Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and nearby hikes: a guide to the famous Oahu tourist stop

Written by: 
Vic Zhong
There is much more to the Pali Lookout than just the lookout.

Introduction

The Nu'uanu Pali Lookout is one of the most historic sites in Oahu associated with local legends. One of them is the “Night Marchers,” and certain taboos like no pork should be taken over the Pali, according to Honolulu Magazine. You will take about 56 minutes with normal traffic to get from BYU-Hawaii to the lookout. Nearby hikes, such as Likeke Falls, Pali Puka, Lulumahu Falls, and Judy Trail are rated differently in difficulties, but hikers said online that these hikes are worth the rain, wind and bugs.

History

According to Pacific Worlds and Associates, Nu’uanu was where the Battle of Nu’uanu happened. The Battle of Nu’uanu was “one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oahu, bringing it under his rule.

“In 1795 Kamehameha I sailed from his home island of Hawaii with an army of 10,000 warriors, including a handful of non-Hawaiian foreigners. After conquering the islands of Maui and Molokai, he moved on to Oahu. The pivotal battle for the island occurred in Nu’uanu Valley, where the defenders of Oahu, led by Kalanikpule, were driven back up into the valley where they were trapped above the cliff. Kamehameha’s warriors forced Maui Chief Kalanikupule’s men to their deaths off of the cliff. Roughly 400 warriors died in this battle.”

Meaning

Pali, in Hawaiian, means cliff, precipice, steep hill or slope suitable for a native shrub, according to Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Library

Legends and stories

•          Night marchers, or Hawaiian warriors, are said to march around the island at night. Lopaka Kapanui, owner of Mysteries of Hawaii, said the warriors were the 400 who died in the pivotal battle when Kamehameha I fought against Kalanikpule. An article entitled “Friday Frights: The Legend of Hawaii‘i’s Night Marchers” in the Honolulu Magazine says, “In life, these warriors supposedly traveled at night to protect people so sacred that the common man was never allowed to look at them. Breaking that rule meant death.”

•          No pork is allowed on the Pali. Another well-known legend in Hawaii states that the pork god lives on the Windward side of the Pali. Diane Lee, the writer of “Friday Frights: Chilling Ghost Stories from Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout” of the Honolulu Magazine, wrote, “…his [pork god’s] ex-girlfriend, volcano goddess Pele lives on the Leeward side. Because of a dispute, they agreed not to bother each other... Taking pork from one side to the other side would symbolically break that agreement. Some drivers have claimed their cars mysteriously stalled on the highway, but started up after they threw the pork product out the window.”

Location

The Nu’uanu Pali is a section of the Windward cliff of the Koolau Mountain located at the head of Nu’uanu Valley on the island of Oahu.

Direction

According to Google Maps, it will take about 56 minutes with usual traffic to get from BYU-Hawaii to the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout via HI-83.

Time

According to Google Maps, the Pali Lookout opens from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Visiting in the morning is recommended.

The view

Visitors will be able to see Kaneohe town, Kaneohe Bay, parts of Kailua, and beyond.

Things to remember:

•          Bring jackets. It’s on the Windward side of the island that is usually more chilly and windy.

•          Secure your photo equipment with a strap or tripod. It’s very windy, so you must be careful, especially when using selfie sticks.

•          Don’t mind photo bombs. Tour groups will have the same schedule as you, so don’t be surprised if lots of people are enjoying the lookout with you.

•          Mind the bees. Before you go up on the lookout, you will see a caution sign, which says, “Be aware of BEES during high wind.”

Nearby hikes:

•          Likeke Falls: Based on Honolulu Magazine’s web series of O‘ahu trails, the Likeke Falls are “a relaxing trek on the Windward side.”

What to expect: “This is a wet, slightly slippery, very fun trail for the whole family provided everyone has footwear with good traction. You’ll be stepping over and under branches, through mud and on some mossy rocks, so expect to get a bit dirty before reaching the falls especially if there’s been some windward rain.”

From Nu’uanu Pali Lookout to Likeke Falls: According to alltrails.com, Likeke Falls is 2.7 miles away from the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout.

•          Pali Puka: According to alltrails.com, Pali Puka is rated as a difficult hike.

What to expect: It’s muddy, slippery, and windy; so don’t bring children, pets or fancy photo equipment. It’s a challenging hike, so it’s definitely not recommended to go alone. You can park in the Pali Lookout parking lot. Look for a stonewall that’s been stepped into a little stairway and a mini bamboo forest. You will find a hidden entrance with a sign on it. On your way up, you will see some pink ribbons. Follow those. As soon as you hit the top and can see the view of Kaneohe town again. You must walk on a narrow, steep ridge before you reach the famous natural hole. It’s a one-hour hike.

•          Lulumahu Falls: It’s a private property. According to alltrails.com, it’s owned by Honolulu Board of Water Supply.

What to expect: You have to have a permit to go there. It’s not a maintained hike, so you use your best judgment and watch out for heavy waterfalls.

From Nu’uanu Pali Lookout to Lulumahu Falls: After you come out from the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, get on the Pali Highway and head southwest on the Google Maps. You will see there’s a mini parking lot on the left hand side of the road. Park there and you will see a sign saying “Nu’uanu Public Hunting Area Unit E,” and that will be the entrance for the Lulumahu Falls.

•          Judd Trail: It looks just like a hidden rainforest, and it’s absolutely family friendly. There is a waterfall inside, which explains why the rocks are covered with moss. The trail is very green and beautiful, and the huge banyan tree makes it a great place for photo shoots.

What to expect: It’s very green and humid. You might consider wearing long sleeves because you might get mosquito bites. Slippers are not recommended because of the moss.

From Nu’uanu Pali Lookout to Judd Trail: It’s located midway through Nu’uanu Drive, which is right next to the Lulumahu Falls and has a really noticeable sign next to the Pali Highway.

 

Date Published: 
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Last Edited: 
Thursday, September 6, 2018