Hawaii’s haven for heavenly hikes. Big Island hiking features more than 300-miles of accessible trails consisting of various topography and climate zones. In fact, you will find 8 of the world’s 13 climate zones here on the Big Island – from tropical rainforests to dry desert dunes and everything in between.
A big chunk of all Big Island hiking trails (150-miles +) can be found at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Regardless of where you live, on the Big Island or elsewhere, this is a “must-do” destination to explore. Visit the HVNP Website for detailed maps highlighting routes, difficulty, durations, etc. *Camping is also available within the park.
There are many other well-known Big Island hikes scattered around with varying degrees of difficulty. Depending on where you live or where your starting point will be, many Big Island hikes can require some drive time. Be prepared to travel for an hour or more and plan accordingly.
* DISCLAIMER *
PLEASE NOTE: This information is published as an aid to hikers and other users. Penn Henderson in no way warrants the safety or suitability of the routes indicated on this site. Users assume the risk for their own safety at all times when traveling on the indicated routes and trails.
Although reasonable effort to ensure that the information contained in this site is correct as of the date of publication, the actual conditions hikers encounter may vary, and Penn Henderson in no way warrants its accuracy.
Penn Henderson assumes no liability for personal injuries or property damage suffered by users.
Trail Access: “Na Ala Hele” is the State of Hawai‘i Trail and Access Program. It was established in 1988 in response to public concern about the loss of public access to certain trails and the threat to historic trails from development pressure. Na Ala Hele has become increasingly engaged in trail management and regulatory issues due to both public and commercial recreational activities and emerging legal issues. >> View Info
Known as the Valley of Kings for its Alii (royal) Hawaiian history, Waipio Valley is one of the most spectacular locations in all of Hawaii. Featuring sweeping views from above with a black sand beach and hidden waterfalls below, this remote and isolated part of the Big Island is a must-do “bucket list” adventure.
Located approximately 20-minutes from Waimea and starting from the parking lot at the top of Waipio Valley, the hike down into the valley and up the other side (and then back to the parking lot) is nearly 5-miles consisting of some fairly steep terrain. For more detailed info and planning logistics, read this excellent write-up at Hikespeak.
Another epic Big Island hiking trail can be found at Pololu. This is a moderate hike switchbacking 420-ft down to the valley floor where you will find Pololu Beach, a stunning black sand beach. You will also find numerous large boulders and some driftwood scattered around. The trail starts at the Lookout, located at the end of the road 15-minutes past Hawi and the area of Puakea.
Caution: The ocean here is quite sketchy, known for its massive under-toe, high surf, and riptides. Do not go into the water. It is also important that you remain on the trail beyond the beach. Much of the surrounding land is privately owned and consists of numerous sacred burial sites. An excellent overview of this hike can be found at lovebigisland.com.
Papakolea Beach, commonly known as “Green Sand Beach” due to its unique olive-green sand, is located near the Big Island’s southern tip. This is one of the more “remote” locations on the island – essentially equating to a full-day trip including drive time.
It is a great opportunity to experience the stark contrast in the natural beauty that makes the Big Island so special. The time and effort in getting there will be well worth it!
This is a relatively flat 5-mile round-trip hike. But do not be fooled, it can be quite strenuous due to the dust, heat, wind, and often sandy trail. Check out the blog, thatadventurelife.com for a good overview and recap of the journey to Green Sand Beach.
This is a relatively easy 0.4-mile loop consisting of a paved footpath through lush tropical vegetation with a scenic point overlooking the 442-ft waterfall “Akaka Falls”. Perfect for families as it is short, convenient, and memorable.
1-hour from Waimea, Akaka Falls is on the east side of the Big Island along the beautiful Hamakua Coast. It is a State Park, so a small entrance fee is required. For more information, visit the Akaka Falls State Park Website.
A local favorite and one of the best Big Island hiking trails in the Kailua-Kona area. Kaloko consists of several short loops through the serene ohia and fern cloud forests located half-way up Kaloko Drive. It is located just 15-minutes from Historic Kailua Village, essentially in the backyard of Kalaoa and nearby Holualoa.
Most of the trail is relatively easy to moderate in difficulty, though some parts can be a bit more technical. There can be slippery exposed roots and rocks that you need to be aware of.
Kaloko Trail is popular during the early mornings and late afternoons correlating to people’s work schedules. For more information, visit the PATH Website.
The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail (commonly known as the “King’s Trail”) is a cultural and historic shoreline trail. Built in the mid-19th century for horse travel, the trail once stretched 32-miles from Kailua-Kona north to Puako.
Numerous options exist for exploring specific sections of the trail, bit by bit. Probably the easiest point of entry can be found at Waikoloa Beach Resort near the gas station (just look for the nearby trailhead signs).
*The trail is very exposed, so ideally you should aim to go early in the morning or later in the day to avoid the blazing sun. Visit the Ala Kahakai Website for more info.
You will find the main hike to the summit of the cinder cone to be approximately 7-miles round-trip. Once at the top, you will be able to enjoy magnificent distant views of the Kohala Coast.
The area is home to a diverse dry Ohia forest mixed with many endangered and rare plants in addition to a wide variety of native and exotic birds. Review this helpful write-up on hiking Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a at modernhiker.com to help plan your hike.