Trekking Hawaii – Kaena Point Trail
This the first of many (hopefully) hiking blogs that I do for the island of Oahu, Hawaii. I was inspired when I couldn’t find much detail on most of the hikes advertised for this island and surprisingly those that I could find information on were text and no pictures. This one is the Kaena Point Trail hike. The hike is broken down into two parts, the first is the walk/stroll to the bird reservation and the second is the 600 feet climb up to the pillboxes.
This portion starts at the Kaena Point State Park trailhead. The trailhead is at the end of Dillingham Airfield, past the small boy scout camp and comes to an end in a mud parking lot.
From the trailhead, the way is rocky, muddy and really bad for the ankles. I recommend boots with good ankle support. I passed a lot of tourists with sneakers only to see them turn around halfway. No pets are allowed FYI. The signs are posted at every possible entrance into the trail. Some Asian tourists still tried to bring dogs and other hikers turned them around – they take the notion of the bird sanctuary seriously. Once you’re on the trail, I recommend using the alternate route on the way in as it is more scenic and eventful since it’s closer to the wave break; it is also less muddy than the main trail.
The alternate routes are marked with small blue things in the ground but in the event you lose the trail, just walk towards the waves. There’s plenty to see among the reefs, fishermen casting their lines, crustaceans hanging out and a coral-filled beach. These are just some of the wonders along the way.
About 3 miles in, you’ll come to a small pathway composed of iron bars and rock and once through this “door” you’re in the bird reservation.
I ended up climbing over the rocks instead of trying to walk through them – it was an awkward entry!
The past the entrance, you can hang right and go through the second door into the bird sanctuary or hang a left and follow the trail around to part II of this hike. If you choose the door, follow it to the end until you come to a warning light for ships and a concrete box. I’m not sure the purpose of the box but it’s a pretty unique structure. All along the way, there are signs and roped off areas telling visitors that the grounds are for breeding and sacred to the island – DO NOT TRESPASS! When I went, it was in the middle of Hurricane Lester weekend and during the sunny lapses, no birds were seen on the ground, however once it got stormy they landed in small groves obscured from the trail. From this point, you could continue along the trail come out the other side and continue walking 2-3 hours towards the west side entrance, turn back, or find part II of the trail. Finding the trailhead can be slightly tricky, but if you walk back the way you came and go through the first door into the reservation, hook a right and start walking UP the trail. When the trail starts to curve, look into the grassy area and you’ll find a small trodden down path amongst the high grass and that signals the start of the climb up. The trail itself is approximately 1 foot in width and there will be parts grown over by the adjacent shubbery.
The trail itself is easy enough to follow and you’ll have a couple of landmarks along the way. There’s a concrete water drainage structure, two WWII pillboxes and the top of the mountain at a steep climb of 600 feet. There’s also an observatory set a ways off visible at the top of the climb, but I’m not sure if it was legal to trek over there. I highly recommend boots and maybe some climbing gloves if you have soft hands. The rocks are old volcanic rocks with sharp edges on them, I caught myself on one on the way down and it tore my palm open. As always bring plenty of water! Here are a couple of shots from the top.
Thanks for reading and more posts coming soon!