Want to do the Pali Puka hike? Skim this, first!
If you’ve seen the blog about Makapu’u Puka, you know that “puka” is the local word for hole. There are many puka hikes scattered around the island, and they’re often very rewarding to find. They sit along the edge of a ridge, and you can look through it like a window to a beautiful view.
Pali Puka is one of the shortest puka hikes you can do! But be careful – it’s known for high winds and steep vertical drops, as is often the case with windward side hikes along the Ko’olaus.
With that being said, it’s not nearly as scary as other windy or steep neighboring hikes like Pali Notches or Mount Olomana.
Hop over to Mount Olomana/Three Peaks for a bigger challenge… if you’re ready!
About the Trail
- Location: Off the Pali Highway between Honolulu and Kaneohe/Kailua
- Length: Just over 1.5 miles total
- Fear Factor: Moderate – some rock climbing and narrow trails along the cliff, but alternative routes exist behind the tree line to minimize the danger.
Starting the Hike
The hike starts to the far left of the Pali Lookout off the Pali Highway. You may have to pay for parking to avoid getting towed.
The Pali Puka hike (and it’s neighbor, Pali Notches hike) is discouraged, so it has no formal trailhead. You’re in the right place if you go to the tree line to the left of the parking lot when facing the lookout. You have to climb the rocky half-wall and enter through the bamboo forest to access the hike. Then, it becomes pretty obvious.
It starts off uphill and stays that way for most of the hike!
Doing the Hike
The hike itself isn’t too physically taxing, although the first portion is completely uphill.
BUT there are portions that are pure fear. As you get to the ridge, the trail favors the west part of the ridge where the huge drop-off is directly to your right with a tree line to the left. The tree line has been growing out (as of June 2020), pushing you closer to the drop.
You can avoid the drop-off portions of the trail! Whenever there’s a trail on the edge, there’s an alternative trail behind the tree line to avoid it. You just have to look for it. That’s what makes the trail “not so bad” compared to other trails in the area.
The puka is NOT in an obvious place. You have to know where to climb down. When you hit a steep wall of the ridge which marks the end of the trail, that’s where you have to climb down the left wall to reach the puka. In essence, the end of the trail is on the rocky area above the puka, and you have to scramble a few feet to find it.
There’s a high chance others will be on the trail, so just watch where they go.
Then, you get this view!
I highly recommend the hike! Some of the pictures seem scary, but as you’re hiking, it actually pretty quick and fun. Be safe, have good gear, and enjoy!
Need views with less fear factor? Check out Crouching Lion in Kaaawa, one of the best hikes on the island.