Leave the beach behind for this special Hawaiian spot

Oahu, Hawaii, may play host to honeymooners, resort bunnies and Pipeline groupies, but don’t underestimate it as an outdoorsman’s paradise thanks to some incredible diving, surfing and a few noteworthy hikes.

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Among the most nerve-wracking and beautiful is Olomana, the best ridge hike on the island, offering three peaks, short bursts of rock climbing and a clean view of Kailua and the ocean. Bring a rain shell, strap on the GoPro and get ready for what might be the longest Slip ‘N Slide of your life.

Oahu’s Olomana Trail

A view of the second peak on Olomana from the first. Photo by Johnie Gall.
A view of the second peak on Olomana from the first. Photo: Johnie Gall
Where: The trailhead is located on an access road leading to Royal Hawaiian Golf Club (Maunawili Valley, 770 Auloa Rd., Kailua, HI 96734).

What to do: As you get access to one of the biggest landmarks on the island, you can’t miss this day hike, although it should be reserved for intermediate hikers. Once you’re on the trail, prepare for slippery conditions, as it’s not uncommon for rainfall to turn the dirt path into a mudslide.

Even though the hike is only about 1.5 miles to the first peak, there’s a 1,000-foot elevation gain and plenty of obstacles to overcome first, including narrow paths with sheer drop-offs on either side.

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Toward the top of the first peak is where things start to get hairy; at one point you’ll come to a rock wall that, combined with rain, can feel slippery and unsafe (though experienced climbers will have no issues). If you’re feeling adventurous at the top of peak one, there are two more waiting for you — and any way you swing it, the view is incredible.

Olomana
Some of the scenery on the Olomana trail. Photo: Johnie Gall

How to get there: There is no parking near the trailhead, so park on the side of the road that leads up to the golf course or you could be towed. Start walking up the paved driveway past the guardhouse (be sure to wave hello) until you see the trailhead, where you’ll walk straight back through the trees.

What to bring: A raincoat, shoes with traction, a waterproof camera, water and maybe a hand towel if you want to wipe the mud off your hands before you snack on a granola bar.

If you sweat a lot, you should bring a bandana, and if you’re using a rental car, it might be a good idea to bring a change of shoes and a trash bag to store muddy clothes in.

Olomana
The Olomana trail is steep but enjoyable. Photo: Johnie Gall

Do: Enjoy getting your hands (and feet and legs) dirty.

Don’t: Ignore the advice to take your valuables with you, or, better yet, leave them back at the hotel. A sea of broken car-window glass in the parking area should be warning enough: Trusting tourists mean this spot is a thief’s paradise.