Ka'ena Point is the northwestern-most tip of the island of O'ahu where, according to ancient culture, souls leap as they leave this world. This roughly 5-mile out-and-back trail is relatively flat, following an old dirt road along the coastline. This trail offers little shade and can be extremely hot, especially during midday. (Ka'ena actually means "the heat.")
Access to the trailhead is at the terminus of Farrington Highway on the Waianae Coast, where a parking lot and signs mark the start of the trek. There is a second trailhead that can also be accessed from the North Shore side. Along the way, hikers can catch rare glimpses of Hawaiian monk seals, Laysan albatross, native Hawaiian plants, and, occasionally, whales in the distance.
Approximately 2 miles into the trail hikers will come across a predator-proof fence that was installed to protect nesting seabirds. The trail turns into a sandy path and begins heading down toward the water. At this point, you may hear the calls of nesting seabirds, such as albatross and shearwaters. At the end of the trail, be on the lookout for resting monk seals, which often bask on the small sandy beach. Monk seals are protected, and there are just over 1,000 left in the wild.
Large swell and strong currents make the waters off Ka'ena Point dangerous. Swimming or wading is not advised. Check local conditions before hiking, as the trail can be hot and sunny.