The Kaena Point trail is a state park hike on the northwestern tip of Oahu, Hawaii that’s great for sunset and wildlife sightings.
You can actually do this hike from two different starting locations (Waianae or North Shore), and both trails are nice. Ka’ena Point is a pretty quiet part of the island and it’s also a wildlife sanctuary.
This is a flat, family friendly trek along the coastline, ending with great views of the west coast and Pacific ocean, and lots of opportunities to see wildlife.
If you want to extend the Kaena Point hike, there’s even a rocky spur trail that goes up to an old military bunker (‘pillbox’) at the top of the ridge overlooking the point.This travel guide will explain how to get there, and everything you need to know before you go!
- Distance: 5.5 miles (9 km) round trip
- Elevation Gain: Minimal
- Duration: 2 – 3 hours round trip
- Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Kaena Point Trail: What To Expect
The Kaena Point trail is a straightforward out-and-back hike that is flat all the way, although the path is sandy at times.
This trail is a little long, at 5.5 miles (9 km) round trip, but I’d still rate it as an easy hike that can be very enjoyable for any fitness level. Allow 2 to 3 hours roundtrip.
This is one of the more family friendly hikes on Oahu and it’s great for kids, although I’d try to avoid the midday heat, otherwise that can make it quite a bit tougher.
Bring sunscreen and plenty of water, because the entire Kaena Point trail is exposed. You won’t find any shade trees here.
During the trek you’ll walk along the western coast of Oahu, passing by mountains, sand dunes, beaches, tide pools, ocean blowholes, and a rock arch, and ending at the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, which is a gated bird sanctuary.
You’ll need to pass through a predator proof fence to reach Ka’ena Point, which is there to protect the nesting birds from dogs, rats, and other animals.
The door on this fence is easy to open, but remember to close it behind you when you go in and out. You won’t get locked in. There’s no way to accidentally lock it!
At the end of the Kaena Point hike (and occasionally along the trail), you can spot rare seabirds, monk seals, whales, and dolphins.
I counted half a dozen Hawaiian monk seals here in one hike! If you’re wanting to see humpback whales off the coast of the Oahu, the best months are generally from December to May.
Kaena Point Sunset
Kaena Point is on the west coast, so it’s a great place to watch the sunset. We’ve done this hike for sunset many times, and it always puts on a good show. You can usually see whales breaching too.
Keep in mind if you do Kaena Point for sunset then you’ll be walking back to your car in the dark, so it’s a good idea to bring a headlight. The light from your phone works, but something brighter is better so you don’t trip on a rock or something.
Also, if you do the hike from the southwest trailhead (Waianae), it’s important to park outside of the gates, because they lock these at 7 PM, and you don’t want your car to get locked in for the night.
Kaena Point Pillbox Trail
If you want to extend your Kaena Point hike, you can climb the nearby ridge to see an old military pillbox with amazing views of the whole area. This is a great way to make one of the best Oahu hikes even better!
The side trail to the Kaena Point pillbox is short, but pretty strenuous. Part of the challenge is finding the path to the top of the ridge, because it’s unmarked, rocky, and a bit overgrown. The pillbox trail starts here, and total hiking distance to the pillbox is about 1/2 mile roundtrip.
The initial walk out to Kaena Point is sandal friendly, but if you hike up to the pillbox then you’ll definitely want shoes, not sandals. Bring a good headlight too if you go for sunset.
In terms of difficulty, I would compare this spur trail to the Lanikai pillbox hike, although it feels harder because you just hiked out to Kaena Point first in order to reach it. It’s basically like doing two Oahu hikes back to back: they’re both fairly easy hikes on their own, but when put together it’s a bit more exhausting.
Once at the top of the pillbox, you get to see Ka’ena Point from above, with a nice breeze and the sound of sea birds, plus amazing views of the sunset and whales hopping in the distance.
It’s one of the best sunset views on Oahu, and to top it off, we had the place all to ourselves! Most people just hike to Ka’ena Point and then call it a day.
Hours & Entrance Fee
- Hours (North entrance): 24/7
- Hours (West entrance): 6 AM – 7 PM
- Entrance Fee: Free
Remember to lock your car and don’t leave any valuables in it, because this area has a lot of break-ins.
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!
How To Get There
The Kaena Point hike is located on the northwestern tip of Oahu island, in Hawaii.
Sadly the Oahu bus doesn’t go here, so this is one of those places where your best bet is to drive a car.
You can do the trek starting from Waianae on the west coast, or starting from Mokuleia on the north shore.
Both trails for this hike end in the same place on the western tip of Oahu, and then you retrace your steps to where you started the hike.
I’ve done the hike from both directions, and I think the western (Waianae) route is slightly more scenic and has a bit more to see, because you can also visit Keawaula Beach and the Makua Caves.
More Hawaii Travel Tips
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for the Kaena Point hike in Oahu, Hawaii.
Don’t forget to check out my other Oahu hiking guides and my complete list of the best things to do in Oahu Hawaii!
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