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Top 5 Kid-Friendly Oahu Hikes

a large waterfall over some water

Hawaii has more to offer than beautiful beaches. Thanks to ancient volcanic activity dating back more than 40 million years, Oahu boasts some incredible mountain ranges that make hiking a must-do activity among locals and visitors alike. The options are endless – some trails will take you into lush jungles and cascading waterfalls, and others will bring you along coastal paths with expansive views of the sea. There are short, easy hikes that offer incredible landscapes and can be completed in less than an hour, and expert hikes that involve high elevations, technical trails, and lengthy distances. For those traveling with keiki (“children”) and looking for a family-friendly excursion, we’ve put together a list of kid-approved hikes that are perfect for exploring with your little adventurers. 

Manoa Falls Trail: 

Total Distance: 1.6 miles out-and-back

Why we love it: this classic hike is well-shaded, well-maintained, and leads to an incredible 100-ft waterfall! The trail was renovated in 2021 and now features a gravel path and interpretive signage with information about the tropical flora and fauna you’ll encounter along the way. 

Things to know: Since this is only a 10-15 minute drive from bustling Waikiki it can be crowded, so it’s best to go on weekdays. And, although the trail was recently upgraded, some parts can get muddy after heavy rain so be sure to wear appropriate footwear. There is a $5 parking fee per car. 

a large waterfall over some water in Manoa Oahu

Manoa Falls


Diamond Head Crater Trail: 

Total Distance: 1.5 mile loop

Why we love it: Diamond Head is one of Hawaii’s most recognizable landscapes and the most popular hike on Oahu, with more than 1 million hikers annually. You’ll drive into the crater to begin the hike, then take a zig-zagging cement path to a historic military bunker situated on the rim. At the top, you’ll be blown away by the post-card-perfect views of Waikiki and the southern coastline. They now offer enriching self-guided audio tours that share the history, legends, culture, geography, and ecology that make this monument so special. 

Things to know: To ease crowds, reservations are now required so you’ll need to plan in advanced. There is a $5 entry fee per person (Children under 3 are free) and a $10 fee to park. No fees or reservations are required for Hawaii residents with proper identification. This hike is a bit steeper than Manoa Falls and more exposed, so be sure to factor in your kids’ fitness and energy levels.

Diamond Head crater hiking trail

Diamond Head Crater


Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens

Total Distance: Trails vary. The popular Botanical Garden Trail is 2.0 miles round trip. 

Why we love it: Ho’omaluhia translates to “peaceful refuge” and that is exactly what you can expect to find at this 400-acre botanical sanctuary surrounded by the vast Ko’olau mountains. The gardens feature local flora as well as plantings from tropical regions around the world. Swans and ducks flock to the serene reservoir and visitors enjoy several different trails, cozy picnic spots, and catch-and-release fishing. 

Things to know: There is no cost to enter the gardens, which are open to the public from 9am – 4pm daily. There’s a visitor center, plenty of amenities like bathrooms and benches,  and even walking tours offered on the weekends! 

botanical gardens against the mountains in kaneohe hawaii

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens (photo:


Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

Total Distance: 2.5 miles out-and-back

Why we love it: This completely paved trail will treat you to panoramic views of the southeastern coastline. Expect a moderate incline to the top of the trail, with about 500 ft of elevation gain. There are several lookout spots along the way, rewarding hikers with views of Molokai and Lanai on clear days and show-stopping whale breaches in winter months (bring binoculars!). Look below to crystal-clear tidepools, and above to recreational paragliders flying over the shores. 

Things to know: Makapu’u is sunny and exposed so bring a hat, plenty of water and sunscreen, and aim to get there closer to sunrise or sunset for the coolest temperatures. Free parking is available from 7am – 7:45pm, but can fill up quickly on busy days. 

makapuu lighthouse hike in oahu, hawaii

Makapu’u Lighthouse

Aiea Loop Trail

Total Distance: 4.8 mile loop

Why we love it: While this is one of the longer hikes on this list, it is beautifully shaded, well-maintained and relatively flat, making it another great choice for a family outing. You’ll walk by native ohia, koa and eucalyptus trees, mossy logs and tall ferns in this lush jungle setting. Enjoy glimpses of the Waianae Mountain Range and Halawa Valley along the way!

Things to know: Aiea Loop starts at Keaiwa Heiau State Park, which is open 7am – 6:45pm year round and charges no fee. The trail is not paved, so be cautious of roots and mud. Due to the distance, some visitors opt to bring hiking carrier backpacks for when their little ones need a break. 

Bonus: After a day of hiking adventures, kick back, relax, and take in the views on a catamaran sunset sail up the Waianae coast. Only about 30 minutes from the Aiea Loop Trail, Ko Olina Ocean Adventures offers sunset sails daily! Look for marine life and enjoy complimentary appetizers and beverages as you watch the sky turn cotton candy colors until the sun goes down. 

road traveling through a mountain range in hawaii

Lookout point at Aiea Loop Trail