If you’re on the hunt for Oahu family hikes, I’ve got your back. I’ve taken (ahem, dragged) my kids on hikes since they were babies so let’s dive in and explore some options on the windward side of the island. If you’re staying in Waikiki and want to stay close, this post lists family hikes on that side of the island.
Below I have family favorite hikes unofficially ranked from most adventurous – with a rating of “5” – to least adventurous with a rating of “1” (one being more of a stroll than a hike). Pick and adventure level and let’s go!
Crouching Lion is a short but intense, slippery scramble to an outcropping with coastal and valley views. Big drop offs make it a hike best suited for older kids (who are comfortable with heights).
The Kuliouou Ridge trail is a summit hike! It’s a well-marked, long uphill grind to the top, but you’re rewarded with epic views of town, Diamond Head and the Windward Coast. Native vegetation near the summit is a bonus for this plant lover.
The Lanikai Pillbox Trail is a quick scramble up the hills above Lanikai and Kailua, and the payoff? Unbelievable views of the bluest ocean crashing around a smattering of rocky islets. My family and I have been hitting this neighborhood trail since our kids were still in diapers. This is one of the most popular Oahu family hikes (for good reason) and it tends to get crowded, but evenings are lovely if you want to avoid crowds.
As of 2023, access to the popular Maunawili Falls trail is temporarily closed from the Maunawili neighborhood. However, you can still access it from the Maunawili Trail (another amazing trail worth checking out) from the Pali Road parking lot. It will be a longer hike, but much less crowded.
The hike to Maapuu lighthouse is an entirely paved (stroller friendly!), uphill ascent that rewards with you views of the windward coast (and whales during the winter!). There’s a trickier side trail from the whale viewing areas that drops steeply down the sharp, lava coast to tidepools below. When the seas are calm, you can explore the flats and float in the oversized tidepools. More often than not, the surf is rough on this coast so stay back and observe before trying the pools and avoid them during rough weather.
The Likeke Falls trail is another favorite in the list of Oahu family hikes. When the kids were little, this was a regular family hike because its so short and the falls are fun to play in. Access to the trailhead is through a private parking lot and over the years, there have been changes. The current owners of Ko’olau Ballrooms charge a $10 parking fee and the gate is open from 8am-4pm. Avoid parking along the narrow road outside of the gates which are prone to car break-ins. Sigh. I say this from personal experience.
Kawainui marsh trail is popular with residents who you will find walking, jogging, or biking along the scenic route. If you’re staying in Kailua it’s worth a visit for a morning or evening stroll. You can even find some native waterbirds foraging in the marsh. Avoid during the middle of the day when its just too hot.
Preparing for Oahu family hikes requires a bit of planning to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Here are some steps to help you prepare.
If you stumble along a fresh water pool, waterfall, or stream in Hawaii, you will usually find a group of kids or adults playing in the cool water. However, it’s not without risk. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease present in freshwater puddles, ponds and streams. It’s passed through open cuts or through soft tissues (nose, eyes, mouth). Decide where your comfort levels is, but don’t go in with open cuts, avoid putting your head under water and definitely don’t drink the water.
If you’re looking for some fun after your Oahu family hikes, you don’t have to travel far. There are many family friendly activities on the windward side.
Fill your post-hike bellies with tasty local eats and then head back out for more.
The windward side of the island has many protected bays making ocean conditions calmer and more family-friendly. Try out some favorites below –
Prioritize choosing easy to moderate trails suitable for your group, pack essentials like water and sunscreen, start early to beat the heat and crowds, respect nature, and stay informed about trail conditions. Use extra caution around freshwater to avoid leptospirosis. Take breaks to enjoy the scenery and use your Oahu family hikes as an educational experience for your family.
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