Archives for category: Hawaii Hikes



Hike Difficulty (Overall) : Intermediate – This cardio workout is a three-mile hike to the summit, six-mile total to head back. Have plenty of water on you and know that high humidity, rain, and muddy conditions are common in the winter months (November – April).Summer brings high humidity and intense heat often in excess of 85 degrees so shade and cover is essential to avoid early exhaustion.

Accessibility: Gated Community with Limited (10 parking spaces)Time to Complete: About 4 hours for larger groups, slower hikers.

Suitability for Kids/Dogs: Yes, but note that the valley is a hunting ground, so be warned of hunters and their canines. Hunting dogs are vicious and can often attack anything due to poor hunting practices of the island. Most will never experience an encounter.

Waialae Iki View from Wiliwilinui

Directions: Heading from Town, Take H-1 East until it becomes Kalanianaole Highway.  Pass two lights (Ainakoa and  Kalaniki St’s), then left on the third. This will be Laukahi St. Head straight up the mountain until you get to the Waialae Iki 5 Community entrance and gatehouse. This private community accommodates hikers through controlled access. The gatehouse requires ID (state, driver’s license, or military ID) from which you will be allowed a parking pass up top. From there, they provide directions, but it is simply straight up the road, then turn left and continue up at the T-section to the end of Okoa St. Park in the shaded areas at the trail entrance or use overflow on a paved lot if you’d rather not risk mud. DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR.


After a little over a mile trek, you will exit an access road of mud and gravel.  The trailhead will be on the right following a water tank. Begin under shade of thin koa trees and strawberry guava. Some larger non-indigenous pines will also grace your skyward gaze, as well as some ironwood trees. The later portions of the hike beyond a notable checkpoint swing will be blanketed and spiky uluhe. Wear something to cover your legs unless you want to get scratched. Ferns and  steep, open inclines and recycled plastic staircases have been built along the ridge climb up to ease your effort, but this is sometimes daunting due to the steep angles and heat.


Our group headed up the road to the trailhead.

You will continue up the ridge until you reach the electric power station, a total gain of around 1300 feet in a little under two hours. From the station, there is another summit offering a beautiful eyeful of the eastern shores, iconic Olomana peaks, and the Mokapu islet. Reference Na Ala Hele’s link here for more info:






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Pali Notches from Aiea Falls

As most of these stories pour from internet jargon and folklore spurred from talking story among Hawaiians and later shared in written form, I do not support or claim proof of any of these stories. But I did hear that a cousin of mine once had the experience of being a part of this…

King Kamehameha I’s death led to one of the greater Hawaiian mysteries of the islands. Many believed that when King Kamehameha died on May 8th 1819, his closest advisor hid the bones in a sacred ceremony and attempted to maintain the secrecy and preservation of the bones of his leader. In the case of Kamehameha’s death, Chief Ulumaheihei (called Hoapili by the King) went into the mountains and placed the bones somewhere in either a cave on the Big Island or were moved to  the Nuuanu Mausoleum with the other leaders of the time. This hiding of the bones was meant as a way to preserve the spiritual transition to his place with the aumakua, or gods. Should they ever be found or disturbed, the spiritual and cultural ramifications brought on by the Hawaiian people would be severe. The mountains are also said to hold massive chambers connecting various tunnels through which many burial sites and ceremonial grounds reside.

Roadside Lookout from Old Pali viewing New Pali Hwy

“According to legend, the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele and the demigod Kamapua‘a (a half-man-half-pig) had a turbulent relationship, and the two agreed not to visit each other. If one takes pork over the Pali, the legend goes, one is symbolically taking a piece of Kamapua‘a from one side to the other, and it is said that Pele would stop that from happening. (wikipedia)”

Rumors arise of a figure of a warrior in the rearview, car troubles, engines dying, and sputtering and smoke from the engine for those who did break the kapu. It is recommended if you must carry the pig meat across, then do so in ti leaf for protection to feign off Pele’s power.

View of eastern side

Old Pali Overlooking New Pali Hwy

Stories tell of white ladies, common urban legends told on the mainland. The tales focus on the stories of multiple car accidents occurring due to a mysterious white lady walking along the road or asking for a ride. The hitchhiker wore white pareau and was wearing a beautiful haku leipo’o (braided head lei) of lehua blossom and ama’ufern. She often travels with a white dog, one of the guardians of the afterlife, and many speculate she is actually Pele. Drivers would be caught off guard and brake to a halt though no reports of death from this curse, only disappearances. It is thought that you should always ask for the help of Pele, or face her wrath.

Into the Forests and Golf Courses Below

Maunawili Demo Ditch Trail Marker

View of the Pali Puka from Old Pali Hwy Hike

Night marchers, huaka’i po, are deemed as the royal warriors, ali’i of the islands. In the ancient Hawaiian days, crossing the path of a Hawaiian procession or falling into the shadow of such a powerful warrior leader would mean instant death by the guard. Stories say of drums beating and fire on the mountains signalling the descent of the marchers down and through the valleys of Manoa, Pali, Moanalua and down to Wahiawa where the ali’i were born and imbued with their blessings. The pathways pose risk to the commoner,  maka’aina, who fall prey to the curse of coming across one of these processions. Being touched by the royal warriors would range from the capture and tormenting of your soul, to vanishing, to being forced to join the procession until the end of time. Avoiding such a fate is difficult as stories speak of a voucher in the ranks usually of your bloodline calling out in an effort to save your soul. Another tip if you aren’t of Hawaiian blood is to lay flat and stay face down on the trail until they have all passed as not to risk viewing them and being taken. Other renditions mention stripping down as an extra step, so I will be watching for those naked hikers laying down in the mud from hearing the beating drums of the Hawaiian kings of old.

Nuuanu Pali Cliffs Make for Some Shady Adventures

Entrance to Old Pali Hwy, right of the Lookout access.

At the Pali lie two stones of Akua-wahines, powerful chieftains and goddesses of the island, believed to  be dragon ladies. These dragon ladies, or mo’o,  were rumored to be blessed and gifted by the townsfolk as safe passage out of Nuuanu Valley. Counts of written documents dated back to 1825 mention the donations necessary to make the transition from the southern shore to east Oahu and back. These dragon ladies would manifest near the stones believed to be at one of the waterfalls in the valley (Alapena, Kapena, or Likeke being a few visited). Giant tangled hau trees would surround the spot. An excerpt of passage:

“The long stone is on the seaward side, and this is the Mo‘o woman, Hauola; and the other, Hapu‘u. The leaves of ferns cover Hauola, being laid on that stone. On the other stone, Hapu‘u, are lehua flowers. These are kupuas.’ (Huaka‘i Pokole, Koolau)

As each person passed, a signage was made to show respect of the stones draped in white cloth. Not acknowledging these deities could result in someone falling off a cliff, or simply vanishing in the most haunted spot on the island.

Waimea is said to hold such a water spirit who is known to sunbathe along smooth rocks in Waimea Valley before bestowing her gifts to those who come seeking her blessings.

East View from Pali

Pali Notches from Aiea Falls

Enjoy your hikes on and around the Haunted Pali Hwy. 

Venture north from Downtown Honolulu along Highway 61 and immediately the hustle and bustle of city life melts into the back of your mind. Skyscrapers give way to beautiful and ornate trees like the monkeypods, koa haole, and Hawaiian ash.  Nuuanu Pali stands tall against the sloping valleys and offers breathtaking views to most of eastern O’ahu. Nuuanu in Hawaiian means, ” This spot holds a plethora of mystery and legends across its open and rocky crevice.

Pali Lookout View North Pali Lookout View East

This lookout memorializes the defeat of the Oahu warriors under King  Kalanikūpule at the Battle of Nuuanu after King  Kamehameha I with a 10,000-warrior army rushed the defending Oahu army. This rushed surprise attack forced 400 warriors to stand and fight as the defeated Oahu forces retreat back to the mountain pass and down the steep mountains from which they came; almost 800 bodies were found as many would fall over the ridge and to their deaths hundreds of feet below. Nuuanu was seen by many as the sole means of transportation over land for hundreds of years by the Ancient Hawaiians. The only other safe access point to the main southern villages of the coastal area of present-day Honolulu was by boat. Nuuanu Pali stands at the lowest elevation of the Ko’olau’s just under 1200 feet above sea level. Transportation between current day Kailua and Kaneohe were paramount for trade supplies and economic growth for the fertile windward side. Legends tell of wahine (women) who would offer safe passage once you visited her at the falls below. Mo’o, giant lizards similar to the monitor and gila monster were said to live in the waters of murky waterfalls as well. King Kamehameha has an abandoned palace in the bamboo forests of Nuuanu, and the remains of the kings were said to have been kept in the large number of caves along the ridges to protect them from vandalism and mistreatment. Being that this area sits at this low level and had such a role in the lives of the everyday Hawaiian, this area has been the site of a lot of history for Oahu’s people.  (To Be Continued)

Not far from the iconic University of Hawaii and Downtown Honolulu lies the tropical jungles and lush vegetation of Manoa Valley, a paradise of forest and falls that pulls at the average adventurer to follow its course and leads many to explore more of this great island. Due to its popularity as the film locations for such blockbusters as Jurassic Park and LOST,  as well as aid from the Japanese tourism industry, boosted this site to most visited trail by more people than anywhere else on Oahu. How does one maintain a highly-visited 0.9-mile trail in the middle of the forest and its 180-ft waterfall?

Manoa Falls From A Distance

Manoa Falls From A Distance

Restoration efforts include University of Hawaii’s Lyon Arboretum reforestation projects high above to Pauoa Flats and the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter’s Restore Manoa Project utilizing various rock laying techniques to filter the seasonal rains across the trails and not corroding this beautiful place with its high traffic. Sugar and bamboo cane grows full and large in the back of the valley as part of a 1940’s experiment to introduce a plantation and fields for expanding crops. Plant life remains diverse among the farther reaches for the resolution of the plantation and introduction of the University of Hawaii botanical influences to the valley. While on the top of flora worth mentioning is the large banyan tree in the parking lot and its legend as a paranormal connection to Hawaii’s Night Marchers, a group of dead warriors who bring bad omen to those who come face-to-face with them. Best to play dead as the story goes or else become one.

Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls

Seasons are important to Hawaii amidst criticism that we on Hawaii only have the year-long summer. Temperatures range from 68 in the winter to 87 and above during hot summer months. Rainfall is a necessity to the tropical rain forests and the trade winds will bring an abundance each year listing a 300 inches over one season in Oahu’s Kahana Valley, a mere ten miles away. Manoa Falls in the winter months find this trail bathed in pools of red mud, filled with mosquitos, and flooded with rivers at full strength. Summer months give way to dry mud paths and worn rock surfaces making navigating the trail easy on pets, kids, and the elderly. Be mindful as a quick storm can give way to those dangerous trail conditions mentioned above.

Barefoot Hikers assembled right inside the Manoa Falls Park fence at the end of the Manoa service road.

Barefoot Hikers assembled right inside the Manoa Falls Park fence at the end of the Manoa service road.

So where do I begin my adventure, you ask? Manoa Falls is located  on Manoa Road at 3131 Manoa Rd. This location is at the very back of the valley. Located at the entrance is a parking spot charging upwards of five dollars for a single teenage or college-aged student to act as security guard and watching the area. This is an option due to high theft at a lot of Hawaiian tourist spots; this being no exception. The other arrangement is to park in the lower neighborhood and walk the half-mile to the parking lot and another quarter mile up the fire lane service road to the fenced entrance to the park. There is no fee to hike. More directions can be found at this site. As always mentioned on these blogs, DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR.

This hike will take roughly an hour in, one hour back. Humidity and wet conditions could pose breathing difficulty as well as pollen. High pollen seasons include March through November on the island. Shoes are encouraged.  Have fun and don’t forget to share your adventure with all of us!

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Kane’ohe Bay is a beautiful and serene place. Located off the coast of the greenest part of Oahu, the windward side not only has some of the best forested hikes on the island but also some of the best beaches. Neighbors Kailua and Lanikai beaches boast world fame as being listed top 100 beaches in the world. Equally beautiful is what lies out in the eight-mile bay. In the middle of the bay lies a 3-mile by 1-mile stretch of submerged land known as the Sandbar.

My Wife and Co-Organizer Crystal Showing Off All the Open Space to Have a Party!

My Wife and Co-Organizer Crystal Showing Off All the Open Space to Have a Party!

The Sandbar sits about two-miles off the coast with access being difficult depending on the tides. Weather including the Kona winds can limit access and sea states in the harbor can still be somewhat hazardous. Two points of approach are through renting boats or kayaks out of He’eia Harbor pier, or finding friends with military base access and licenses to rent out boats from the MCCS Marine Corps Base Outdoor Adventure Center. Tours and charters run expensive, but are viable as a last ditch effort. Kayaking two-miles IS extremely dangerous in bad weather conditions, only experienced ocean-capable kayakers should try from the Coconut Island piers.

Location of Ahu O Laka

Estimate Location of Ahu O Laka via Yelp User tony I.

Holidays find the sandbar packed with kayaks, pontoons, boats, and paddleboards as people head out for grilling, swimming, snorkeling and fun. Note: Alcohol is not allowed, so don’t get caught with an open container. Citations run into the hundreds of dollars.

It’s hard to find a reason not to come out and enjoy crystal blue waters.  If you get the chance to head out with the Barefoot Hikers, my social hiking group, you will have the time of your life. Puffer fish, honu (turtles), and loads of sea life await.

This little guy is just enjoying some coral

This little guy is just enjoying some coral

Always a Great Time on the Bay

Always a Great Time on the Bay

Kalihi Ice Ponds

A dip in this chilly water will have you rattling your teeth.

History and Geography: Adventurers were we on a random weekday morning as coffee in hand and dew in our eyes led us blindly up to the Naohia Falls, now more commonly called Kalihi Ice Ponds, for an experience like no other. Kalihi Ice Ponds are a set of three-tiered waterfalls and pools located in the back of Kalihi Valley. This easy walk is almost not something you’d think of when you go hiking, but then again we have Kahana Nakoa and the Manoa Fall Trail which also have ease of access.

Kalihi is considered a multi-ethnic and middle-working class district of Honolulu, was said to have been named by King Kamehameha V . Meaning “the edge” in the Hawaiian language, the history of this neighborhood is filled with stories of 1900’s sugar cane plantation workers transitioning into city life, farmers, cannery workers, and teachers; of famous fishponds, called Loko i’a; and later as the Receiving Station for leprosy patients screened for treatment or to be sent to the  Kalaupapa colony on the island of Molokaʻi. The contour of the valley was created by its streams and openness in lower sections come from the widening of the valley as it reaches the Honolulu harbor. The flatlands at the bottom of the valley now hold such landmarks as the prestigious Kamehameha private school and Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, a famed site of old world Hawaiian culture culminating from years and millions in research and preservation.  Among those are the businesses in the commercial district such as Hawaiian Chip Company and the Kalihi Corner Kitchen, family owned restaurants all trying to make a living in a bustling, grown-up district.

Kalihi Ice Ponds

Another view of the frigid falls as hikers make their way up.


Kalihi St. to the End – located at the end of this road are some residential areas and businesses. Be quiet, respectful, and timely in parking your vehicle out of sight, out of mind. Cross the wooden bridge and do not disobey No Parking signs or expect to hitchhike your way home on the way back. If you have a loud engine, you probably shouldn’t even go to this site if you can’t be considerate enough to carpool with a quieter vehicle. There is a continuation of the Kalihi St, worn and not used, that will continue up the hill for some 1500 yds. The fenced section has an access point on the right to follow the road along one bridge section, then a steady 400 ft climb over the course of a half-hour along this old road.

Rope Climb

Hardest part of the hike is a 60ft section requiring rope to climb down to the fall. Located on the right side of the road a little more than a mile, this is the entrance to the Kalihi Ice Pond.

Heavy flow of Kalihi Ice Ponds

When the rain pours, the falls come alive. With a little persistence and good luck, you may catch a full flow like the one pictured.

Once you have rope climbed up the first fall, you have the chance to see the other two falls behind it. Viewable from the banks of the first, this is a much closer vantage point for the effort.

Once you have rope climbed up the first fall, you have the chance to see the other two falls behind it. Viewable from the banks of the first, this is a much closer vantage point for the effort.


A tree branch wedged in the mud offers a nice spot to snap a pic of more hikers scaling up the rock facing.

A tree branch wedged in the mud offers a nice spot to snap a pic of more hikers scaling up the rock facing.

Below This Section Recounts One of the Dangers of Going During Rainfall. Please Use Caution and Never Hike Alone. Mahalo. (Note: All debris was cleared after this storm.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Trailhead Located Above Waimano Home Rd

Waimano Home Trail is located above the Pearl City / Pearlridge area at the Waimano Home Rd in the Pacific Palisades community. This hike is somewhat challenging in contrast to a lot of the other hikes as it begins on the Manana ridge line and descends steeply into the Waimano Home Valley.

Google Maps Kamehameha Hwy (Pearl City) to Trailhead

This weekend, the Barefoot Hikers ventured out to explore a part of the Ewa State Preserve in the mountain community of Pacific Palisades. The weather was cloudy with occassional droplets of water striking the windshields of the four vehicles making their way up to the top.

“Was it supposed to rain today?” asked one of the new Barefoot Hikers. ” I don’t feel like getting soaked.” I checked the hour-by-hour Accuweather report on my Android. Sunny skies with a high of 78-81 throughout the next few hours. Hawaii weather; sporadic and unpredictable.

We approached the trailhead as the small precipitation opened up to once again clear skies. We took a left off of Waimano Home Rd in Pearl City onto Komo Mai St. Located on the end of the main Komo Mai St, the trailhead is marked by a sign labeled “Manana Trail” with a gated entrance to a gravel road used by servicemen to repair the telephone lines placed along the preserve. While parking is done along the residence of the community and in a small cul-de-sac, the people have always been friendly to hikers who have parked outside of their homes.

Fun Fact: There are warning signs concerning hunting in the preserve. There is a chance of hearing gun shots while on the hike since the location is open to some seasonal hunting. Staying on the trail is the best way to avoid chance encounters.

The Barefoot Hikers grabbed our gear and headed along the Manana Trail for about a half of a mile. The trail was mostly gravel at this point with small inclines and declines as we wove our way toward the beginning of the Waimano Home portion. The road become hard red dirt and roots and you will reach a hill with a fork. The sign will point two directions: To the left and north is the Koolau Summit Hike, while the intended trail of the Waimano Falls is to the right.

Veering right gives rise to a steep climb then immediately you begin the descent into the Waimano Valley. Cardiac hill is the name of this section with a sharp drop made manageable only by the large number of mountain tree roots who have etched a path down the steep embankment. Be very careful not to pull a muscle or miss your footing; one wrong step and you could plummet quite a ways. Use the trees located along the sides of the trail for support and make your way deep into the foliage below. Remember you will have to climb hand over hanf to return back to the top and will be exhausted after such a feat of strength and endurance.

The next spot of interest will be a small rope to use to work your way down a muddy and steep area. The ten foot drop opens up to a small creek with rocks settled into their aesthetic and picturesque footholds. You will wind and work your way up and around the cliffs with small rock obstacles to climb over and winding, tight tree alcoves to squeeze and qalk through. Their is a rock outcropping about ten minutes in from the creekbed with a beautiful water flow if you catch a nice spring rain. The water drains through the mossy rocks and down into the forest below creating a quiet, gentle place to sit and reflect on the beauty of nature. Continuing on for the remainder of the hike, you will see a steep decline as you approach the bottom of the hike and the top of the falls.

Waimano Home Falls stand about 50 to 60 ft tall. Its top is accessible through a hike to the left of the waterfall giving a view of the top of the valley and a large open area for photos. The bottom portion of the falls has a rope directly at the bottom to crawl down and sit on the sometimes dry rocks below the falls. The weekend we went, the flow was very strong, green and blue water mixed with a milky white wash surging through the opening on the bottom and into a second pool ten to fifteen feet below the first. A local contraption overhangs the falls and you can use it to climb out and fall into the pool, though checking its depth to see how deep the water is would be only common sense. I have been on this hike in the summer months and found the falls so dried up that I was able to climb from the top of the falls to a perch in the middle. Sitting twenty feet up over a barely flooded pool that is normally only knee deep is a humbling experience. The river continues back down and along a rock valley floor with a winding trail to follow back and around back up to the end of the trail.

Waimano Home Falls is roughly a 45-minute hike down and another 1 hour and 15 minutes back. The exposure to sun is minimal, though it is very humid and insects are abundant. Sunscreen and bug spray is recommended. Be mindful of swimming in any water in Hawaii as there is a chance of contracting leptospirosis, a form of lepracy which eats the liver and later skin and muscles. Stagnant and unclean water near areas of high animal traffic like cats and pigs should be avoided or cautiously ignored. Shoes is a must as you will see many flip flops and sandals deserted all along the trail from the strenuous and failed attempt to hike with such primitive attire. Suggestions of snacks and water would be best brought if you have the intention of taking the trash with you once you leave. 

Have fun and above all be safe! The Barefoot Hikers had a blast playing under the majesty of the Waimano Home Falls and appreciating the peace of such a beautiful place.


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Waimanalo Beach View of Lighthouse

The Waimanalo Beach View as the Sun Sets. Over the hill is the tip of the Makapu'u Lighthouse.

In early 2009, Chris and Jeremy became friends while working for the military on the island of Oahu. Both being avid hikers, the two decided to form a group of friends to explore the trails on Hawaii. Every weekend, Chris and Jeremy ventured out on some 30 separate hikes ranging from the tropical jungles of Maunawili Falls, the rugged ridgelines of Aiea Loop and Waimanalo Home Trails to the arid desert world of Sandy’s Beach and Makapu’u Lighthouse Hike. Now, for the first time in 2012, Jeremy and his wife, Crystal, are continuing the documenting and exploration of the island with the help of all who want to spend some time outside on the island.

This week, the Barefoot Hikers are taking on the paved Makapu’u Lighthouse Road Hike located on the Ka Iwi State Park Scenic Shoreline. Visible from the top on a clear day are the islands of Maui, Kuaui, and Molokai (source questionable). Whale season is still going on, so there are chances to see whales migrating, large boats crossing through the channel and dolphins from high above the water.

  • The drive is about 35minutes from the Navy Exchange in Pearl Harbor where the crew will be meeting at the Koa Pancake House at 0830.
  •  If you want to pass on greetings and breakfast, the Barefoot Hikers will be meeting on the Makapu’u Lighthouse Rd trailhead at around 1030am.
  • The closest restroom is at the Waimanalo Beach State Park some five minutes north up HI-72. The bathrooms are fairly unkempt, so be warned. The beach is also known for being local-oriented as marijuana arrests have occurred there.
  • The large portion of the group expressed intentions to go down the cliff into the Dragon’s Nostrils. This will be after the full road hike which will last about two hours or so. Dragon’s Nostrils, pictured below, is a geyser of water ejected from rushing water pushing from the Molokai Channel.
  • Please bring sunscreen if you are sensitive to the sun. Food, water, towel and bathing suit for the tide pools are also a good idea. Flip flops are NOT recommended.
Here is a video of the hike from the Island Perfections crew. This is a brief clip of the hike and lower sections. I have every intention to be filming with my GoPro 2 while on the trail so I can post our trip. 
Makapu’u Hike Trail

Makapu'u Lighthouse from Waimanalo Beach State Park