Daily Photo / Hawaii / Hawaii Sights / Hikes

Hiking: Hanauma Bay Rock Bridge

The view of Hanauma Bay as you start the hike.

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous lately. I wake up and I’m already craving the sunshine streaming through the curtains. (In all honesty, my apartment is an oven. The sun wakes me up at 8 a.m. every day, and I’m motivated to get out of the house in hopes of being outside — in an oven that is less hot.)

One weekend we decided to do another hike in Hawaii Kai, this time around Hanauma Bay to get to the rock bridge.

Like many trails, you’ll find parking along a residential road right before the turn into Hanauma Bay. Once parked, make your way out of the street and back to the main road. Follow it up toward the bay’s entrance until you see a dirt trail on the side of the road. This will lead you up to the steep, paved trail where you’ll begin the hike.

There are two ways to get to the rock bridge: the short way and the long way. Since it was the first time for a lot of us in the group that day, we went the long way. It’s a more roundabout way of getting there, but it offers beautiful views of the ocean as you make your way around the bay.

The short way has you cutting through a very steep, grassy hillside. It’s the route we used coming back to save time — and to get out of the afternoon sun (it was relentless that day).

The long way leads you up, only to take you down a steep, shimmering rock path that makes you feel like you could tumble into the ocean. Eventually you’ll reach a more level grassy area where you’ll feel the most amazing sea breeze. If you went hiking on a day without trade winds (like we did), it’ll be the best thing you feel all day — until you feel the ocean spray at the rock bridge, that is.

The view of Hanauma Bay from the opposite side!

The view of Hanauma Bay from the opposite side!

We were honestly just happy to make it to the other side of Hanauma Bay at this point. The hike isn’t a hard one, but it had me exerting more energy than I thought I would. (Maybe I can blame this one on the sun?)

I suggest pausing here for a moment to take in the view — it’s definitely not one you’ll see everyday. (Photo-op!) After your pause of appreciation, continue down a rocky slope that’ll lead you toward the coast.

As you’re heading down, you may get preoccupied with collecting those white rocks — you know, the ones people use to create designs, shape letters, hearts, or declarations of love.

These coastal rocks in the picture above were one of my favorite parts of the hike. They look like rocks straight from the underwater world of The Little Mermaid and the shadows they cast make for a beautiful picture. Emily and I climbed around them, finding hidden pukas and small caves filled with white rocks drawings people had left behind

At the bottom of these rocks and around the corner is where you’ll finally find the rock bridge.

The rock bridge!

We went during high tide — and the waves were pounding the bridge. When people come here they like to take pictures standing on it, but we stayed away and just watched the waves roll in and wash over it.We also held our breaths a few times as we saw people run out to stand on the bridge while their friend snapped a picture, moments before another set rolled in.

Pictures are great memories and everything, but it’s important to remember: Is it worth it? You can see in the picture above that if you were to get swept off the bridge, you’d be pulled into rough open ocean, or down into that swirling pool of death. I plan to come back another time, at a lower tide, to get pictures like that.

It is truly a humbling experience to see how powerful the ocean is as it slams into these rocky coastlines hour after hour.

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