We all know about the lady who’s “buying a Stairway to Heaven.” The Stairway to Heaven on Oahu, however, offers an experience that can’t be purchased. Named for its steep and treacherous ascent (and not the Led Zeppelin song), this incredible hike offers panoramic views of Oahu. This best-kept secret is not for the faint of heart, so read on to learn about the dos and don’ts of visiting this incredible bucket list attraction. For more insider tips to Oahu, be sure to:
Everything You Need to Know About Stairway to Heaven on Oahu
It’s not often that you can say something is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Stairway to Heaven on Oahu is one of those rare attractions! Also known as the Haiku Stairs, “Stairway to Heaven” refers to a 4,000-foot long hiking trail consisting of 3,922 stairs. This haphazard, winding staircase is situated atop the crest of a mountain chain, over 2,000 feet above the ground. The only thing between a hiker and the plunging depths below is an 18-inch wide platform! Let that sink in.
Hiking Stairway to Heaven on Oahu—the Legal Way
Due to complaints regarding safety and unsuccessful repair efforts, Oahu’s Haiku Stairs were finally closed to the public. For the lucky few who got to experience this breathtaking hike in all its former glory, it’s clear that safety was not top of mind during the building process. Conditions on the stairs have been reported as windy, dangerous, and, for many, fear-inducing.
The fear factor of hiking Stairway to Heaven on Oahu is why it has remained a thrillseeker favorite! Even now that the official entrance has been closed to the public (sneaking in can result in fines up to $1,000 per incident), people find ways to achieve the Haiku Stairs experience. Below, we’ve explained how to achieve this mind-boggling feat without breaking any laws.
Take the Kulana’ahane Trail
In order to avoid hefty fines and a run-in with law enforcement, you’ll want to take the Kulana’ahane Trail. Though this route is legal, don’t be fooled: It’s no easy hike. The trek takes four hours to successfully complete and involves a few dangerous maneuvers. To find the Kulana’ahane entry point, begin your journey at the Kamanaui Valley Road Trail. After hiking for about two and a half miles on this trail, you’ll stumble upon a sign indicating the beginning of the Kulana’ahane—the trail that will lead you to the top of the Haiku Valley (the location of Stairway to Heaven).
Disclaimer: Once you reach the end of this trail (the peak of the Haiku Valley), you’ll reach a very steep ridge with no railing. Exercise extreme caution (many people grasp the ridge with their hands and crawl on their knees)!
What to Keep in Mind Before Visiting Stairway to Heaven on Oahu
Oahu’s Stairway to Heaven can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but we recommend considering your excursion carefully. Here are a few factors that may affect the outlook of your trip:
- Anxiety/Fear of Heights: We don’t recommend hiking the Haiku Stairs if you suffer anxiety attacks, especially not if they are triggered by a fear of heights. 2,000 feet in the air is no joke!
- Weather: It should go without saying, but do not embark on this hike if the weather is stormy. Wind, rain, and, of course, thunderstorms can present extremely dangerous conditions. Don’t risk your life—stick to fair conditions and light wind.
- Food and Water: Be sure to bring plenty of water and nutritious snacks (like nuts and energy bars) to keep you alert and healthy.
- Time of Day: The best time of day to hike the Haiku Stairs is early morning before daylight. This is solely to beat the crowds—if you are not comfortable hiking in the dark, your safety is most important (do what feels right).
- Buddy System: Hike Stairway to Heaven with a buddy or group. This is not an option, but rather a necessity. The same applies for any wilderness hike! If you or someone else in your party gets injured or in trouble, it will be essential to have a witness who can call for help.
After a heart-pumping adventure atop Oahu’s most thrilling off-the-beaten-path activities, you’ll need a comfortable place to relax and rest your tired muscles. A luxurious Hawaii Beach Homes vacation rental is the perfect place for you and your group to rest and recharge! There’s no better way to end an eventful day full of activities like hiking past waterfalls and swimming with dolphins than by relaxing in a private beach house. You’ll love reflecting on the sights of the day as you drift off to sleep to the sound of distant waves gently crashing. Be sure to check out our specials for the ultimate local experience and best book-direct deals on Oahu!