5 Rainforest Hikes Near Honolulu

by Vago Damitio

Most people travel to Hawaii for the beaches, but there is plenty to see when you head into the rainforests and mountains, too.

If you want to escape the crowds on the beach and instead sample wild tropical fruit, swim beneath beautiful waterfalls and see indigenous Hawaiian birds, then here are five hikes you’ll want to tackle. And the best part is you don’t have to go too far from Honolulu to experience them.

Maunawili Falls

If you drive 15 minutes out of Honolulu, you will reach the other side of the island and pass over the Ko’olau Mountains. Head to the Pali Lookout—from there, the trail winds downwards to scenic windward views, through gorgeous rainforest, and finally to one of the best swimming waterfalls in Hawaii. The Obamas were even reportedly there a few weeks ago!

5 Rainforest Hikes Near Honolulu

Manoa Falls

Even closer to Honolulu, you can head up Manoa Road past the University of Hawaii to the top of the valley. The road forks at Lyon Arboretum. Stay right. Note that you may need to park further down the valley if it’s a sunny day. This is a short hike with the beautiful 100-foot Manoa Falls as the payoff.

5 Rainforest Hikes Near Honolulu

Aihualama Trail

For those looking for a bigger challenge, about 100 yards before Manoa Falls, the Aihualama trail veers off to the left. This is a rainforest ridge hike that will take you through wild bananas, lush bamboo and more. Watch for the Hawaiian Honey Creepers!

Hawaii Loa Ridge

This is the most challenging hike in our list and recommended only for those who are experienced and confident on the trails. The trail is not maintained and will require you to drive to the trailhead. Drive toward Aina Haina and go left on Puuikena Drive. Park near the water tank and then enjoy the hike to the summit for astounding views. Expect to pull yourself up some inclines with the help of ropes that friendly hikers have left behind.

5 Rainforest Hikes Near Honolulu

Lyon Arboretum

If you go left where the road forks to Lyon Arboretum, you will find yourself among more than 8, 000 tropical plants, extensive botanical gardens and numerous hiking trails. This is one of the most rewarding rainforest hiking areas near Honolulu because of the incredible diversity.

When you’re done with your hike, head to the beach and jump in the warm Hawaiian waters to wash off the dirt and sweat. You deserve it!