The stairway to heaven hike is one of the most amazing hikes in the world and it is one of the secret places to travel too. It is also quite a forbidden fruit with the $1,000 fine if the patrol guards catch you. However, do you know that you can legally hike the Stairway to Heaven?
Ps: now updated with the hiking trail to get down. (A different and legal way)
Updates & Edits
2019 Q3 update: to get to the trail, you will have to choose a crossing point. There are barbed wires around and signs that say you can’t pass. To get across, go to Puoni Place (Google Maps Here). Follow the road into the jungle.
Make a right on Puoni Place to Lolli Street (you can see that on google maps). Follow the secret road to the jungle. Walk up the hill and you will see a huge gate. There is a small flood ditch at the left of the date. Squeeze through it and get to the other side. Walk until you get to the bamboo forest. Follow the highway till you get to the bottom of the Haiku stairs.
Look out for random orange tape on trees! They are your guiding track.
2019 Q1 update: there is more frequent police presence. Like police cars. The security guard can also see you when you are climbing down the “illegal” way. So go down the legal way.
2018 Dec update: Reader shared that that the trail now has a sign that states, “NOTICE, NO HIKING BEYOND END OF STATE TRAILS. HA’IKU STAIRS CLOSED. ACCESS PROHIBITED. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.” So, hike at your own risk.
Alternative way: get a local guide that will take you up the stairway to heaven. You have to pay them though! But it is safer since they know the way (& rules).
Tips For Hiking Stairway To Heaven (Haiku Stairs)
Firstly, this is in Oahu, one of the islands in Hawaii. Please go to the right island.
- Personal limits: Be aware of your personal limits. The hike is can be dangerous and frightening, especially if it is your first hike. Hike with someone.
- Weather: Know the weather conditions! NEVER hike when it is a thunderstorm or rain. Check the local weather and conditions. Best when it with blue skies with light wind.
- Research: Cross check real-time information, do your research. A day before the hike and on the hike day itself, check Instagram posts and Instagram stories for the latest information about people in the area (search via the location tag).
- Attire: Base on the weather, you will know if it is too cold for you or not. Nonetheless, bring a light windbreaker, just in case the weather changes and you need to keep warm.
- Food: Bring some food to keep that energy level high. I recommend some mix trail nuts and dried fruits. I usually make my own pack of almond, walnuts, brazil nuts, dried figs, raisins and pine nuts. You can also bring a few energy bars along the way.
- Water: Water! Bring water. Keep hydrated. Make sure you drink water while you hike. Drink plenty of water the night before.
- Insurance: It can get really dangerous and the US has some insane medical services, so I recommend you to get some insurance. Air rescue costs $1000, minimum.
- Early: Start early in the morning (4-5.30am) for the best view and the least amount of people. Stay somewhere near. Ps: less security when you are early too!
How To Legally Hike The Stairway To Heaven (Haiku Stairs)
Short answer: you hike it from the back!
Long Answer: Hike Kaulana’ahane trail
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Long answer: The trail you should be hiking is called Kaulana’ahane trail. The trail itself is legal and easy: 4-hours hike. Hike 4km up Kamanaui Valley Road Trail till a sign on the left for the start of the trail. Cross the Moanalua stream (28 times) till you reach a steep ridge with a panoramic viewpoint of the Haiku Valley.
The most challenging part of the hike is the motivation to keep going on the top of the ridge. One a clear beautiful day, you can see the cars on H3 below when you are above. Otherwise, you can hear them driving away.
At the top of the ridge, you go left and you will be at the top of Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven). The ridge is very dangerous and has no fencing, so you have to be extra extra careful. Use your hands and crawl on your knees if you have to!
Note: this video below is really nice but it is extremely dangerous (& maybe illegal). Don’t worry, the real trail is nothing like this video. I embedded it here because it might inspire some of you to try hiking in Hawaii!
Why can’t I hike from the front?
The front is where the actual stairs are located. They are partially destroyed due to weather and pose a huge danger risk. Hence, it is not possible to hike that way. Also, there are guards patrolling at the bottom of the stairs, and if they catch you, it is a $1000 fine. The back route can bring you to the same peak as the Stairway To Heaven (Haiku Stairs).
Details about Getting to Kaulana’ahane trail
- From downtown Honolulu, get on H-1 west from Punchbowl St.
- Follow H-1 West and H-201 West to Ala Aolani St. Take exit 2 from H-201 West.
- Turn right onto Ala Aolani St.
- You will arrive at Moanalua Valley Trail Start (Kulana’ahane)
How To Get Back Down: Moanalua Trail
Short answer: follow all the people on the trail when it’s time to get down, aka when everyone has taken pictures of the sunrise and heading back down.
Long answer: follow the Moanalua Trail to get down. Do note that the trail can be windy and muddy, so be prepared with your gears. Micro-spikes on your shoes can help. There are ropes available to help you hike.
Comments by a fellow treveller: If you take the legal route, at the end of the first part of the marked trail about 2.5 miles in there are several paths diverting and you can easily take the wrong trail. Follow to the right and enter the path on the left about 15 feet after the official government brown trailhead sign. There is also an all trails app you can download that will still work when you lose cellular reception. This will let you know if you have picked the right path. If you don’t see the end of trail sign you are on the wrong path. Find the sign.
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.