Rock Climbing in Hawaii: Best Spots for Adventure Seekers

With the abundance of activities available in Hawaii such as surfing, hiking, and water sports, rock climbing isn’t actually the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to outdoor adventures. However, this activity has a strong presence in Hawaii, and things are actually pretty simple. These islands are nature’s state of art, an environment with so many beauties, including not just incredible landscapes, hiking trails and incredible biodiversity. These islands are also full of super-interesting rock formations, perfect for rock climbing.

If you're interested in rock climbing in Hawaii, it's advisable to research local climbing communities, guidebooks, or outdoor adventure companies that offer climbing excursions. They can provide you with information on the best locations, safety considerations, and any restrictions or regulations that may be in place. Also, you can check this article and get an insight into the 5 great spots for rock climbing in Hawaii:

Mokuleia Crag

Mokuleia Crag is a popular rock climbing area located on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. It is situated near the town of Mokuleia and offers climbers a diverse range of routes on basalt rock walls.

It is easily accessible from the main road on Oahu's North Shore, making it convenient for climbers staying in the area or visiting from Honolulu. The crag is nestled in a scenic coastal region, providing climbers with beautiful ocean views as they scale the routes.

The climbing at Mokuleia Crag is predominantly on basalt rock. Basalt is a volcanic rock known for its durability and rough texture, offering a good grip for climbers. The routes feature a mix of cracks, pockets, and edges, providing a variety of climbing techniques.

Mokuleia Crag offers a range of sport climbing routes, which means climbers use pre-placed bolts and anchors for protection instead of placing their own gear. The routes cater to climbers of different skill levels, with options for beginners as well as more challenging routes for experienced climbers. The difficulty ratings vary, allowing climbers to choose routes that suit their abilities.

It’s also great to know that there is a small but dedicated climbing community. Local climbers and outdoor enthusiasts often gather at the crag to enjoy the sport and share their passion for climbing. This can provide an opportunity for visitors to connect with like-minded individuals, seek advice, and make climbing partners.

Mokuleia Crag is located on private land, and access may require permission from the landowner or local climbing organizations. It's important to respect any access restrictions, leave-no-trace principles, and follow any specific guidelines provided by the climbing community to preserve the climbing area's integrity and ensure future access.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon, often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," is a popular natural attraction located on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. While the primary draw of Waimea Canyon is its breathtaking views and hiking opportunities, there are also rock climbing options available in the area.

Waimea Canyon's steep walls and volcanic rock formations provide potential climbing routes for experienced climbers. However, it's important to note that the number of established climbing routes in the canyon is relatively limited compared to other climbing destinations.

The difficulty levels of the climbing routes in Waimea Canyon can vary. Some routes may offer moderate climbing challenges, while others may be more advanced or require specialized skills. As the canyon's rock formations are primarily volcanic, climbers can expect features such as cracks, edges, and pockets.

Access to climbing areas within Waimea Canyon may require permission and knowledge of local regulations. It's advisable to seek information from local climbing communities, outdoor adventure companies, or climbing guides who can provide up-to-date details on access, permits, and any specific considerations.

If rock climbing options are limited in Waimea Canyon, there are other outdoor activities available in the area. Hiking trails throughout the canyon offer stunning viewpoints and opportunities to explore its natural beauty. Some trails may have challenging sections that involve scrambling or boulder hopping, providing a different kind of outdoor adventure.

As the climbing scene in Waimea Canyon may not be as developed as in other destinations, it's important to approach it with the appropriate expectations and preparedness. Researching local resources, consulting experienced climbers, or seeking guidance from professional guides can help ensure a safe and enjoyable climbing experience in the canyon.

Silhouette of Rock Climbing in Hawaii

Big Island Bouldering

Big Island Bouldering refers to the activity of bouldering, which involves climbing shorter rock formations or boulders without the use of ropes or harnesses, on the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island. Here's some information about Big Island Bouldering:

The Big Island offers various locations for bouldering, with some of the popular spots being South Point (Ka Lae) and the Kilauea Caldera area. These areas provide climbers with different types of rock formations and boulders to explore.

The volcanic geology of Big Island offers a diverse range of rock types for bouldering. Lava rock, such as basalt and volcanic tuff, is commonly encountered. These types of rock can vary in texture, providing climbers with a mix of holds and features to navigate.

The difficulty levels of bouldering routes on the Big Island can range from beginner-friendly to more challenging problems suited for experienced climbers. The grading system used in bouldering indicates the difficulty of a particular route or problem, taking into account factors such as the height of the boulder, the nature of the holds, and the required moves.

Bouldering on the Big Island often takes place in scenic natural settings. For example, South Point offers stunning ocean views, while the Kilauea Caldera area provides a unique opportunity to climb amidst volcanic landscapes and potentially active volcanic features. The island's natural beauty adds to the overall experience of bouldering.

While bouldering on the Big Island might not have a large organized community like some other climbing areas, there may be local climbers who frequent these spots. Connecting with local climbing communities or seeking guidance from experienced climbers can help with finding specific bouldering areas, understanding the local ethics, and obtaining insider knowledge about the best problems and routes.

Pu'u Kukui Summit

Pu'u Kukui Summit, located in the West Maui Mountains on the island of Maui, Hawaii, offers rock climbing opportunities for experienced climbers. It features steep, rugged terrain with cliffs and rock formations suitable for climbing. The summit is part of the West Maui Mountains, which are characterized by volcanic rock formations, including basalt and other volcanic rock types. The volcanic nature of the rock can provide a variety of features such as cracks, pockets, and edges for climbers to navigate.

The climbing routes at Pu'u Kukui Summit are generally considered advanced and challenging. The steepness of the terrain and the technical nature of the climbs require climbers to have a solid foundation of climbing skills, experience, and a high level of fitness. The difficulty ratings of the routes can vary, offering a range of challenges for climbers.

Access to Pu'u Kukui Summit and its climbing areas may require permission and local knowledge. The summit is part of a private land area and is managed by the Maui Land & Pineapple Company. It's important to respect any access restrictions, obtain necessary permits or permissions, and follow local regulations and guidelines. Checking with local climbing organizations, guides, or experienced climbers who have knowledge of the area can provide valuable information on access and any specific considerations.

Climbing at Pu'u Kukui Summit requires careful attention to safety. The terrain can be steep, exposed, and potentially loose, so climbers should be well-equipped with appropriate climbing gear, including helmets, harnesses, ropes, and protection. It's crucial to assess the stability of the rock and be cautious of loose rock or other hazards. Climbing with a partner or in a group is strongly recommended for safety purposes.

Due to the advanced nature of climbing at Pu'u Kukui Summit and the potential for changing conditions, seeking the guidance of local climbers, climbing guides, or outdoor adventure companies is advisable. They can provide valuable insights, route recommendations, safety tips, and up-to-date information about access and conditions.

Iao Valley State Park

Iao Valley State Park, located in central Maui, Hawaii, offers a picturesque setting with lush greenery, a flowing river, and the iconic Iao Needle, a natural rock pinnacle. However, it's important to note that rock climbing on the Iao Needle itself is not allowed due to its cultural significance and preservation efforts. 

While climbing the Iao Needle is not allowed, there may be some limited bouldering opportunities or potential for climbing on surrounding rock formations within the park. However, specific regulations and restrictions regarding bouldering or climbing on these formations may still apply. It's important to check with local authorities, park officials, or relevant land management agencies for any specific guidelines or limitations.

Iao Valley State Park is primarily known for its scenic beauty and hiking trails rather than rock climbing. The park offers various trails that allow visitors to explore the lush vegetation, enjoy stunning views of the valley, and learn about the cultural and natural history of the area. Hiking and experiencing the park's natural beauty can still provide a rewarding and enjoyable outdoor experience.

As with any state park, visitors should be aware of and adhere to park regulations. These may include guidelines related to trail usage, proper disposal of waste, respecting natural and cultural resources, and any specific restrictions regarding climbing or bouldering activities within the park.

If you are interested in bouldering or climbing in the vicinity of Iao Valley State Park, it's advisable to seek guidance from local climbing communities, outdoor adventure companies, or experienced climbers who are familiar with the area. They can provide insights on any potential climbing opportunities nearby and ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Woman climber in Hawaii


As you can see, even though it is not as popular or developed compared to other outdoor activities like surfing or hiking, there are opportunities for rock climbing on the islands, particularly on Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. Climbing areas feature a variety of rock types, including basalt and volcanic formations, with routes suitable for different skill levels. Still, don’t forget that access restrictions, safety considerations, and local knowledge are essential for a safe and enjoyable climbing experience in Hawaii.

For further reading: Adventure Sports in Hawaii: More Than Just Surfing.