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4. Ka’au Crater Trail

Pair of hikers traversing the Ka’au Crater jungle
Traversing the lush landscape of the Ka’au Crater is always a joy.

If you’re looking for a classic Oahu jungle hike, the Ka’au Crater trail is the way to go. This is a trail immersed in nature, where sunlight peaks through the foliage only once in a while. The hike starts in a small residential area, but immediately enters a lush grove. Follow a stream surrounded by tall trees and vines dangling from every branch until you reach your first waterfall. This is a perfect place to have lunch and maybe even jump into the pool for a soothing swim.

Continuing through the forest, you’ll have to do a bit of scrambling and use ropes to get over a few tricky sections, before reaching your second waterfall. After a quick climb up the side, you’ll reach yet another one nestled between rocks. From there, the trail gets more technical; scrambling up the sides of the waterfall can get slippery and difficult. At the top, take a close look at Ka’au Crater because it’s a view unlike anything else. Rest up, soak in the views, then continue your journey down a ridge to complete your loop.

I love this hike because it’s never boring. Instead of offering the same scenery over and over again, it keeps switching things up—waterfall after waterfall, each one more enchanting than the last. After scrambling your way up, you don’t take the same way down, but follow a ridge with completely different scenery. You won’t find a lot of people on the trail, giving you the chance to enjoy the jungle in peace.

About the author
Nandor Szotak
Hawaii hiking guide and founder of Hungaro Explorer

Nandor is an avid hiker on Oahu and owner of Hungaro Explorer. Hawaii has been home for many years and in that time he has volunteered in a Hawaiian trail and mountain club, volunteered as search and rescue, and has helped with local trail maintenance. Whenever he is in nature, Nandor's first priority is respecting the land he is on and the people who lived there long before him.

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