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Best Hikes On Oahu: Pupukea Beach Park Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: Pupukea Beach Park Trail
  • Where: Pupuke’a, Oahu
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • More Information: Ancient Sites of Oahu

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Google Earth Map of the Hike

Pupukea Beach Park Hike

Narrative

I had a day off from work so I planned to have a boys day out with my three year old son.  After dropping my daughter off at school, my son and I drove up to the North Shore of Oahu to a walk around the Pupukea Beach Park.  The park is easily located across from the Foodland supermarket in the village of Pupukea:

The parking lot is located adjacent to the shoreline where during the winter months large waves can be seen crashing into the rocks below:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Out in the distance from the park the highest mountain on Oahu, the 4,025 foot Mt. Ka’ala can be seen:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

This section of rocky shoreline does have one small beach known as Three Tables Beach:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Nobody was hanging out on the beach the day we visited because of how dangerous the waves were.  The beach gets its name from the three rock tables that help protect the beach from the biggest waves:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

From the parking lot my son and I followed a trail along the shoreline which passed through an area where someone has been cutting the shrubs to look like a banzai garden:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

After the banzai garden the trail comes to a location known as Shark’s Cove:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Shark’s Cove is well known as the best snorkeling spot on the North Shore:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

At Shark’s Cove there was a sign warning people to not walk in the corals, but the water is so shallow that people were mostly just walking in the water to look at the fish:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

There is a deeper section of Shark’s Cove which no one was swimming in because of the dangerous currents created by the large waves flowing into that section of the cove.  From the beach at Shark’s Cove the trail then continues out on to the rocks where there were plenty of signs warning visitors to be careful of slippery rocks:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Here is a picture from the rocks looking back into the shallow area of Shark’s Cove:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Here is a picture looking back at the beach:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Here is a panorama picture of the view of Shark’s Cove:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Here is a picture of the deeper section of Shark’s Cove which no one was snorkeling in due to the dangerous currents:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

At the far end of Shark’s Cove we came to another set of signs that discusses the waves and the sea life that can be seen at Shark’s Cove:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Near the markers there were even more signs showing that the park is closed from 10PM to 5AM:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Other signs explained the rules of the marine park which can basically be summarized as don’t touch any living creatures in the park:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Of course there would be yet another sign warning us of impeding peril:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

From the signs, out in the distance I could see our next destination which was a group of rocks known as Pele’s Followers:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

As we began walking from the signs back on to the rocks we had another warning sign telling us to stay off the rocks:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

We did not walk on any of the rocks that were near the coastline where the dangerous waves are located.  We stayed well inland and basically parallel to the homes located adjacent to the shoreline.  As we walked across the rocks we actually came to a section of beach inside of the rocks:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

We next reached a section of rocky shoreline that sticks out like a small peninsula where Pele’s Followers are located at the end of:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

As my son and I walked across the rocks we were very careful because a fall here would definitely hurt a knee because of how sharp some of the rocks were.  Overall, though the rocks aren’t that bad compared to other rocky shorelines I have hiked for example the coastline in northern Guam.  With that said I still recommend sturdy shoes to cross these rocks:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

My son and I wore our hiking boots and had no issues.  I do not recommend wearing sandals or flip flops to cross these rocks because of the chance of possible toe injuries. Anyway as we continued across the rocks it was very easy to imagine how millions of years ago this was a lava flow from the long extinct Ko’olau shield volcano which the ocean has slowly been eroding away:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Something else I noticed when crossing the rocks was that we saw absolutely no birds.  However, evidence of birds was visible every time we saw any sand because of their footprints:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Something we did see a lot of were small crabs in the various hollows filled with water.  These crabs were actually very fast and could jump around:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

When not checking out the crabs my son and I made slow, but steady progress across the rocks towards Pele’s Followers:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Eventually we reached Pele’s Followers:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

According to the book, Ancient Sites of Oahu these rocks,known in Hawaiian as Pohaku, were followers of the volcano goddess Pele. Legend has it that she turned these followers into stone so they could be immortal and guard the beach at Pupukea forever.  The names of the followers were the father and mother, Paka’a and Hina Alualumoana and their sons Kuapaka’a, Ka’alenui and Ka’aleiki.  The three other rocks are named after boys named Holoholoua, Holoholomakani and O’opuhalako’a.  However, according to this webpage about the Pupukea-Waimea area the family was turned into stone for being nosey:

PELE’S FOLLOWERS (Nā ukali o Pele)
When the goddess Pele arrived here from Tahiti (some think Samoa since Pele is a Samoan name), she landed on Ni‘ihau first, then Kauai, and eventually found a place to keep her fires at Kīlauea. After digging on each island and reaching the seawater, she eventually found Hawaii, where she dug with her O‘o and did not reach water. Here she found a home for her fire. In Pana’ewa she planted her staff, and it became a tree.

On passing through the island of O‘ahu, Pele tried her staff (called Pāoa), at Leahi (known today as Diamond Head), Aliamanu (known today as Salt Lake), and Makapu‘u. While sailing through Pūpūkea, Pele came across a family watching her from the reef at Kalualoa. Angered at them being ni‘ele (nosey), she turned them into stone. For hundreds of years, these large upright boulders have stood as sentinels. During the 1960s, a huge winter wave knocked over the largest of these boulders. These large boulders are known as Nā ukali o Pele, the followers of Pele. Their names are Paka‘a, Kuapaka‘a, Hina Alualumoana, and the two young boys are known as O‘opuhalako‘a and Holoholoua.

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

The eight Pohaku rocks are quite tall averaging anywhere from 10-15 feet in height. Here is a picture of my son standing in front of one of the rocks:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

After checking out Pele’s Followers we then walked across the rocks towards Pupukea Beach:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

We were careful to not walk near the shoreline since that is where the waves were breaking.  Of course there was yet another sign to warn us of this danger:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

We soon were walking across the beach and here is a picture looking back towards Pele’s Followers:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

At Pupukea Beach we saw no surfers, but we did see a number of people body boarding on some huge waves that were rolling in:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

While I watched the bodyboarders my son had fun playing in the sand:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

After spending about 30 minutes on the beach we continued our walk by taking some stairs that leads away from the beach. Adjacent to the stairs was a collection of graffiti artwork on a seawall:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

At the top of the stairs a small alleyway led through a neighborhood of beautiful beachside homes:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

The alleyway then intersects with a bicycle path that leads back in the direction of Shark’s Cove:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

The weekend we visited there was not a whole lot of bicycle or pedestrian traffic on the path:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

I think I will have to come up here sometime and jog the entire bicycle path and see how far it goes sometime:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

The bicycle path runs adjacent to the very busy Kamehameha Highway:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

This section of the highway passed through the residential areas of Pupukea:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

As we neared Shark’s Cove various commercial businesses could be seen:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Eventually the bicycle path ended at Shark’s Cove:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

From there we followed the shoreline trail adjacent and passed Shark’s Cove back to the parking lot where I had parked my truck:

Picture from Pupukea Beach Park

Conclusion

Overall my son and I had walked 1.5 miles on this short walk around the Pupukea Beach Park.  However, the short mileage can be deceptive since we spent a good bit of time carefully navigating through the rocks to Pele’s Followers.  We both thoroughly enjoyed the walk though and the views provided of the large ocean waves.  I recommend this hike for anyone looking for a simple hike to do on a day that maybe more interesting hikes are less desirable due to bad weather.  The day we did this hike the mountains were clouded in with rain, but the beaches of the North Shore were sunny and beautiful which made for a great boys day out with my son at Pupukea Beach Park.

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