Hawai’i is known for it’s white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters, but just as iconic are the steep, ancient volcanic mountains serving as a backdrop to it all. What would Oahu be without the Ko’olau Range? Standing tall in the backdrop of a dreamy island beach.
Even better than gazing upon these sublime mountains from afar, hitting the trail and experiencing the view from the top is an experience worth working towards.
Hawai’i is blessed with an abundance of amazing hikes. To help you choose, I’m giving you 10 of the best Mountain View Hikes in Hawai’i.
- 1 Pololu Valley to Honokane Nui (Hawai’i Island)
- 2 Koloiki Ridge Trail (Lana’i)
- 3 Na Pali Coast/Kalalau Trail (Kauai)
- 4 Nounou/Sleeping Giant (Kauai)
- 5 Olomana Three Peaks Trail (Oahu)
- 6 Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail (Oahu)
- 7 Leleiwi Overlook Trail (Maui)
- 8 Kuilau Ridge Trail (Kauai)
- 9 Humu’ula Trail (Hawai’i Island)
- 10 Waihee Ridge Trail (Maui)
Pololu Valley to Honokane Nui (Hawai’i Island)
Located on the flanks of the oldest mountain on Hawai’i Island, where the Kohala Mountain meets the sea, is a series of valleys that have been cut into the mountain in an awe inspiring formation. Pololu and Honokane Nui are just two of seven valleys.
Once you arrive at the overlook, you know that you are in a special place. The view is breathtaking! It feels as if the gods put extra special thought into this part of the island.
The hike leads from the overlook down a switchback trail to the valley floor, which is roughly a mile. Once down you can explore the beach, but be sure to meet up on the opposite side to ascend the valley wall opposite to the one you came down in. Here you’ll get more amazing views from a different perspective.
At the top it will open up again to an old growth rain forest with views (on a clear day) of the Kohala Mountains. After about a mile you reach the overlook of the next valley, Honokane Nui. The view here is spectacular!
You can continue down into the valley down ropes and narrow cliffside trails or head back to Pololu Valley and back out again. This hike in the Kohala Mountains is an experience that will stay with you and is worth every step.
Koloiki Ridge Trail (Lana’i)
Not many people make it out to the Island of Lana’i, but if you happen to be one of them, then you have to check out the Koloiki Ridge Trail. This trail offers an easy hike with little elevation gain that runs through old growth native forest before opening up to expansive views of the island of Maui and Moloka’i across the channel.
This trail starts off as the Munro trail which will take you 7 miles all the way up to Lanai’s highest peak named Lanaihale. This is the only spot in all of Hawai’i that you can see 5 of the other major Hawaiian islands from one spot.
However, if you are not looking for such a long hike on this tiny island, you can branch off onto the Koloiki Ridge trail that will lead you to a vista with expansive views that are well worth the effort.
Na Pali Coast/Kalalau Trail (Kauai)
If there is any hike that should be on your bucket list, it is this one. The Kalalau trails runs along the north shore of Kauai known as the Na Pali Coast. It is known for its razor sharp cliffs rising thousands of feet high, for its beautiful white sand beaches and its amazing waterfalls.
This trail hugs the coastline more than the mountains, but the mountain views that are on offer are what put this trail on the list. It runs for over 14 miles, bringing you to secluded beaches, magical valleys, and hidden waterfalls.
Be warned however, this trail can get pretty muddy, and I mean MUDDY. I hiked it once and was slipping and sliding the whole way. In fact, I ended up doing the trail barefoot! It was easier getting through the mud that way than by wearing shoes.
Nounou/Sleeping Giant (Kauai)
Towering over the small town of Wailua is the small mountain of Nounou or sleeping giant. It’s easy to see how the mountain got its name.
Legend has it that a giant used to grace this area. He helped the people farm and build a great heiau. In return the people held a feast in his honor. The giant ate so much that he laid down for a rest and has yet to wake up.
This 2 mile trail will lead you through guava and ironwood forest up to a viewpoint that will take your breath away. The island of Kauai is a truly magical place that will be revealed to you upon ascending the peak of this small mountain.
Olomana Three Peaks Trail (Oahu)
This trail located outside on Kailua on Oahu’s eastside is known for it’s 3 peaks. The first of the 3 requires a steep 1.5 mile climb up with drop offs on either side that will have you feeling as if you are walking a tightrope.
The second peak is easier to get to and offers some of the best views of the 3. The last of these mountain peaks is best left to advanced mountaineers. In total, it’s almost 4 miles of breathtaking beauty.
Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail (Oahu)
This trail on the east side of Oahu is one of the tops on an island with many top trails. A moderate 4.4 mile hike with a steady incline, it’s not for the faint of heart. You will take switchbacks, stairs, climb up steep rocky parts to get to the top, but once at the peak you can get views of Koko Head, Waimanalo and Mokulua Islands.
Not many visitors to Oahu ever get the chance to explore trails like this one, don’t be one of those to miss out.
Leleiwi Overlook Trail (Maui)
Located at the top of Maui’s tallest mountain, Haleakala, the Leleiwi trail is an easy 0.3 mile trail that the whole family can take. It offers up some amazing vistas showing off the grandeur of Haleakala.
Best time to do this trail is in the early morning when the sun is just rising. The lighting and colors are out of this world. It can be cold when you are over 10,000’ up in Hawai’i, so be sure to wear some warm weather gear for this hike.
Kuilau Ridge Trail (Kauai)
The great thing about this trail is that it gives you a mountain hike without having to climb a mountain. The trailhead starts at the summit. The Kuilau Ridge trail is an easy 4.4 mile hike that will take you through some lush landscape while giving you views of Mount Wai’ale’ale and the Na Pali coast below.
The landscape around here is so beautiful that it will be easy to understand why Kauai is nicknamed the garden isle.
Humu’ula Trail (Hawai’i Island)
This is the hardest trail on the list, taking you up over 5000’ across 11 miles of terrain on the slopes of Mauna Kea, Hawai’i’s tallest mountain.
Wind, snow and elevation can be an issue on this trail since the peak is above the 13,000’ level. Much of this trail involves a difficult hike across lava scree in order to make it to the top, but once there you are rewarded with an amazing view of Hawai’i’s largest island.
Waihee Ridge Trail (Maui)
One of the top ridge trails in Maui, the Waihee Ridge trail does not disappoint. The hike is in the West Maui mountains known as Mauna Kahalawai. This trail is on the wet side of the island so the trail can get muddy. Best thing to check the weather and pick a time to do the hike when the weather has been dry for a period of time.
The first quarter mile is a tough one, climbing a steep section of the trail before it levels off a bit again. However, the trail has almost 1500’ of elevation gain so be ready to get your heart pumping.
At the top of the trail you’ll come to a beautiful overlook that offers views of Maui and Molokai on a clear day. As with the rest of the hikes on this list, the beauty of this trail will stay etched in your memories forever.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these hikes in Hawai’i. Our only real suggestion is to make sure you take the opportunity to see all the unique views and experiences that Hawai’i’s nature has to offer.
You don’t really need a hiking guide for any of the hikes on this list, just make sure to do your research so you’re prepared for your hike.
I hope to see you out on the trail!