I don’t have children but a lot of my friends (now) have a lot of their kids traveling around with them so I figured, a list of the ultimate top kid-friendly hikes on Oahu might be in order!
By “kid-friendly” hikes, I generally mean around the age of 6+ (considering my friend’s kid is a six-year-old boy and has done the hardest hike here which would be the Kuliouou Ridge Trail).
Diamond Head is probably the most popular hike on Oahu. The trail is not exactly paved and it comes with stairs/ladders even but it is a generally fun and easy hike for the little ones. This one has a lot of sun overhead so do wear sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring plenty of water. If your kids have a lot of energy and are used to walking or running around, they’ll have a ball. If not, just take your time! Bring $2 for parking.
Makapu’u Lighthouse is one of the top kid-friendly hikes on Oahu because it is paved! I’ve seen people hike up and down with strollers. If you have a baby, I have seen parents use those baby carriers around their chest (or back). You are fully exposed on this hike so again, wear the sunscreen and the hat and bring water. The pavement is black and hot so I wouldn’t bring dogs on this hike because it will burn their paws!
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Currently, the Lanikai Pillbox hike is
closed for repairs (just reopened end of August 2018!) but this is a fun, easy, and short hike with rewarding views. It’s also exposed so it is best to hit this kid-friendly hike up early in the morning before it gets too hot.
This hike is also very popular with lots of locals, tourists, their pets, and what not. Please watch the noise since the hike is located in a residential neighborhood. Be sure you’re not parking where you are not allowed or blocking anybody’s driveway. Wear sunscreen, water, and a hat. Bug spray is not really needed.
Moleka and Ualakaa Trails
This trail is right in urban Honolulu and super easy in a dense forest. There are plenty of other hikes up on here in Tantalus. While the trail doesn’t have much of a grand view but it is peaceful and soothing nature walk (less of a hike). There are lots of roots so just be sure kids are aware and don’t trip. It can be muddy after a rainfall. Bring bug spray since this hike is more in the forest. This hike is ideal if it’s a bit cloudy or overcast. Also, don’t leave any valuables in the car. You can pick other trails if this trial is too short!
After the hike, I recommend driving to the http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/oahu/puu-ualakaa-state-wayside/Tantalus lookout. Parking can be tough since there is about six parking spots but nobody stays too long so just be patient.
It took me two years to finally see Manoa Falls despite it being a short 1.5-mile hike and easy. This hike has to be on the top kid-friendly hikes on Oahu but it can be very muddy but it is best to go right after rainfall so you can see the tall waterfall. If the waterfall is good, the view is worth it. The Manoa Falls hike is shaded but again, be sure to carry or wear bug spray since the mosquitoes will come out after a rain.
This hike is one of the more popular hikes so just be aware that you’ll be sharing the trail and the waterfall with others. There is also a $5 charge (cash only) in the parking lot. If it’s wet, just be cautious since rocks make it very slippery.
Kuliouou Ridge Trail
The Kuliouou Ridge hike is a longer hike but with spectacular views. It’s great for people new to ridges and kids. My friend’s 6-year-old hikes this trail regularly but he is also very active. If your children are not as active, be prepared for lots of breaks but I’m pretty sure they will have fun! Bring water, snacks, and rain gear just in case. Try to go on a clear day since it may be cloudy at the top.
This hike is pretty short and easy but there isn’t much space to do at the top other than quickly view the city and head back down. Friendship Gardens has a slight but small incline so they should have fun. Parking is limited so that’s one reason I don’t really recommend this hike.
I love Hamama Falls since the waterfalls are always flowing here for me. It’s on private property so trespass at your own risk, clean up after yourself (like always), and be respectful. Bring bug spray and water. There is a section where the trial is a bit of an incline so just take your time and you will eventually hear the falls. There is also a waterhole where people like to go swimming. The trail itself isn’t spectacular but the waterfall makes for great photos.
If you’re going into the water, make sure the kids (and you) don’t have any fresh cuts or open wounds because of leptospirosis. People catch leptospirosis when Leptospira bacteria is in freshwater streams, mud or animal urine get into their eyes, nose, mouth or broken skin. Leptospirosis is found worldwide but is more common in tropical areas like Hawaii.
Once you get back, I recommend taking a thorough shower or rinse.
The Ehukai Pillboxes hike is located on the North Shore so you’ll have a different view of the island. Park at the school and the trail will be on the left. There are some stairs but nothing an active kid can’t handle. It can get muddy after a rain so be aware of that. There are also ropes if people need help. Halfway up the trail is a picnic table so feel free to take a break there and continue going. The trail levels out a bit after the picnic table. You’ll come upon the first pillbox, explore the inside and then continue to the right and you’ll come upon the second pillbox. Stay on the ocean side. It’s a bit slippery in this area with loose rocks so wear shoes with some grip. Sneakers are fine if they aren’t too old and worn out.
If you enjoyed this list of top kid-friendly hikes on Oahu, be sure to check out my Ultimate Guide to Hiking in Hawaii. The guide will give you tips and advice on the ins and outs of hiking and how to have a great and safe time in the Aloha state.