North Shore O‘ahu Hiking, Biking and Bird-Watching

O‘ahu’s north shore has three trails with excellent views that range from moderate to intermediate based on conditions and difficulty, and are all fairly accessible if you have your own transportation. Biking is similar, with options for easy riding or some off-road fun, and bird-watchers aren’t left out with a dedicated 164 acres of prime territory with guided tours available.

Hiking

You can hike to Ka‘ena Point, the western tip of the island, from the North Shore. About five miles round-trip, the route follows an old dirt road to the point. It is a dry, windswept, but extremely beautiful hike with views of the North Shore the entire way out. Once you reach the nature reserve at the end of the point, cross through the special predator-proof fence to see seabird nesting grounds, monk seals, spinner dolphins, and possibly humpback whales if you’re hiking from November to March. Drive to the end of Farrington Highway, past Mokule‘ia, park, and proceed on foot. Bring plenty of water. There are no facilities in the area.

You can hike to Ka‘ena Point, the western tip of the island, from the North Shore.

You can hike to Ka‘ena Point, the western tip of the island, from the North Shore. Photo © Shever & Kimmrs

At the very end of Pupukea Road is Kaunala Trail (6 mi loop), which runs through the verdant gulches and across the ridges of the Ko‘olau foothills above Pupukea. The trail is wide and well graded with a slight elevation gain. There are great views of the North Shore on the return route. Drive to the end of Pupukea Road and park on the side of the road. Follow the dirt road past the Boy Scout camp and go around the locked gate. The trail is not far ahead to the left of the dirt road. This trail is open on weekends and holidays.

The Kealia Trail (7 mi round-trip) is an intermediate hike that climbs the cliff behind Mokule‘ia to a summit in the Wai‘anae Range. The prize is an overlook of beautiful Makua Valley. After hiking about 4 of the 19 switchbacks you’ll find amazing views of the entire North Shore, as well as native trees and shrubs along the trail. To get to the trail, take Farrington Highway through Mokule‘ia. As you pass the end of the airport runway, look for an access gate in the fence and turn left. It’s open 7am-6pm daily. Go past the runway and park in the lot in front of the control tower. Walk toward the mountain and go through the gate in the fence and immediately turn left.

Map of North-Shore, O'ahu Hawaii

North Shore

Biking

The North Shore Bike Path stretches from Waimea Bay to Sunset Beach. Much of the trail is shaded, and there are several ocean views along the way. Most of the trail is flat, great for a leisurely cruise or a more relaxing way to beach hop without having to worry about parking.

If you prefer going off-road, mountain bike out to Ka‘ena Point on the Ka‘ena Point Trail, an old railroad bed which is now a dirt road that hugs the coast around the point, a five-mile round-trip. The road is rough and rocky, there is no shade, and the surroundings are arid. Conversely, the scenery of the coastal dunes, the rugged shoreline, and the beautiful water is amazing. In the winter months, huge swells can wrap around the point, creating a cooling sea mist from the white water crashing against the rocks.

In Hale‘iwa you can rent bikes at Surf N Sea (62-595 Kamehameha Hwy., 808/637-9887, 9am-7pm daily) for $10 per hour, $20 daily, and $100 weekly.

Across from Sharks Cove, the North Shore Surf Shop (59-053 Kamehameha Hwy., 808/638-0390, 10am-7:30pm daily) rents cruisers for $15 per day. Hele Huli Rental (57-091 Kamehameha Hwy., 808/293-6024) at Turtle Bay Resort rents bikes for $10 for one hour, $20 for two hours, or $25 per day. North Shore Bike Rentals (888/948-5666) is a bike rental and delivery service. They deliver cruisers to any location from Mokule‘ia to Velzyland. They rent cruisers for $19 a day, children’s bikes for $10 a day, tandem bikes for $29 a day, pull carriers for $12 a day, and adult cruisers with a pull carrier for $28 a day. For three-day minimum rentals, they waive the $10 delivery charge. Free helmets and locks are included with rental.

Bird-Watching

The James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge (66-590 Kamehameha Hwy., 808/637-6330) is two separate sections of wetland habitat in between Turtle Bay and Kahuku, 164 acres in total. The wetlands are dedicated to the recovery of Hawaii’s endemic waterfowl, primarily the endangered Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian coot, and the Hawaiian duck. The 126-acre Ki‘i Unit is open to the public during the nonbreeding season, October to February. Also utilizing the wetlands is the bristle-thighed curlew. Guided tours are offered twice per week, on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings on the first two Saturdays of the month and in the afternoon on the last two Saturdays of the month. Reservations are required.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.

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