How to See The Best Hawaii Mountains

Hawaii mountains
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > How to See The Best Hawaii Mountains

When you think of Hawaii, you probably first imagine its tranquil beaches and glistening sunsets. But once you’re here, you’ll be awestruck by another sight: the towering Hawaii Mountains. 

And most of them are begging to be explored, either from their valley or their peaks (or maybe both).

Many states have mountains, but none are like those found here in Hawaii. Rather than rising in layers, Hawaii mountains have ridges that seem both fluid and sharp. 

Mountains in Hawaii

The Hawaiian islands were formed as a result of volcanic activity. Their mountains have ridges that look as sharp as the edge of a knife, and yet green vegetation flourishes on such a sheer face. The sensation is one of movement frozen in rock. Sometimes, I think the peaks look as though someone has thrown a green tablecloth across a point. The ridges are folds in fabric – graceful and fluid.

When shadows deepen the crevices between ridges, the mountains appear mysterious or even foreboding.

You’ll see a mountain while you’re in Hawaii – they’re hard to miss. But will you see one of our favorites, the ones so beautiful that you feel like you’re in a movie scene? 

Here are some of the top mountains to admire, walk upon, or explore while you’re in Hawaii. 

Haleakala, Maui 

Haleakala is a dormant volcano that covers a good majority of Maui. Residents live in its valleys and up the mountainside, in an area called “upcountry Maui.”

How to See It: 

You’ll explore Haleakala by driving to its summit, maybe to watch the sunrise or sunset. Or, you can drive the Road to Hana to see its lush crevices, stunning waterfalls, and towering sea cliffs.



Mount Wai‘ale‘ale, Kauai

We can’t get enough of Hawaii’s green, verdant terrain. And nowhere captures that beauty quite like Mount Wai‘ale‘ale on Kauai. This is the second-highest peak on Kauai, and it’s often named the wettest place on Earth (this likely isn’t true, but it is easy to believe when you see it in person). 

How to See It: 

The best way to see Mount Wai‘ale‘ale is by hiking the Alakai Swamp trail in Kōkeʻe State Park. It’s 3.5 miles each way with a 329-foot elevation gain, making it a difficult hike that could be worth it if you love Hawaii mountains. 

Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island

Mauna Kea’s total height is 33,500, making it the tallest mountain from base to peak. Even if much of that height is underwater, Mauna Kea is still the highest point in Hawaii. 

Here, you can go from tropical temps to snowfall in under two hours. Plus, Mauna Kea has some of the best stargazing anywhere. 

How to See It: 

Drive yourself to the visitor center or book a tour to the summit. You can also often spot its snowcapped peaks from Maui’s Haleakala.

Ko’olau Mountains, Oahu

The Ko’olau Mountain Range stretches across the eastern side of Oahu. Its steep face and vast width distinguish it from other tall, narrow Hawaii mountains. Though surrounded by a lot of development, the Ko’olau Mountains stand tall and rugged, a reminder of Hawaii’s rich natural history. 

How to See It: 

There are several hikes that take you into the depths of the Ko’olau mountains – most are pretty tricky and slick due to rainfall and its steep face. Our favorite place to admire Ko’olau from afar is Kualoa Ranch, where undeveloped land sweeps down from the edge of the mountains. There are different tours at the ranch, like UTV, horseback riding, boat, and ziplining. 

Hiking Hawaii Mountains

The combination of sheer faces and lush vegetation makes it important to stay on trails when hiking. Often, there are steep drop-offs camouflaged by plants so that you don’t see that the ground is suddenly very far below.

At Hawaii Aloha Travel, we can help set up a guided hiking tour, mountainside accommodations, or a driving tour around some of the most beautiful Hawaii Mountains.