CAUTION: Some sections of this trail frequently wash out along the coast. Check with Hawai'i State Parks before setting out: (808) 587-0300.
The Ka'ena Point Trail occupies the right-of-way of the old O'ahu Railway and Land Company that once transported sugar cane along the westernmost point of O'ahu. The trail leads to Ka'ena Point Natural Area Reserve, a remote area that preserves rare coastal sand dune habitat for native plants and seabirds. During the winter, look for whales off shore. Year-round the weather can be hot, and the trail is quite exposed, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Also, wear a hat. Waves batter the coast when it's windy, so stay back from the sea for safety reasons.
If you begin at the Wai'anae side, take the trailhead at the end of the paved road in the Keawaula Section of Ka'ena Point State Park. Take the dirt road for 2.4 miles to Ka'ena Point Natural Area Reserve. The shoreline will be on your left, and you'll encounter boulder-strewn beaches and tide pools; cliffs rise above to the northeast.
If you begin from the Mokule'ia side, park at the end of the paved road then follow the dirt road for 2.5 miles. This section of the trail crosses a broad, flat plain with a few limestone reefs and sand dunes. As of early 2012, this approach only occasionally follows the old rail bed. A predator-proof fence has been erected to protect Ka'ena Point's seabirds and plants but access gates allow you to continue along the trail. Stick to the established paths to avoid trampling native flora and seabirds, some of which nest on the ground. No dogs are allowed in the reserve.
Regardless of which side you begin from, you will have to retrace your steps to return to your vehicle.
Parking and Trail Access
To access the Wai'anae end from Honolulu, take the H1 west until it turns into Farrington Highway (Route 93). Farrington Highway will become a two lane road and ends at Ka'ena Point State Park.
To access the Mokule'ia end, take H2 to Kaukonahua Road (Route 803) then to Farrington Highway (Route 930). Go past Waialua and about 1 mile past Camp Erdman. The trailhead begins where the paved road ends and a rough 4-wheel drive road begins.