Children enjoy hiking as much as adults. You can even find some adventurous toddlers who love being in nature and breathing the fresh air. In fact, it is healthy to let your children wander outdoors and giving them the chance to hike can provide them with some beautiful memories which they will cherish as they grow up. Hiking is considered something that can be enjoyed by the whole family and family hikes can be a great way to bond with each other and enjoy some quality time in nature.
However, when you consider hiking with children, you have to ensure that you find a safe and easy trail to complete. Obvious to state, it isn’t recommended to go on strenuous hikes with your children, they need something that is easy to complete yet challenges them; which is the fun of hiking.
When it comes to Hawaii, there are so many hiking trails. For an extensive list of hiking trails in Hawaii, you can read our article on ‘Hiking Trails in Hawaii: The 15 Best Hiking Trails in Hawaii.’ That being the case, when you are travelling with family and are looking for an ideal excursion to take your children on, some of the hikes on that list may just be too difficult or too dangerous for children. Hence we decided to help you find the hiking trails in Hawaii which are well suited to children. These trails are safe and not overly difficult. You and your family will enjoy exploring the beautiful landscapes of Hawaii and bask in the breathtaking vistas of these islands.
You also have to consider the best time to go on these hikes when you are hiking with children. Of course, evening hikes would be too dangerous for the kids, hence you have to stick to an early start. Not only does this give you the opportunity to sidestep the crowds which usually follow through later parts of the day, but you also have the chance to cool off after the hike at the beach. However some of these hikes have open hours, hence it is important that you check beforehand for the exact opening time when you arrive in Hawaii.
Our list of 10 family-friendly hikes in Hawaii is sure to provide you and your family with a memorable experience from your time in Hawaii. Hence, without further adieu, let’s dive into the various kid-friendly hiking trails in Hawaii.
1. Manoa Falls Trail
This kid-friendly hike in Oahu is breathtakingly beautiful. The trail leads to a stunning 150-foot waterfall in the depths of the rainforest. Just hiking through the rainforest itself can be an exceptionally rewarding experience for the little ones.
The trail is 1.6 miles long, which isn’t too long of a trail for children to complete. It takes about an hour and a half to complete this round trip to the waterfall and back. Though the waterfall is the main focus of the hike, the journey to the waterfall itself is captivatingly beautiful. You will come across some of the local Hawaiian vegetation and bamboo forests. With so much to explore in the rainforest, it will surely make for a memorable family photograph.
Though not stroller friendly, the hiking trail is well maintained. However, there is the occasional slippery mud, especially during the rainy season. You will also encounter some uneven terrain, but that is the fun of hiking. So long as you have some good hiking boots and maybe some hiking poles or sticks, you should be well covered to conquer this trail.
The largest crowds are seen during lunchtime, hence you should plan to hike either before or after lunch. Hiking after lunch means you will have to battle the heat and humidity, especially during the summer months. Regardless of when you plan on going on this hike, you should make sure to carry bug spray with you, after all, you don’t want bug bites all over your children.
Though you may be tempted to cool off in the waters of the waterfall, this is not recommended due to Leptospirosis (a water bourne infection contracted from freshwater.)
If your kids love adventure, this trail will for certain fuel their adventurous spirit. Though a highly recommended hike, it should be skipped during heavy rains. This is because the area is susceptible to flash flooding.
2. Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
Located in the hot and dry side of the islands, you want to ensure that you are not hiking this trail during midday. Hiking during the early morning or early evening will ensure that you skip out on the midday heat, coupled with the fact that the mountains look exceptionally beautiful during these times of the day.
This 2-mile hike is perfect for children and families and is also stroller friendly. The path is paved however there is an incline to the trail with an elevation gain of 500-feet; you are sure to get a good workout on this trail. The views from the various stopping points along the trail are phenomenal, from mountains to coasts. There is a bit of a drop on the edges of the trail, hence when hiking with children, you have to be extra careful to ensure everyone is staying on the path and not wandering too close to the edges.
Though the lighthouse is what the trail is named after, it is the spectacular views that you get on this trail that are the most rewarding. Even if you have a hard time getting to the lighthouse, you are sure to experience breathtaking views, regardless of how long on the trail, you want to hike on.
If you are lucky and are travelling during the winter months between December and April, you may even catch the rare sight of humpback whales. If you are visiting during this time of the year, make sure to carry binoculars with you!
3. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens
Considered one of the highlights of a trip to Hawaii, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens are great for families and is an easy hike regardless of your skill level. It is a great hike to take your children on.
The hiking trail is a roundtrip of 1.9 miles and you can walk through this garden with ease. There is no elevation gain to state and the path is paved and stroller friendly. You will encounter various plants and trees native to the region and the Visitor’s Centre offers some great informational tips to make the trip more educational. If your kids love learning about plants and trees, then this could be a great hike to take them on.
There is a lake which can be explored and you can even go fishing at the lake on free fishing days. The Visitor’s Center lets you borrow free fishing poles and all you have to do is bring some bread to use as bait. The garden feels more like a jungle, which is great for children who are looking to spend some time in nature in the safety of the gardens.
The gates to the gardens open at 9 in the morning and are open all 7 days of the week. There is also no admission fee to enter the garden; it is completely free!
4. Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens Trail
The trail offers more of a walk rather than a hike. Though this is the case, the exceptional beauty of the gardens is sure to capture you, regardless of your age. Considered one of the friendliest hikes for children, the trail at Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens does come with a pricey admission fee. The fee is directed towards the maintenance and preservation of the botanical gardens. At $18 for an adult and $12 for children aged 4 and above; though there is an admission fee to the gardens, it does offer your family a great time in nature.
The gardens are a great place for a family picnic, with the exotic vegetation providing the backdrop for a beautiful picnic. There is also a Hawaiian village that provides you and your family with the opportunity to learn about the Hawaiian culture. The trail at Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens will not disappoint you. It leads to a waterfall at the end of the trail, which is a 30-foot waterfall that is open for swimming. However due to leptospirosis as mentioned prior, if you do have any bruises or scrapes, it is recommended that you don’t enter the waters.
The trail covers a round trip distance of 1.5-miles. The terrain is paved making it stroller friendly. Don’t just run straight to the waterfall, instead absorb all the sights and sounds of this surreal environment and relax as you wander along the trails of these beautiful gardens.
5. Diamond Head Hiking Trail
If you ever wanted to hike the trail of a dormant volcano, then the Diamond Head hiking trail has to be the pick for you. Offering some breathtaking views of Waikiki, you and your family will have to brave the elevation on the trail with an elevation gain of 560-feet.
This 1.6-mile trail is a rather physically challenging hike and will take you about 2 hours to complete. There are two sets of stairs which total 173 steps of elevation gain and quite the workout. However, the panoramic views offered from the top is absolutely stunning with sights of beautiful blue waters in the distance.
Tough this is a kid-friendly hike, you have to prepare ahead of time for the physical exertion this trail requires. Not considered the easiest of trails, the elevation may be too difficult for some little ones, hence be prepared for the hike before you start the trail. The trail is not stroller friendly and the trail can get very hot during midday, hence it is good to start early. As a more popular hike, you would also benefit from skipping out on the crowds which usually gather along the trail during midday.
The views from Diamond Head are absolutely gorgeous, which is why it is well recommended though it is at a higher level of difficulty for children. That being the case, the trail is kid-friendly, however, you and the kids will for certain find yourselves exhausted after the hike.
6. Lanikai Pillbox Hike
The hike provides you with some exceptional views of the world-renowned Kailua and Lanikai beaches. The distant views of the pristine white sands and the gorgeous turquoise waters look exceptionally beautiful on this trail.
At a length of 2.5-miles, the trail is only moderately easy with an elevation gain of 500-feet. These beaches are very popular, hence if you looking to park a vehicle, you should make sure to arrive early.
You will be climbing up hills, using ropes and roots as support and it is very important that you wear some good quality sneakers or boots for your hike at Lanikai. Starting the hike while it is still dark is also great, for it allows you to catch the sunrise. However, this may be difficult to do with kids. Holding to the ropes and of course, keeping an eye on the kids become difficult in the dark. This is why if you are hiking with children, it is advisable to do this hike during the day. You can always catch the sunrise on the beach and start the trail soon after sunrise.
The view from the top is simply breathtaking and all the hard work to get to the top will be worth it when you experience the panoramic view from the top of the trail.
7. Akaka Falls Loop Trail
If it is waterfalls that you and your kids are after, then this trail leads to two in less than an hour. Located in northeastern Hilo, the hike takes you through the lush rainforest filled with native vegetation; wild orchids, bamboo groves and beautiful ferns.
The trail is only a 0.4-mile loop, and you reach the 100-foot Kahuna Falls almost as soon as you start the trail. Not too far off will be the second waterfall on the trail, Akaka Falls, which is a beautiful 442-foot waterfall that tumbles to the gorge below.
There are a few steps along the trail, however, there are railings to aid you. This is probably the most treacherous part of the trail. Though the falls are majestic, you cannot swim at Akaka Falls. That being the case, simply hiking through the rainforest and witnessing these beautiful waterfalls should be a treat nonetheless for you and the kids.
8. Mahaulepu Heritage Trail
The trail carries along the southern shoreline of Kauai and offers stunning views of the ocean. The terrain of the trail is sure to interest the young trekkers who would find the varying terrain challenging, yet not overly difficult to muster.
This 4-mile hike is not strenuous, however, it is long and it can get very hot, so be sure to carry plenty of water. The trail starts at Shipwreck Beach and carries through the limestone cliffs past a Hawaiian temple. The views on the trail are beautiful.
You will find yourself with a cultural attachment to Hawaii and will even have the chance to explore the Makauwahi Cave, which is a detour from the trail. The trail carries you through sand dunes and even a golf course. Shipwreck Beach is not suitable for swimming, hence you will have to refrain from taking a dip there.
9. Waihou Spring Trail
Following an old plantation road in Makawao, this trail takes you through a forest of pine, Cyprus and eucalyptus trees that were planted in the 1920s. The trail is free to access but will need some good shoes to keep you well-grounded through the hike.
The trail follows a ridgeline and descends into a gulch. Strolling through the forest, you will find a fulfilling attachment to nature and you and your kids will love experiencing the local vegetation. Walking through native koa and hala pepe that is found native to the Hawaiian dryland forest, your kids are sure to love everything that they see and experience on this trail.
The trail is not overly difficult and is a great fit for children. At a 1.8-mile loop, you will find this hike through the Waihou Spring Forest Reserve captivating and rewarding.
10. Aiea Loop Trail
Located 10 miles northwest of Waikiki, the trail starts at Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area which is a 384-acre park. The terrain is mostly shady and there are no hard rocks to climb or stairs to the summit; a perfect fit for when hiking with children.
You are sure to catch some beautiful views of Diamond Head and Koolau Mountains on this trail. Though there is a stream crossing at the end of the trail, the hike is not overly strenuous. There are a few uphill sections however nothing that kids cannot manage.
You will be walking through lush lemon eucalyptus trees and majestic Norfolk Island pines. This 4.8-mile loop is rather long, however, it not difficult by way of terrain. Hence it is an ideal choice when hiking with children.
Family-Friendly Hiking in Hawaii
As popular as hiking is in Hawaii, it becomes important to find the right trail that is well suited to children and offers the best rewards. Whether it is a trek through the rainforest or simply up the mountains to some exceptional panoramas, when hiking as a family you have to ensure that everyone finds the hike easy and fun to do.
As mentioned within this article, there are various hikes that are kid-friendly and suited for both children and adults alike. Don’t be fooled by the ease of these hikes, they all provide unparalleled experiences of nature and sights and sounds that are sure to make for a memorable excursion in Hawaii. Whether you choose a waterfall hike or a more treacherous 4-mile hike, your family is sure to have a great time in nature, enjoying everything that a family hike has to offer.
We hope reading this word to word has provided you with the information that you needed to pick a trail that is suited to your family. We worked to provide you with the most informative content to give you an idea about each of these trails; to ensure that you know everything you need to know before you decide on the hiking trail that best suits your family.