Waiakeakua - May 27, 2011

Waiakeakua is a lesser known stream and waterfall hike near the eastern wall at the back of Manoa Valley. It is similar to the Ka'au Crater trail in Palolo Valley: it is rather short to the first waterfall, and it possible to climb multiple waterfalls to progress further. However, in relation to ascending with rope, Waiakeakua is more dangerous.

The waters of Waiakeakua are clear and cool. Hawaiian royalty often basked in the pools of Waiakeakua during the summer. It is also the site of Hawaiian folklore. Waiakeakua means "Water of the Gods." It is said that two gods, Kane and Kanaloa, arrived at Hanauma and traveled all the way to Manoa Valley. Along the way, Kane's younger brother, Kanaloa, would complain of thirst and hunger. Kane would penetrate the ground with his staff and create a waterhole for he and his brother to drink from. The waterholes from Hanauma to Manoa Valley are said to be created by Kane, for the waterholes were resting spots for both Kane and Kanaloa's during their arduous journey.

Because of this legend, Hawaiian chiefs would often order men to capture water from the falls of Waiakeakua at night. The darkness and aura of Hawaiian spirits often turned back many, and only the bravest would come back with the pristine water of Waiakeakua. The water was so pristine that there were noticeable bubbles in the catchment brought back to the chief. If there were no bubbles found in the water, the chief knew that it wasn't from Waiakeakua.

The hike to Waiakeakua is short: about one mile. The trail leisurely follows upstream to the first waterfall. At twenty feet high, the climb up the first waterfall seems a bit intimidating, but there are strong ropes and many grooves and ledges near the waterfall to make the climb a heck of a lot easier. The rock, though, is very slippery. Beyond the first waterfall is another waterfall about fifty feet high. It is possible to climb the second waterfall with the aid of strong ropes situated on the left side of the falls. The climb is very steep and very slippery. The last fifteen feet to the top is near vertical. Once at the top of the second waterfall, it is possible to hike further to see a couple more waterfalls, none as big as the second. Again, climbing the waterfalls beyond the second waterfall is definitely doable. On this outing, though, I decided to turn back once I reached the third waterfall. Going down the second waterfall was equally challenging as climbing up.

For those in the know, Waiakeakua is an awesome hike. At only around two miles round trip, it offers up a good workout and a spectacular Oahu stream and waterfall experience. The trail is well-trodden but hard to spot off of the Pu'u Pia trail. With that said, take a stroll along the Pu'u Pia trail to find it. You will not be disappointed. It is definitely one of the clearest streams I've seen, and one hike that I will definitely be doing again many times in the near future.

Keith climbing the 1st waterfall.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Lei climbing the 1st waterfall.  (photo: K. Mahon)

Climbing up the 2nd waterfall.  (photo: K. Mahon)

As small as it looks, this pool is deep enough to jump into.


Pool near the start of the hike.


KoreAmBear said...

Another awesome hike. Thanks again, Kaleo.

Anonymous said...

Did that hike on Thursday and coincidentally became an extra on Hawaii 5-0. I was star struck. As I was heading back down the dirt road and before crossing the bridge(s) an overturned truck forced me to stop. I was lost in confusion and the center of attention in a crowd of fifty plus people. Once I realized what was going on, my day only got better. What an awesome surprise after an already rewarding hike!
Maluhia, Hayley Sommer

Anonymous said...

Where do you go off Puu Pia? I spent a couple hours looking for it and I never did find it. Is it closer to the top or the bottom of Puu Pia?

Anonymous said...

It's off the saddle and is steep but short.

Anonymous said...

You can get there from Seven Bridges also. Not as exciting but probably safer. Last time I went down the spur from Pu'u Pia it was extremely muddy and more akin to sliding down a muddy hill than a trail. Just need to be careful not getting lost in the thickets, stay near the stream and it's easy.