set out pack diapers wipes in a wet bag for infants and at the end of your height. Be sure to stop at the rainbows in snack shop for refreshments after your hike. Alright Know Before You Go paved no it's not paved length like I mentioned it is 1.7 miles round trip. Price Is $5 parking Be sure to double check on that. location. Manoa Valley stroller friendly no nets, so be sure to do the baby carrier on this one handicap accessible. No elevation changes 633 feet status it reopens like I said on June 5 2021. And ours are sunup to sundown don't hike after 5:30pm would be our recommendation.
All right, number three, probably one of the most popular ones you've heard of diamondhead Lahey summit trail. situated just east of Waikiki diamondhead is Hawaii's most recognizable natural landmark. This moderate trail cuts through 350 acres filled with wide spanning views of inland Oahu, Waikiki Beach, and the Pacific. Among the best places to take in those views are from to pillboxes built in 1908. In refitted after world war two families often find that this is a good spot to rest a top of the pillboxes but just be mindful of high winds and the sun This is a sunny, hot hike. So bring along hats and reef safe sunscreen. This is another hike that may be on the tougher side for your kids. So just know your family's limits on this one. It is almost like full sun so just be aware that the only restroom sits at the trailhead, and the hike includes about 173 steps which can be especially tiring for young ones so be again be mindful that alright here we go. The Know Before You Go paved partially length 1.6 miles round trip price it's $5 entrance fee per person. Plus $10 parking per vehicle location Diamond Head crater, stroller friendly, no handicap accessible, no elevation change 452 feet status It is currently open in hours or daily 6am to 6pm and the last entrance is at 4:30pm gates lock at 6pm. Number four is probably personally my family's favorite hike on Oahu and that is the makapuu Point Lighthouse trail with unparalleled views of ahus Southern eastern coastline. mokopuna paved trail allows for strollers and his constant uphill incline also offers a nice workout. It's well worth it you'll see sandy beach and Koko head crater as you set off, you'll spot glistening tide pools during the 500 foot ascent. Now with little shade This one is like a full sun all the way. So please be mindful that so with little shade, and no drinking water available sunscreen, and camera backs are your best friend on this hike. If he can try to tackle this hike between the months of November and May when hundreds of migrating humpback whales can be seen offshore. So be sure to invest in some good binoculars as well. And also the lighthouse along the trail is closed to the public. So please don't venture off the trail and try to get over there. But the lookout at the summit actually overlooks the lighthouse and is perfect whalewatching and taking in those beautiful VISTAs and taking that beautiful family pic alright the Know Before You Go paved Yes. Length 2.5 miles round trip price. It's free. So location is curvy state scenic shoreline stroller friendly. Yes. handicap accessible. Yes. elevation change 505 feet status open hours is 7am to 6:45pm. All right, number five khiva Ridge trail are also lanikai pillbox hike. On the North Eastern ridge of a wahoo sits one of the best sunrise and sunset hikes that you'll ever experience with two pillboxes to discover along the Cowell Ridge trail. This is a short get moderate hike that begins with these steep ascent, aided by ropes to help your family traverse the first 100 yards or so. However, there are no guardrails. Again, just know your limits on this. And as you get out somewhere, it's okay to turn back around. There's no harm there. You don't have to prove anything. Just turn back around if you feel like this is going to be too extreme one on any hike. Now beyond that the climb is gradual, leading to the first pillbox and ending at the second sunrise and sunset are ideal times to adventure out but you can view the nearby beaches and islands any time of day. any time of the day. It's gonna be a good one. But early in the morning is definitely recommended to make the most of this hike, like you mentioned go up early in the day to beat the crowds in the rush because parking is very limited. And restaurants and water sources aren't on the trail making the restrooms at the nearby Kailua Beach extremely helpful along the way. You may see some hikers climbing on boulders and walking the trail beyond the second pillbox but please don't do that. Resist the urge to stray boulders roll and the path after pillbox two is actually private property so please don't venture out. Pass pillbox to that said there's plenty to see and enjoy on this popular trail that sees about 1400 visitors per day All right, the Know Before You Go pave no length 1.8 miles round trip price it's free location. Kiowa Ridge trail stroller friendly no handicap accessible no elevation change 649 feet status currently open hours 6am to 8pm. All right now here is a quick list of what to bring what to pack for your hikes. And like I mentioned, I'll make all this available in link below to a blog post that will have even more info and this list that you can print out clothes you want like comfy clothes hats for shade, swimsuits and towels if you plan on doing the Waimea falls like comfy sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots for unpaved and steep muddy trails. foldable compact backpack and the packing list within that backpack would be reef safe sunscreen lotion is better than aerosol can and also is carry on friendly water, Camelback or water bottles like stainless steel water bottles, mosquito repellent spray or wipes light and healthy filling snacks, phone camera with plenty memory to take all those pictures and videos. flashlight for sunrise hikes, first aid kit hand sanitizer band aids and neosporin wet wipes, Ziploc bags or trash and whatever else you want to bring on with you. One of the things I definitely do not recommend is bringing like one of those portable Bluetooth speakers that just can ruin an experience for someone who's trying to like take in the nature and beauty of Hawaii. And you know, you're you're bumping like BTS on the way up or something like that. So please be considerate of that. All right. I know that was a lot to take in at one time. But just thank you so much for hanging all the way to the end of our five kid friendly hikes. And to get all the info for this episode go to Hawaii's Best travel.com slash Episode 64. And we'll have this whole blog post there and list ready for you. So be sure to check that out. And again, if you made it this far, I totally appreciate you and your time your valuable time. If you found any value in this episode, please if you're listening on Apple podcast, take 30 seconds, leave a rating and review that would help out the show so much and help people just like you be able to find this conversation about Hawaii. Well again, thank you so much for your time and until next time, be well. Aloha.
Hawaii's Best 19:53
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