King Kamehameha’s Summer Palace Ruins Hike

Oh my goodness. This hike was killing us. This was our THIRD time trying to find the trailhead and thankfully this time we actually found it!

I cannot recommend this hike enough, it is a very short hike and leads to an amazing set of ruins. I would just caution to not walk on them or disturb them because the walls are crumbling.

First things first: How to get there. Once again this is another hike of Nu’uanu Pali Dr. off of Pali Highway. Park near the Water Supply building and head up the road just a bit. You should see a gap in the bushes like so:

ruins1Continue on the trail, do NOT take the first left at the big tree, that will loop you around and take you back to the road. Head straight until you see a large path to the left while you are in the bamboo forest. The trail should start to climb a bit. You should start seeing lovely stone walls around you… This is good, you are headed the right way!

All of a sudden you should see this beauty in front of you:

ruins2Ten thousand people here for a luau?! Can you even imagine? I would have LOVED to be at that party.

ruins3It’s sad to see these ruins so neglected. When I was looking online for information about them, it said by the 1870s, just 30 years after the famous luau, they were already ruins. The history of these islands and their rulers is fascinating to me… I keep joking that I am going to start sitting in on Hawaiian studies classes at the University so I can keep learning!

If you have a time to fit this hike it, I recommend it. It should take no more than 10-15 minutes to hike in and would make for a great picnic or photo background location. I think there may also be another waterfall tucked away in here, but that is another hike for another day!

Nu’uanu to Manoa Falls Ridgeline hike

Okay, let me start this by saying that this is NOT the hike we intended to do! We were looking for the ruins trail, we accidentally started at the Judd Trail and said, eh, why not. (ed. note: When telling our husband about the day his comment was “This is how people die” lol.) Judd Trail is beautiful! There is a stream crossing at the beginning but we were all able to hop across keeping our feet dry.

It’s amazing how quickly the trail changed, from bamboo, to forest, to jungle. The scenery was unbelievable.hike2

We met up with Nu’uanu trail and hiked that up to the ridgeline. That right there is a great hike. There is a nice little grassy spot where you can eat lunch (and try not to get blown off, it was crazy windy up there!) Also try to get a group picture at the bench!


This was our big ol’ group of kids, and they all did awesome. Picture is crooked because Katie’s camera was hanging from a tree!

At this point is where we REALLY should have turned back, but the though was that the trail would loop around (Again: “This is how people die”) So we kept going.


Nice easy stretch going downhill, we connected up with a Paoa Flats trail that wound through a lovely bamboo forest… then we passed a guy who said we weren’t far from Manoa Falls. That didn’t sound right to our group as Manoa Falls is on the other end of Waikiki. hike5 hike6

Onward we forge with the trail getting more and more muddy and a bit of a pain, some Cuh-RAZY switchbacks downhill, GPS tells us that yes indeed we are headed to Manoa Falls. Sounds great, one more hike to cross off our list!

Manoa Falls is STUNNING! Super high waterfall that people do swim in despite the WARNING/DANGER signs (30 Ton rockslide 10 years ago was enough to keep me outside of the roped area)

We continued our walk downhill toward the Monoa Falls trailhead, giving a call to a friend for a ride back to our cars. hike9

I highly recommend these trails separately but not together unless you want to do some serious hiking and you have a friend you can call to hook you back up with your car! With kids ranging from 3-11 this hike took us about 5 hours. One for the memory books for sure!

I also have this bad boy on order for future hikes:
Oahu Hikes: The Best Hikes and Walks on the Island (Lone Pine Guide)

We started out off of Nu’anu Pali Rd which is off Old Pali highway. You should see the trail head about a mile or two up the road on the right.