Kaena Point

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Coordinates: 21°34′31″N 158°16′57″W / 21.57528°N 158.28250°W / 21.57528; -158.28250

Aerial photo of Kaʻena from the West
Kaʻena Point as seen from Kāneana on the south shore near Mākua Cave
Panorama of the Kaʻena Point Trailhead, as seen from the east side of O'ahu, past Mokule'ia Beach in 2013

Kaʻena or Kaena Point is the westernmost tip of land on the island of Oʻahu. The point can be reached on foot from both the East (via Oʻahu's North Shore / Mokulēʻia) and Southeast (via Waiʻanae Coast). An unimproved track extends some 3 miles (4.8 km) along the coast from the end of the paved road on the east side, where a gate prevents entry of all except authorized vehicles. On the southeast side, at Kaʻena State Park, a paved road passes a beach before terminating into an unpaved road. It continues for a few miles, after which the road is washed out, and further travel must be on foot. It is not possible to travel around the point in a vehicle as the route is better described as a "path" in most places, and is lined on one side with a cliff and on the other with basalt rocks which are quite capable of damaging vehicles.

In Hawaiian, kaʻena means 'the heat'. The area was named after a brother or cousin of Pele who accompanied her from Kahiki. The State of Hawaiʻi has designated the point as a Natural Area Reserve to protect nesting Laysan Albatrosses and wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Hawaiian monk seals, and the fragile (to vehicular traffic) native strand vegetation that has been restored there.

Some ancient Hawaiian folklore states that Kaʻena Point is the "jumping-off" point for souls leaving this world.[1]

During the winter months, Oʻahu's North Shore is typically bombarded by large, powerful waves that attract surfers from around the world. It is rumored that Kaʻena Point typically has waves (up to 15 metres or 49 feet in height) larger than those at Waimea Bay, one of Oʻahu's world-famous surfing locations. This has not been confirmed; however, during the famous "Swell Of The Century" in 1969 and on the day of Greg Noll's famous wave at Mākaha, Greg himself took a picture of a gigantic wave breaking at Kaʻena Point. Until "Biggest Wednesday" on 28 January 1998, when professional surfer Ken Bradshaw was photographed riding a wave with a reported 85-foot (26 m) face, it was believed that Noll's picture showed the largest wave ever photographed. During that famous swell in January 1998, several persons reported seeing waves with 60–80-foot (18–24 m) faces at Kaʻena Point.

Despite these reports, Kaʻena Point does not have the popularity with surfers of other North Shore locations. Kaʻena Point is located in a very remote area with no direct paved road access and no rescue capabilities. Additionally, the Point's geography results in undertows, dangerous rip currents and other hazardous ocean conditions that make any water activity highly dangerous.

Ka'ena used to be an active shield volcano that formed about 15% of the island. It is also 5 million years old, making it the oldest volcano on Oahu. Ka'ena must of suffered a large collapse because of it's large crater. When it became extinct which was about 4.2 million years ago, it standed 3,000 feet tall because it's journey up to the sea surface was deeper than the journey of Ko'olau Range and Waianae Range.


  1. ^ "Ka'ena Point". State of Hawaii. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 

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