Hiking In Hawaii
The Best Big Island Hikes
The Big Island provides some of the best hiking in Hawaii. Excellent trails can be found all across the island. Wherever you wish to explore, there’s a good chance there is a wonderful Big Island Hawaii hike in the area.
Some of our favorites are listed below:
- Waipio Valley
Twenty minutes west of the north coast community of Honoka’a is the Waipio Valley overlook. The overlook has another spectacular view, and without four wheel drive you’ll be on foot from here to the valley floor, where some excellent Hawaii hiking really begins. Restrooms are available at the overlook.
- Pololu Valley
The Pololu Valley overlook is gorgeous, worth the drive even if you don’t hike. It offers a splendid view of the raw coastline on the north side of the Big Island. To get to the trailhead, from Hawi drive about twenty minutes east on Highway 270 until the road ends at the overlook.
- Ala Kahakai Trail
Coastal hiking in Hawaii offers widely varying terrain and spectacular ocean views. It’s possible to hike along the entire west coast of the Big Island along the Ala Kahakai coastal trail.
- Kiholo Bay
This glorious area offers stunning ocean vistas, dramatic scenery, sea turtles and delightful swimming. One of our favorite spots on the Big Island, it’s really more of a stroll than a hike and well worth the effort. Located 18 miles north of Kona off of Highway 19.
- Makalawena Beach
Rather than dealing with the treacherous lava road that gets you close enough to walk twenty minutes to Makalawena Beach, we prefer a nice hike of under two miles each way, accessed from the north between the 88 and 89 mile markers on Highway 11.
- Captain Cook Monument
You don’t have to rent a boat or join a snorkel tour to get to Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay! We enjoy the trail from the top of Napo’opo'o Road. Roughly four miles (6.5k) roundtrip, this is a very scenic hike with a rewarding swim/snorkel at the end.
- Honomalino Bay
This easy hike leads to a remote and scenic white and black sand beach, 30 miles south of Kailua-Kona. It is often deserted, has nice swimming when calm, and is backed by a large grove of coconut trees.
- Green Sand Beach
Our favorite south island hike starts at South Point and meanders across dusty pastureland along the coast to Green Sand Beach, one of the most unique beaches anywhere in the world.
- Kilauea Iki
In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you won’t want to miss an opportunity to enjoy all the splendor of Kilauea Iki. This magical four mile loop snakes through an abundant and lush rainforest canopy before crossing the crater floor.
What to bring when hiking in Hawaii
Before you start hiking in Hawaii remember to always bring a daypack with plenty of water and sunscreen. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes ahead of your hike. Most Big Island hikes are in areas with a lot of exposure and little shade, and you won’t find drinkable water along the way. Don't forget lunch or a snack too.
Insect repellent is always a good idea. Some people don't get bit, while others, well, don't say we didn't warn you. We like to also carry a headlamp, just in case our exploring gets the better of us and we stay out after dark!
Be sure to bring comfortable shoes. Many people hike only in sandals. More substantial hiking shoes are probably a good idea for some of the longer hikes and walking across a'a lava. Other clothing is optional; you can get by with shorts and a t-shirt almost anywhere you travel on the Big Island.
And don't forget your camera!
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