Hang Gliding the Ko‘olau Range

The drastic, verdant and corduroy cliffs of the Ko‘olau Range are not actually mountains in the traditional sense, but the remnants of the western half of the Ko‘olau Volcano, which erupted nearly two million years ago. The caldera and eastern portion are thought to have slid cataclysmically into the ocean in prehistoric times. As erosion has chipped away at the peaks over hundreds of thousands of years, the tallest peak, Pu‘u Konahuanui, now measures only 3,100 feet, but was once thought to be about three times that height. Spanning the entire windward coast, the smaller and more recent volcanoes we refer to today as Diamond Head, Punchbowl Crater, Hanauma Bay, Koko Crater, Koko Head, and Tantalus were all created by eruptions from the Ko‘olau Volcano.

The caldera and eastern portion are thought to have slid cataclysmically into the ocean in prehistoric times.The pervasive, fresh trade winds blowing up against the Ko‘olau Range, combined with the splendid beauty of clear, tropical waters and verdant cliffs, create the perfect amphitheater for hang gliding and paragliding. Makapu‘u is the premier ridge-soaring site with five launch zones and one landing zone on the beach. Pilots also fly in the Kahana area. These are not recreational activities where you can merely rent a hang glider and jump off a cliff, but regulated endeavors for trained pilots who must register with one of the accredited associations on O‘ahu to fly from specific sites.

Paragliding Over Waimanalo Bay.

Paragliding Over Waimanalo Bay. Photo © Geoff Livingston, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike.

Visiting paragliding pilots with their own gear should contact the Hawaii Paragliding Association (53-040 Pokiwai Pl.). Contact any board member to become a member and get in the air. Visiting hang gliding pilots with gear need to contact the Hawaiian Hang Gliding Association (45-015 Likeke Pl.).


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.

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