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Family Friendly Hikes - O’ahu, Hawai'i

Updated: May 16, 2021

One of my absolute favorite parts of living in Hawai'i was all of the HIKES that I was able to do while I was there. Honestly, it's one of the reasons that I want to move back to Hawai'i too. I've always LOVED being outside and going on adventures (duh) and Hawai'i gave me the opportunity to do both of those things every single day. It was quite literally paradise for me.

If you're an avid hiker like I am, and always looking for somewhere new to hike I 10000000% recommend downloading the AllTrails app and exploring the hikes that they have listed! I've been using AllTrails for...a few years now I guess and it's been a total game changer. There's a free and a paid option and I personally have the paid option because I use it so much and the additional features are more than worth it to me, but the free version is excellent as well. You truly can't go wrong with AllTrails my friends.

You can see photos of the hikes that other hikers have shared, which I personally think is an amazing feature because it allows you to truly scope the terrain and see if the hike is in your wheelhouse or not. It also allows you to see the trail in a few different map layer options AND you can download the maps (paid version) and then follow them while you hike, which is great! It will even send you alerts if you wander off the route to let you know and help you to get back on track. (Paid version) You can also follow them without downloading them but if cell service is spotty you'll lose the map as you lose service, so I ALWAYS recommend downloading the map and then you can delete that download once you're done with the hike to save room for future hikes! And, there's always a plethora of reviews from other hikers just like you and me that will tell you about the trail, parking, markers, etcetera. It's the best!

Now let's talk my absolute favorite feature on AllTrails: the Lifeline feature. This feature is absolutely amazing and is, in my opinion, the best feature on AllTrails, though it's sadly only available in the paid version, sorry friends. What this feature does is sends a message to your friends/family that you add to your Lifeline safety contacts whenever you start a hike with AllTrails. (You have to turn it on each time though!) As you hike, those contacts can follow you and see exactly where you are, which is totally rad! It also tells them approximately what time you'll finish your hike and then, when you do finish your hike, it alerts them that you returned. Isn't that awesome?! OH! And, if you take longer on the hike, which I've done before, it will ask you if you want to alert your safety contacts that you're taking longer than anticipated and then it will give them a new updated time frame if you choose! So awesome!

Below you'll find a list of some of the hikes that I recommend to families, especially those with tiny humans, and also those with pupper children! This list is NOT all of the family/dog friendly hikes on the island, it's just those that I've gone on and recommend personally. Again, AllTrails has a plethora of hikes that you can scope out and there's all sorts of filters that you can apply to only show you hikes that fit your needs.

•Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail [approx. 2.5 miles]

  • Paved trail

  • NO coverage, wear LOTS of sunscreen and bring water!

  • Windy, especially the closer to the top that you get, a jacket may be wanted for the top

  • Dog friendly

  • This is a GREAT place to look for whales in the winter time.

  • There's a beach if you take the trail to the RIGHT at the trailhead, it's unpaved, but it will take you to a small cove that's great for kiddos and has fun tide pools to swim in and explore.

  • Limited parking in the parking lot, lots of highway street parking

•Friendship Gardens Trail [approx. 0.5 miles]

  • Some coverage

  • VERY limited parking

  • Located in neighborhood, please be respectful when parking and walking to the trail

•Judd Trail [approx. 1.0 miles]

  • Mostly covered

  • Dog friendly

  • Can be muddy if it has rained recently

  • Also connects to other trails, easy way to extend your hike if you'd like!

  • Street parking only, use caution, lots of break in's in the area

•Aiea Loop Trail [approx. 4.8 miles]

  • Mostly covered

  • Dog friendly

  • Can be muddy if it's rained recently

  • Limited parking in the upper parking lots, you may have to park farther from the trailhead and then walk to the trailhead

  • Opens @ 0700

Ko’olau Golf Course to the Pali Lookout [approx. 3.1 miles]

  • Paved road

  • Mostly covered

  • Dog friendly

  • Parking at golf course which means limited access based on golf course hours

Hanauma Bay Ridge Trail [approx. 4.2 miles]

  • Must park in neighborhood then walk up the hill along the road to the Hanauma Bay entrance, hike starts just behind the bus stop stand with a gated entrance

  • First roughly half of the hike is paved, at the ridge it becomes un paved and I don’t recommend taking kids as it’s easy to slide and fall in the gravel

  • Dog friendly

  • NO coverage, wear LOTS of sunscreen and bring water!

  • This hike is sometimes listed as illegal, sometimes not, just be respectful and you should be okay to hike it.

Kaena Point State Trail [approx. 6.0 miles]

  • NO coverage, wear LOTS of sunscreen and bring water!

  • Limited parking inside park, street parking outside the park gate available first come, first serve

  • NO DOGS or animals of any kind inside the state park

  • Easy trail that goes along the coast, at the end you almost always see monk seals and you also go through a bird sanctuary which is pretty cool

  • Can be muddy if it rained recently

•Wahiawa Botanical Garden Loop [approx. 0.9 miles]

  • Free and ample parking

  • Various shade throughout

  • Pretty + easy garden loop walk

  • Closes at 4pm

  • I'm not sure about pet friendly or not for this one, so sorry friends.

Waimea Valley Trail [approx. 1.9 miles]

  • Entry fee $18 but they have military days with free entry

  • Waterfall at the end, you must wear a life jacket to swim

  • Check web for hours of operation, very limited due to COVID

  • Various shade along hike

  • I'm not sure about pet friendly or not for this one as well, so sorry friends.

Turtle Bay to Kahuku Point [approx. 2.3 miles]

  • Park at Turtle Bay Resort

  • Various coverage/shade

  • Tide pools are fun to explore!

  • Hike then spend the day at the beach, great picnic location + the bay/cove is perfect for kiddos!

  • If you're lucky, you'll see sea turtles and maybe even monk seals here!

Kaiwa Ridge/Lanikai Pillbox Hike [approx. 1.8 miles]

  • This is one of the BEST hikes to do for sunrise! If you hike it for sunrise and start in the dark (10/10 recommend) I suggest a headlamp! You can also use your phone, but then you have one less hand for stability and scrambling, so a headlamp is just easier.

  • Park at the beach, there's NO street parking allowed in Lanikai so you'll have to park at the beach (Lanikai or Kailua) and then walk to the trailhead

  • The trailhead is marked by a construction sign (seriously) and it across the street from a golf course resort place. I don't recall the name, I just know where I'm going, but there's always people hiking Lanikai so if you get lost or think you may be lost, just ask!

  • This one is dog friendly and I see kids hiking it every time that I hike it, but it does involves a few scrambles, they're small, and it does have some mild ridge lines, so I don't personally recommend tiny, tiny humans, but only you know your children, so it's totally up to you! I've also seen parents wear their kids all the way to the top and let me tell you, that's some badass parenting right there.

  • If you bring your pup, please please please bring them plenty of water and consider dog booties. The terrain is mud to start then rocks then mud and a mixture of rocks. I don't want your pupper hurting their feet on the hike on accident.

Happy hiking friends!!!

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