Braving The 7 Wonders of Hawaii on Foot

Grab your boots, your backpack and some bottle. Hawaii isn't for the faint-hearted, but the rewards are mesmerising.
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The calm before the storm at Pipiwai Waterfalls



Haleakala's Sliding Sands, Maui

Rating: Medium difficulty

Explore cinder cones and old lava flows from within Haleakala, possibly the largest dormant volcano on the planet. Formed by erosion rather than volcanic activity, the valley at the summit of Haleakala boasts much to marvel at, including the Silversword, a uniquely Hawaiian plant with an alien appearance that compounds the other-worldly feel of this remote location. Ascending and looping up the mountain, the road to Haleakala National Park climbs through the clouds to a summit made for watching the sunrise.

Pipiwai Waterfalls Trail, Maui

Rating: Medium difficulty.

This trail begins along the rugged and remote eastern Maui coastline, following the Pipiwai stream inland, surrounded by dense jungle and a series of waterfalls each more impressive than the last. En route cross streams, and negotiate an unforgettable boardwalk journey through a bamboo forest so tall and dense that daylight struggles to penetrate, until you reach the towering 400 ft wall of water at the end of the trail that is Waimoku Falls. Adventurous hikers can cool off in a pool overlooking a 180 ft drop to the rocks below. For the less height-happy, visit the Oheo Pools at the trailhead where you can take a freshwater dip among smaller waterfalls and listen to the Pacific Ocean crash against the rocks nearby.

Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui

Rating: Medium difficulty.

Ascend the Waihee ridgeline trail up Maui's western peak of Pu'u Kukui and hike above the helicopter tours to admire lush rainforest valleys and the coastlines beyond. Hiking on the windward side of any Hawaiian island means wet weather, muddy conditions and the threat of heavy rain. But the wet weather means great waterfalls, green vegetation and cooler hiking conditions.

Inside Kilauea's Crater, Hawaii

Rating: medium difficulty.

The volcanic activity that created the Hawaiian island chain hasn't yet finished its work. For evidence, look no further than the lava flows and gas eruptions that spill from Kilauea volcano on the south-east side of the Big Island. At Volcanoes National Park, there's plenty to see without stepping far from your vehicle. However, the eight-and-a-half mile trek into the Kilauea pit crater, along huge expanses of lava is one of hiking’s great experiences.

The Na Pali coast is the stuff of legends. The narrow 11 mile coastal trail is dotted with illegal permanent settlements that are spectacular, but hard going.

Alaka'i Swamp Trail, Kauai

Rating: Difficult

Take a westerly drive around Kauai and you'll eventually run out of road, finding yourself overlooking the plunging cliffs of Kalalau Valley and the legendary Na Pali Coast. This unforgettable hike leads you along cliff-top trails with stunning coastal views before branching off on a network of boardwalk paths through jungle scenery and across misty mountain-top swamps. The journey is rewarding enough in itself, but at the trail's end you might also be lucky enough to get a break in the clouds and spy even more views over the Wainiha Pali cliffs.

Hanakapi'ai Falls, Kauai

Rating: Difficult

The Na Pali coast is the stuff of legends. The narrow 11 mile (18 km) coastal trail, dotted with illegal permanent settlements is spectacular but hard going. Thankfully the hike to Hanakapi'ai Falls utilizes only the easiest and most travel-worn miles of the Kalualau trail, from Hanakapi'ai beach. Stop here to admire the picturesque but dangerous bay, riven with severe ocean currents. From here the trail takes a 90° inland turn up a rugged and slippery two mile trail to the face of the falls.

Sleeping Giants, Kauai

Rating: Medium difficulty

Nounou Mountain rises from the eastern leeward lands of Kauai and this pleasant little hike is a great way of sampling some of Kauai's exotic plant and bird life. Local legend has it that the mountain was once a giant who feasted so heavily at a party in his honour that he took a nap and never awoke. Since the hike up East Nounou Mountain trail takes you straight over his head and up his nose, you might want to cross you fingers that he doesn't rouse himself while you're around.

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