Ka’ena Point State Park has two routes to get there: this western route (from Waiʻanae side) and the northern route (from Mokule’ia side). To compare Ka’ena Point Trail routes, click here for the western route.
Want some guaranteed wildlife encounters on O’ahu? Ka’ena Point is your place.
Ka’ena Point is a wildlife sanctuary in the Northwest aspect of Oahu. You cannot drive through it to get around the island, which makes traversing west side to north side impossible. BUT, it’s for a good reason… it gives the animals in the sanctuary a safe place to breed. This means no dogs on the trail!
Animals you can see include:
- Monk Seals
- Whales in winter months
- Sharks, Sea Turtles, and Stingrays
- Over 2,000 seabirds, including many Albatross nesting along the trail
It’s also a really cool place to watch sunset, especially during the summer when the sun sets a bit more north on the west side. Those coastal sunsets never disappoint. It’s just always an adventure having to trek back to the car in the dark!
The North Route is just one of two options you can hike to get to Ka’ena Point. The other route is on the west side, which is very similar but more coastal. Either route is a good choice, and they’re both about the same length.
About the Trail
- Location: Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve, just after Dillingham Airfield in Waialua
- Length: 2.5 miles total
- Fear Factor: None
Starting the Hike
Parking? Much easier than western route. You just drive until you hit the trailhead and park right there in the lot, or find parking down the road a bit. It’s very obvious, and there are signs that mark the trail.
The trail is a dirt road that extends from the trailhead to the gates of the sanctuary. It’s an easy walk, but very uneven and can be tricky in the dark on the return (if you’re doing it for sunset). Just make sure you pack a flashlight or you have enough charge on your phone to shine the way back.
Doing the Hike
As stated, it’s just a walk on a dirt road much like the west route. You can (and should) detour a few times toward the shore to check out the rocky beaches and see if you can spot some sealife. Turtles, stingrays, and crabs are all over the place if you look hard enough.
At the end of the dirt road, you’ll start to approach a giant fence that encompasses the entire corner of the island. If you walk all the way to the fence at the end of the dirt road, you’ll run into this:
… Which is what you go through to get to the sanctuary! This is the same as the western route.
Just be diligent to close the gate behind you. The fence is there to protect the animals from the predators on the island. Although there are only few predators on O’ahu which are relatively harmless to us (cats, mongoose, pigs), they are very harmful to the rare animals in the sanctuary.
Ka’ena Point Wildlife Sanctuary
Finally, you’ve arrived at the sanctuary! There’s a roped trail throughout, which you should stay on 100% of the time. Straying off the trail can endanger any of the animals that are being protected. You can see all the wildlife without stepping off the trail.
If you’re staying for sunset (especially in the summer), you’ll get to see the ocean and Waianae mountain range turn all sorts of oranges, pinks, and purples. This was my sunset the first time I went:
And my more recent visit to Ka’ena Point was very similar:
When you’re ready to part ways with this awesome corner of the island, you leave Ka’ena Point the same way you entered. Once you close the gate behind you once more, you’re on your way back to the car… if after sunset, you’re doing it in the dark!
Be prepared with a light source and ENJOY this hike as much as I have! Don’t forget to check out the west side’s Ka’ena Point entrance, too.
Learn more about the sanctuary here.
Have you visited Ka’ena Point? Have any extra tips? Comment below!