The Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park in Oahu is a unique place that is often referred to as a living park as, while many areas are open to the public for various recreational purposes, there are also families living in the area. These Hawaiian families are committed to showcasing various interpretative programs highlighting traditional Hawaiian lifestyles and values. Whether you choose to take part in one of those programs or to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, Ahupaa O Kahana State Park has a lot to offer.
The word “ahupuaa” is Hawaiian and refers to an expansive subdivision of land that usually cuts from inland mountains down to the ocean. But this term refers to more than just a convenient boundary and rather encompasses the whole of geological, climate, and socioeconomic traditions within an area and denotes that that area is capable of fully supporting a community.
The Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park is located on the north, windward side of Oahu and spans 5,300 acres from inland mountains to the waters of Kahana Bay. Throughout those thousands of acres, guests can enjoy things like hiking, swimming, and even camping.
When you arrive at this state park, we recommend going first to the orientation center located on Kahana Valley Road. Here, you can learn more about cultural activities or events going on and led by those aforementioned families still living within the park. You’ll also find things like trail maps for the park located here.
There are two primary hiking trails within Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park:
Kapaeleele Koa Hiking Trail
The Kapaleele Koa Trail is a 1.2-mile loop trail that takes hikers along the Kahana Valley’s western side. This is a flat, generally considered easy trail except for after heavy rainfalls as it can get pretty muddy. While this route affords gorgeous views of the river valley here, it’s most notable for passing two important Hawaiian cultural sites, a fishing shrine, and a lookout station.
The Nakoa Trail is a 3.5-mile loop trail that has a bit more elevation change. This trail starts in the valley and then meanders up through the forested lower slopes. This hiking trail is more nature-focused and a good place if you want to see the wilder interior of Oahu. Plan for the entire trail to take between two and three hours because, while relatively short in distance, the hillier terrain and earthen path will take time to navigate.
Want to enjoy a longer excursion at this Oahu state park? Bring your tent, hammock, and camping supplies, and apply for a camping permit through the park’s orientation center or online. There are a couple of campsites available here that are just about on the beach and offer a wonderful overnight experience.
This beach, also known as Kahana Bay Beach, also has its own mix of recreational activities. Swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, fishing, and beach combing are all excellent activities here.
-The Nakoa Trail runs pretty close to an established hunting area within the state park and hunters will pretty regularly use the trail with their hunting dogs to access that land. Hunting here is for wild pigs and so be aware that you may see both pigs and dogs in the area. Pig hunting is allowed in the designated area with permits on weekends and holidays. If you’re interested in taking part, you can contact the local fish and wildlife department to obtain a hunting license.
-Want to go kayaking or canoeing but couldn’t quite fit your boat into the overhead luggage? No problem. Kahana Adventures, a highly rated kayak and canoe rental service, has a rental office and gear located just one block from the state park’s main office. They even have paddleboards available. You can take their rentals into the bay, or explore the river and mountain streams inland.