Hiking in Hawaii is an unforgettable experience thanks to the diversity in trails you’ll find spread across each Island. In one instant you could be making your way through lush forests to a hidden waterfall, the next you could be walking across lava fields, or cruising down the endless coastline accompanied by breathtaking views. Picking a trail can be overwhelming because there are endless options when it comes to hikes. That said, we decided to narrow down the list and give you our top hiking spots on the Big Island that Waiakea calls home.
The Aka Falls State Park
The Aka Falls State Park sprawls over 65 acres and boasts two waterfalls, the 100 foot Kahuna Falls and the 442 foot Akaka Falls. You reach the waterfalls by taking a short hike along a 0.4 mile paved path that loops through rainforest covered terrain complete with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and draping ferns. Very few of Hawaii’s waterfalls are easily accessible, making the Akaka Falls State Park a must see on your trip. Difficulty: Easy
Na Ala Hele Trail
At only 0.5 miles long, the Na Ala Hele trail in Onomea Bay is a leisurely hiking experience that begins with a scenic drive to the trailhead. As you descend 600 feet you'll see a small river and quickly reach a scenic promontory in Onomea Bay. This spot is particularly photogenic as it gives you spectacular 180 degree view of cliffs, the ocean and portions of the Hāmākua Coast. Difficulty: Easy
On the northern tip of the Big Island is the incredibly scenic Pololu Valley. This 2.5 mile round-trip hike is on the shorter side but quite steep. Hikers will make their way down a cliff that is covered in tropical plants to a rugged black sand beach where you can take a refreshing swim. Difficulty: Easy-Medium
On the Big Island’s southernmost point you will find the green sand Papakolea Beach, one of only two green sand beaches in the world. The sand gets its unique color from the mineral olivine that is found in the volcanic cinder cone close by. After 2.5 miles, you’ll reach the beach itself which is a small bay surrounded by rocky cliffs. The only downside is that the surf at Papakolea Beach is quite strong and swimming is not advised. Difficulty: Medium
Along the Kona Coast you’ll find Makalawena Beach, said to be the most beautiful beach on the Big Island with its gorgeous white sand, crystal blue water, and clusters of palm trees. There are two trails you can take depending on whether you are coming from the north or the so
uth that differ in length. From the north, it’s a 4 mile round-trip while its only 2.2 miles from the south. Difficulty: Medium
Kilauea Iki Trail
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. The park has a variety of hikes that range in length and intensity but the most popular is the Kilauea Iki Trail. It’s a 4 mile loop through the Kilauea Iki crater that was created by a massive eruption back in 1959. The trail takes hikers on a 400 foot descent through a terrain of thick forests, alongside running streams, and across a solidified lava lake. Difficulty: Hard
The Waipi’o Valley
The Waipi’o Valley hike will take you into a tropical fairytale land aptly named the Valley of Kings. The Valley is cut deeply into the mountain and home to several large waterfalls, wild horses, and an unusual black sand beach. If you’re not feeling the 3 mile hike down into the valley itself, the overlook will provide you with absolutely stunning views. But for those who choose to reach the beach, swimming is not advised because of the rip currents and high surf. Difficulty: Hard
We hope you found this helpful, and that you get to experience the beauty of the Big Island for yourself! A gentle reminder to always take care of Mother Earth ('Aina) and to be respectful of nature and its inhabitants along these trails. Grab those hiking boots and cameras because it's time to rock n' roll and hit the trails.