Stairway To Heaven Hawaii

{The Certified Haiku Stairs Guide}

stairway to heaven hawaii

Stairway To Heaven Hawaii

{The Certified Haiku Stairs 2019 Guide}


Many have simply dreamt of completing it, few have even attempted to climb it, and even fewer have actually managed to conquer it.

The Haiku Stairs Hawaii, aka “The Stairway To Heaven” is not a trek for the faint of heart, but is reserved for the true renegades of the world, who are in search of a heart-pounding, exhilarating and unforgettable experience.

Although the world-famous island of Oahu is home to a number of memorable hikes, some even more perilous than the infamous Haiku Stairs, none are more sought after than The Stairway To Heaven Hawaii.

 

 

You’re probably asking yourself…

Well if the Stairway To Heaven is not Oahu’s most dangerous hike, then what’s the big deal?

Although The Stairway To Heaven might not be Oahu’s most dangerous hike, it is conclusively the most illegal.

And you know what they say…

“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.”

– Mark Twain

haiku stairs stairway to heaven peak 

A chance to witness the unfathomable panoramic views of one of the worlds most visually stunning islands has made the treacherous, extremely dangerous, and super illegal hike of The Stairway To Heaven that much more tempting for the daring souls who literally risk everything to complete it.


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Stairway To Heaven Hawaii Fine?

The Stairway To Heaven Hawaii were banned to the public in 1987; however this did very little to thwart the attempts of various hikers and adrenaline junkies.

However since then, the stairs have become increasingly challenging to hike due to damaged handrails, tightened security and increased police presence, and one hefty USD $1000 fine if caught.

To make matters worse, the residents of the neighborhood where the stairs are located are completely fed up with all the shenanigans and unwanted traffic that the hike brings.

Click Here To Read More About Why The Haiku Stairs Hawaii is Illegal

Stairway To Heaven Hawaii {The Certified Haiku Stairs Guide}

stairway to heaven hawaii pinterest

The neighborhood is mostly comprised of retirees who figuratively have nothing better to do than berate any unrecognized visitor who they even faintly suspect are attempting the trail.

One instance, in particular, resulted in a hiker actually getting shot with a BB gun by one slightly disgruntled resident.

I swear to God… True story!

Click Here For Full Story

Well with all this risk is Haiku Stairs Hawaii even worth it?

Haiku Stairs Pose

Quite frankly, if you even have to ask this question then the hike is not for you.

The very second I first heard about the Stairway To Heaven, it immediately shot to number one on my bucket list of dope sh!t I absolutely must do before I die.

If your reaction was similar to mine, then keep reading because I am about to drop all the knowledge I have to help you successfully conquer The Stairway To Heaven!

Brief History | Haiku Stairs Hawaii

Haiku Stairs Drone

Amidst the Koolau mountain range lies the menacing 3,922 step ladder leading you on an epic 2000 foot journey up to the Keahiakahoe summit, where you will literally have your head in the clouds.

Beginning in 1942, the United States Navy constructed the Haiku Radio Station as a means to serve as a top-secret military facility designed to transmit radio signals to aid Navy Ships operating in the South Pacific.

After the tower was no longer of use, it was officially decommissioned sometime in the mid 1950’s.

What Gear Will I Need?

Haiku Stairs Hawaii Light

  • Headlamps
  • Hiking Boots
  • A jacket
  • Portable charger
  • Several bottles of water
  • A beer or two
  • Sandwiches and snacks

Related | Stairway To Heaven Oahu {12 Hacks & Tips You Must Know Before Hiking}

When Should I Attempt To Hike The Haiku Stairs?

 

stairway to heaven hawaii hike

The guard arrives sometime in the early morning, so you should begin your hike around 3- 4am in order to avoid him.

Furthermore, attempting your hike at this hour helps you stay elusive and avoid the neighborhood watch who can easily thwart your efforts during daylight hours.

How To Reach The Haiku Stairs?

 Haiku Stairs Map

Haiku Stairs Hawaii Map


First things first, you have to reach the neighborhood located northeast of the Haiku Stairs.

You can either take a car or Uber to the neighborhood, however there are distinctive risks associated with both.

Car


If you choose this option then you will have to park your car somewhere inconspicuously in the neighborhood, preferably not directly near one of the three access points. I chose Uber, as I didn’t want to risk the car being towed.

The reason being, that those many retired residents of the neighborhood have the power to swiftly call the Police, and have your car towed if they suspect a vehicle they don’t recognize parked outside their house.

However, remember if you do drive, don’t park too far away because there are random patrol cars dispatched to the neighborhood to help thwart off attempted hikers on their way to the Haiku Stairs.

If you happen to be spotted by any of these patrols …do your best to duck and hide until they pass.  I have heard, the Police can literally give you a ticket for just walking in the neighborhood/area.

Pro Tip
Make sure you have your gear ready to go before you arrive, and try to be as quiet as possible when navigating to one of the access points we will mention below.

If you see any headlights at all automatically assume it is a patrol car and attempt to avoid them.

Uber


This is the option we selected to go with, as we wanted to make sure we didn’t have our car towed along with potentially being spotted walking up to access points.

Uber makes it very easy to get to the access point, however adds a bit of difficulty once you have completed the hike because you no longer have a reliable getaway car to flee the scene with.

Instead, you must rely on the Uber driver as your evacuation option, which can be tricky especially if they are not on time to pick you up.

Once you return from the hike, be sure to have the Uber sitting outside before you walk out into plain sight.

Pro Tip
Like I mentioned above, the cops technically have the right to give you a ticket, even if you are not caught within the trespassing area thanks to probable cause and some bullsh!t about town ordinances.

Where Should I Cross?

Now this is the most important decision of your hike; choosing the crossing point.

There is a large scary barbed wire fence with big “No Trespassing” signs plastered all over it.

At first glance you might even get the feeling you’re suddenly in the middle of an episode of “Stranger Things”.

Anyway, the fence runs the length of the neighborhood so you will either have to possess incredible jumping skills the likes of which this world has never seen, or you could simply choose one of the three crossing points listed below.

Haiku Stairs Hawaii | Crossing Point A

Haiku Stairs Hawaii Crossing Point A

Maps Destination: Makena Street, Kaneohe, HI

 This is the simplest route of entry, but also the most predictable therefore making it the easiest to get caught.

Jump the gate and walk down the private government road and you are literally at Stairway To Heaven’s doorstep.

If you choose to take this route you will literally be walking right past the security guard, or where he is supposed to be depending on what time you attempt the hike.

Aside from the security guard, this is definitely the most patrolled part of the neighborhood by cops, so your window of opportunity is the smallest here.

Haiku Stairs Hawaii | Crossing Point B

Haiku Stairs Hawaii Crossing Point B

Map Destination: Kuneki Place, Kaneohe, HI

This is basically a drainage ditch that runs between the houses which will eventually lead you to the jungle and your next crossing point.

You will not run into any officials along this route, however be sure to keep your maps handy as it is easy to get lost.

As you follow this route, you should eventually end up intersecting with the paved government road mentioned below in Crossing Point C.

Pro Tip
Watch out for rats!

Haiku Stairs Hawaii | Crossing Point C


Haiku Stairs Hawaii Crossing Point C 

Map Destination: Puoni Place, Kaneohe, HI

 This is my favorite option because it is the least protected and off of a dead end street, so as long as there are no patrol cars following you, then you have a clear shot.

About 100 ft after you make the right off of Lolli Street onto Puoni Place, you will see another road heading up a slight hill on your left.  This is yet another secret government road that will lead you into the jungle.

As you walk up the hill in about 50 ft you will see a huge scary gate.  However, unlike the gate from Crossing Point A, this one is not so easy to hop.

Instead, look to the left of the gate and you’ll notice a small flood ditch with just enough room for you to squeeze under.

However, be extremely cautious as you squeeze under the gate, because as the neighborhood watch strikes again, they decided it was a good idea to start throwing dog sh!t there as yet another deterrent for hikers.

As long as you are not in a rush during the crossing, say maybe running from the patrol in pursuit, then you will have no problem crossing without getting any of it on you.

Pro Tip
One of the girls that we met at the top of the stairway was being chased by patrols and was forced to dive under the gate in just the nick of time to avoid officials.

Although she did have ditch dog sh*t covered jacket and bag in the woods, she at least faired better than her friends who didn’t quite make it through in time and were immediately snatched up by the patrol units.

The Bamboo Forest

Congratulations if you get this far, as this the final and debatably the most challenging part of your journey.

If you selected Crossing Point A, then this section does not apply to you.

Like we mentioned before, crossing point B will eventually cross paths with crossing point C along the secret government road (see map above).

Walk along this road until you get to the bamboo forest.

If you bump into the security guard, you’ve gone too far.

 This next part is where sh!t gets tricky.  You will not find any clear-cut path through the bamboo forest, so you will have to squeeze and fight your way through the Hawaiian jungle at night if you are going to reach the Haiku stairs, so be ready.

Just be sure to follow the highway above your head west, as this will eventually lead you to the bottom of the Haiku Stairs.

Also, be on the lookout for random orange tape around the trees.  If you see this, you are headed in the right direction.

Pro Tip
This is where the headlights we mentioned above come in handy.

Yes, I know walking through the jungle at 4 in the morning is not exactly safe, but at least you won’t be getting arrested… yet anyways.

Thankfully, Hawaii doesn’t have any indigenous species of snakes or other monstrous animals that would make this hike much more difficult than it already is.

Climbing The Stairway To Heaven

Once you finally reach the stairs after wandering around the Hawaiian jungle for what seems like forever, pat yourself on the back because the hardest part is behind you.

Now all you have to do is hike the 3,922 steps and discover exactly why they call this hike the Stairway To Heaven!

The Haiku Stairs are broken into four platforms so think of these as your rest stops, because it’s not exactly easy to rest on narrow stairs that are basically on an 80 degree incline for the majority of the hike.

Once You Reach The Top Of Haiku Stairs Hawaii

Haiku Stairs Hawaii Atop The Mountain

Everyone tries to reach the satellite tower at the very top of the stairs to watch the sunrise.

However, this is counterintuitive because on a majority of days, the summit is so cloudy it completely blocks out the sunrise altogether.

Instead, I recommend staying at the second or third platform for a better sunrise view.

You can hike up the rest of the stairs once you see the sunrise!

Also, once you are up there you will notice people leaving before the clouds even begin to clear, saying “Its too cloudy, I’ll just come back again another day”.

Don’t be one of those people!

Unless you are actually living in Hawaii, how many times are you actually going to get the chance to hike the Stairway To Heaven in your lifetime?

Seriously think about it…

You went through the effort of waking up at 3 in the morning, ducking and dodging the police like a wanted felon, wandering around a pitch black, sketchy bamboo forest for at least an hour before finally hiking those ridiculously exhausting Haiku Stairs all for what?

To see a bunch of clouds and hope for better weather the next time?

Or wait it out for a moment and witness views like this…

stairway to heaven hawaii sunrisePro Tip
Seriously though, wait it out for a couple of hours and give the clouds a chance to clear. Trust us, you won’t regret it!

Related | Stairway To Heaven Oahu {12 Hacks & Tips You Must Know Before Hiking}

Getting Down

So you have one of two ways of getting down… the illegal way or the legal way.

Haiku Stairs | The Stairway To Heaven Hawaii Illegal Hike

Haiku Stair going down

It only takes about one to two hours to complete The Stairway to Heaven hike back down.  Although it might be the quickest way down, it’s also the riskiest.

A majority of those arrested or dealt a fine for completing The Stairway To Heaven hike are not arrested on the way up, but actually on the way down.

The reason for this is because unlike on the way down, you are no longer cloaked by the shade of night.

Instead, you are in plain sight of the security guard waiting at the bottom, who has more than enough time to alert police.

They can spot you climbing down the Haiku Stairs about 30 minutes before you actually get to the bottom. So if they alert the police then it’s possible they’ll be waiting for you once you get down.

And if that’s not enough, people driving on that big highway can spot you also and even they might contact the police.

So here’s the thing…

You will meet plenty of people atop the mountain who say you will be fine just going back down the Haiku Stairs but truth be told…

There is no bulletproof exfiltration route.

No matter what everyone tells you about the best way to get down, there is no guarantee you won’t get caught.

It’s all a matter of luck.

We’ve met people who’ve used exfiltration point C and have gotten caught but we’ve also met people who have simply walked out right past the guard at point A and had no issues what so ever.

So the choice is yours…

Moanalua Valley Road Trail | Stairway To Heaven Hawaii Legal Hike

Haiku Stairs the legal way

Truth be told, I had no clue this option even existed until we were already on top of the Stairway To Heaven.

Our original plan was to just simply risk it and hike back down the way we came.

However in the end, we discovered the legal but slightly more challenging way that didn’t involve the possibility of a thousand dollar ticket.

Haiku Stairs The legal way 2

It is called Moanalua Valley Road Trail and yes, it is completely legal!

However, just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it easy.

In fact, the trail brings a plethora of spectacular valley views and more daring encounters than the Haiku Stairs hike.

The Moanalua Valley Road Trail itself is about a 3 to 5 hour hike down, and has some pretty daunting parts along the way that may leave you wondering if the risk of a thousand dollar ticket was worth it after all.

Top Stairway To Heaven Hawaii Tips


Take An Uber, Don’t Drive Yourself

We recommend taking an Uber instead of driving your car for a few reasons…

Firstly, the locals living in that neighborhood are furious with the hikers passing through their streets to complete an illegal hike, so if they see your car and suspect anything, they will have your car towed!

Of course you can always park in the next neighborhood and walk to the entrance to start your hike, however, this brings me to my next reason as to why you should Uber there instead.

If you get caught by the patrolling Police, even by just walking in the neighborhood you can be fined on the assumption that you’re trying to hike the Stairway To Heaven. Stupid, I know.

Therefore just take an Uber!

Pro Tip
Just make sure your Uber is already waiting for you when they pick you up after the hike so you don’t risk getting caught waiting or walking in the neighborhood.

Watch Sunrise From Second Or Third Platform 

Most people make it all the way to the top of the Haiku Stairs to watch the sunrise. But if it’s cloudy (which on most days it is), then you won’t be able to see the sunrise from the very top.

You’re better off waiting at the second or third platform where it’s low enough to see the sunrise but high enough for an incredible view overlooking Oahu.

Take A Headlamp

There’s no way we would’ve been able to find our way around the forest in the dark without headlamps.

Don’t skip this step! You need a headlamp to help you find your way, especially if you’re taking the bamboo forest route.

Bring Beer

Although it’s only around 6.30am and the sun has barely come up, everyone has a victory drink once accomplishing the risky Stairway To Heaven Hawaii Hike!

It’s more of ritualistic celebration as opposed to getting drunk atop the Stairway to Heaven.

Don’t worry, it’s noon somewhere!

Bring Snacks Too!

Along with your victory beer, you might want to eat a victory sandwich too. After hiking for a few hours and waiting up there to watch the clouds clear to reveal the incredible view, you’ll need a snack or two to get you through.

You’ll definitely want to refuel your body before making your way down again!

Definitely Bring A Jacket With You!

If you have a waterproof jacket, BRING IT! And wear a warmer jacket underneath that too.

When you’re so high up in the clouds, it’s windy as hell, and everything is damp, including you.

Do not skip this step… I repeat, DO NOT!

Use Google Maps and A Screenshot Of Our Guided Map To Find The Base Of Haiku Stairs

Hiking through a bamboo forest in the dark with no footpath to guide you is the hardest part of the journey to the Haiku Stairs.

Use our guided map below to show you where to go, along with the use of Google Maps which will show you your current location, to be sure you’re headed in the right direction. Both tools will come in handy during your hike.

Wait For The Clouds To Clear Up

I know it’s freezing cold and you almost can’t function, and it’s cloudy so you can’t even see anything anyway, but don’t give up!

Wait for the clouds clear up, to reveal Hawaii’s most incredible view!

It may take an hour or two, but you won’t be sorry once you see the view. Oh, and it will become warmer as soon as the sun peeps above the clouds, so the shivering will stop and your clothes will dry!

Don’t Hike Back Down The Haiku Stairs!

So as it turns out, you actually have more of a chance of getting caught and fined by the Police on your way DOWN the Haiku Stairs.

Reason being, the guards or anyone driving on the highway can see you on the stairs about 30 minutes before you reach the bottom. If they call the cops to come, they will be waiting there ready to fine you once you finish the hike.

How do you avoid this, you ask?

There’s a ‘legal’ hike to the top of Stairway To Heaven Hawaii! It’s called Moanalua Ridge and it’s insane!

Adrenaline junkies, pay attention! You won’t want to miss out on this one. It definitely takes longer than the Stairway To Heaven, about 3-3.5 hours, but it’s totally and utterly worth it.

It’s actually more dangerous than the Haiku Stairs, and this one should probably be illegal instead, but let’s keep that one a secret.

Was it worth it?

Haiku Stairs from above

After successfully climbing The Stairway To Heaven Hawaii (aka Haiku Stairs), and navigating the minefield of deterrents and obstacles along the way, long story short is…

YES IT WAS 110% WORTH IT!

As the most notorious hike in all of Hawaii, our sole purpose of traveling to Oahu was to successfully conquer the behemoth that is commonly known as The Stairway to Heaven.

Simply writing this blog and knowing we did just that, gives us chills reminiscing about the of all the anticipation and excitement that is involved in this climb.

The entire journey of The Stairway To Heaven was a pure adrenaline rush from start to finish and is hands down the most epic travel experience we’ve ever had!

Where To Stay In Oahu

The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel


The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel was perfectly located at Waikiki Beach, with everything you could possibly need within walking distance.

What We Loved:

  • Comfortable rooms
  • Air-conditioning
  • Located a few minutes walk from Waikiki Beach
  • Sign up sheet for anyone wanting to hike Haiku Stairs

Click here to check prices on HostelWorld

Are We Missing Something?

Did we forget to mention some important information in “Stairway To Heaven Hawaii {The Certified Haiku Stairs Guide}”?

Drop your comments & suggestions below!

If you have any questions at all be sure to email us at wildnaway@gmail.com

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Blog Comments

Nice guide! I went there in February and I went up Haiku stairs alone. The easiest way is for the entrance to the school. Guys you don’t need to go at 3 am that is just a myth. I entered the gate at 9:30 am on a weekday. the gate is open because of the school. There was no guard. I came down for the stair and then I went left to the forest. my exit was the drainage ditch.
Weekday is the best because of the school, you can even enter there and go left and continue through the bamboo forest.

We tried the school entrance as well however, they would not let us enter and a security actually forced us to leave. Could have been because we were there at 3 in the morning lol As far as the best time, we met several other hikers who do the stairway fairly often and they too mentioned that it has become increasingly difficult to hike during the daylight hours.

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