What to Know Before Hiking Ka’ena Point State Park | Oahu, Hawaii

Ka’ena Point is home to incredible Hawaiian wildlife. The park provides crucial habitat to Laysan Albatross and Hawaiian Monk Seals. Near the end of the trail, there is a fence that protects the Point from feral cats, mongoose, and other non-native predators. Keana Point trail offers incredible views of the big blue ocean, rocky tide pools, and secret beaches as the trail closely hugs the coast.

Grab your binoculars and let’s get hiking!

Things to bring

Water & Sunscreen

Plenty of water. While the trail is steep or very technical, it is a long hike in the heat. Ka’ena Point Trail is 3.5 miles from the parking lot to the tip of the point or 7 miles round trip.

Binoculars and a Good Camera

You will see wildlife! Depending on the time of the year, you could see whales breaching in the waters. Binoculars offer a spectacular close up look. Binoculars or a camera will also offer an upclose look at Hawaiian Monk Seals and Laysan Albatross without getting too close and disturbing them.

Shoes for Mud and Rocks

I would not consider the trail a technical hike, but some spots do get very muddy and slippery. Some people are granted permits to drive into the park and where the trail meets with the four-wheel road, some deep and muddy divots have been created. Wear sturdy shoes if you plan on walking around lava rocks as they can be loose and uneven.

Hiking Eco-Tips

  1. Pack-in Pack-out
    • Help keep this ecosystem healthy and don’t litter.
  2. Tread lightly
    • Stay on designated trails. When walking on lava rocks or the beach watch out for seals.
  3. Don’t disturb wildlife
    • Use a low voice and keep a respectful distance when you spot an animal.

Ka’ena Point Parking Lot

Pro-tips

  1. Do not leave valuables in your car. I was told to also leave my windows partially down because the Ka’ena Trail parking lot is known for car break-ins and window smashings.
  2. Dogs are not allowed. Ka’ena Point provides critical habitat for protected species like the Hawaiian Monk Seals and Laysan Albatross, protecting them from feral cats, dogs, and mongoose – so pets are a no-go.
  3. Walking around the lava rocks or the tide pools or tip of the point is fun, but watch out for resting seals. Hawaiian Monk Seals often nap on the rocks and look the same color and shape as rocks, even when they are wet or dry. Some people don’t see them until they are about to step on them or a seal rears their head up in surprise. Remember Hawaiian Monk Seals are protected under the Endangered Species Act and it is illegal to disturb them in any way, so enjoy their cuteness and let them enjoy their naps.
  4. You might see airplanes and parachuters. Skydive Hawaii is not far from the trail, in fact, you probably drove past it! I recommend checking them out if you have time – another incredible way to see the island of Oahu.

Wildlife

About 2.5 miles along the trail you will find the fence protecting the tip of the point from invasive predators.

Hawaiian Monk Seals

Hawaiian Monk Seals are endemic to Hawaii and endangared, meaning they are only found in Hawaii and their population is at risk of extinction. Spotting a Hawaiin Monk Seal is special and exciting. They spend about one-third of their life on land sleeping and resting. Some of them love Ka’ena point and are frequent visitors, probably because of the protection they have there.

This seal was napping on one of the hidden beaches. Click here to learn more about Hawiian Monk Seal Behavior.

Laysan Albatross

Laysan Albatross are ground-nesting sea birds. They partner up every season and raise a chick together. While incubating the egg, the parents take turns going out to the sea for food while the other sits on the egg. Once the egg hatches and the chick grows older, the parents may leave the chick alone for days at a time. The chicks will stay in the nest, for the first few months of their lives. If you see a young albatross alone and alert it is fine! If you notice an albatross is clearly injured you can call HMAR to report.

An Albatross chick sat in a nest very close to the trail. If you see a bird this close, especially a chick, be as quiet as possible, take pictures from 10 ft away and walk past without making eye contact.

Laysan Albatross look very different as adults and chicks.

Enjoy the hike!

Take only pictures and leave only footprints.

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