The North Shore of Oahu is well known for its beaches and legendary surf but there are some beautiful places here for hiking also.
Waimea Valley… Just above stunning Waimea Bay sits this tropical preserve and bird sanctuary, home to rare birds such as the Hawaian moorhen which nests by the ponds there. That’s right, ponds, because here in Waimea Valley you will find streams, ponds, a waterfall, 35 different botanical gardens, and even ancient archeological sites such as a 600 year old heiau (temple). Hiking here is both leisurely, beautiful, and something the all ages can enjoy! Once a month, when the moon is full, there is also a guided evening “moonwalk”! Open from 9-5 daily, there is an admission fee, but it is well worth it, and when you are done with your hike there are places to eat and a gift shop to browse through.
Kaena Point… If you are looking for a challenging hike on the north shore then head all the way up to Kaena Point. This northwest tip of Oahu is a wild and rugged terrain! Kaena Point is a Natural Area Reserve. There are no roads in, no cars, nothing but some clearly marked trails and the raw beauty of the island. Here you will see tall cliffs, sand dunes, tidepools, lots of seabirds (such as the Laysan Albatross which nests here), and many native plants (like the pohinahina with its purple flowers and the rare ohai with its beautiful orange-red blossoms). As you hike please be careful of bird nesting areas and if you see piles of neatly stacked rocks, be respectful, since they are actually small shrines erected by native Hawaiians who consider this area sacred!
This is a rocky coastline with high waves (the biggest on Oahu), dangerous rip currents, and no lifeguards, so do not attempt to swim in these waters! While no permit is required, this is not a place for overnight camping so allow yourself time to get in and out before dark. The 5 ½ mile round trip is strenuous and will take at least 3-4 hours. Go early in the morning and you might be treated to the sight of a school of dolphins that frequent this area!
Remember to take plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and bring a hat since Kaena Point is very hot and dry! Also, be sure you wear hiking shoes to protect your feet from the sharp rocks of the coastline. You can reach Kaena Point by taking the H2 to Wahiawa, then Kamehameha Highway, and turning onto Farrington Highway towards Mokuleia, before reaching Haleiwa, when heading to the North Shore. Drive all the way to where the highway ends and park by the side of the road.