Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park is a natural reserve on the eastern shores of Oahu, about an hour’s drive north of Honolulu. The 5,300-acre park stretches from the Koʻolau mountains down to Kahana Bay, encompassing a range of climatic zones.

    Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana is among the wettest regions in Oahu. With the back end of the valley receiving an average of 300 inches of rainfall each year, you can expect lots of lush tropical scenery. Hiking trails, oceanfront campgrounds, and an uncrowded beach attract nature lovers to this seldom-explored part of Oahu.

    The state park is also one of the few remaining ahupuaʻa – a traditional socioeconomic and natural zone – in Hawaii, thus a great place to learn about native traditions. Native families can teach visitors their old-time customs, and there are a handful of intriguing archaeological sites to explore.

    Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park - one of the highlights of 10 Best Road Trips near Honolulu (Read all about Honolulu here)

    What are the highlights of Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park?

    Backed by the majestic Ko’olau Mountains and blessed with pristine golden sands, the crescent-shaped Kahana Bay is a picturesque place to picnic or sunbathe. Runoff from the Kahana Stream can sometimes make the water too murky for swimming, but it’s still a pleasant place to while away an afternoon.

    Kahana Bay Beach Park has 10 campsites where you can pitch a tent with uninterrupted ocean views (permits required). The campground attracts a handful of locals on weekends. But come mid-week, you’ll almost have the entire beach to yourself.

    Right behind the beach, the Kahana River is an idyllic spot to kayak or SUP (bring your own gear). Hunting is possible with a permit and within pre-defined boundaries on weekends and holidays.

    On the east end of the bay, the Huilua Fishpond is a National Historic Landmark and a remnant of ancient aquafarming practices. Centuries ago, the natives hauled huge rocks from the valley to build an enormous wall in the bay. The Hawaiians were the only Polynesian people to trap and breed marine life through this innovative type of artificial fishpond.

    The Oahu government established the ahupuaʻa as a “living park” to promote native Hawaiian customs. 31 families live in the region and can provide interpretive programmes to showcase their traditions.

    photo by Travis.Thurston (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Where to hike at Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park?

    Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park has 2 hiking trails that traverse its lush tropical terrain.

    The shorter of the 2 is the Kapaçeleçele Koça and Keaniani Lookout Trail, a 1-mile loop starting at the Orientation Center. You’ll hike for about an hour to complete the circuit, passing 2 ancient cultural sites along the way. At the Keaniani Lookout, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the bay.

    The second hike is the Nakoa Trail, named for the towering koa trees found scattered along the route. Spanning 2.5 miles through verdant vegetation, the trail gives hikers a taste of a pristine Oahu rainforest. On the 2-hour jaunt, you’ll cross the Kahana Stream twice, often wading through ankle-deep water.

    Although both hikes are relatively easy, the track can get muddy, so wear appropriate shoes. Neither trail requires a permit and detailed maps are available at the Orientation Center on Kahana Valley Road.

    Good to know about Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park

    Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park resides between Kaneohe and Laʻie on the windward side of Oahu. The 26-mile drive from central Honolulu takes about 45 minutes, with the quickest route passing inland along the Likelike Highway.

    If you don’t have a car, TheBus #60 leaves every 20 minutes during the day from Ala Moana Center and gets you to the state park in about 1.5 hours. Check the official website for precise departure and return times. The only accommodation within Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park is a campground on the beach.

    Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park

    Location: 52-222 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaaawa, HI 96730, USA

    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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