Hiking Etiquette and Tips (A Guide for the beginner hiker)


"Follow your heart, but take your brain with you."

Updated: January 22, 2017


Hiking can be very dangerous, especially if you are new to the community. Many people travel far and wide to visit Hawaii just for the hikes. Hawaii has arguably some of the best hikes in the world. Born and raised in Hawaii, I personally have not been hiking all my life. I just started hiking 3 or 4 years ago. Within that time frame, I have done over a hundred hikes, and there is still so much more hikes out there. I used to use websites such as Exploration Hawaii or Unreal Hawaii to find new and exciting hikes, however there was never enough information for me. I would do a hike, seeing the photos, not knowing what I was in for, and have gotten lost many times. Thus,  I created this website, to share my experiences so that other hikers will not make the same mistakes I have.

One example was when we first did Pali Notches. I knew the general location of the hike, but I did not know the exact location of the trail head. We headed up from Pali lookout into the forest on the right side, and started going up a steep mountain. The faint trail disappeared and we were rock climbing up a mountain, grabbing branches. It was about half an hour and I read that it took about 15 minutes to reach the clearing. I knew something was wrong. Then it started pouring rain and we had to head back down the steep mountain, literally sliding! We later found out that the trail head was ten feet to the left.

Another time we did Pu'u Ohulehule. It was a grueling 7 hour hike and I almost spent the night there because I went down a wrong ridge. My hiking buddies turned around and it was just me and my other friend, and even he gave up thirty minutes before the summit. I wanted to continue on to reach the summit, but I shouldn't have gone on my own. I made it to the summit, but on my way down I went down the wrong ridge. Lost for about half an hour, I back tracked to the summit and figured out my own way down. I started yelling, because I had no reception and wanted to make sure my friend was still there waiting for me at the same spot. I didn't want to go back down alone. We made it out just before dark.

Doing Pu'u Manamana, one of my favorite hikes, we encountered some other hikers by the turnaround point. They went straight instead of going right to the Graveyard Trail. I knew they were lost and they probably wouldn't have made it back if they went straight to True Manamana, one of the hardest hikes on Oahu. Luckily, we yelled at them and said they were going the wrong way. They turned around and took our route back down. Hopefully they made it down safe.

Hiking Etiquette

Now that you know how dangerous hiking can be, here are a few things you should know about hiking.

  • Always hike with a buddy. Never hike alone. No matter how experienced you are, something can always go wrong and you need somebody to call for help or help you back to civilization.
  • When using ropes, never put your full weight because you do not know the quality of the rope or how long it has been there. Only one hiker should use the rope at a time.
  • Leave the place in a better condition than you found it. Do not leave trash or cans anywhere on the trail. There may not be trash cans on most hikes, but just put the trash back into your backpack and throw it away later.
  • Say hello to other hikers! Greet everybody you see and if you are lost, don't be afraid to ask someone. Don't let your ego get the best of you.
  • "Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time." This quote means a lot about hiking. Don't put grafitti or markings on hiking trails, unless you are putting markers or ribbons to find your own way back. Do not take plants or anything with you from the hike. And sometimes pulling off branches and leaves could kill the tree. So be careful. This even pertains to rocks and sculptures that could possibly be mark halfway points and junctions. The rock on Moanalua Middle was pushed off the mountain recently.
  • On steep inclines, if you see somebody coming up, let them pass first before you head down. Some trails are only wide enough for one person and it is harder on the person coming up, than it is coming down. Let them have the right of way.
  • Sharing the beauty: If you see other people coming to the waterfall or lookout point, let them take a picture too. Do not hog the shot because they struggled just as much as you to get there.

Hiking Tips

Here's some tips and things to consider before you attempt any hike.

  • Always let somebody know when you are doing a hike and when they can expect you to finish. If they don't hear from you then they will know something is wrong. Safety first!
  • It is better to over pack than to not pack enough. It may slow you down carrying more than you need to, but your fellow hikers might run out of water and they will thank you for having that extra bottle.
  • Always have some form of communication whether it be a phone or GPS. Not all hikes have reception on the trails, so be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Always hike with somebody who has a sense of direction. Some hikes have a lot of junctions and you will need to remember which path you took in order to get back safely.
  • Bring ribbons or markers if you are unsure of the trail. These help a lot, especially on the lesser known hikes with faint hiking trails. It's not fun getting lost in a forest.
  • Never hike in extreme conditions: flash flood warnings, thunder storms, extreme winds. Value your life more than getting that perfect shot!
  • Always research as much as you can before attempting a new hike. Don't just use one source of information because hikes change. There could be mudslides, rock slides, trees fallen, that will change the route you take on a hike. Always try to look for the most up to date information on hikes.
  • Know your limitations when attempting a hike. If you feel that you are not capable of doing a hike, do not start or turn around if you have to.
  • Always check the weather before attempting a hike. Some hikes become ten times more difficult when the ground is slick and wet. Always hike in safe conditions!
  • You are always hiking at your own risk. A lot of hikes in Hawaii are illegal due to DLNR regulations. Obey all the laws and be careful at all times. Some places give out tickets if you are caught.


Our website is not intended to be the sole source of information for any hike. This blog is just intended to show people what they can expect on the hike and what things to consider. Hiking conditions always change over the years. Trails could become overgrown, trees fall over, mud slides could change the direction of the trail to contour around. The pictures we post is from the time that we have done the hike, and not the current condition of the hike. Never assume that any hike is safe and always be aware of your surroundings. Always put your life first in everything you do while hiking. Hiking can be dangerous and we are not encouraging hikers to do things out of their capabilities. Know your limitations and have fun!

























Pali Notches.



















Pu'u Ohulehule.



















Pu'u Manamana.

Please share your hiking stories in the comments below!

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