Ana's 5 Favorite Hikes

By: Analiese Arle


Mastering the art of living in balance is no easy feat. Work, friends, family, financial obligations, mental sanity, eating healthy, staying active, and well the list goes on. Being a “successful human” comes down to how you manage it all in terms of benefiting your mental, emotional, and physical well being. Knowing how far you can work yourself is important as you cannot be fully present for anything unless your wellness has been taken care of.

I have learned to pencil in some “me time”, getting outside and going for a hike. I found this to be an activity that allows me to decompress from life through it’s combination of mental, emotional, and physical catharsis. It’s a time where I’m not surrounded by society and I can focus on my breath, look at the scenery, feel the sun on my skin, and find peace. I can properly hustle in the work week when I’ve checked out of city life and returned home drenched in a thick layer of mud and sweat.

I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 favorite hikes on O’ahu that get my heart up and away from people. *Caution: these can be very slippery hikes, so I recommend shoes with great grip.*

Aiea Loop: This is a beautiful 4.8 mile loop along the ride of Halawa Valley featuring scenic views of Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, and the Ko’olau Mountains. You won’t scale cliffs nor jump off waterfalls here, but you will have a pleasant stroll away from the city’s obligations. The lush foliage and grand native trees protect you from the heat and house many native species you should be on the look-out for.  You’ll accomplish the recommended daily steps while cleansing your mental space.

Kalawahine Trail: This is an easy 2.5 mile hike-- if you don’t get lost. Located a the top of Tantalus Drive, Kalawahine trail is apart of the Honolulu Mauka Trail System, a network of over 18 different trial junctions. I’m an advocate for getting lost on the paths, but should get to know it first by following the signs or using All Trails to navigate the system. You’ll stay cool the entire hike thanks to the forest canopy.  

Manoa Falls: This one is great to do if you don’t have a lot of time, but want to squeeze something quick in. You can easily run (careful of mud!) the 1.5 miles while looking at lushious green forests and a gorgeous waterfall. The best time to go is after 5pm as all the tourists will have left, it’s the coolest time of the day, and parking will be free. It’s an easy hike if you’re not afraid of mud.

Wa’ahila Ridge: A peaceful 5.2 mile hike located on the top of Saint Louis Heights. The terrain is on the more difficult side as you’ll scale around boulders, rope climb up and down muddy cliffs, and test your faith in tree roots; it may be more than the exercise escalating your heart rate! Views include all of Manoa Valley, Palolo Valley, and downtown Honolulu--you’ll truly feel the distance and all your problems melt.

Waiakeakua Falls:  I hope you’re not afraid to get wet! This 2.2 mile hike located in the back of Manoa valley features three waterfalls you scale up and multiple pools to swim in. You won’t get great views of the city, however, you’ll see many beautiful flowers, ginormous trees, and no crowds of people.

When on any hike please remember to look out for no trespassing signs, and be aware of your skill level and the weather. Suggest more great hikes in the comments below!