Hiking the Big Island of Hawaii

Hiking the Big Island of Hawaii

Hiking the Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii is an outdoorsman’s paradise and a marvelous place to hike.  Hiking in the Hawaiian Islands offers  many opportunities to experience a unique natural environment and a variety of climate zones.  Known throughout the world for a wide variety of ecosystems, trails in Hawai`i can take you to coastal dunes, shrublands, rainforests, and high alpine deserts.  The Big Island offers hiking for all of us - from the short scenic view hikes such as Akaka Falls, to the more rigorous Halini Pali 7-mile trail down the side of the Kilauea Volcano. Want to be adventurous?  For more tips and info, check out the Big Island Adventure Guide.

View our interactive Big Island Hiking Map.

Hawaii Eco Tours

Looking for guided Eco adventure tours of the Big Island?  Eco tourism is extremely popular in a unique place like the Big Island.  Check out our Big Island Eco Tours section with opportunities for bird watching, volcano hiking, waterfalls and botanical walks, star gazing, and back country hiking - all provided by expert, knowledgeable tour guides.

Hiking Tips

Dress in layers so you can protect your skin from the intense tropical sun. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended. Hiking boots offer traction and ankle sup-port to prevent slipping and injuries on muddy trails and slick or sharp rocks. Light raingear is good to carry because of the quickly changing weather conditions.  Are you ready?  Read our Hawaii Hiking Tips.

Big Island Camping

You may want to spend at least part of your time camping out. Some of the state’s best camping facilities are located here, and they are less likely to be crowded than other islands. Big Island camping areas range from car-accessible county and stateparks, to more remote backpacking sites, with a number of basic cabins. Camping spots of all kinds require inexpensive permits, which should be obtained well in advance of your trip.  For State parks, contact the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources at (808) 961-7200 and for the volcano area, contact the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park at (808) 967-7321.

Hawaii Walks, Trails, Hikes

The most comprehensive hiking guide available to the spectacular island of Hawaii. This island has a wealth of areas to explore, including: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the island’s famous black sand beaches, shimmering blue bays, and remote rainforest valleys. Includes both day hikes and backpacks.

Looking to gear-up for your Hawaii trip?  Check out the best prices on hiking shoes, clothing, and outdoors gear.

View our interactive Big Island Hiking Map.

Akaka Falls - Big Island Hiking Akaka Falls - Just north of Hilo along the Hamakua Coast are the twin 400 ft. Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls.  Walk through a vibrant rainforest and experience the dramatic waterfalls.  This lovely nature hike will lead you past two dramatic falls.  You can time your visit to Akaka Falls on your way to the Waipio Valley or other Hamakua Coast attractions.

Rainbow Falls, Big Island HawaiiRainbow Falls State Park - The best time to view the 80-foot Rainbow Falls is at sunrise when you will see an enormous rainbow stretching across the mist of the lagoon.  See the towering canopy rain forest above as you walk around the park.  Rainbow Falls is conveniently located at the edge of Hilo Town.

Onomea FallsHawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens - This garden is located seven miles north of Hilo on Route 19.  Enjoy the self-guided walking tour of the gardens, follow the several miles of trails through tropical rain forest with waterfalls, meandering streams, and rugged ocean coast.  There is also a vast selection of flowers, fruits, plants, and trees.

Waipio Valley - The rugged Hamakua Coast winds its way up to the steep and secluded Waipio Valley.  From the Waipio Lookout, you can look into the scenic valley and see the black sand beach at the coast.  There is a hiking / 4×4 trail that leads to the bottom of the valley and beyond.

Rocky beach at the Waipio ValleyWaimanu Valley - This remote valley is only accessible via the challenging Mulawai trail starting at the western edge of the Waipio Valley.  Waimanu is tranquil, with waterfalls carving out its high valley walls.  Another way that visitors get to Waimanu is to kayak from the beach at Waipio Valley when the waters are calm.  Camping is permitted in Waimanu.

Pololu ValleyPololu Valley - The nothern tip of the Kohala Coast curves to the dramatic Pololu Valley Lookout.  A short hike takes you to the bottom of the forested valley where the black sand beach meets the crashing ocean waves.  The views from the hike are spectacular with wide panoramas of the ocean and beach below.  Continue hiking to the next valley if you are adventurous.

Black Sand Beach at Pololu ValleyHonokane Nui - If you continue to the east on the trail in the Pololu Valley, you will hike up and over the saddle into the remote and beautiful Honokane Nui Valley.  This is a challenging hike - and not ventured by many, but worth it for the spectacular view and natural beauty.

Heiau at Pu'ukohala Historical SiteHeiau, Hawaiian Temples - Heiau (temples) were places of worship that were central to Hawaiian religious beliefs. From the heiau, the kahuna (priest) communicated with the gods.  There are several well preserved Heiau on the Big Island for you to visit, one prominent Heiau is located right in downtown Kailua-Kona.  The most famous one one the Big Island is located at Pu`uhonua o Honaunau.

Waialea BeachAla Kahakai Coastal Trail - This trail follows the western coastline and provides access to numerous beaches and resorts, and to both the Malama Trail to Puako petroglyph field near Holoholokai and the Kings Highway inland of the Mauna Lani Resort.  One of the nicest section of this trail connects Spencer Beach to Waialea (69) Beach.

Kiholo BayKi’holo Bay - The unmarked path across a vast lava field requires a 25-minute hike, so take plenty of water.  The approximately 1-mile hike leads to a beautiful secluded inlet.  The huge, spring-fed pond anchors the south end of the bay, and the three black-pebble beaches are fine for swimming in calm weather.  You can’t miss seeing this sparkling bright-blue inlet from the highway while driving along the Kohala Coast.  Finding the trail head is a bit tougher…

Temple as seen from lava shelfHonaunau, 1871 Trail This ancient Hawaii backcountry trail offers a 2 mile round trip hike along the 1871 trail through the Honaunau National Historical Park.  On this trail, you will encounter Hawaiian heiau, holua sled courses and the dramatic Keanae’e cliffs.

Petroglyph at Volcanoes National ParkPetroglyphs - Ancient Hawaiian lava rock carvings can be found in several locations on the Big Island.  The largest concentration of these rare pictographs can be found on the Big Island.  Two prolific petroglyph fields are a short hike away at the Hilton Waikoloa, and at the Volcanoes National Park.

Kilauea Volcano EruptionHawaii Volcanoes National Park - One of the most magnificent National Parks in the country, this park boasts the world’s longest continually erupting volcano.  Hikes for all ages and abilities take you through all the climate zones that the Big Island has to offer.  The Volcanoes National Park offers a variety of hiking trails for all to enjoy including the spectacular Kilauea Iki Trail.

Mauna Loa Summit HikeMauna Loa Summit Hike The ascent of Mauna Loa begins at 6600 ft. The hike takes about 4 days, including spending the night at two cabins on the way to the 13,680 foot summit.  The lava terrain is uneven and provides difficult walking conditions. Reduced oxygen at the high elevation further increases the difficulty of this hike.  View a hike journal.

Mauna Kea viewed from WaimeaMauna Kea - At 13,796 feet this is the highest peak on the Hawaiian Islands.  Frequently snow capped in the winter, the world’s most important observatories reside here.  Enjoy the spectacular views and splendid star-gazing.  Check out the Mauna Kea Summit and Stars adventure, taking you to the top of Mauna Kea!

Guided Hiking Tours

Kilauea Volcano Adventure - Your adventure to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and back is a remarkable 250-mile drive, traveling over 4 volcanoes and making an elevation change of 37,000 feet as you go up and down over the mountains.  Your tour of the park takes you on easy, short walks varying in length from .5 miles to 1.5 miles

Pololu Valley AdventurePololu Valley Kohala Wai Adventure Explore the remote Pololu Valley area on the northern tip of the Big Island aboard a rugged off-road Pinzgauer 6×6 vehicle. Witness the life-giving and land-sculpting power of water, as you ramble through a changing landscape of rushing streams, towering ocean cliffs and cascading waterfalls. You’ll even have time to kick off your shoes and take a dip in a cool mountain pool!

Waipio Horseback TourWaipio Valley Horseback Riding Tour Take a horseback ride in a lush tropical paradise with jungle trails, taro patches, magnificent waterfalls and historical and spiritual sites!  This 2 hour guided ride will take you deep into Waipio Valley, a wonderland of natural Hawaiian beauty. Enjoy responsive, well-trained, healthy horses. Your individual riding ability will be catered to.

Hiking Gear

Portable GPS
Discount Backpacks


Big Island Adventure Guides

Hawaii Trailblazer
A guide for families and outdoor adventurers alike, the  Trailblazer offers detailed descriptions of 142 hikes and strolls: the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the shores of Waipio Valley and Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, rain forests and tropical gardens, waterfalls, petroglyph fields, and the Kona Coast.  71 snorkeling and swimming spots including remote hike-to specials; 39 surfing spots: boards, body boarding, and body surfing; 24 bike trails for adventure cyclists: mountain, coastal, forest, pasture; 25 campgrounds and rustic cabin hideaways.

Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed
The Ultimate Guidebook by Andrew Doughty may properly be placed among the greatest guidebooks of Hawaii. Enhanced with 39 color maps, 132 color photos, and all the secrets necessary to fulfill the desires of any tourist. Andrew Doughty enlightens the reader on the every given shop, hotel, beach and cafe that only a Hawaii native might recognize for the exceptional decency or beauty of. Strongly recommended read for travelers planning a trip to Hawaii (or for those unsure where to go once the have arrived), Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed will help to make your destination Hawaii.

Be Sociable, Share!

Related Posts:

  1. Backcountry Hiking Plans
  2. Question - Hiking the Muliwai Trail to Waimanu Valley
  3. Adventure: Hiking the Waipio Valley
  4. Hawaii Hiking Tips
  5. Hiking the Waipio Valley

Hawaii Activities