Monday, May 24, 2010

Hiking Oneawa Hills

Growing up in Kailua I have always wanted to explore the hill near Kapaa Quarry.  It is an interesting hill dividing Kailua and Kaneohe that offers spectacular views of both sides.  Even though this hike divides Kailua and Kaneohe like the Kalaheo Hill this hill is a lot less dry.  This means you'll see a lot more green and different kinds of plantlife here hiking Oneawa Hills.

We started the hike off of Kokokahi street in Kaneohe.  These stairs are a little difficult to find from the road.  If you are going to hike the ridge to the other side which is supposed to come out at Lipalu Street have somebody drop you off and pick you up on the other side.  Me and my brother Kory had our brother Kurt take us there and our sister Tanya pick us up.  These stairs are supposedly upkept by the surrounding community, and is kept pretty well.  Many of the plants along the trail here are labeled and are pretty diverse.  To find the stairs drive slowly on Kokokahi or get out and walk some when you get near the hill.


The first cool thing we noticed were the bamboo trees.  All of the sudden the trail becomes surrounded by bamboo quite a bit.  The bamboo sort of makes you feel relaxed and zen.  Did you know some bamboo can grow 18 inches per day?
Next you will notice different types of plants being labeled and such.  I thought this red hibiscus was worth taking a picture of.  After all it is the state flower of Hawaii.  Originally hibiscus in all colors were considered the Hawaii State flower, however after 1988 the yellow hibiscus was named the state flower.  So I guess technically this isn't the state flower now since it is red.  Did you know yellow hibiscus is the only one native to Hawaii?

I also thought this plant was pretty. It is what I believe to be a heliconia or a parrot flower.  These are pretty much grown for landscaping and don't have use for much else.  Do you know of any way these are used other than for landscapring?

There is a section of the hike that comes to a clearing and you can take a look at Kaneohe Bay.  Here is a picture of Coconut Island and you can even see Chinaman's Hat in the background.  On the very right is a small piece of land.  That is a far corner of Kaneohe Marine Corps Base or the Mokapu Peninsula.

 The scenery of the trail is actually very diverse.  On this section you can see that vines have really taken a stronghold.  Note that the amoung of sticky plants (plants with seeds that stick to your clothes) are PLENTIFUL on this hike.  By the end me and my brother were stickied up.  It seems like less fiborous clothing will do the trick here.  My brother wore a cotton shirt and high socks... not the best combo.

On the ridge you will be able to see both Kaneohe side and Kailua side.  This is the picture of Kawainui Marsh, Kailua Town, and you can see the Mokulua Islands in the background.  The hill you see on the right hand side is actually the hill of the Pillbox Hike

You will come across several clearings of Laua'e ferns. After the ferns, you will be in for a surprise.

I actually didn't really know how this looked up close.  What you see above you is Kapa'a quarry.  They have dug a hole into the ground for the rock.  At the bottom of the hole is a lake.  It is a spectacular sight actually and is the closest thing to the Grand Canyon you will see in Kailua.

Me and my brother, we made a mistake and went off trail.  After seeing the quarry you will come to an area where there are many pink slips indicating for you to make a right turn to head down the hill.  Unfortunately we weren't paying very good attention and ended up doing an hour of trail blazing.  Not fun at the time, but probably the most memorable part of the hike.  We came across lots of pots and dead snails and I thought maybe it was for growing 'special' plants and to protect the 'special' plants snail poison was administered hence the dead snails, but we found no such plants.  We did find what seemed to be an invasive species of plant though.  You can see the seeds of the plant here next to the pink hibiscus.
We backtracked on the trail after we figured out that we were definitely 100% guaranteed going the wrong way.  We went back through California grass, pokey plants, and trees with branches that like to poke you in the eyes.  Finally we came back to the spot where they put lots of pink slips to indicate that you need to go in that direction.  Going down the hill towards Lipalu Street, you will find yourself in fields and fields of these berries.  I don't know what this plant is but it was cool seeing tons of red berries all around you.
Finally toward the end of the trail, tired as heck, we came across this Heiau. I found out that this is the Kawa'ewa'e Heiau and is supposedly where Chief Olopana met his death, slain by Kamapua'a, a demigod.  The Legend of Chief Olopana and Kamapua'a is a very cool story.  You will see that people still make offerings at this Heiau, and it was most likely built for Lono, god of fertility, agriculture, rainfall, and music. 

The Oneawa Hills Experience

Hands down, the most memorable part of this hike was getting lost.  It wasn't fun, but I don't regret it.  We went off the beaten path and saw stuff that the normal people hiking Oneawa Hills don't see.  Remember to keep track of the pink slips.  Also when you get down the hill, try to find your way to the road as soon as possible, unless you want to get to the Heiau.  The trail to the Heiau is marked with orange slips instead of pink.  The hike is worth it but prepare yourself for the sticky plants!

View oneawa hills hike in a larger map

Hawaiian Language Glossary
Oneawa:  Milkfish sand
Kāne'ohe:  Bamboo husband (According to legend, a woman compared her husbands cruelty to the cutting edge of a bamboo knife)  "Hawaii Place Names"
Lipalu:  A type of seaweed
Mokapu:  Sacred district
Laua'e:  A fragrant fern


  1. Looks like a great hike in such a beautiful location! I definitely want to find this one.

  2. Yes Mary it was definitely beautiful. It's not that hard either. Just kinda long... 5 miles.

  3. The view looks amazing! Thanks for sharing the nice pictures!

  4. hey kyle, one of our hiking friends tied a bunch of orange ribbons along the trail near the heiau. Hope that didn't confuse you.

  5. Actually the orange ribbons do good to indicate where the heiau is. Good job!

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