Ka’ena Point Hike to an Albatross Sanctuary in Hawaii

by Amy Anne

Ka’ena Point Natural Area Reserve from the north shore is easily in my top 5 hikes on Oahu. It is definitely one of Oahu’s natural wonders. This wildlife reserve is home to an albatross sanctuary! The Ka’ena Point hike is approximately 5 miles out and back. The trail is totally exposed, so bring a hat and wear lots of sunblock! Not only is the albatross sanctuary a must see, but the trail itself winds right along the beach and there is plenty of time to relax, put your feet in the water, take a dip, or have lunch by the waves!

Ka'ena Point Hike Trailhead

There are two trails to the point. My favorite is on the north shore of the island. The trail begins at the end of Farrington Highway. 

The Deets

Location: Waialua, HI
: Medium
Distance: 5.2mi (round trip)
Exposure: Exposed
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Dog Friendly:
 NO! This is a bird sanctuary – no dogs


Parking: Free dirt parking lot
Doggie Bags:
Drinking Water:

Ka'ena Point Parking

The trailhead for the Ka’ena Point hike begins at the parking lot In order to access the sanctuary you must hike from the main parking lot, approximately 2.5 miles. However, if you have a vehicle access permit and key to the gate, you can enter the state park in your vehicle and practically drive up to the sanctuary gates. 

The dirt road can be very rough and muddy. Vehicles with 4-wheel drive are recommended. For more information or to apply for a vehicle access permit to Ka’ena State Park, visit the official Hawaii Division of State Parks website

Ka'ena Point Pillbox

Once you get through the sanctuary, you will come across an old tower and pillbox, decorated by local graffiti artists. Climb on top for a great photo opportunity looking back across the reserve and coastline!

Old Hawaiian Railroad

Between 1889 and 1947, the Oahu Railway & Land Company (OR&L) was a narrow gauge railway that covered much of Oahu. The map below shows the rail line that traveled from Honolulu, around Ka’ena Point, terminating in Kahuku.

As you walk along the coast, there are remanences of this old rail system. One of the stops along the trail has a sign with some brief history of the rail, overlooking what remains of rail bridge.

Holy Moli, the Hawaiian Albatross in Flight

The Laysan Albatross, or mōlī in Hawaiian, love soaring on the upward wind currents at Ka’ena Point. As you walk through the sanctuary, the albatross glide above you, sometimes within arms length. An unforgettable sight!

What are some of your favorite animals to see on hikes?

Always Amy Anne Signature

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