The Haiku Stairs were on our bucket list for years. We just figured out it's illegal when we'd been in Oahu.
First of all, hiking on the Haiku Stairs is illegal, and the stairs are officially closed! A $1000 fine and an appearance in court was something we wanted to circumvent. This fine really exist! Therefore, we had chosen the more difficult and dangerous trail through the Moanalua Valley. However, even trespassing the Haiku Stairs will be prosecuted, but usually, there isn't any police at the top. And of course, when you reach the popular stairs, you want to access them and take the best snap of your whole vacation. We only recommend to hike up and down the legal way, otherwise, you may get into trouble. We even saw a police helicopter while walking a part of the stairs.
Update Feb 2019: Don't even think of hiking up and down the Haiku Stairs. There is more security now and a regular police presence. Occasionally police helicopters check if people are on the stairs. A guide is not needed a good preparation for the Moanalua Track is relevant!
Most important for the hike is the weather. Pick out the day with the most stable weather and if it was dry the day before even better. Although Honolulu is dry rain may occur in the valley and on the ridge. You can’t avoid getting dirty on this adventurous path. Don’t underestimate the trail difficulties. Much needed for the steep ascent and descent back through muddy and slippery soil are “mini” crampons. If you want to use the provided ropes gloves may be necessary, too. Do you like to do the hike and see the excellent view down the stairs? Read all our insights on how to be prepared and experience one of the most thrilling hikes ever.
Hiking Conditions and Crowds
The Moanalua Valley, especially the ridge to the Keahiakahoe summit and also the Haiku Stairs experience a lot of rain even during the drier season in summer. The exhausting hike can be done all year, but it’s easier to cope with all difficulties in the drier season. There is often a strong wind and fog which makes hiking along the ridge difficult. Read on for detailed tips by season.
Spring (Low Season)
It starts to get drier, but the trail is still extremely muddy and slippery. The Moanalua stream may have low flow and fording or hopping from stone to stone is necessary a couple of times. This improves in June, and the stream may be dried out. The temp along the trail is above 70°F, but it gets chilly on the ridge and the top due to the strong wind. The islands are not much crowded in spring. It starts to get busier in June, but still acceptable. June is one of the best months for this hike. Nevertheless, always check the weather forecast before; flooding can happen.
Summer (Peak Season)
It’s drier but the humidity is higher, and it gets hot while hiking and climbing. If you can avoid, don’t travel to Oahu in July and August. Prices are at the highest and hotels are booked to capacity.
Autumn (Low Season)
Usually, September is the best month for the hike. The stream may be dried out and it’s easy to walk the first 2.8 miles / 4.5 km. It’s less busy on the island, and the temps are pleasant. October is fine as well. November gets wetter, and trail conditions are getting worse. Monitor the clouds on the mountain ridge. It may be possible to hike, but it’s even more difficult and dangerous in rain and clouds. We can’t recommend hiking in the rain.
Winter (Low and Peak Season)
Expect more rain during the winter. It’s more likely that the Moanalua stream gets flooded. The north and east experience more rainfall. It’s the coldest time of the year but still up to 80°F in Honolulu at daytime. It's possible to hike the trail but expect the worst conditions when climbing up. The way back is even more slippery than usual. Don't hike in rain and clouds. The first part of December is still not too busy, but it gets crowded from the second half of December and in January. Although it’s not the best time for Hawaii hotels are fully booked, and hotel rates are the highest.