Favorite Keiki Friendly Hikes on Oahu

Photo courtesy of Cait O’Neill

New to the island and want to get the keiki (children) out for some fun exercise and Hawaiian sunshine? Oahu has some beautiful hiking trails that are perfect for keiki, and many are stroller friendly as well. Here are a few of my favorites.

Makapu’u Light House Trail

Photo Courtesy of Liza Triplett

The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a paved trail which makes it perfect for families with children and is stroller friendly too! The hike takes you uphill and can be a little bit of a workout, but the views along the way are worth it. The beginning of the hike takes you through a dry, desert area with views of Oahu’s southeastern coastline and Koko Head. As you ascend, you’ll find yourself turning on to a sea cliff and the views just keep getting better! You’ll pass the historic Makapu’u Lighthouse built in 1909, but entry to this landmark is off limits. If you hike the trail in the winter months, (Nov-May), you will most likely see the migrating humpback whales!

Wildlife sanctuaries also bring many Hawaiian seabirds to the area, so a pair of binoculars will come in handy for the keiki to spot whales and birds! When you reach the summit, a breathtaking panoramic view of the windward coast awaits! The islands of Moloka’i and Lana’i are also visible on a clear day!

This area of the island is usually sunny and hot and lacking shade, so I would recommend bringing along sunscreen, a hat, and chapstick. Try to go early in the morning when the sun isn’t as strong and you can catch a beautiful sunrise too! Bring plenty of water and light snacks for the kids. Don’t forget your camera!

Diamond Head

O’Neill Ohana Enjoying Their Hawaii Life

When visiting Hawaii, a hike up Diamond Head Trail is a must. This famous volcanic crater got its name from British sailors in the 1800s. They thought the crater was filled with diamonds because the embedded calcite crystals on top of the crater gave off a sparkling effect resembling diamonds. In 1908 the US Army constructed bunkers, pillboxes and observation points at the summit for their coastal defense system. Diamond Head is one of the most popular hiking spots on Oahu today and was named a National Natural Landmark in 1968.

Located minutes from Waikiki, this trail can be hiked by families with children. However, it’s not stroller friendly and has sets of stairs at different points of the trail. Walking through old military bunkers and underground tunnels make this hike more interesting for your keiki. The hike takes about 45 mins to reach the summit. Once you reach the top, you will have breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean stretching from Waikiki to Waianae and a glimpse of Oahu’s skyline!

Entrance fee is $1 per visitor or $5 per carload. Restrooms are located at the beginning of the trail. Be sure to bring sunscreen, hats, and water and try to go early in the day to avoid hot afternoon sun.

Waimea Falls Park

Waimea Falls Park is a beautiful park located on the North Shore of Oahu. A paved one-mile trail that runs through beautiful botanical gardens makes this perfect for young and old visitors alike and is stroller friendly! It is more of a beautiful place to stroll than a hike, but it’s still definitely worth the trip!

The one-mile trail will take you through lush botanical gardens. Your keiki will have fun discovering different types of tropical plants and historical sites. Along the way, there are lots of stops with information posted describing the vegetation and historical sites. At the end of the trail, a waterfall awaits! Take a plunge and swim up to the waterfall to cool off the keiki after their long walk. There are lifeguards and lifejackets to help make your swimming experience safe.

The park is managed by a nonprofit organization known as Hi’ipaka LLC. Their goal is to focus on preserving the Hawaiian culture, history, and maintaining the botanical gardens. An entrance fee is required as this is the main source of income for Hi’ipaka to maintain the beautiful grounds. Adult tickets are $16.95 and children ages 4-12 are $8.95. They do offer military, Kamaaina, and senior discounts, as well as annual passes.

This park has lots of shady areas, but it’s always a good idea to wear sunscreen. I recommend bringing bug spray and water and don’t forget your bathing suits if you want to swim. There’s a gift shop and restaurant located at the beginning of the trail and a farmers’ market is set up on Thursdays at the entrance. Tours and events are offered throughout the week and you can check their calendar for all events.

Manoa Falls Hiking Trail

Manoa Falls Hiking Trail is a great place to explore with your keiki. The trail is about a 15-minute drive from busy Waikiki and once there, you’ll feel like you’re in another world! You’ll walk through a jungle-like setting and will understand why this trail was chosen as the setting for movies such as Jurassic Park and Catching Fire, and the television shows, Lost and Hawaii 5-0.

The Manoa Valley receives an abundance of rain and this is the reason why it has so much vegetation. The valley is considered a tropical rainforest and is nicknamed the “Rainbow Valley” because of the many rainbows that appear here. Eucalyptus, banyan trees, fragrant red ginger, and bamboo are just some of the tropical vegetation you will find. The trail can also become muddy and slippery due to the rain, so it’s best to go when the weather is dry.

Many people love this trail because it will bring you to see an impressive 150-foot waterfall that cascades into a pool of water. Swimming is not allowed in the pool, but the view is worth it. The hike will take you between 1.5 and 2 hours.

Some recommended items to bring on this hike are comfortable hiking shoes, bug spray, snacks, water, and a camera. If you encounter wet weather, you will want to have a change of clothes and shoes and a plastic bag to put your muddy clothes in. Bringing along a waterproof camera case is also a wise idea.

Enjoy the Journey

Photo courtesy of Zane Ayson

Hiking in Hawaii is a great way to get your keiki outdoors to enjoy all the natural beauty that’s found in our island! Just remember it’s not always about the destination but rather, the journey. Take your time and relax while making wonderful memories with your family that will last a lifetime. Remember, always take the time to stop and smell the plumerias!

More Information

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September 1, 2018

Great article, thanks for the hike recommendations!

Susan Moylan

September 1, 2018

Thanks, Cait!

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