Time: 1 HOUR
Distance: <1 MILE
Elevation Gain: 300 FEET
Foot Traffic: MODERATE
Challenges: Some steep climbs, Narrow ridges, Finding the Puka, Muddy if it's been raining
Sights: The Puka!!!, Three Peaks, K-Bay, Kailua, Kaneohe
What to Bring: Water (optional)
This awesome hike near the popular Pali Lookout offers the thrill and beauty of Hawaii ridge hiking in a short little hike. You will be required to walk along some narrow ridges and scramble up some steep slopes, all while being accompanied by the scenic Windward coastline on your right side. The hike ends at a gorgeous natural puka (or hole) in the ridge that perfectly frames the coastline. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this iconic Oahu hike.
Ah yes, Pali Puka. I've referenced this little hike so many times on this blog, I'm amazed it has taken so long for me to post about it. It really is an iconic Oahu hike, great for getting a taste of Hawaii ridge hiking while offering incredible views. When I finally found myself with a free weekday afternoon, I decided to return to this little ridge to share its beauty with you.
Here's a Google Earth image of the hike. Pretty simple, it's straight up the ridge from the Pali Lookout until you reach a steep and impassable rock wall. The puka will be behind and below you. That ridge on the opposite side of the lookout leads to the Pali Notches, the varsity version of this hike. That being said, Pali Puka has its challenges, despite being such a short hike.
To get to the hike, park in the Pali Lookout lot and walk left from the main Pali Lookout sign along the parking lot towards this stone wall. Look for this hole in the wall and trees. There will be an Area Closed sign just behind it. That is where you need to go.
Immediately after you enter the trees, you will come to a fork. Head right and uphill to get to the ridge.
You will get going quick as you have to scramble up this pine needle/root covered incline. This can definitely be a pain if it has been raining.
But shortly, you will pop out on the ridge, directly underneath this power line.
And you can begin to take in the beautiful Windward views that will accompany you throughout this entire ridge hike.
The hike is pretty straight forward from here. Just keep going up the ridge. It definitely gets steep at parts, but there are several different ropes to help you out on these sections (very useful if wet).
This ridge can get pretty narrow. I can't recommend this hike if you get any sort of vertigo near edges.
Because these dropoffs are quite steep.
But that risk is far outweighed by the reward. This picture not only captures the amazing ridge, but also the popular Lanikai Pillbox Hike (tiny ridge on left) and the more challenging, but still popular Three Peaks (larger prominent peaks in center). This shot just builds the case for the Windward side being the superior side of the island ;)
You even get views of Honolulu on clear days. I've always thought it would be cool to live down there, right in the middle of it. But sometimes you just have to be true to yourself.
And my true self is being up here, taking in these amazing windward views, far away from all the noise and chaos.
The ridge comes to an end at this tall rock face. I suppose you could climb this... good luck getting back down. You can actually circumvent this rock and get up on this ridge. It's a pretty gnarly ridge hike to the Ko'olau Peak of Lanihuli (check out this epic YouTube video of it) . It's on my to do list, but not today. When facing this rock, the puka is located below you. You will have to do a minor scramble down to get level with the puka.
And there it is, the puka. Absolutely incredible the way this random hole in the ridge perfectly frames the coastline. I really struggle with whether I like this or the Makapu'u Puka more. I guess I really don't have to pick a favorite.
One last photo of this natural wonder. Pali Puka, you never cease to amaze me.
Check out my video of this iconic Oahu hike!
What's your favorite Puka in Hawaii? Leave a comment below!
Also Check Out:
- The Wikipedia Post about the significance of Nu'uanu Pali