25 Jun 2020
Far from the usual hustle and bustle of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu on O‘ahu, the North Shore beckons with its big surfing waves, seclusion, and slower pace. Hiking on the North Shore of O‘ahu will satisfy your sense of adventure while you explore some of Hawaii's raw, natural beauty. With over 50 popular hiking trails across the island of O‘ahu, there are plenty of ocean vistas to wow you. We put together this list of our Top North Shore O‘ahu Hikes!
You’ll find the trailhead located behind Sunset Elementary School with a sign marking the entrance. Follow the dirt trail through the trees. A short but steep climb leads you up the mountainside to the top of the ridge, where you’ll find a historic, World War II bunker, Instagram-worthy views of the North Shore coastline, and world-famous surf breaks like Banzai Pipeline as the waves crash the shores of Ehukai Beach.
Distance: 1.6 miles roundtrip, 30 minutes to the top
Where to Start: 59-178 Kamehameha Highway, Hale‘iwa
Hau’ula Loop Trail
This well-maintained, moderate loop leads you with a steady incline through pine tree forests and tropical fruit trees and provides views of lush, green canyons, and many species of birds. Only 2.5 miles roundtrip, this is considered one of the more accessible trails on the North Shore and can be enjoyed with a larger group, children, or even dogs! This hike features views of the Ko’olau Range and partial views of the town of Lai’e. The signposted trailhead appears on Maʻakua Rd, just north of Hauʻula Beach Park.
Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip
Where to Start: 54-55 Maakua Rd, Laie
Kaunala Loop Trail
Ready for some real adventure? This loop offers panoramic views of the north side of O‘ahu, stunning mountain and valley views, stream crossings, forests, and ridge climbs. The first half of the trail is the easiest. The first 1 to 1.5 hours of walking follows gently inclined switchbacks that lead you through native flora and fauna. Take a rest in the open clearing and turn back, or continue for another 1-2 hours to finish the loop. The remainder of the hike becomes steeper but continues to offer lovely vistas. The start of this trail is clearly marked.
Distance: 5.5 miles Roundtrip, 2.5-3.5 hours
Where to Start: 59-780 Pupukea Rd, Hale‘iwa
Waimea Valley Waterfall Vista
One of the most accessible trails suited for all levels, some might consider the Waimea Valley to be more of a “stroll” than a “hike.” The main path is a little less than a mile in length, making it perfect for a relaxing family day. The Waimea Valley is beautiful and lush, but it’s most well known for the tremendous historical, cultural, and conservation significance it holds.
The paved path is easily accessible, features informational markers, and leads you through lovely botanical gardens, ending at the Waimea Falls waterfall. The trail starts just beyond the Waimea Valley Great Lawn. You will find an administration entrance booth where you are required to check-in and pay an entrance fee.
To learn more about this hike and the sacred Waimea Valley, please visit waimeavalley.net. To reach this hike, follow Highway 83 to Waimea Bay. It’s easy to miss the exit. Following a steep downslope, you’ll see the entrance to Waimea Beach Park on your left before reaching the Waimea Valley Road on your right. Turn right onto Waimea Valley Rd. About 200 yards down the road, you’ll see a Waimea Valley sign. Parking is available in the lot.
Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Where to Start: 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Hale‘iwa
Driving Directions to O‘ahu’s North Shore
- From Waikiki, take the H-1 State Highway headed West.
- Exit on to the H-2 State highway headed North
- Follow the H-2 Hwy to the Kamehameha Highway (Hwy 99)
- Take Hwy 99 and continue into the town of Hale‘iwa to stop for lunch.
- Head north through Hale‘iwa and take a left as you exit Hale‘iwa town onto Hwy 83.
- You can bypass Hale‘iwa Town and continue on Hwy 99, which will eventually merge onto Hwy 83.
- Hwy 83 will lead you to the North Shore’s beautiful coastline.
- Continue on Hwy 83 to reach all four hikes.