Kaena Point Trail, from Mokuleia, North Shore (Ka’ena, Mokulē’ia)

Beautiful coastal hike along the Western point of Oahu

Easy~5 mi / 2 – 3 hr~ 225 ftOut & Back
Rocky coastal cliffs | Dirt paths | Hot beating sunViews of Waianae Mountain Range & Ocean Cliffs
Plentiful and varied wildlife

The Hike

Kaena Point Trail is one of the easier hikes on the island, but a beautiful nonetheless. On this relatively flat, rocky trail you’ll hike along the rocky coastline to the westernmost point of Oahu, named, you guessed it, Kaena Point. There’s 2 ways to access the trail, one from Mokuleia on the North Shore, and the other from Yokohama Bay north of Waianae. The most challenging part of this hike is the sun, not the terrain. With no shade throughout the hike, make sure you have your sunscreen on and you’ve brought plenty of water. Much of the hike is within the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve and your likely to encounter some of the wildlife that inhabits it, including monk seals, albatrosses and other seabirds. You might even catch some whales in the wintertime. Because it’s a nature reserve pets are not allowed on this trail.

The trail is also accessible for off-roading with jeeps and other vehicles, but you’ll need to obtain a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DNLR), you can apply for the permits here.

You can also get to Kaena Point from the west side of the island via Yokohama Bay.

Hiking from the Leeward Side

Many say the Leeward route of the trail has the better views and is the more challenging route. This section of the trail runs through rugged lava rock cliffs with many switchbacks along the way. As you make your way, you’ll be treated various tidepools and coves dotted along the border of the cliffs and the ocean. Pay attention as you might be lucky enough to see some monk seals lounging in the tide pools. You may be tempted to hike down to the pools, but if you do, be very careful, these cliffs are very slippery and constantly bombarded by the waves of the ocean, you may not survive a fall. If you hike the trail during the winter months when surf is high you’ll be treated to natural blowholes as well.

Eventually you’ll come to a fence with a gate, this is the entrance to the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve. Don’t be shy, this is meant to keep out other animal predators, not humans.

Hiking from the North Shore at Mokuleia

The North Shore route is thought to be the easier route, and while it doesn’t featured the dramatic ocean cliffs of the Leeward route, you’ll still enjoy breathtaking views of the North Shore coastline and the Waianae Mountain Range. The terrain is much easier and flatter with sandy trails and secluded beaches spotted along the way, and you’ll end up at the same place, at the gate of the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve.

Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve

One inside the gates, you can explore this untouched reservoir of indigenous plant and animal life.

Whales: During the winter months you can spot humpback whales out along the coastal waters, making their yearly migration from the cold waters of the polar north to the warm waters of Hawaii for mating and calving their young.

Monk Seals: You’ll spot Monk Seals sunbathing on the sands to enjoy the sun’s warmth as they spend some leisure time out of the dangerous oceans.

Seabirds: Laysan albatrosses, Iwas (Great Frigatebird), Bobbies and more all enjoy the protection of the Kaena Reserve, and are the main reason for the erection of the fences, as many of the predators brought by humans (rats, mongooses, dogs) have devastated many bird populations.

Dolphins: These marine mammals hang around in the pods along much of the Leeward coast as well as Kaena Point.

Kaena Point Trail Map (From North Shore)

Kaena Point Trail Map (From Leeward Side)