Small islands that are great for weekend hiking trips

Photo: Fred Green

Part of the joy of hiking is finding new locations to explore and discover. If you’re an avid hiker, you might have already explored all the trails around your house and need a change of scenery. A small trip to a new location might be exactly what you need. Small islands are perfect for hikers because they allow you to escape the hustle of the real world and give you plenty of new trails to explore. They also offer different landscapes — some islands have volcanoes, others have lush fields, and others have rocky beaches. Whatever type of landscape you’re looking for, there is likely an island out there that has it!

If you want to switch up your hiking routine, travel to one of these islands for your next weekend trip.

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island is part of the Channel Islands archipelago that is off the coast of California. This is the largest of the islands and the easiest one for hikers to get to. There are several trails for hikers to choose from, including flat trails and rugged paths. The shortest trails are less than a mile long, while the longest trail is 18 miles long. Hikers can also go off-trail, but they need to be mindful not to go over the boundary that leads into the Natural Conservatory property. Hikers that are looking to explore everything the island has to offer should book a campground in advance.


Anacapa is another island that is part of the Channel Islands. This island is composed of a series of islets that formed millions of years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions. This island is perfect for hikers that are looking for a day of hiking followed by an overnight camping trip. While the trails here are only two miles long and are relatively flat, hikers will get to experience beautiful coastlines and overlooks. Visitors must stay on the trails to protect the wildlife on the island. The island serves as a habitat for many types of breeding seabirds, including the California brown pelican, and the trails are in place to stop hikers from disturbing the nests.


The state of Hawaii has several small islands that are perfect for hiking, but Kaua’i is the least commercially developed. This island is perfect for hikers that are looking for a trip that allows them to both hike and relax. Much of the island is covered in tropical rainforest and there are over 100 trails to explore. Hikers that are looking to lush greenery should explore the Kuilau Ridge Trail, while hikers wanting to explore undeveloped coastline should take the Maha’ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail. The tropical environment of the trails means that it is almost always a bit muddy on the trails. Hikers should also be prepared to encounter mosquitos.


Malta, an archipelago in the Mediterranean, is perfect for hikers that are looking for an adventure outside of the United States. There are a great variety of locations to hike at, from lush green fields full of flowers to barren fields full of sheep. Trails range in difficulty, but many will offer rugged terrain and secret caves to explore. The historical city of Valletta is ideal for hikers to stay at because of how easy it is to travel; according to Choice Holidays, the public transportation routes offered in Valletta connect the city to the rest of Malta. Hikers can also choose to travel to the nearby island of Gozo, which can be easily hiked in a day.


Another island for hikers that are looking to travel away from the states is Saba, a Caribbean island that is part of the Netherlands. The island has five distinct zones of vegetation, all with their own flora and fauna. The shortest trail on the island will take hikers to Flatrock, where they’ll find tide pools that are home to sea urchins and other types of sea critters. Other trails will take them to the summit of Mt. Scenery, the highest point on the island. There are a few camping locations throughout the island, but hikers can also choose to fly to the island from the airport in Sint Maarten, which is only 15 minutes from the island.


Visiting a small island is a great way to change up your usual hiking routine. There are plenty of islands to visit off the shores of the United States, but for those that are looking to travel further away, a Mediterranean or Caribbean island might be of interest.

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