Although many people come to Hawaii for a luxurious vacation at top resorts and beaches, others come to do some serious backpacking. Hawaii, in addition to her resorts, is home to breathtaking hikes, landscapes, craters, natural pools and waterfalls, mountains, gorgeous coastlines, and unique features that are only found here-like black and red sand beaches. In Hawaii, a backpacker can expect to find a mix of adventure with beauty that is hard to find anywhere else. If you love the backcountry, why not make your next trip to the islands of Hawaii where you can have some of the most challenging, but rewarding, backpacking experiences yet? Here are some of the most beautiful backpacking trails in Hawaii and where you can find them:
King’s Highway Trail
Located at Waianapanapa State Park, The King’s Trail is an historic trail that used to serve the King as a way to survey his land. It may have once ran the entire perimeter of the island of Maui, too. This trail has magnificent lava beds that you will need to maneuver over, a rare, black sand (or black pebble) beach, and ancient ruins along the trail which will make you feel like you’re walking through a jungle-time machine. The trail hits Pukaulua Point, which is a lookout that provides great views of the area.
The hike down to Waioka Pond, or ‘The Venus Pool’, is a bit rugged and steep, and those who come too eager to see the pool will not only miss the hike, but perhaps get hurt. Enjoy the hike down, as difficult as it is, and when you arrive at the pools, you will be breathless (hopefully not from exhaustion!). The pool is a natural pool with scenic views surrounding it as it lies along the Hana Coastline. There are interesting rock formations to admire, and if you come at the right time, you can take it all in privately. Be aware of the water, as it can get rough.
Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls
Everything about this hike, including the drive there along Hana Highway, is nothing short of amazing. Located in Haleakala, this trail is one of the best and most beautiful in Maui, and along the way you will see smaller waterfalls before the larger, more spectacular Waimoku Falls. You will also trudge through a remarkable bamboo forest on your way there, and at only 4 miles, any backpacker can do this hike.
Mauna Kea Trail
If you want to go to the top of the highest mountain on the island of Hawaii (and why wouldn’t you?), then come here. This specific trail is one of the easiest up the mountain, if you consider 10 hours of hiking easy. The mountain is over 13,000 ft above sea level and gorgeous views can be obtained throughout the hike. This mountain is very important in Hawaiian culture, as is Lake Waiau, a lake formed by a glacier, which you will see here.
Located along the Napali Coast of Kauai, the views of the beaches here from this trail are absolutely stunning. However, this trail is one of the most difficult in the world, according to Backpacker Magazine and Outside Magazine. At 11 miles long, many backpackers choose to camp overnight here. Use your head while you’re here, and you’ll be sure to enjoy all this trail has to offer-from gorgeous coastlines to unbelievable sea cliffs and valleys.
Koko Head Crater Trail
Located in Honolulu, Oahu, this two-thousand-step trail leading up to the top is rather exhausting, but worth it once you get there. Apparently, if the day is clear you can see all of the Koko Head Crater and the three islands nearby. People of all ages come here to give it a go. Koko Crater has a lot to offer in addition to hiking, including a botanical garden and horse stables located inside the crater, beaches, Hanauma Bay, and the Halona Blowhole.
Before reaching these falls in Maui, you can hike through the jungle here alongside Ho’olawa Stream . Although many come just to see the falls, it’s no surprise that the hike down is just as beautiful-so don’t rush it. True backpackers will find the time to explore the depths of this place. Once you get going on the trail, it forks. Meaning you can come here two times and discover a whole new path! There are more falls besides the Twin Falls, and even a popular, local farm stand where you can get some great snacks.
If you like a difficult hike with rewarding views, then you’ve come to the right place-one of the best of its kind, in Oahu. There are three peaks to see here, hence how it gets its other name, the ‘Three Peaks Trail’. The first peak is the easiest at only 1.5 miles to the top, but the other two are quite challenging. From the tops, you can see Kailua, mountains, and the ocean.