Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey
Words and pictures
After the somewhat scary Wiliwilinui hike, we turned to an easier trek. Ka'ena Point is the northwest tip of O'ahu. If you can envision O'ahu as a kind of ship, Ka'ena is the tip of the bow. The point is not accessible by road unless you own a serious trail-rated 4WD vehicle with plenty of ground clearance. You can either start at the end of Kamehameha Highway, from the Waianae coast, or from the North Shore off Farrington Highway. We took that starting point. Arriving early around sunrise, we were able to find a good place to park. There were a few campers and surf casters, but not many people at all.
The hike route is actually a service road, but in name only. It starts smooth, but soon fills with washouts and deep ruts where vehicles have dug deep holes in the surface. There are also places of deep mud, requiring the hiker to move to the edge.
It takes a bit less than three miles along this path, but the scenery is magnificent, with the ocean to the left and the steep mountains to the right.
We reached the first gate, a deteriorating piece of steel surrounded by boulders through which we had to climb. The state is very serious about protecting this part of the Point from vehicular depredation.
A bit beyond, we reached the predator gate, which leads inside the steel fence that protects the wildlife refuge.
From here, the hike gets interesting. The gate and fence protect an area where nesting albatrosses are sitting on eggs. They seem to be tolerant of the human invaders, but it is startling to be walking along and discover a nest just feet off the path.
Once we reached the point we could see down the other side of the island where the sun, finally breaking out of the clouds, lit up the mountainsides.
Exploring the dunes, we came across this pair of Monk Seals, relaxing on the beach.
Looking out to sea provided a dramatic scape of wind and rocks as the ocean parted itself around the point.
After about an hour, we headed back along the rutted dirt road. The sun was now out and provided some pretty colors to the scenery.
This hike, all 5.87 miles, was a lot of fun. Lots to see and no danger of falling off a mountain.