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Point Taken: Exploring Oahu's remote Kaena Point

Hiking proved a bit easier for our group than biking, as parts of Kaena Point Trail were too rocky or narrow for a comfortable ride. We were forced to carry our bikes, in few places, over small ravines and rocky patches. None of this was exceptionally grueling. Still, on the summer day we were on the trail Kaena did manage to live up to the meaning of its name—Hawaiian, for “the heat.” Over our four-hour hike in and out of Kaena Point, we chugged several bottles of water.

The Kaena Point light tower nearly disappears amidst the sand dunes.

As the trail morphed from jagged rock to smooth sand dunes near Kaena Point, we took off our hiking shoes and made a beeline toward the shore. Between long gazes at the point’s stunning mauka (toward the mountain) and makai (toward the ocean) views, I searched for the large rock—known as leina a ka uhane, or “spirit leap”—from which, I’d been told, departing souls passed into the next world. All I could find was an unmanned, acetylene light tower erected in 1919 by the Bureau of Lighthouses.

“Is this it?” one of my friends asked, pointing toward a basalt outcropping further away that reached into the churning ocean. “Is this where we’re supposed to jump?”

“Maybe,” I answered. “But I think I’d rather eat lunch first.”

Kaena Point Natural Reserve Area and Trail

Entry from end of Farrington Highway at Keawaula Beach (Highway 930) or Mokuleia (Highway 93) • www.hawaiistateparks.org

Photos by David Croxford for HAWAII Magazine

(This feature was originally published in the September/October 2012 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)

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