Kid Friendly Hikes on Oahu

When we headed to Hawaii this past summer, I don’t think I spent as much time researching anything as I did finding kid friendly hikes on Oahu! Hiking was a must-do activity for us, and there are some hikes on Oahu that are legendary.

Oahu Hiking with Kids -Hikes on Oahu are magical, but many aren't kid-friendly. Check our guide with our tried and true favorites for hikes with kids! #freetotravelmama #hikingwithkids #oahu

But I also know that there are many hikes on the island that are too difficult or too dangerous for our children (and probably for my husband and me too if we are being honest!). So the search began for easy hikes that were fun for the whole family without sacrificing great views and a worthwhile workout.

All of my research paid off and we ended up having an amazing time exploring several kid friendly hikes on Oahu. They turned out to be some of our favorite memories and definitely some of our favorite breathtaking vistas! You can check out the rest of our Oahu itinerary here. I am happy to share our favorites with you so that you can enjoy hiking with your kiddos too!

  • Lanikai Pillbox Hike
  • Diamond Head Hike
  • Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens
  • Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens
  • Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
  • Manoa Falls Trail
Are you looking for kid-friendly hikes on Oahu? Check out our comparison chart to help determine the perfect hike for your family! #freetotravelmama #oahu #hikingwithkids

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Hiking with Kids Checklist

We like to pack light, but don’t forget the essentials to make sure that your family hiking is as fun and whine-free as possible.

  • This foldable backpack is a perfect light packing option to stash in your suitcase and later use to carry your packing essentials. I also sometimes just use a backpack as my personal item with activities and snacks for the plane.
  • Water! An obvious suggestion, but just make sure that you prepare for the intense island sun and pack more than you think you’ll need. We love these water bottles because they are leak-free, keep our water ice cold all day, and have a handle for easy carrying.
  • You’ll need reef-safe sunscreen for beach days, and don’t forget to apply before hikes too. Hawaii bans certain chemicals to protect the coral reef, so make sure you’ve got an approved brand packed in your luggage. Hats also provide welcome relief.
  • Have your kids ever asked for a snack when they literally just ate? No? Just mine?! No matter how short a hike is, I always throw a few easy snacks in the backpack or even in my pocket in case of a hangry emergency. While the Hawaiian island vibe is relaxing and peaceful, we PLAY HARD when traveling, and all the swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and exploring always lead to increased appetites. Trail mix, granola bars, and something fresh like apple slices or frozen grapes always hit the spot for us. And shave ice is always the perfect after-hike treat!
    • (True story: My husband actually thought I made up the word hangry. Hmm…ironic. :))
  • I try to always remember a mini-first aid kit too. Inevitably, every time I forget, someone needs it. Band-aids and Neosporin is all you will likely need on these easy hikes for unfortunate scrapes or blisters.
  • Not all of these hikes will require bug spray, but you will probably wish for it while hiking Manoa Falls, Waimea Valley, and Ho’omaluhia Gardens.
  • A few of these hikes are paved and stroller friendly, but half of them are not. So for these, we definitely recommend your favorite baby carrier or toddler hiking backpack to keep your hands free.

Best Time of Day for Hiking with Kids on Oahu

I listed alternative best times of day for each hike below, but honestly, its usually always the same. First thing in the morning always wins! You can beat the crowds, beat the heat, beat the parking issues, watch the sun light up the sky, and head to the beach afterward to cool off your sweaty self.

Please note, some of these hikes may have open hours that vary throughout the seasons, so be sure to double check how early you can arrive.

Kid Friendly Hikes on Oahu

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

  • Round trip Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation change: 500 feet
  • Average Duration: 1-1.5 hours
  • Hours Open: 6am – 8pm
  • Best Time to Visit: Sunrise or just after
  • Driving Distance from Waikiki: 35 minutes
  • Fee: Free!
  • Website: http://www.lanikaipillbox.com/

The Lanikai Pillbox hike is one of the best ways to see the gorgeous vista that is the windward coast. Kailua and Lanikai beaches are among the most beautiful in the world with their powder white sand and clear, turquoise water. This hike is only moderately easy, but the incline is sure worth it for the view.

Kid Friendly Hikes on Oahu - Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Located in a residential area off of Ka’elepupu Drive right across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club, if you don’t hike early in the morning, parking will be very difficult. These beaches are very popular (rightfully so!), and there is not a dedicated parking area for the trailhead. So come early and be respectful of the neighbors or you’ll find yourself with parking ticket.

Lanikai Pillbox hike - Kid Hikes on Oahu

The first 100 yards or so of this hike was the most difficult. There are ropes and roots to grab to keep yourself from sliding down the hill, so be sure to wear quality sneakers and not flip-flops. Our daughter wore her Crocs, and ended up falling three times on the way down which led to stinging legs in the salty ocean later that day! If your children are very young, you might make sure to have a 1:1 ratio of children per adult to avoid scraped legs. Once you get through this first section, it is pretty smooth sailing.

Some people like to begin this hike in the dark and watch the sunrise from the top. We found keeping our footing with our children and holding on to the ropes was was tricky enough in the daylight, so we prefer to watch the sunrise on the beach and then head straight to the trailhead to ascend.

lanikai beach sunrise, Oahu

The summit of this hike arrives at two pillboxes which were previously used as lookout spots over the ocean. Climb on up and enjoy the breathtaking view – you worked for it!

Lanikai Pillbox Hike - hiking with kids on Oahu

Diamond Head Hike

Diamond Head is a long-dormant volcano offering incredible views of Waikiki to those willing to brave the elevation. The climb consists of two sets of stairs totaling 173 steps. Expect some burning thighs if you didn’t complete your squats challenge before your vacation. I promise it will be worth it though! The views offered surround you full circle and the gorgeous blue water is stunning.

Image courtesy of Megan from Red Around the World

While this hike can be great for kids, this is one you really need to evaluate before setting off from the trailhead. Expect little legs to tire before the summit and know that it is not stroller friendly.

The parking lot for Diamond Head opens at 6am each morning and stays open until 6:00pm, but the last entrances are allowed at 4:30pm. We recommend arriving right at opening as this is a HOT hike. It is also an extremely popular one and is best enjoyed without feeling like a crowd of cattle climbing the steps with too many people blocking the view.

Image courtesy of Holly from Globe Blogging

The cost of $5 per car of $1 per person if you park below and walk in. The parking does fill up throughout the day. So, just another reason to grab yourself an acai bowl early and take in the new morning views from Diamond Head as early as you can manage it on vacation!

Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens Trail

  • Round trip Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation change: mostly flat
  • Average Duration: 1 hour
  • Hours Open: 9am – 5pm (until 5:30 in summer)
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time of day, morning is coolest
  • Driving Distance from Waikiki: 1 hour
  • Fee: $18 entrance fee for adults; $12 for children ages 4+
  • Website: https://www.waimeavalley.net/
Waimea Valley Kid Friendly Hike

Waimea Valley is a beautiful place to spend several hours. One might argue that it in fact offers a walk rather than a hike. But the location is beautiful enough to be enjoyed by all no matter what you want to call it.

This garden is the only one on the list with a bit of a hefty admission fee. This fee covers the conservation and sustainable efforts to keep these botanicals in prime condition. Fees can be reduced by combining the purchase with other activities on your list with the Go Oahu Card.

This garden will appeal to anyone with an interest in exotic foliage, but also offers picnic areas, a preserved Hawaiian village which is fun and educational for exploring, and of course, the icing on the cake with is the waterfall at the end of the trail.

Waimea Valley - Easy Hikes on Oahu with Kids

Waimea Valley’s 30 foot waterfall is open for swimming with provided (and required) life jackets. This is a great spot for families to cool off in the middle of their hike and also to fulfill many dreams of swimming under a waterfall. Don’t forget a towel and a snack if you plan to take a swimming break! Lockers for valuables are also on site for an additional fee. Please note, due to risk of leptospirosis, it is not advised to enter the water if you have any scrapes or broken skin. We did not swim as each of our children had battle wounds from lava rocks and hiking trails. I’m pretty sure that we were more careful than most people – because do your kids ever not have a skinned knee or a paper cut or something? No? Just us?!

The path is paved, smooth, and easy for all skill levels and strollers. Take the time to relax and enjoy the cultural, peaceful experience rather than just rush to the cascade. Waimea Valley even rents out wagons for $10. Shuttles are also available ($10 or $14/RT) to and from the waterfall if little legs swim to exhaustion and can’t make it back.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens Trail

  • Round trip Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation change: mostly flat
  • Average Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Hours Open: 9am-4pm
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time of day, morning is coolest
  • Driving Distance from Waikiki: 30 minutes
  • Fee: Free!
  • Website: https://www.honolulu.gov/parks/hbg.html?id=569:ho

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens were one of the highlights of our entire trip to Oahu! Its entry road has become insta-famous, but due to the safety hazard of parked cars in the road, photos are no longer allowed just inside the gate. Not to worry though! This place is filled with beautiful photo spots!

Ho'omaluhia Gardens, Hiking with Kids

You can walk through this garden or drive, depending on your preferences. Several small parking lots are scattered throughout the garden so you can split your time if rest is needed. The road is paved and stroller friendly.

A Visitor’s Center offers cultural information and educational tips about the plant life and trees you will find on this easy hike with kids. You can also take a smaller path down to the lake to explore. If you are visiting on one of their free fishing days, bring some white bread with you for bait and stop by the Visitor’s Center to borrow free fishing poles.

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens - Kid-Friendly Hiking Trail with gorgeous green mountains

Our favorite spots were the Kilonani Mauka Overlook and the view at the end of the road. You could enjoy this magical jungle-like place for hours, so come prepared with plenty of water and lunch. This garden is free (which is amazing in itself!) and open to the public 7 days a week. The gates open at 9am, but there are two parking spots just outside the gate where you can park and walk in if you would like to get an early start.

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

Makapu’u is located on a hot and dry side of the island. The time of day will be crucial in order to get the most out of this hike. Early morning or early evening will give you comfortable temperatures and the gift of beautiful light on the mountains.

Watch the signs below for parking lot closure and make sure you can make it back in time to avoid towing. If you are going to cut it too close, you can park on the road outside the gate and just add a half mile roundtrip on to your hike to get to the trailhead.

This path is smooth and paved which makes it stroller friendly. However, don’t forget to note the incline and be prepared for a great workout! You will also find several stopping points for taking in the view and catching your breath. The trail is wide, but it drops off on the side, so be prepared to hold your little wild child’s hands if they have a hard time walking in a straight line.

The lighthouse may be the well known purpose of this hike, but honestly the coastal views the whole way up are the stars of the show. If the incline ends up being too much for your family, the lookout point 2/3 of the way up gives you pretty great views too.

As a bonus, the lookout spots on this trail are perfect spots for whale watching in the winter, which is December – April for watching the humpbacks. Don’t forget binoculars if you are here during prime season!

Manoa Falls Hike

Manoa Falls was the one hike that I was dying to do, but the weather just didn’t cooperate for us, and we couldn’t find another time to make it there. Luckily, my sister, Leah, from An Adventure is Calling, enjoyed this gorgeous hike with her husband and toddler this fall and chimed in with her tips and images.

  • Round trip Distance: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation change: 800 feet
  • Average Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Hours Open: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Best Time to Visit: Before 7am or later afternoon (only open weekends this winter for repairs)
  • Driving Distance from Waikiki: 20 minutes
  • Fee: $5 parking
  • Website: http://manoafalls.com/

Manoa Falls Trail in Honolulu is a beautiful, kid-friendly hike on Oahu. The roundtrip hike to this stunning 150-foot-high waterfall is 1.6 miles through the rainforest. While the waterfall is the highlight of this hike, the journey there is just as beautiful. You will pass through bamboo forests and native Hawaiian plants such as ginger and aroid. Allow plenty of time to explore and take family photos along the way.

This hike is well-maintained and easy to follow, but it is not paved/stroller-friendly, so bring a carrier if you are traveling with babies or toddlers. You should expect a lot of uneven ground, occasional stairs, and some slippery mud (especially in the last quarter mile of the hike if it has rained recently). You might want to consider hiking poles or sticks for your children.

Bring $5 cash to park your car in the lot, bug spray, your best non-slip hiking shoes, and plenty of water and snacks (or plan to grab a treat at the snack & gift shop near the parking lot). If you’re traveling during the warmest summer months, you might want to arrive before 7am to beat the heat and crowds. If heat and humidity do not bother your family, arrive after lunch time to avoid the biggest crowds.

It is important to note that swimming in the waterfall’s pool is not recommend due to Leptospirosis (an infection that can be contracted from the fresh water on the island). The area is highly susceptible to flash floods, so you skip it if heavy rains are expected.

Adventure-seeking kids will love hiking the Manoa Falls Trail!

Which kid friendly hikes are going to be a part of your Oahu itinerary? Let us know in the comments below! Enjoy your family adventures and the beautiful paradise that you will find in Hawaii!

Free to Travel Mama | Travel Inspiration for Families

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Oahu Hiking with Kids -Hikes on Oahu are magical, but many aren't kid-friendly. Check out our favorite trails that are perfect for families! #freetotravelmama #hikingwithkids #oahu
Here is your guide to kid friendly hikes on Oahu! Includes 6 options from adventurous to stroller-friendly! #freetotravelmama #oahu #oahuhikes #hikingwithkids
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