It is safe to say that we saved the best until last.
Ka’ena (or Kaena) is the western-most point on the island of Oahu, and the island’s oldest volcano, known for its dangerous riptides and monstrous waves. The road toward the trail head winds along the coast, with stunning topography on your left and the glistening ocean to your right; the beaches here are real local spots, where the villagers set up their trucks and tents, whiling away the evenings sharing food and drinking beers, music blaring, laughter ringing out loud into the night sky. I guess this is the modern day version of a traditional luau.
We decided for our last day in Hawaii to set off on the Kaena Point hike for sunset – it’s said to be a gem of a spot to watch the sun go down. We set off around 5pm – which, in hindsight, is a little late. Regardless, the blazing sunshine had subsided with only a gentle glow lighting up the sky which made everything all the more beautiful.
The hike itself is 2.4 miles each way – 2.4 miles of pure, unadulterated, untouched coastline. The path is completely unpaved, jagged and rocky, but flat, and set atop cliffs jutting out into the ocean. It winds alongside the craggy mountainside and sharp, rocky coastline – no sandy beaches here, this is pure and simple volcanic rock. Gigantic waves, the like of which I’ve never seen before, thunder against the cliff edge, so loud that you can’t hear yourself think.
It was an absolutely exhilarating walk.
The sun dropped fast, illuminating the clouds into all manner of colours; pinks, purples, blues. The sky turned the softest shade of orange I’ve ever seen, a delicious peach hue. The waves continued crashing, getting larger, and larger, and larger.
At the very point itself is an albatross sanctuary. It was here that we saw something truly incredible; at the very western point of the island, two oceanic currents meet.
It is here that the waves join; 30, 40, 50 foot giants doing battle in the dark sea. I can’t describe to you the noise, the pure force, the sheer might of this water. It was terrifying, fascinating – breath-taking. Never have I understood the devastating strength and power of the ocean until that moment, as the sun dropped beyond the horizon, leaving us staring in awe through the dusk.
Ka’ena point, as far as I know, isn’t actually a huge tourist pull – which was great for us. There was not a single other soul on the trail other than ourselves. It was peaceful, educational, exciting – around every twist of the coast was another sight to behold, another jaw-dropping vista, another murmur of “oh my goodness”.
Covered in mud, salty from the sea spray, aching; I cannot think of a better way to have ended our time in Hawaii than hiking to Ka’ena Point. There’s no piece of writing or photograph which could do this place justice; you simply have to see it for yourself.