Haiku Stairs: What I Need to Know
Haiku Stairs is an illegal hike in O’ahu, Hawaii. This hike is also known as “Stairway to Heaven”. It is one of the most popular hikes on the island and I knew I had to cross this hike off my bucket list. I too wanted my picture in the hashtag obsessed social media platform. I wanted my picture to be featured on Top Posts and gosh darn it I was going to stay there. So my picture did not end up on there and it got lost in the multitude of hashtag uploads from that exhausting but majestic day.
A brief history about how the plan to hike Haiku Stairs came to fruit. I knew little of it but was well aware that it was a dangerous and illegal hike. My co-workers and locals alike told me it was very dangerous and almost convinced me not to do it. To the point that if I didn’t have a harness then might as well throw in the towel. I was petrified. What in the world, a harness?! My partner in crime did not let me relinquish, after all, I did convince him to go through with it with me. So much had already been planned around the hike alone. No, no, ceding was not an option.
I had purchased my gear, did so much research of contacting people on Instagram and on the web. It was two weeks of research and then the day prior came and it was time to figure out our entrance point. We were convinced it was going to be entrance #3 until we got there and one of the resident owners caught us scouting and was very suspicious of us. I got so nervous that I panicked and almost called off the whole thing. Remember, it is an illegal hike and the ticket can cost up to USD $600 and upwards. Not only were the resident owners giving us a hard time but the entrance looked dangerous and ambiguous. We couldn’t get off the car to really see and there were no pictures on the sites that I had seen. I certainly did not want to be climbing fences at 4:00 am in pitch darkness, even though the thought did seem intriguing. I swear I must have been a field operative in my past life, either that or I watched too much Alias. We deliberated and decided to check out entrance #2. We parked the car conspicuously away from the entrance as to not trigger any unwanted attention, even though the resident owners are used to it. That was the winner. The fence is not tall and there is an open entrance through the side. Perfect. Operation “Hike Haiku Stairs” continued.
As you can see on the top left, I provide the exact address. The opening is on the left of the fence. No jumping fences needed.
Note: you will have to do this in pitch darkness; however, your eyes will adjust. You will do this on a lot of mud and just continue your journey on into the forest. You will go under a fence. Don’t let your eyes and imagination fool you. I believed a guard was standing in front of me shortly after crawling under the fence. I almost made all of us turn around. Yeah, sorry guys! Continue by following the giant overpass highway system somewhere above your head. You hit the bamboo forest and then you continue through there to hide from the guard. Tip: they are there to warn you that you are going at your own risk. I don’t want you to just walk in front of the guard either expecting not to get fined because I don’t know. I played it safe and went through the bamboo option. Again, lots of mud, sharp branches, you might even trip, fall on your knees and get scratched but hey, it’s not an adventure if none of those things happen to you. I’m standing by that statement. That whole process takes around 30 minutes, less if you don’t encounter problems. Once you are close, you will see the guard’s headlights beaming right at you but you’re behind the fence and they have better things to do than to chase a few of the few hundreds of people that climb it everyday. Don’t forget your headlamp, gloves and a jacket. The headlamp is so important. You literally will not be able to see anything if you don’t have it. You can use your phone but you really need both hands to hold on to the rails. It’s a good vertical climb for the first hour.
I started the hike roughly at 5:00 am. It was meant to be 3:30 am but #snoozebutton.
What to bring:
- 1 liter of water (at least)
- rain jacket
- small backpack
- cell phone
- charged cameras
- cell phone charger
Don’t Give Up
I am so glad I did not give up. I couldn’t sleep the night before. I honestly slept for only 3 hours because I was so nervous. The feeling will be unavoidable and you’ll want to give up more than a handful of times but don’t. You can do it. A group of three called it quits once we were entering. They said a group before them were being rowdy and they got nervous and they turned around. We hesitated to keep going, again, but continued anyway. Be as quiet as possible. Be mindful of the residents living there. Be prepared with your backpack once you get off the car. Don’t close your car doors more than once. Be ready. Can’t wait to see you on the top!
Let me know if you have tried it or will try it in the near future and leave comments below.
I created a short video about our mini adventure. Enjoy!