One of the most exhilarating moments from my trip involved me hiking up a closed trail that led to the most beautiful lookout point known as “The Dead Man’s Catwalk”. As I recall, the moment that I was standing up at the very edge of the platform was the moment that I had realised how much I had fallen in love with Hawaii.
(Please note: this hike is as stunningly beautiful as it is illegal, and so it remains off-limits to the public. Trespassing can result in hefty fines and possible prosecution from the authorities. But if you choose to pursue it, please do so at your own risk and be respectful of the locals living in the area. This includes keeping noise levels down and taking your trash with you when you leave.)
Located on private property, it is a brisk 40-minute uphill walk whereby you will need to bypass three gates and scale one or two sketchy-looking wired fences with a dangerous drop below (designed to keep hikers out) in order to get to this platform with a spectacular view.
Waking up in the dark hours of the morning so as to avoid any possible guards on duty, we were well on our way to the windward side of the island before sunrise. After parking the car a bit further down the road, we approached the first big gate with signs warning people to keep out.
We then began our walk uphill along the paved road. Looking back repeatedly in the paranoia that we would be caught out by a guard car driving up on us. I cannot tell you how many times my heart had skipped a beat whenever a sound was heard from around the corner. Most of the time it turned out to just be the wind ?
After some light drizzle along the way, we were concerned that the weather was going to take a turn for the worse. That was, until the sun decided to come out from underneath the clouds. From then on, we were just bombarded with luscious green surroundings and the beautiful blue horizon in every single direction.
Once we got closer to the top, we were able to spot some buildings below. Our guess was that they were some of the active civil defence and Federal Aviation Administration radio towers that were said to be located on site – adding to one of the many other reasons as to why this hike is restricted.
Feeling on top of the world after having had this beautiful view all to ourselves
We had come across some abandoned and graffiti-covered buildings that were quite eerie-looking. There were also some construction vehicles parked at the top just before the lookout point. I knew that we weren’t going to be alone for long after that.
This was one of the two sketchy looking fences that we had to bypass. For the first fence, you could potentially avoid having to go through this way if the gate was already open. Or in our case with this second fence, we were just too lazy to go all the way around to the other side.
So watch your footing and hold on tight for dear life. Unless you’re willing to risk the drop below.
Now decommissioned, this concrete slab was rumoured to have been used as a launchpad site for hang gliders back in the 1970s. Either that or it was used to hold some sort of cable system during the Cold War. Then along came a vandal who had decided to spray-paint the words “The Dead Man’s Catwalk” onto the length of it. And the name has stuck with the locals ever since.
Oh, and as for those construction vehicles that I had mentioned earlier? A few guys dressed in construction vests actually started turning up later on. I was pretty anxious when I noticed one or two of them starting to walk our way. But then we realised that they were also just looking at the view from the other side of the fence.
Surprisingly, we weren’t the only ones there on the day. When we had first arrived, there were already a group of South Africans travellers there – a few whom of which we got to briefly exchange travel stories with. Later on we had crossed paths with at least three other groups. Most of them turned out to be locals that had never made it up here until today.
Although this hike might have seemed like a dangerous and (slightly) stupid thing to do, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment upon reaching the end. We had gotten to see a side of Oahu that most people would never have gotten to see for themselves.
Even though it was only our second day here in paradise, I felt as though we had already made enough memories from this one experience alone to cement Hawaii as one of my favourite places on Earth.
My partner in crime, Dirk and I throwing shakas to this beautiful place. Mahalo for having us, Hawaii!