Kaena Point is the western most point of O‘ahu and is homes to a Natural Area Reserve, that protects Native plants and seabirds. There are two ways to get to Kaena Point, (1) From Waianae and (2) From Mokuleia. (1) From Waianae follow Farrignton Highway until it ends at Yokohama Beach, proceed West until the paved road ends. From this point, the hike is approximately 2-1/2 miles and very flat, almost no elevation changes. From Mokuleia, park at the end of Farrington Highway until the paved road ends. From this point, the hike is approximately a couple miles and also very flat. This hike is one of the most scenic photography walks on the island. It is recommended that every photographer take a sunset photography walk along this hike. You will not be disappointed by the amazing photography opportunities like, the Waianae Mountain Range, Tide Pools and even some natural life.
Kaena Point Hike
The Kaena Point Hike is one of the easiest hikes on O‘ahu, since it is flat and short. The hike however, does not have any cover, so please apply sun screen regularly. The hike primarily takes you on a dirt road that is raised about 15 feet above the shore line. The shore is comprised of small coves, interesting rock features and sharp, slippery rocks. If you climb down to these coves you can find interesting foreground subjects to add to your photograph. But be very careful of the waves and the rocks. People have been known to get knocked off the rocks and badly injured.
If you are planning on shooting the seabirds and other animals in the area, then please disregard the best time to shoot excerpt below. When shooting quick moving animals, you will want as much light as possible to keep your shutter speed as high as possible without sacrificing noise by raising your ISO. Some people have seen whales and seals, although this type of sighting is rare and may not be worth lugging around a telephoto lens to capture this moment.
Waianae Mountain Range and Tide Pools
As you walk West to Kaena Point, always be sure to turn around and look back at the beautiful Waianae mountain range. The shape of the island ensures that you have maximum depth in your photographs. There is a pattern of ridges that seem to extend forever in your photographs. It is recommended that you always use a tripod, a wide angle lens and a high f-stop (f-11 to f-14). When you reach the end of the Kaena Point hike there will be a small beach area and a series of tide pools. There will also be some greenery, all of these components help to add new color and interest to your photographs. Get up close to the tide pools, while being mindful of the waves.
Best Time to Shoot
The best time to shoot is at sunset and the hour after sunset. It is recommended that you bring a flashlight for this hike, if you start an hour before sunset. During this time, the colors in the sunset sky will make you want to shoot until the last light. This means that you will have to hike back in the dark.
Please do not leave valuables in your car. Start the hike about an 1.5 hours before sunset. This should give you ample time to scope out the hike and find the compositions that you find visually pleasing, in preparation for the sunset. Break-ins are common on the Waianae trailhead, so be sure not to leave anything in your car.