The Power of Hiking in Motherhood + Marriage

Having 3 little ones under 5 at home had me burnt out, fed up, and overwhelmed. Then one day I had the marvelous idea to Get Out. And I mean much more than a money breaking and totally exhausting trip to target. I wanted to get out into the world with my children.

So I decided to Go Hiking With My Kids

At first this was not easy. I was not particularly in shape. Like I said I had just had 3 babies and my pregnancy hormones could only be sated with cheese burgers. I was also completely overwhelmed with how to handle all 3 of my kids alone out in the wild. Trips to the store were hard enough.

But I was Determined to make a change, and I wanted this to work.

Because anything would beat what my home life was like at the time. I was working from home and learning how to grow my photography business. This meant lots of time on the computer for me. Meaning the kids were mostly busy destroying the house. That or they had their faces planted in a screen. Just like momma.

So when I came to the conclusion that a change had to happen, hiking was the first thing on my list to try. Okay, it was the only thing on my list to try. I was grasping at straws. But I had always dreamt my family would be an outdoors family.

Hiking with my kids, I thought at the time, would also hit on a few other levels. It was great exercise, which we all needed, and it gave me an opportunity to get my camera out.

Little did I know it would lead to so much more.

hiking with my kids, bonding sibling time

Since I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, the beginning was a learning journey. The beautiful thing about that though, was that we figured it out together. And it wasn’t nearly as hard as trying to go grocery shopping. In fact, it was pretty amazing. Even when it was tough.

Here the kids could let out their wild energy. They could jump off rocks, balance on tree limbs, poke sticks in the mud and get dirty. I could laugh at their antics instead of telling them to hush, or glare at them, for the thousandth time.

Out in the wonderful world, we left behind the need for filler.

Being together in the world was enough. We traded in technology, toys, bickering, and busy work; with working together, learning together, exploring, exercising, and an immense sense of freedom, wonder and peace.

boy facing a path feeling free and unburdened by toys and technology

Here, in the wild outside, is where I learned to be a Happy Mom.

learn to be a happy mom hiking with my kids to a waterfall

Something about being in the fresh air gave me peace. Gave me a mental strength that seems to be sapped when I am indoors. But being outside, hiking with my kids, I am patient. Understanding. And completely focused on my children and us as a family.

After a while, I was even able to bring these feelings back home. I was gaining a better understanding of my children and their feelings + interest. With this newfound insight, I now saw a major discord in our home life.

Now I saw the toys and TV as a distraction to what they really enjoyed. Which was being active and engaged, learning with each other, and others, in an open environment.

I also realized my work was much more productive when I took breaks from it and refreshed myself. Being outside and away from a million thoughts and needs tying up my brain, brought my creativity back.

family activities Oahu hawaii

After a while I got my husband in on it. And that is when life really started to get good.

Watching my husband bond with our children in this way was exactly what our marriage had been needing. More often than not, he traded playing ball in the yard with the boy, for sitting on the couch together staring at a device.

To see them explore together, grow together, and unite again in such a deep way triggered a huge change for our entire family.

And it was more than the way he was interacting with the kids. We were accomplishing things together. Overcoming feats, planning together, and motivating each other.

I couldn’t get enough. I was addicted to this feeling of… togetherness.

We decided after a few short months of doing this that we would make it our lifestyle. One night I brought up a crazy idea to live in an rv, and travel with our children. And he was 100% on board. All it took was one 10 minute conversation and our whole life got thrown onto a different course.

Now I’m not saying it was all because I started hiking with my kids… but thats exactly what I am saying. I can clearly look back and remember the feeling of that first hike I took my son on. While everyone else was napping, we were changing the course of our entire families lives.

hiking with kids mom and son

So if you are a struggling momma, frustrated at home with the kids. I urge you to get outside and hike! It is a million times better than spending your day walking around target, spending too much money on regret. Maybe you can even get your husband to tag along… one day.

One great way to start hiking, even in the busiest stages of life, is finding quick hikes for a unique lunch. You can even keep it healthy and budget friendly by packing some fruits and veggies. Plus babies are the easiest when you can throw them on your back and let them be till snack time!

hiking with baby on back family adventures

So no excuses mommas! Get out and hike!

Top 10 Kid Friendly Hikes | Oahu Hawaii

Wanting to know safe kid friendly hikes on Oahu that still have big payoff? You don’t have to fore-go the good stuff when hiking with kids. Read on to find the best waterfalls, views, and mountain trails suitable for all ages!

Makapu’u Lighthouse

Oahu hawaii travel blog adventure family hike

This family hike is perfect for a sunrise with the kids. It is a stroller-friendly paved road, that switchbacks up the mountain. . You will be climbing uphill the entire time, but it doesn’t take long and the views are worth every step.

There are look outs all along the way and once a the top you get stunning views of the offshore islands and nearby mountain ranges. For more details and pictures of the entire trail see My Post on the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail Here.

Bonus

Makapu’u Lower trails will lead you to a unique area called Peles Chair. Here you can climb a short distance to the large rock (a favorite lunch spot for our family) or you can hang out in the tide pools below.

This is a short easy trail and great place for swimming, cliff jumping, tide pooling, and exploring with the kids.

Hamama Falls

family friendly hike with best waterfall on oahu

Our favorite waterfall and kid friendly hike on Oahu. The trail is maintained by the Board of Water Supply and is a quick, sometimes steep, trek to a powerful 40ft waterfall. There is a swimming hole along the way so make sure to bring your swimming clothes for a quick jump in the pools.

For all our pictures and details of the Gorgeous family hike visit my Hamama Falls With Kids post.

Pu’u O Hulu (Pink Pillboxes)

On the west side of the island you will find a multitude of hidden gems. This family hike is a bit more on the popular side and for good reason. It affords some of the greatest ocean and mountain views within a short amount of time. This is the first hike I took my son on to test him limits and it was a day I will always remember.

Though it can be steep and you will be scrambling over rocks at some points I often see children and baby wearing mommas on the hike. Be weary off the drop offs along the top and take your time on this stunning family hike.

Kaena Point

sunset hike with kids oahu hawaii family hike

You can hike this kid-friendly trail from the west side or the north side. I often hear that the west side offers better views of the ocean, with the stunning cliffs. But I enjoy the North side for all the exploring options. You can walk along the water, or along the dirt road nestled into the bottom of the mountain range, on the North side.

If you make it all the way to the end you will find a bird sanctuary with beautiful large albatross, and monk seals lazily sleeping on the sandy beach. Do not try to touch or get to to close the monk seals though, for they are endangered and that comes with a hefty fine and possible jail time.

Read my full post and see our video of the trail on the Hiking North Shore Kaena Point with Kids here.

Lanikai Pillboxes

One of the most famous sunrise hikes on the island. Though you will often find a multitude of people and tourist here it is beautiful and a short family friendly hike. You will find baby wearing mommas and kids often on this trail. Be aware though, there are some rock climbing areas and it can be a bit slippery so know you and your childs abilities before attempting.

Diamond Head

Diamond head is a fun kid-friendly hike for the whole family and affords you amazing views of Waikiki. With its close proximity to the city you will find it very touristy but quite fun. The lookouts are stunning and the family hike is easy for most ages and baby wearing.

Waimea Falls

Waimea falls is a great family activity that is more of a walk through a forest to a waterfall you can swim at. The only paid trail on the list, the walk is scenic, stroller friendly, and interactive. You can even take the trolley to skip straight to the waterfall or if you don’t want to walk back.

Once at the waterfall, you are able to use the lifejackets available, for no extra charge, and swim in the swimming pool under the waterfall. The whole family had an absolute blast swimming to waterfall and having it push us through the water.

There is even a little snack shack with hot dogs, water, and shave ice near the falls. If you are looking for a better lunch the restaurant at the entrance is a great place to eat where you can even watch peacocks roam freely.

Old Pali Road

old Pali road family hike scenic unique kid friendly trail oahu hawaiii

Though this hike is closed off by a gate it is still “accessible” and you will find many other adventure seekers on the trail. If you want a gorgeous kid friendly hike, on an old abandoned highway, hanging off the side of mountain, with hidden waterfalls and other gems, then this is your hike.

See our video and all the gorgeous pictures of the fun and intensely beautiful Hike at Old Pali Road Here.

Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls is touristy and always muddy and rainy. Part of the charm of the hike. A moderately easy trail you can go on to get all the fun pictures of a big adventure. With trees you can walk through, and near constant views it’s easy to see why the trail to this 50ft waterfall is so famous.

Bonus

Lyon Arboretum shares the same trail head as Manoa Falls and is much less crowded. Though I am not sure why as I love this little area. If you don’t do the whole trail you can walk the gravel road for a bit to a stunning set of trees before you enter the jungle area or stay close to the entrance for a perfect spot to have a snack or lunch after seeing the Falls.

Turtle Bay Kahana Bay Trails

This is a fun little spot on the North Shore of Oahu. With a wonderful Fruit stand market sitting across the street it makes for an all around perfect spot for the day. Start off at the market and get a bag of assorted ready to eat local fruit like dragonfruit and apple bananas, and get a fresh cold coconut chopped for you on the spot.

When you head across the street you can find A large scenic banyan tree and a multitude of trails. Here you can find magic schoolhouses hiding in the woods, pillboxes, horses on the trails, or stop at the beach for turtle spotting.

Family Hike | Hamama Falls | Oahu Hawaii

An easy family friendly hike, with stunning mountain views, that leads to one of the best waterfalls on Oahu, Hamama Falls.

The trail is owned and maintained by The Board of Water Supply, and they do ask that you obtain a permit to go to the falls. Though most don’t go through the hassle, it is a hike at your own risk if you decide not to.

When we got to the trail head my husband was surprisingly surprised and asked “its gated?”

Yeah baby, you know all the best hikes on Oahu are behind a fence.

The good thing about this one though is the trail goes right around it.

family hike hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, kids in nature, unschooling, world schooling

The hike to Hamama falls is only a 2 mile out and back trail that shouldn’t take but 30 to 45 minutes. It took us over 2 hours. But we like to explore and there are lots of paths for side adventures that we couldn’t resist.

waterfall hamama falls hike oahu hawaii, family activity, playful learning

Right when you start off there are pretty mountain views and beautiful wild foliage. The greenery here is astounding and I was oohing and ahhing every few minutes. I have lived on Oahu for over 2 years and I still can’t get enough of the all the beauty this island offers.

Though we did see one family with a stroller I Do Not suggest it.

The trail stays gravel and dirt most of the way, but there are a few spots towards the end that would make it quite difficult.

Even the nature found along the trails was different and beautiful. My kids loved finding it all and playing with it while we tried to figure out the names, and where it came from or belonged in our surroundings.

This was another reason it took is 5 times longer than it should have to reach the waterfall.
waterfall hamama falls hike oahu hawaii, family activity, learning in nature

We loved finding all the little paths through the walls of foliage and always took them when we could hear water. Doing this, we found a multitude of gorgeous little streams.

family activity to waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, kids in nature, unschooling

I may or may not have a million pictures of my little Willow girl holding her daddies hand following him along the path. Its my favorite.

landscape photography, waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, world schooling
One of the first paths we took off the main trail ended up being this little hidden gem of a stream.

It was a perfect spot for daddy to whip out the go pro and the kids to throw rocks. What little boy doesn’t love throwing rocks in a river? Too bad his sister kept beating him to all the good ones!

Even the main trail is absolutely stunning though. The great thing about family hikes in Oahu. Your not missing out on the beauty or the views.

waterfall hamama falls oahu hawaii, family hikes, unschooling
landscape photography, waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, world schooling

We read there was a swimming hole about 10 minutes in to Hamama Falls before we hit the trail. Since it took us about an hour, I was wishing we had brought our swimsuits.

It seemed the locals had the spot for the day anyway as there was a large crowd taking turns jumping in the clear waters.

waterfall hamama falls hike oahu hawaii, family activity, unschooling

It was still enjoyable watching the fun. Cooper decided we have to come back so he can jump in too.

waterfall hamama falls hike oahu hawaii, family activity, unschooling

After the swimming hole, you cross over a quaint little bridge with more beautiful views of the stream on either side.

Once you pass the bridge there is a hard way up and an easy way up. You can follow the trail to the right and go around to continue on the maintained road, or climb up a steep hill with a bunch of logs on it.

Guess which way we took.
waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, kids in nature, homeschooling

The path stays decently steep after this point and you will start to get a little workout in. This is also where you start to get stunning peek-a-boo views of the mountain range.

family activity to waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, kids in nature, unschooling
I was in photographers heaven most of the way up here and wanted to snap a picture at every turn.
waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, kids in nature, unschooling

You can see here what my husband thought of that. He’s a good sport but we were all ready to finally see a waterfall. Good thing for him it was right around the corner at this point.

waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, kids in nature, world schooling

When we got to the falls my mouth hung open for a few minutes. It was amazing. It was instantly our favorite waterfall on the island.

The power of the water made a gust of wind and the roar of the water made it feel even more intense.

We took turns climbing up with the kids for pics and eventually climbed in the icy waters underneath the 40ft waterfall.

We even got to witness some rock climbers climbing down through the falls. It looked absolutely thrilling and was added to my ever growing bucket list.

waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, kids in nature, unschooling
The kids were amazed and we were beyond happy with the outcome of our 2.5 hour adventure through the forest.

The one downside to Hamama Falls was that it seemed a bit touristy. There were quite a few people along the trail and at the waterfall.

We also came across quite a few people and their loose dogs. It was never a problem though and we would still count Hamama Falls as one of our top family hikes on the island.

waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, kids in nature, unschooling

And here I will leave you with my favorite picture as of the moment I am typing this. My son reaching up with a huge smile on face, waterfall wind in his hair, to lovingly give me a boop on the nose.

Nothing better than a waterfall love boop.
waterfall hamama falls trail oahu hawaii, family hikes, kids in nature, unschooling

Have you enjoyed one of the waterfall hikes on Oahu?