Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

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If you really want to get away from it all, but still remain on Oahu then the Ka’ena Point hike should be on your list. I did this hike recently with my family on a fairly clear day and got some great shots.

Also, there is a hidden volcano off the coastline, you can’t see it because it is underwater but it was only recently credited (2014) with the formation of Oahu. Growing up I learned 2 volcanoes created Oahu, Ko’olau, and Wai’anae, now I know there are 3 with the addition of Ka’ena.

If you want to dig deeper into the 3rd volcano that helped create the island of Oahu, start here with the research and here for more insight.

There are dozens of things to do on Oahu and I encourage you to take a look around, this experience doesn’t make very many lists which makes it even more special.

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Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

Location Of Ka’ena Point Hike

This is the westernmost point on the island of Oahu and probably the most remote coastal area.

How To Get To Ka’ena Point (West Side Route)

You can access Ka’ena Point from two starting points, for this article I will focus on the west side starting point. On the map below you will see the two start points, the west side starting point is at the bottom, near Keawaula Beach.

You could hike from one start point to the other and back if you wanted but remember there is a mountain range in the middle so you need to follow the path, no shortcuts.

If you are coming from Honolulu or Waikiki take H1 West and literally keep going until the road ends. This will be the start of the trail, watch the parking signs closely and park in the large sandy area just before the start. I show it clearly in the video above.

What To Expect At Ka’ena Point

Ka’ena means “the heat” and it’s no joke on this hike. Zero shade and dry for the entire hike was my recent experience, although I have hiked it in the past after a rain and it was very muddy. Rain or shine, it’s hot.

Its about 3 miles in so about 6 miles in and out, it should take you about 1 hour and 45 minutes give or take.

Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

I don’t mean to deter you from this hike though as the coastal views are simply amazing, don’t forget to turn around and look back from where you came, breathtaking.

Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

You will see wonderful coves, tidepools, and arches along the way, all worth a photo or two.

Once you reach the fenced bird sanctuary things change quickly from a hard rocky path to a sandy roped trail leading to Ka’ena Point.

Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

Take your time in this area as wedge-tailed Shearwater birds could be just about anywhere. I was lucky enough to see this young bird hanging out just near the ropes. Just hanging out gathering courage for his first attempt at flight, very cool

Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

Unique Features

Ka’ena Point hike gives you access to some of the most breathtaking coastal views and a protected bird sanctuary at the end. In addition, I have seen Monk seals every single time I have done this hike. I have done it about 8-10 times in my lifetime and it never gets old.

Give them the recommended 50ft clearance and even more if you see a pup.

Ka’ena Point Hike: An Unforgettable Experience in Hawaii

Recommended Items To Bring

Definitely bring a reef-safe sunscreen and reapply as needed, put it everywhere. You can do this hike in walking shoes but I would recommend something a little sturdier but short of a hiking boot for the best experience. I have my trusty water shoes that I hike everything with and they were loaded with sand after the bird sanctuary section.

I recommend a hat as well as a large water bottle to keep hydrated on the trail. Snacks always.

Final Thoughts

A fairly even path with only one short climb I recommend this hike to just about everyone as it shows a part of the island that not many experience. Amazing views along the coast and a chance to respectfully view some of Hawai’i’s unique wildlife. Let me know in the comments if you have done this hike and what you thought.


  1. Haole you should do your research before recommending any hiking in Hawaii. Why aren’t you advising people to stay away and respect the 2 sacred Heiau’s that is located near the hiking path in kaena pt. Too many tourist are desecrating our sacred grounds. They decide to hike and trample and litter all over these sites because of lack of respect. Do us Kanaka Maolis a favor and leave the promoting and exploiting of OUR lands to us.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Unfortunate that you decided to label me Haole when in fact I am kānaka maoli. As someone who loves this place and strives to share it in a respectful manner I always do my research first, as should we all.

      I will not advise people to stay away from spaces that are open to visit. I will advise them to enjoy it, take care of it, and respect it. Just like I mention at the end of my hiking videos and as we all should. Blocking a space should be done at the highest of levels and with the utmost input possible.

      I did not know about the 2 heiau near the hiking path. I am aware of Moka’ena Heiau, Kuokala, but this one overlooks Ka’ena Point and at an elevation of about 1200 feet, highest on Oahu, it is not near the path when coming from Keawa’ula side. What are the names of the two heiau you mentioned that are near the path? I would like to learn about them.

      When you say “too many tourist…” I say, “too many people”. We need to be careful as kānaka maoli that we do not put blame on one group for any particular reason or other, this creates resentment and hate. Growing up here and traveling the world has taught me that all people need to be educated and encourage to do the right thing. Lack of respect is a human issue, not a tourist issue. With that said, it seems the challenge of our generation is how we manage this place we call home and how will we do so in a regenerative way and not just a sustainable way.

      We are temporary stewards of this land and need to strive to leave it in a better way then we first came upon it.


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