75.4 F

Hawaii Travel & Things To Do In Hawaii

Amy Fujimotohttps://alohawithlove.com
I grew up in Hawaii and love trying out new things to do in Hawaii. When I'm not writing about Hawaii travel, I document my Mom's recipes, hike with Daisy the waddling rescue, work on my 200-gallon aquaponics system, and dream about my future van conversion so I can do some more traveling.

Comment below so we can discuss!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links to buy something I may earn a commission with no additional cost to you. This helps keep Aloha With Love running, thank you! Learn More.

From the moment you book your flight tickets, the last thing on your mind are the dangers you face when enjoying the view in Hawaii. The islands are paradise. It’s a place of aloha, beauty, relaxation and fun. Your planning is filled with prospective restaurants, Hawaiian festivals, surf lessons, shopping and of course hiking.

Now, the last thing I want to do is burst your bubble, because I think Hawaii hiking is fantastic! Just like in the pictures, the scenery is mind-blowing, the landscape one-of-a-kind, and the waterfalls simply refreshing. But, the reason why Hawaii is such a unique attraction, is the same reason why you cannot hike here the same way you do at home.

Aloha with love,

Hawaii is made up of lava rock

Many injuries, deaths, and missing person reports here in Hawaii are the result of Hawaii hikes. What’s most important about Hawaii is that our islands are made up of lava rock. If you’ve never held lava rock before, it is extremely light, brittle, porous, and you can even smash it with your own body weight if you were determined enough. (I work with lava rock in my aquaponics systems.)

Hawaii is an island chain completely formed by volcanos. Unlike the massive and heavy granite rock you find on the mainland and in most other places, our volcanic rock is light and porous. In other words, it crumbles. In fact, if you ever get a chance to compare the weight of a lava rock and a regular rock while in Hawaii, I’m sure you’ll be very surprised at the weight difference.

Hiker standing on the lava field near active lava flow, Big Island, Hawaii.
Hiker standing on the lava field near active lava flow, Big Island, Hawaii.

Volcanic rock can be broken easily because it is so brittle and is especially unstable when it has been raining. There have been several cases of very experienced hikers who have fallen to their deaths because of the lava rock they were standing on suddenly crumbled.

Be prepared for flash floods

Waterfalls are beautiful, fun and awe-inspiring. There is no question as to why waterfalls attract so much attention. Visitors and locals alike delight in waterfall trails where the end is a satisfying dip in a large pool of cold water on a hot Hawaiian day. However, waterfalls also mean rain, rivers, streams, and floods.

Sign warns of a flash flood area at the Iao Valley State Park in Maui, Hawaii. Editorial credit: Lourdes Venard / Shutterstock.com
Sign warns of a flash flood area at the Iao Valley State Park in Maui, Hawaii. Editorial credit: Lourdes Venard / Shutterstock.com

The more it rains, the more chances of falls, slips and rushing currents. Heavy rains on top of Hawaii’s lava rock can spell disaster so please use common sense and take extra precaution during particularly rainy days for any Hawaii hiking you may do.

In addition, because Hawaii is a tropical island, many hikes up in rainy mountains don’t dry fast. After a heavy rainfall, you can expect a lot of mud (and mosquitoes!) for several days even with clear skies and sunshine.

Local tip: Mosquitoes love Hawaii’s moist and humid weather. You’ll find them on hikes with a lot of trees and little sunshine and wind. Rainwater collects in pockets on the ground where they lay their eggs. Mosquito repellent -especially near your ankles – are a must.

Don’t go off the trail

There have been a number of times where hikers (or hikers’ bodies) have been found off the trail. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be constantly looking for trail markers. Because of our bright sun and healthy rains, hikes that go through dense forests are thick and overgrown.

Rain or even strong winds can dislodge rock and mud and hide even the most visible of trails. Besides the risk of becoming lost, there are dangers such as unstable rocks, unseen cliffs, wild pigs and tripping over roots and underbrush. The safest hikes will always be those with good trails such as Diamond Head or Makapuu Lighthouse Trail. As with any hike (not just Hawaii hikes!), make sure you are hiking with company.

Diamond Head | Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson


Leptospira, a bacteria that lives in some of Hawaii’s freshwater ponds, rivers, streams, etc. causes a blood infection called Leptospirosis in humans and animals. Symptoms range from mild to severe (everyone reacts differently), but deaths have happened.

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether to swim in freshwater ponds here in Hawaii, but I do want you know that Leptospirosis exists and that you should know the warning signs, which can appear weeks after your return from Hawaii.

Here’s a great article on Leptospirosis in Hawaii and what to look out for.

Should you hike in Hawaii?

So should you hike in Hawaii after reading this post? Of course! Hiking is one of the best things to do in Hawaii. The clean air, green leaves, and early morning wind gives me that peace of mind to breathe deep and enjoy life. It is not only relaxing, but makes me feel a deep connection with the magic of the land that I live in.

However, I have grown up in Hawaii and have read the recurring sad news of lost hikers and called-off searches over the years. Many visitors (and even local residents) don’t do their research and understandably the excitement of going on a hike often covers up the need to lecture your hiking group on the porous lava rock like a geology class.

I do hope though that by reading this post and through your own research and common sense, you’ll be armed with a basic understanding of Hawaii’s landscape that will allow you to choose the best Hawaii hiking for you, your family and friends.

Support Aloha With Love:

Do you like what I’m doing and looking for ways to support this blog and my work? Here’s how you can help:

  • Hawaii app: Download the Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai GPS audio tours straight to your phone for a budget-friendly storytelling guide to Hawaii’s history, culture, and sights.
  • Book activities: Use these links to book your tours at Aloha With Tours (my personal favorites) or Hawaii Activities (all tours).
  • Life in Hawaii: If you have a business, group, or activity that you think matches the theme of Aloha With Love, let me know! I’d love to hear about what you do and find ways to collaborate. Email me at amy@alohawithlove.com.
  • Do more: Like many things in Hawaii, this blog relies on word-of-mouth. Please share, comment, and subscribe to stay in touch. Thank you!

Hawaii Travel & Things To Do In Hawaii

The Complete Guide To Visiting The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is not just a popular activity on the Big Island of Hawaii. It's one of the best things to do in Hawaii and you'll be so glad to spend a day or...

The Best Things To Do In Kauai: 20+ Bucketlist Locations

Many of the best things to do in Kauai are outdoor activities. Kauai has a smaller population, which means there's a lot more nature, hikes, valleys, mountains, and crystal-clear ocean to explore. As Hawaii's oldest island, geologically, Kauai is...

The Very Best Beaches In Hawaii To Visit As A Local

As a frequent traveler myself, I wanted to create a list of the best beaches in Hawaii to help you figure out which beaches you should be visiting during your trip to the islands. This list is of course...

Weather In Hawaii In March: Travel, Events And The Best Time To Go

March in Hawaii is a transition period where winter morphs into summer. Since we're so close to the equator, Hawaii doesn't really have a true spring or summer. Instead, March is the month where there tends to be a...

Weather In Hawaii In April: Travel, Events And The Best Time To Go

Despite what you may think, Hawaii in April is not the rainiest month to visit Hawaii. By the time April hits, the rainy season is at the end of its run and the warmer days of May are already...

Weather In Hawaii In May: Travel, Events And The Best Time To Visit

Hawaii in May is one of the best times to visit the islands. The weather in Hawaii in May is fantastic, ticket prices and hotel prices are down, and there are typically less tourists this time of year since...

Real. Local. Non-touristy. Hawaii Travel & Things To Do In Hawaii.

My emails will make you smile!

I'm all about living life in Hawaii with passion, honesty, and respect. So if you like Hawaii travel, legal hikes, authentic experiences, and a kind and humble personality, I'm your local girl!

You'll love reading my fun and down-to-earth emails from a local perspective. I'll send you my personal tips, travel suggestions, and DIY project ideas that are perfect for Hawaii living.

Sign up below and you'll be added to my email list!

Aloha with love, Amy

Why Hawaii Hiking can be Dangerous