Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

Best Hikes On Oahu: The Kaiwi Shoreline Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: Kaiwi Shoreline Trail
  • Where: Hawaii Kai, Oahu
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 115 feet
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • More Information: Oahu Trails

Picture from the Kaiwa Shoreline

Google Earth Map of the Trail

Kaiwi Shoreline Trail

Narrative

Having previously hiked the Makpu’u Lighthouse Trail I noticed a signboard that designated the trailhead for the Kaiwa Shoreline Trail.

I have been meaning to go back Makapu’u to try out that trail with my kids and recently I finally had the opportunity to do so.  Probably the hardest part of this trail is finding parking.  The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail like any place on Oahu popular with tourists means that there will be little parking to be found.  There is a long road that leads to the trailhead that has parking along the side:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

We were lucky to have been passing by when a car pulled out of a parking space.  Here is a panorama of the parking madness with Makapu’u Point in the background:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

After parking my six year old daughter, three year old son, my wife and I walked over to the trailhead marked by this signboard:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

According to the signboard there was once a small Hawaiian fishing village located along this shoreline.  Historically this area of Oahu has been forested and the villagers actually grew sweet potatoes that they traded with whalers back in the 1820s.  Over the years the trees were cleared to be sold and the terrain turned into grazing land.  In 1922 Alan S. Davis established a cattle ranch on the land that lasted until 1946 when it was washed away by a tsunami.  Today the land is maintained as a State Park.  The signboard also had a map that showed both the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail and the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

After reading the signboards we then headed down the well maintained Kaiwi Shoreline Trail:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

The only trees that now grow along this stretch of coastline is the non-native mesquite trees that seem to thrive here:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

They can be seen growing all around the extremely wide trail:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

Other than the mesquite trees it appeared the only other thing growing were brown weeds:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

After a short walk the trail came to an intersection.  Going straight leads to a secluded beach while going left leads to an unusual rock formation called Pele’s Chair:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

The trail soon narrowed, but was still easy to navigate through the mesquite trees:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

We popped out of the mesquite trees with Pele’s Chair hovering above us:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

Pele is the Hawaiian God of fire and over time this unusual lava rock formation took on her name:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

Below Pele’s Chair is a little cove where I saw a few fishermen on the rocks trying to catch fish among the large waves hitting the coastline:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

On the opposite side of Pele’s Chair there is a secluded beach with calm water where I saw a few people snorkeling and swimming in:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

After checking out this part of the coastline my family and I retraced our route back to the intersection and followed the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail around the secluded cove and through a large field of brown weeds:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

Here is the view of this field looking back in the other direction towards Makapu’u Point:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

The trail next came to a large mangrove swamp that added a stunning amount of green to the mostly brown landscape:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

The trail came to another cove along the coastline backdropped by Koko Crater in the distance:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

Here my family and I stopped to eat snacks and let my kids throw rocks and splash around in the water.  We literally had this entire cove to ourselves since no one else hiked over here.  The water in the cove was mostly calm, but the Kaiwi Coastline outside of the cove featured some very large waves crashing against the rocks that was very cool to watch:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

After my kids finished playing we then followed a coastal trail back to the original secluded cove below Pele’s Chair to make this a loop hike:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

The coastal trail ended at the secluded beach where we could see many more people had since shown up to play in its waters:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

Across the cove from us we could see the very striking Pele’s Chair:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

I could not help, but think that the rock formation was definitely fit for a God to sit on.  Here is a panorama picture I took of Pele’s Chair and the beach below it:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

From the secluded beach we followed the main trail back to the parking area below Makapu’u Point:

Picture from the Kaiwi Shoreline

Conclusion

In total our loop hike covered 2-miles over mostly flat terrain.  Really the only elevation gain is from walking back up to the parking area below Makapu’u Point at the end of the hike.  The hike can actually be extended to walk further down the Kaiwi  Shoreline Trail all the way over to the popular Sandy Beach.  My family and I were more than happy to spend time at the secluded cove we found before looping on back to the parking area.  There were plenty of other little hideaways along this coastline we saw other people have to themselves as well.  For those looking for an isolated piece of paradise in the Hawaii Kai area of Oahu definitely make a visit to the Kaiwi Coastline, that is if you can find parking first.

Note: More Oahu trail information can be read in the below book:

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *