Best Shoes For Hawaii Hiking

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, chances are you’ve already got your hiking shoes packed. But if you haven’t found the perfect pair yet, we’ve got you covered.

Hiking in Hawaii is an experience like no other. The sheer variety of landscapes—from lush rainforests to dry deserts—means that you’ll want different types of shoes for different hikes. But what if you’re not sure which type of shoe is right for each hike? Don’t worry: we’ve got the lowdown on the best choices for every kind of terrain.

Best Shoes For Hawaii Hiking

The Best Hiking Shoes for Hawaii in 2022 (The Ultimate Buying Guide)

Aloha!

When you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, it’s crucial to bring the right gear.

With all of the beautiful scenery Hawaii has to offer, a great way to really experience it is by hiking. You’ll want to be comfortable on your hike, so proper hiking shoes is one of our must-have items to bring along. They’ll ensure you’re comfortable and don’t end up with blisters or sore feet at the end of the day.

Several hiking shoes are available for sale, and they all claim to be perfect for island hikes. What makes one pair better than the other?

We’ve done our research and found that the three pairs below are the best shoes for hiking in Hawaii:

How did we come up with this decision? It took many hours of research and gathering of feedback from consumers, plus personal experience. We considered things such as the grip on wet surfaces, water resistance, durability of the soles, and the shoe’s overall design.

Continue reading below to find out why these shoes are the best for hiking in Hawaii.

KEEN Newport H2 Sandal

The Keen Newport H2 sandal is extremely durable and will stand up to lots of hiking in Hawaii. It has enough grip and is also great for boating, kayaking and any activity where you might slip on wet surfaces.

Why do we love these shoes?

BreathabilityComfortDesign

These shoes are sort a hybrid between a shoe and a sandal, meaning they have that open-air feel and won’t make your feet feel sweaty or uncomfortable. The sole is thick enough that it will cushion your feet on uneven surfaces, but not so thick that it’s too heavy to walk in.

These shoes are versatile and lightweight, which is a very important factor when hiking in Hawaii.

Wearing my Keen hiking sandals on the Alan Davis trail in Oahu
Hiking the Alan Davis Trail in Oahu

You want to feel as comfortable as possible on Hawaii’s trails, and the Keen Newport H2 sandals are perfect for achieving that! They weigh about 14. oz. and can easily fit in your carry-on suitcase.

These sandals are more secured to your feet than traditional sandals because they’re closed-toed and go up to your ankles, using a bungee-like fastener to really lock them in place. The closed-toe design is perfect for protecting your feet while still letting them breathe.

I would definitely wear these sandals while visiting some of the best stops on the road to Hana in Maui since there are many waterfalls and easy hikes to explore. They’re great for places where you may be getting your feet wet, as they’re grip is exceptional on wet surfaces. They also dry pretty quickly as well.

These sandals would also be perfect for visiting the best black sand beaches on the Big Island, the best waterfalls on the Big Island, as well as the best waterfall hikes in Oahu.

Eco-Friendly Material

Keen is committed to safe, sustainable materials that will last for years while still being environmentally friendly. The company ensures that the material used in their products are safe for both workers, consumers, and the environment.

Some Downsides

These sandals might not be perfect for steep trails, walking on jagged volcanic terrain, or heavy-duty hiking.

They do, however, work very well for intermediate hikers and for exploring waterfalls. Unless you plan to hike on volcanic terrain on the Big Island of Hawaii, such as the Makalawena hike, these shoes should work very well.

Reviews From Other Hikers

The Keen Newport H2 is a very reputable product, and comes in as a highly rated pair amongst hikers. Hikers like the versatility of the sandal, lightweight design, and cushioned soles which offer more support than traditional sandals.

Note: Some customers have reported the shoe running half a size smaller and recommend sizing up half a size.

PROsCONs
VersatileNot perfect for heavy-duty hiking
Lightweight and very comfortableDirt and sand can get inside
Toe bumper protects toesNot waterproof

ASICS Gel-Venture 7 Trail Running Shoes

The Asics Gel-Venture 7 trail running shoes are the perfect multi-purpose shoes for Hawaii, and they feature GEL technology and an EVA midsole. They’re lightweight, slip-resistant, and offer excellent traction.

Hiking the Ehukai Pillbox hike in my ASICS Gel-Venture 7
Hiking the Ehukai Pillbox hike in my ASICS Gel-Venture 7

Gel technology in the heal area of the shoe provides shock absorption so your feet won’t be tired at the end of the day.

Why do we love these shoes?

We love the multi-purpose function of these trail running shoes. The ASICS Gel-Venture can be worn as an everyday shoe, worn at the airport, walking around Waikiki, hiking paved trails like the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail.

However, it’s still perfect for hiking intermediate hikes, such as the Pillbox Hike and Koko Crater in Oahu.

Reviews From Other Hikers

Online Color Issues

Some consumers have reported that the online pictures might display a false color. This issue was mainly for the lavender/grey colors. A few customers noted that the image looks lavender/grey online, but the shoes look much darker in person.

Arch Issues for Customers With a High Arch

A few customers with a large arch reported that the shoe was too tight on top of their foot. Please note that even though a few customers reported this issue, it was only a small percentage compared to the total number of reviews from all buyers.

Some Downsides

These Asics trail running shoes are not perfect for heavy-duty hiking, however, I wouldn’t stress so much about needing heavy-duty hiking shoes in Hawaii unless you are a very experienced hiker wanting to do some strenuous hikes.

Most hikes in Hawaii can be done with trail running shoes. With that being said, I wouldn’t wear these shoes to do the more heavy-duty hikes.

I have personally worn trail running shoes on most of Oahu’s easy hikes or moderate hikes, including Diamond Head, Ehukai Pillbox Trail, Lanikai Pillbox Trail, Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, and Koko Crater Trail, and they did exceptionally well.

PROsCONs
Very comfortableNot enough arch support
LightweightNot waterproof
Great gripNo ankle support

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot

Columbia’s Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot is perfect for heavy-duty hiking and experienced hikers. This shoe is very durable and built for trail hiking.

These boots offer great ankle support, making them ideal for walking on rugged terrain.

Advanced Technology: This waterproof hiking boot features a lightweight, durable midsole for long-lasting comfort, superior cushion, and high energy return.

Handy Features: The boot’s waterproof full-grain leather and mesh bootie construction, plus the durable mesh tongue for breathability, are perfect for extreme trails.

The mesh lining provides additional comfort, and the molded nylon arch shank offers added support and stability.

Omni-Grip: This boot features a multi-terrain traction system that matches formulated compounds and treads to specific environments, providing solid tracking no matter the conditions.

Why do we love these shoes?

The Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boots are perfect for those who want to do heavy-duty hiking in Hawaii. The advanced traction outsole provides excellent grip and stability in every environment, helping to prevent slipping.

The cushioned insoles make these boots very comfortable for hiking. They’re very durable, and the interior lining is quite breathable, helping to reduce sweating.

I have personally worn these boots hiking all over Oahu and Kauai and I love them so much. Also, they look great too which is a plus.

Me sitting on top of Lanikai Pillbox wearing my hiking boots
On top of Lanikai Pillbox hike
Me wearing my Columbia hiking boots sitting on top of the Lanikai pillbox hike
On top of Lanikai Pillbox hike

Things to Note:

If you are planning on just doing the popular hikes in Hawaii, I would stick with regular trail running shoes or the Keen sandals mentioned above.

One downside of hiking boots is that they can get too hot in the summer months, causing some discomfort.

With that being said, I have brought hiking boots to Hawaii and can confirm that they came in handy when hiking trails such as the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail and Wiliwilinui Access Road trails in Oahu.

If you are an experienced hiker wanting to do challenging trails, I recommend getting these boots.

Reviews From Other Hikers

Consumers love how these boots are very comfortable and hold up in different types of climates and weather.

Compared to other hiking boots, most customers mentioned that these boots are very lightweight and easy to walk in.

Consumers have recommended ordering half a size larger, as these boots run on the smaller side.

PROsCONs
Leather makes them easy to cleanToo narrow for people with wide feet/high arch
Lightweight compared to other bootsNot perfect hot summer weather
Great traction
Waterproof

Are hiking shoes needed in Hawaii?

This depends on the type of hikes you are planning to do while in Hawaii.

If you are an experienced hiker who desires to hike challenging trails, yes, I would recommend getting a hiking shoe such as the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot.

I would stick with regular trail running shoes or sandals if you are doing popular or paved road hikes such as Diamond Head or the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail.

What are the benefits of wearing hiking shoes?

Unlike regular running shoes, hiking shoes provide better traction, which helps prevent slipping while hiking.

They also have thicker soles suitable for rocky areas where you could easily cut your foot open with thinner sandals.

What are some different types of hiking shoes?

The most popular types of hiking shoes are trail running shoes, sandals, and hiking boots. Hiking sandals are great for dry and hot climates where it is not rocky or muddy.

Trail running shoes are great for easy to intermediate hikes where it is not too rocky or muddy.
Hiking boots are great for experienced hikers looking for challenging trails where your feet and ankles need extra support and traction.

Hiking boots are different from trail running shoes in that they have a thicker sole, and they also have additional support for your arch and higher ankle support to keep you more stable on more strenuous trails with rocks or mud.

This makes them great for doing harder hikes, but not so great if you plan on doing regular road hikes.

Which shoes are best for road hiking in Hawaii?

Depending on the season, if you plan on hiking paved trails, I would recommend going with trail running shoes or sandals.

If it is hot out and you want a breathable shoe with a thick sole, go with a pair of trail running shoes. For hotter months, sandals are great as they are even more breathable and lightweight.

These shoes will be most comfortable if you do not plan on hiking challenging trails. If you want to do more than just paved road hikes and intend on traversing some extremely rocky areas, I would recommend getting hiking boots.

The Wrap Up: Which Hiking Shoes Are Best for Hawaii?

The type of hiking shoes to purchase for your trip to Hawaii will depend on the activities you plan on doing while you are there.

Hiking sandals such as the KEEN Newport H2 Sandal are versatile and can be used for hiking and casual water activities, which is a plus because you get the benefits of two in one shoe.

For hot days during the summer months where it is not rocky or muddy, I recommend sandals.

The ASICS Gel-Venture 7 trail running shoes are perfect multi-purpose shoes that can be worn casually and are great for hiking.

If you plan on doing easy hikes with paved roads, go with these shoes.

The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boots have high ankle support and enhanced traction. This prevents you from slipping on muddy trails or unsteady rocks, making them perfect for experienced hikers looking to explore the more challenging hikes on the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

We hope these tips help you find the best hiking shoes for your needs.

Lastly, please remember to break in your shoes before heading to Hawaii to ensure the best experience.

Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii :: What is BAD to wear in Hawaii :: What to pack for Hawaii

What are the best shoes to wear hiking in Hawaii?

It’s good that you’re asking this question because your footwear is very important when your walking mileage starts to creep up. And your footwear may be the most important thing to consider for what to wear hiking in Hawaii.

Good shoes, and shoes appropriate for the conditions you’ll be walking or hiking, can be among the best things to ensure a fun and comfortable hike!

In short, have a look to these types of shoes for hiking in Hawaii:

  • Hiking sandals << can be perfect as travel sandals too
  • Trail running shoes
  • Hiking shoes

There may be exceptions to this, such as paved trails or hiking trails with more difficult terrain. But these types of shoes can likely work for most of the popular hiking trails in Hawaii.

And the hiking sandals can be comfortable when you’re doing a lot of walking around in hot weather during your travels, whether on dirt trails or pavement. (Popular brands for these types of sandals are listed below.)

Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii: Walking shoes vs flip flops vs sandals vs hiking shoes vs boots. What to wear in Hawaii

Do you really need hiking shoes for Hawaii?!

Can you wear the gym shoes or tennis shoes you already have when you go hiking in Hawaii?

For Hawaii’s popular hiking trails among visitors, you will likely get by just fine wearing the gym shoes, walking shoes, or running shoes you wear on a regular basis. This is especially true for the paved hiking trails in Hawaii.

And on many of the popular hiking trails, in particular the Diamond Head Hike, you will see people wearing all types of shoes. And that includes flip flops.

But that doesn’t mean flip flops are the best choice for hiking! On some trails, flip flops can be a BAD idea!

You may even see locals hiking barefoot on some trails.

Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii: Barefoot walking. What to wear in Hawaii

What’s the difference between your regular walking shoes and hiking shoes?

Even though you can manage just fine in your regular shoes, there may be reasons you’ll want to use Hawaii vacation as an excuse to invest in new shoes.

The main reason you may consider wearing shoes designed for trails is because these types of shoes will provide you with more traction than your regular shoes. Another reason to have trail shoes is for the support they can give you on trails that have rough surfaces and aren’t particularly flat.

That extra traction can be helpful in Hawaii, and so can that help with support on varied terrain.

Many of Hawaii’s popular hiking trails have lots of stretches of dry dirt and loose gravel. This can make for conditions that may cause you to slip a little and slightly lose your balance.

There are other hiking trails that may have you basically climbing up steep inclines or boulders with dry dirt and loose gravel… which can lead to a little bit of slipping.

Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii: Hiking shoes. What to wear in Hawaii

It can be easy to slip on the dry and loose dirt, and if you’re on a popular trail that has that kind of terrain, you may even hear someone lose their footing behind you.

Hawaii’s hiking trails are also filled with variable terrain. It’s part of what can make hiking in Hawaii fun! Many trails also have roots popping up.

Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii: Hiking shoes vs hiking sandals. What to wear in Hawaii

Now, this isn’t to the point where you would consider these popular hiking trails dangerous. Because most of the time, people will likely be able to catch themselves if they do start to slip. So they don’t fall completely. Although it does happen that people fall to the ground.

Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii: Walking shoes vs flip flops vs sandals vs hiking shoes vs boots. What to wear in Hawaii

What shoes to wear hiking in Hawaii

Hiking sandals

These types of hiking sandals are a popular choice for hot weather hiking because they can be more breathable than shoes. At the same time, they still provide that extra level of traction compared to regular shoes. You can find sandals that give you that extra grip that you won’t find in regular sandals too.

They can also be more ideal if you’ll be doing hikes that require small stream crossings, since it won’t be as big of a deal if they get wet.

Most importantly, hiking sandals are also designed so that they will be comfortable on longer hikes.

Hiking sandals can be easier to pack in your suitcase since they are lighter than closed-toed shoes and take up less space. One of the down sides though is that they can dirty up your feet quickly, depending on the trail. Although, you can find some more closed-toed type hiking sandals too that can minimize the amount of dirt you get on your feet.

These are some popular brands for hiking sandals:

  • Keen
  • Teva
  • Chaco

Hiking shoes

Similar to hiking sandals, hiking shoes like these will give you the extra traction and support on varied terrain compared to regular shoes. Shoes will give you a little bit more ankle support than sandals. They will keep your feet cleaner, and you may find that you like the stability that shoes provide better than sandals. Wearing shoes can also be better if you happen to ram your foot into a rock or tree roots, as the stubbed toe won’t hurt as much when you have the protection of shoes.

Merrell hiking shoes are a popular brand for hiking shoes.

Trail running shoes

Compared to hiking shoes, trail running shoes like these tend to be slightly more lightweight. As you can guess, trail running shoes are primarily made with runners in mind. This can be another reason why the best trail running shoes will have a balance of being light (relatively speaking!) and having the traction to run on dirt, rocks, and tree roots. They can be a good alternative for hiking even if you have no plans to use them for running.

Trail running shoes are generally stiffer in the sole to account for the trail conditions, so keep that in mind too if you’ve never worn them before.

Salomon running shoes are a popular brand for trail running, and they have a decent selection of colors too, compared to hiking shoes!

Hiking boots

For serious hikers who are embarking upon longer trails with variable terrain, you also have the option of wearing hiking boots like these. These are more heavy duty than the other types of trail-ready shoes which makes them heavier too. They do give more ankle support than traditional shoes, or even hiking shoes, so they could be a good option if you’re looking for that.

You might think about wearing hiking boots instead of shoes if you’re doing a longer trail like the full Kalalau Trail on Kauai’s Napali coast.

If you’ve never heard of this hiking trail, you do need a permit to do the full-length of it. It’s 22 miles round trip and is done as an overnight camping and backpacking trip. (Put it on the Hawaii bucket list!)

But if day hikes are more of your thing, you can do the first couple of miles of the trail without a permit too for the breathtaking views!

If you are sticking to some of the popular short hiking trails in Hawaii, you may like the other lighter weight shoes for hiking.

Walking shoes

If you’re only planning on doing paved hikes in Hawaii, or  you’re just looking for comfortable shoes for walking around the main streets, you may not necessarily need the traction that hiking shoes give you. In that case, you may look to wearing regular walking shoes like these.

Always break in new shoes

If you do decide to buy new shoes to wear before your Hawaii vacation, make sure that you go for more than a few walks in them. You want to make sure to break them in before you go to Hawaii. It would be the worst if you discover in Hawaii that they aren’t comfortable shoes at all!

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