North Shore Travel Guide - Best Hikes on the North Shore Oahu

July 27, 2018

North Shore Travel Guide - Best Hikes on the North Shore Oahu

Laying around on the beach not your style? Amazing views of the ocean from above more your thing? Don't worry we've got you covered! We will share with you our favorite hikes along the North Shore coastline in the second installment of the North Shore Travel Guide.  Starting with the easy valley hike, all the way to the glute-busting epic ridge scramble. There is something for every hiker along the North Shore Oahu coast. 

Did you miss our first post all about the North Shore Beaches? Check it out HERE


Ahupua’a O Kahana State Park - You can take an easy stroll on level ground in the lush, beautiful valley. But bring bug spray or you will be sorry. For several, itchy, itchy days. There are even a few places in the river to swim.



Kealia Trail - The hike’s trailhead is behind Dillingham Airfield. You drive in the airfield and park in the back parking lot. This is a switchback trail, which heads up the mountain with nice views along the way and a picnic area at top. If you want to extend this hike, you can really put some work in and huff it up up up some military access roads to overlook Makua Valley on the west side of the island - doing this extension is boring and tough, but has a good payoff.

Hawaiian Birds
Ehukai Pillboxes - The trailhead is just behind Sunset Elementary. This is a hike up the mount to some old military lookouts. It’s a pretty quick jaunt and has some great views out over the ocean.

Ka’ena Point - This is the northwest-most point of the island, where wandering souls ascend to heaven. Ka’ena means “the heat” - there ain’t no shade on this hike so bring sunscreen and a hat and a lot of water. Drive beyond Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia area as far as you can. Park when your car can’t handle the rough four wheel drive road anymore (probably several miles out from the point.) There’s some cool stuff to see along the shore line, and you’ll eventually hit “hidden beach,” which is a surprising little beach out in the middle of nowhere. At the point, there are almost always some monk seals sunning themselves and during the winter months, huge albatrosses also come here to give birth to their babes. There will likely be nesting shearwater birds. This is a cool journey despite the heat.

Laysan albatross

Ocean hike to off-shore island with secret cove wavepool!
Chinaman’s hat - Fun fun fun! You swim from Kualoa Beach Park to this offshore island - the swim is totally safe, through shallow water. Most of the time, if you really need to, you can stand up. Not much to see along the swim, unfortunately, but you can snorkel with the little fish around the island. It takes about 20 minutes to get there. If you don’t want to swim, you can rent a stand up paddle board or kayak and strap it to your car. Once on the island, you can climb it to the top for 360 views and then hike around back to the tiny sandy cove beach and a usually-deserted wave pool.

 Chinaman's Hat

Photo by Journey Era

Difficult/Glute-killing Hike:

Kahekili ridge to Pu’u Manamana (down east side beyond provided maps) - Unbelievably gorgeous and VERY challenging hike with constant amazing views and climbing up ridges, then into a valley, then up to the next ridge and down. Spectacular, my favorite. Can freak people out! You can also just ascend a portion of Pu’u Manamana for a bit and get some fantastic views of the valley and the east side beyond. 5+ hours to do the whole thing.

Ahupua’a O Kahana State Park, Pu’u Piei trail - You can hike up the north wall of the valley in this park and gain some beautiful views of the valley and beyond. It shouldn’t take too long, a couple/few hours. Bug spray is essential!

Cultural Sites

Waimea Valley Arboretum - An important historic cultural site and once thriving village, this place is now set up for education. It’s beautiful back there, and you can learn about the Hawaiian way of life back in the day. Paved paths lead you through this arboretum and there is a waterfall with a big pool you can swim in. There is an entry fee, but worth it. This is where the Haleiwa Farmer’s Market is on Thursday, 3-7 PM (no entry fee to go to market). 

Puu o mahuka Heiau - A “heiau” (hay-ow) was an ancient place of worship for Hawaiians, basically open air temples. This one is the largest on Oahu and dates to the 1600’s. There are info plaques describing the layout of the heiau and the history of Waimea Valley, which it overlooks. Take an easy stroll down and around the heiau to find several spots overlooking beautiful Waimea Bay. To get there, drive up Pupukea Road behind the Foodland. As soon as the road levels at the top of the mount, look for the “puu o mahuka heiau” sign on your right and head down that road.

Now that we have your hikes covered, I'll be you are starving! in the next part of our North Shore Travel guide we will share our favorite places to grind. After such a big hike, you deserve it! 

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