by Justin

The Ka'au Crater Hike is a long 6+ hour hike that takes you through the Palolo Valley, around and thru three waterfalls and a long ridge hike on top of the Ka'au Crater. The hike is one of the most difficult day hikes on the island of O‘ahu. The beginning part of the trail takes you along a stream, with several crossings at a slight incline. At about 1.5 hours into the hike, you should reach the 1st waterfall, which marks the second part of the trail. This part takes you up and around three waterfalls at very steep inclines, at some points you are climbing up the waterfall. The third part is a steep incline hike along the ka'au crater ridge.

Waterfalls, Waterfalls, Waterfalls

Ka'au Crater hike is one of the best waterfall hikes on the island of O‘ahu. I would suggest setting a good portion of your day to photograph the three waterfalls on this hike. When you get to the waterfalls, scope out the location and set up your gear, which should include your camera, tripod and possibly a ND filter. When taking pictures of waterfalls, some people forget to include depth in their photograph. Remember to include a foreground, an object in the midground and most likely the waterfall will be in your background.

Always use a tripod when shooting in the valley, because the lack of light in this area will require a longer shutter speed, when keeping you ISO low for the best quality photograph. One technique is to use a shutter speed longer than a second to make a silky smooth waterfall.

Stream and Lush Green Valley

The second photography opportunity is the scene created by the lush green valley and the stream that runs through it. As soon as you start the hike you will be welcomed by an immensely green scene and a stream. Use the stream in your photograph to create a leading line. Use the trees and branches to create frames for your photograph. Also always be on the look-out for different colors. Any change in color from green or brown, will attract the viewer's eye and create a more visually pleasing photograph.

Best Time to Shoot

The best time to shoot is first thing in the morning, not necessarily sunrise. This shall ensure an easier, cooler hike and less people on the trail.

Local Tips

Please do not leave valuables in your car. Do not park in private property. Also bring a lot of insect repellant and sunscreen. Insect repellant for the valley hike (1st and 2nd Hike) and sunscreen for the ridge hike (3rd Part).

How do I get there?

Parking Address: 3000 10th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

From the airport:

  • Head east on the H1 for 8.4 miles
  • Look for Exit 25B towards 6th Avenue
  • Stay on the left, then make a left onto 6th Avenue
  • Make a right onto Waialae Avenue.
  • Turn left onto 10th Avenue
  • Follow this road for 1.4 miles up into the valley.
  • Then make a right onto Waiomao Road, up a steep incline.
  • Please go until you can not go further and park on the side of the road, keeping clear of the residential property.
  • Continue up on the road by foot to the trail head, staying to the left.