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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Getting to Know Hawaii: Nu'uanu Pali Outlook

The Need to Knows:
  • The Nu'uanu Pali Lookout is located off of Pali Highway in between Honolulu and Kailua; it isn't difficult to find at all, just look for the signs pointing to it off of Pali Highway.  Check out the Google Maps link for more info:

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  • It is open from 9AM to 4PM daily
  • Parking is free for kama'aina; otherwise you're stuck paying $3 and dealing with the ridiculously complicated parking ticket machine that is super picky on what kind of money it takes.  I think the day we went it was only accepting change even though technically it could take bills and credit cards -- definitely kind of frustrating.  The parking lot is also very tiny, so you may have to circle a few times for a spot depending on what time you get there.
  • Do NOT leave valuables in your car; break-ins are unfortunately very common in this area, and chances are you will see shattered glass in the parking lot itself.  Just don't let it deter you; as long as you practice caution and common sense and take your valuables with you, you should be fine.
  • Be prepared for wind, wind, and more wind!
  • There is a trail located here at the lower end of the lookout that follows along the Old Pali Highway.
  • There are no facilities here (restrooms, etc.) but you probably won't stay for too long regardless, unless you do the trail.

The Nu'uanu Pali Outlook is a fantastic place to get one spectacular view of the windward coast of Oahu.  On a clear day, you are able to see all the way from Chinaman's Hat past Marine Corps Base Hawaii and beyond.  It is a fabulous way to take in much of the eastern side of the island and is a great spot for photo opportunities.

The Pali Lookout is the site of a great battle between King Kamehameha I and defenders of Oahu during the island's conquering.  Wikipedia describes the battle in the following excerpt:

The Nuʻuanu Pali was the site of the Battle of Nuʻuanu, one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oʻahu, bringing it under his rule. In 1795 Kamehameha I sailed from his home island of Hawaiʻi with an army of 10,000 warriors, including a handful of non-Hawaiian foreigners. After conquering the islands of Maui and Molokaʻi, he moved on to Oʻahu. The pivotal battle for the island occurred in Nuʻuanu Valley, where the defenders of Oʻahu, led by Kalanikūpule, were driven back up into the valley where they were trapped above the cliff. More than 400 of Kalanikūpule's soldiers were driven off the edge of the cliff to their deaths 1,000 feet below.
-Wikipedia.com, Nu'uanu Pali

View towards Marine Corps Base Hawaii
View towards Kailua
The Pali Lookout was also where a hang gliding record was set (number of hours in the air), if I'm not mistaken, which makes sense considering how ridiculously strong the wind gusts are here!  It isn't exactly chilly, but if you're just coming from the beach, it may be a good idea to at least wear a jacket/long sleeve shirt.
The H-1 along the base of the Ko'olau Mountain Range
Chinaman's Hat and Kaneohe Bay (the green spots in the water are the reefs!)
If you plan to take the trail here along the Old Pali Highway, I'd probably take along bug spray just like on many of Oahu's other hikes since you'll be in a forested area.  I'm not sure exactly how long the trail is (when we go, I'll be sure to give this section an update) but I do at least know that it is kid-friendly.  Hopefully we'll get around to hiking it soon!

If you are just going to take in the views at the lookout, you really only need to spend a few minutes here -- most likely not more than 20 total (not including parking time).  Use it as a stopover if you're coming from Honolulu and heading to the windward side of the island.  It's definitely worth it, even with the potential parking hazards!


  1. ugh the payment part is a pain...we skipped it and luckily didnt get a ticket:)

    1. Haha, we may do that next time if we don't see anybody standing watch!

  2. I wish I could jump into your pictures, it looks so beautful there!

    1. Thank you so much! It really is breathtakingly gorgeous here. I love it!



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