Ka'au-kratern
Ka'au-kratern

Ka'au-kratern

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, 96816

The basics

The Ka’au Crater loop trail is rewarding but strenuous and recommended only for experienced hikers. The trail is 7 miles (11.2 kilometers) long, with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet (640 meters), and you should plan for at least three—but up to six—hours to complete the loop and take in all of the sights, which include Olomana, the Mokulua Islands (“the Mokes”), and Chinaman’s Hat. Some tour companies take small groups along this trail, which could be a good option for those wary of going alone or for the first time.

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Things to know before you go

  • Wear proper hiking shoes: the trail can be muddy and slippery. Gloves are a good idea for using the trail’s rope assists.

  • Bring plenty of drinking water and snacks to keep your energy up.

  • Download a trail map before setting out; cell service can be spotty.

  • Do not bring pets or small children—they cannot use the ropes.

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How to get there

The Ka’au Crater trailhead is around a 20-minute drive from Waikiki. Parking is on a narrow road in a residential neighborhood and is very limited. There are only a handful of parking spots near the trailhead, so be prepared to park farther away and walk to the trailhead or come back another day.

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When to get there

As parking at the trailhead is so limited, getting there early in the morning is a good idea, preferably on a weekday. As it is a lengthy hike, set out before noon so you don’t have to walk in the dark. The hike is best attempted during the drier seasons as it is often muddy, even with little rainfall.

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Lanikai Pillboxes

If you’re looking for a hiking trail with a similar payoff in views but with far less effort, consider the Lanikai Pillbox trail, also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail. Considered one of the best hikes on Oahu, this easy-to-moderate trail is only around a mile (1.6 kilometers) long. Although steep, hikers are rewarded with some of the best views of the windward side of the Mokulua Islands.

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