First, you’ll want to select a comfortable, dispensable pair
of shoes with good tracking. An old pair of tennis shoes from
the back of your closet will do nicely.
Take the same approach in selecting attire. Look for loose,
comfortable clothing that you don’t care about damaging. Light
colored clothes are ideal, since they reflect heat, while dark
clothes absorb it.
Next, pick up some sunscreen and mosquito repellent. The sun
here in Hawai‘i is very intense, so you should look for a strong
sunscreen, at least a 40 spf. Apply the lotion generously to
your neck, face, arms, legs, and any other areas that will be
exposed to sunlight.
Find an empty plastic bottle, fill it with water, and stick
it in the refrigerator the night before your hike. It is very
important to drink plenty of water when hiking to prevent dehydration
A first aid kit is not necessary, but why not be safe and spend
an extra few bucks? Look for a comprehensive kit to be better
prepared in the event of an accident. It would also be wise
to carry a cell phone with you.
If you don’t own a cell phone, bring someone along who does.
If that is not possible, hike only easy, well-known trails and
do not deviate from the main path. You should also let someone
know where you are going and what time you expect to return.
Familiarize yourself with the hike. Ask people who have done
it how long it will take and what the conditions are like. It
may even be useful to buy a map. And if you really want to be
safe, there are some companies that offer guided tours at a
Now that you’ve taken steps to prepare, you’re ready to embark.
Diamond Head, Maunawili and Waimea Falls, and Lanikai, are hikes
that Kalamalama staff have done. Note that Waimea Falls has
a fee of $20 for kama‘ainas, and that Diamond Head will cost
Each location is unique and beautiful in its own way, so which
one you decide to do first is up to you. Where you live, your
willingness to travel, time available, and stamina are all factors
to consider. Lanikai is the most difficult, then Diamond Head,
Maunawili Falls, and Waimea Falls.
The trail is steep and not well paved, but you’re in for a
treat once you reach the top of Lanikai ridge; the view is awesome.
You’ll see two pillboxes near the top that were once a part
of Oahu’s defense network during World War II. Not much to see
inside of them except rubbish and broken glass, but don’t be
afraid to plop your ‘okole on top of the roofs. They make a
great spot for observation or for a picnic lunch.
Diamond Head Crater is a steep hike, but unlike Lanikai, the
trail is well paved. You should muster a lot of energy for this
one. The average time it takes to travel to the top is one hour,
but it’s well worth the panoramic view of Honolulu. Be sure
to bring your camera!
A roundtrip Maunawili Falls hike will take you about two hours.
The trail is known to harbor many mosquitoes if wet, so you
may want to avoid going during such times or wear mosquito repellent.
It also is well paved, but some parts are steep. Many large
trees shade the path, and at the end, a beautiful 20-foot waterfall
flows into a small pond. You may be tempted to cool off by taking
a dip, but be careful. Contrary to popular belief, swimming
in these ponds is not entirely safe. Leptospirosis (see sidebar),
a bacterial disease that causes flu-like symptoms, may be present
in the water.
A tropical rainforest that abounds lush greenery, colorful
flowers and exotic birds are part of Hawai‘i’s image. Waimea
Falls is all that. Concession stands are set up along the path
in case you get hungry or thirsty. If you find yourself too
lazy to walk, don’t worry, the park has a trolley-assisted tour.
Also, hula and music performances take place at various spots
and times on the hike. At the falls, you’ll enjoy a diving show
with a grand finale dive from atop the 50-foot waterfall. The
park even provides wedding services for a fee. Call 638-8511
for more details.