Best time to visit Hawaii

Moanalua Valley Trail to Haiku Stairs in Hawaii

This staircase has nothing in common with a Japanese poetry genre

Best time: June–October

Moanalua Valley Trail to Haiku Stairs
Moanalua Valley Trail to Haiku Stairs

The Haiku Stairs or so-called Stairway to Heaven is a steep hiking trail on the island of Oʻahu. It consists of 3,922 steps that span along Ko'olau mountains.

The history goes back to 1942 when the contractors for the U.S. Navy started construction of the Haʻikū Radio Station. This secret facility was meant to be used as a transmitter of the radio signals to Navy vessels that were operating all over the Pacific ocean. To obtain the required height for the antennae, the Navy stretched them across the natural amphitheatre of Haʻikū Valley. Last but not least, they needed "an easy” access to the top of the ridges, so they set wooden stairs up to the hill. Later a timber staircase replaced the ladder. The remnants of the wooden ladder may still be found beside the metal steps.

The station and track were closed to the public in 1987. Owned by the Hawaiian board of water supply and located on private property, haiku stairs are considered to be illegal to shin up. They are in desperate need of repair, and there are dangerously slippery areas especially when it rains.

Several people were arrested, and a lot more were cited for climbing the stairs. However, many daredevils still hike the stairs on a daily basis. Local people have even installed "booby traps" to stop hikers from passing through their property to reach their aim.

Moanalua Valley Trail to the Haiku Stairs is the only legal trail, and it is recommended for very experienced hikers. It has some sections of nearly vertical, rope and muddy sections. Keep in mind, the adventurers MUST be respectful to neighbourhood residents living in this area. All the irregularities such as parking violations or noise complaints will result in a fine.

The trail is accessible all year round, but mind that the conditions can be various: humid, muddy, chilly, hot, slippery and so on. Therefore, this exhausting hike is better to be done in the drier season which is June to October. Summer is the peak tourist season, July and August are the hottest months. So the most pleasant period is June and September–October.

Practical info

When was Haiku Stairs constructed, and why was it built?

Initially built in 1942 by U.S. Navy contractors, Haiku Stairs was constructed for the Haʻikū Radio Station, a secret facility to transmit radio signals to Navy vessels in the Pacific. The stairs were built to provide easy access to the antennae, which required a high elevation. Eventually, the original ladder was replaced with a timber staircase. Show more

Where is the starting point of Moanalua Valley Trail?

The Moanalua Valley Trail begins at Moanalua Valley Park, and hikers must walk through the park for about 20 minutes to reach the actual Moanalua Valley Trailhead. Hiking almost four miles to reach Haiku Stairs, the full distance of the trek is roughly nine miles, offering hikers breathtaking views of Hawaii's stunning scenery. Show more

What are the legal options to hike the Haiku Stairs in Hawaii?

To legally experience the wonder of Haiku Stairs in Hawaii, hikers should choose the Moanalua Valley Trail. This trail requires permission to cross private land to access the stairs located on the Hawaiian Board of Water Supply's private property. Hikers caught trespassing could face legal consequences. Show more

What are some safety tips that hikers should consider before heading out to the trail?

Before embarking on the challenging Haiku Stairs trail, hikers should prepare themselves physically by wearing appropriate hiking boots, carrying enough food and water, and packing safety gear like a first aid kit. Hikers should check the weather forecast before beginning their trek, as the trail is steep and the weather can change suddenly. Knowing emergency numbers is essential to ensuring a safe hike. Show more

When is the best time to visit Hawaii for hiking the Moanalua Valley Trail to Haiku Stairs?

June through October are the driest months and the best times to visit Hawaii for hiking the Moanalua Valley Trail to Haiku Stairs. The steep terrain and slippery slopes on parts of the trail require hikers to choose a time when weather conditions are dry. During June, September, and October, hikers can expect pleasant weather, making any trek more enjoyable. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin