Beginner’s Guide to Hiking Hawaii’s Scenic Trails

Hawaii is home to some amazing scenic hikes and while not all of them are easy, this trail guide will take you to the easiest and most beginner-friendly lookout points.

Venturing outdoors in Hawaii for viewing pleasure is one of the most rewarding experiences. Travelers eager to witness the natural beauty of vast oceans, lush rainforest, and majestic mountain views can pack their bags and head to Hawaii’s incredible hiking trails. The best part is that Hawaii has hikes suitable for all fitness levels, beginners and experts alike.

Let’s start easy with the best hiking trails in Hawaii for beginners. Travelers who want to experience the beauty of Hawaii without risking their lives on strenuous hikes can check out these easy hiking trails across the island. Whether we talk about the user-friendliness of these hikes or the beauty of the landscapes, everything makes them suitable for beginners. So take advantage and take some Instagram worthy photos to brag about in your social media accounts.


Start Slow: Diamond Head Summit Trail

This is a 1.6 mile round trip trail that is also one of the most popular hiking trails in Oahu, Hawaii. Depending on pace and experience, Diamond Head Summit Trail can be moderate or easy. It takes around 2 hours and offers some of life’s best hiking experiences.

The trail opens at 6am for hikers. Therefore, it is suggested to start the day a bit earlier to spend the whole day without fuss. Whatever time the traveler is heading, be sure to bring plenty of water as mid-day gets hot and the hike could impact thirst. The last time for access to the hiking trail is at 4:30 p.m. So, make your plans accordingly. The doors are locked at 6 p.m.


While parts of this uphill path are paved, some sections have concrete which can make the footing less stable. So, take steady steps and walk carefully. The path was first constructed in 1908, approximately 500 feet inside the extinct crater. It ends at the top. Travelers have the choice of taking the outside path from the roundabout that leads to the top or taking an enclosed concrete staircase.

On a clear day, a hiker can take in Oahu’s beautiful south shore, from the Waianae Mountains to Koko Head Crater and Waikiki.

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Iao Needle State Monument

Families traveling with kids looking to give the kids their first hiking experiences can head to Iao Needle State Monument located near Wailuku, Maui. This is an easy and short 0.4 mile paved loop trail that provides a satisfying experience for all children, seniors, and professional hikers. The reason behind this is a number of achievable activities, great photo spots and spectacular tours.

The entire Iao Needle State Monument trail is well maintained. Hikers will find stairs up to a lookout at the end. Once reached, hikers can enjoy the breathtaking views that Iao Needle offers. From the river and the mountain to the surrounding forest with lush flora and fauna, there is everything hikers look forward to on a hike.


The trail is only 20 minutes long, making it stress-free for beginners and hikers with their little buds. It is open for tourists from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., which leaves plenty of time to plan and hike.

Mahaulepu Heritage Trail

With no time restrictions and free parking at Shipwreck Beach, the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail offers a memorable hiking experience for beginners. Hikers can find several parallel interconnecting flat trails along Kauai’s south coast. It’s about 4 miles round trip with great views.

Hikers can enjoy scenic coastal cliffs, gushing tidal pools and oceans as well as dunes and verdant mountains. The most exciting part of this breathtaking hike is that hikers can spot sea turtles and monk seals. Lucky hikers may also spot whales if they hike during the winter season.


Hikers can head from Shipwreck Beach along Keonelao Bay to beautiful Mahaulepu Beach to begin the hike. It is approximately 3.7 miles round trip. Or, they can also continue to Kawelikoa Bay which is around 9 km round trip.

Once travelers are at Makauwahi Beach, it is recommended not to miss visiting Makauwahi Cave Reserve. It is an impressive prehistoric cave located south of Kawelikoa Bay and Gillin Beach. It is open to the public, where visitors can witness the architectural grandeur of prehistoric caves.

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Pololu Valley

The hike in the Pololu Valley can take around 45-60 minutes, depending on the pace of the hiker. This is not an uphill trail, but a simple 0.9 mile loop that takes hikers to a mesmerizing black sand beach. Hikers can enjoy the view of the beautiful Hamakua coastline.

Hikers can follow the rocky path through the northern wall of the valley. Walking through ironwood trees and sand dunes will lead them to Pololu Beach. Here, a beautiful shoreline with smooth lava rocks and black sand will make the hike interesting. It is one of the most interesting hiking trails for beginners which offers them more than expected.


There is no time restriction, but daylight hiking is considered safe, especially for beginners. The hike can become dangerous during the rainy season as the hike becomes muddy and slippery. Thus, it is recommended to avoid trekking during rains to circumvent accidental uncertainties.

Hawaii has many more interesting trails for trekking enthusiasts. However, these are best for those who are just starting their backpacking journey or have never experienced it. This will give them the best hiking memories and make them learn and prepare for more challenging hikes.

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