The Honolua Ridge hiking trail is one of the most popular hikes in all of Hawai‘i and it is easy to see why. The ridge stretches for more than 14 miles, passing through stunningly beautiful forests and meadows while giving hikers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
To get to the Honolua ridge trail, visitors can take Highway 137 east from Kailua-Kona or Highway 130 west from Hilo. Either route takes you past some great places to stop for a bite and a drink on the way, like Waimea Canyon and Pu‘u O Waimea National Park Reserve. Once you reach the trailhead, there are several different routes hikers can take to get to the summit. The shortest route is 2 miles long and goes through a narrow canyon, but the best view of the ocean is found on the longer 6-mile round-trip hike that goes through a more open area.
No matter which route you choose, be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks because there is no shade on the ridge. And if you get too hot or tired, don’t be afraid to turn around and head back down! The trail can be busy during the summer months and hikers often stop to play in the ocean, so be sure to keep that in mind.
Smaller, easier hikes near Kahuku National Wildlife Refuge include the Kauhako Trail, which takes a circular route through a forested area with a small waterfall. This hike is popular among locals because of its proximity to public beach access and makes for an easy afternoon hike during the summer months. And if you’re lucky enough to visit during winter, you can also take part in “The Iceman’s Run,” a 4-mile trail through a snow-capped mountain pass that is open from December 15th through March 1st each year.
For another great trail to take, head out on the Puakea Trail in Kahuku. This hike is rated moderate but is a great start for those interested in going backpacking. The trail covers 3 miles and gives you access to a pond and two freshwater streams along the way. Although it’s not difficult, there are a lot of elevation changes so be prepared for some climbing. If you don’t have your own transportation, try searching for an adventure tour that takes you to this network of trails, including the Puakea Trail.