The Island of Hawaii, known to many as the “Big Island,” is one of the world’s natural wonders. Travelers flock to the island to marvel at the volcanic ruins, towering waterfalls, rugged cliffs, hidden caves, and pristine beaches. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is only a short shuttle from five of the best hikes in Hawaii. Because much of the topography is either private property or preserved land (such as national parks and forest reserves), travelers are urged to seek out “approved” Big Island hikes. These guided hiking tours meander through incredibly diverse landscapes, such as bamboo forests, lava deserts, and oceanside cliffs.
Instead of searching for “guided hikes near me” this winter, simply bookmark Hawaii Forest & Trail. This naturalist-led tour company specializes in small-scale adventures, including ziplining, birdwatching, and cooking classes. But they also lead groups to the five best hikes in Hawaii, most of which are moderately challenging. Thus, no prior backcountry experience is required. KapohoKine Adventures is a quality alternative if Hawaii Forest is fully booked. Self-guided hikes are widely discouraged. However, experienced hikers who boast a comprehensive knowledge of the island can utilize AllTrails.
Frequent visitors often exclaim, “Pictures don’t do the Pololū Valley justice.” It’s nearly impossible to capture to sheer tranquility, exceedingly lush forestry, and dramatic elevation changes with a single “snap” of a photo. During this five-mile, four-hour expedition, hikers will obtain jaw-dropping views of the azure Pacific en route to a hidden, spellbinding waterfall. Swimming is encouraged, so remember to wear a suit underneath your clothes.
One of the best hikes in Hawaii is entirely off-limits to the public—until now! Hawaii Forest & Trail has gained exclusive access to three gated estates near Hualālai, an active volcano. The five-hour guided tour explores a lava tube, a native forest, multiple 1800s volcanic eruption sites, and, of course, the coastline.
The only reason that Volcano Unveiled isn’t number one on this list of the best hikes in Hawaii is the simple fact that it’s 12 hours long. However, “Volcano Unveiled” remains the most awe-inspiring experience on the isle. Hikers will descend into a private lava tube, explore the terrain near Rainbow Falls, and spend several hours inside the vast Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Among the many reasons why hikers and backpackers are asked to utilize guiding services rather than offroad is because the island is home to a bevy of endangered native habitats, including many colorful birds. This rare hiking experience ushers nature enthusiasts into two unique terrains: Mauna Kea’s sub-alpine dry forest and Mauna Loa’s cloudy, misty forest. It’s naturally breathtaking, biologically absorbing, and historically significant.
Let’s head back into “Volcano Country” for a seven-hour hike through the heart of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of the world’s natural wonders (and home to some of the best hikes in Hawaii). Along the journey, hikers will learn about the region’s mythology whilst exploring lava tubes, black sand beaches, and rugged volcanic ruins.
Top Places to Stay in Hawaii: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Start and finish each day of island exploration at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, where island charm, natural wonder, and oceanside sophistication flawlessly meld. Other nearby (or on-site) pursuits that allot proper social distancing include snorkeling, championship golf, horseback riding, and countryside cycling. Otherwise, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel rests on 60 sublime acres of Hawaiian paradise, including semi-exclusive Kaunaʻoa Bay access, a convenient Beach Club, and an award-winning, Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course. To reserve a trip to this tropical island paradise, please visit MaunaKeaBeachHotel.com (or call 1-877-880-6524).