Pu’u Manamana is an absolutely incredible hike that’s not for the faint of heart. At times you will be standing on the top of a ridge that is a foot wide with steep, hundreds-of-feet drop-offs on both sides. You need a clear day with no winds for this one!
Pu’u Manamana starts on the south end of Kahana Bay in Ka’a’awa. There are a couple non-official parking lots on the north side of the road–make sure you park here or at the actual Kahana Bay parking lot in order to avoid being towed or ticketed.
Once you park you’ll need to cross the road and head east. A couple hundred feet or so before the sharp bend you will find three entrances to the trail.
Look for the sign that says “Area closed! Do not go beyond this sign.” Officially, I am not endorsing going beyond the sign, but if you wanted to do this hike then any one of these three signs (about 50 ft apart from each other) is your entrance. I haven’t heard of anyone being stopped or cited for doing this hike and it is a very popular hike–at almost any time during the day you will see cars parked to hike to Crouching Lion.
The three trails are all different in terrain but all three converge at some point. It will only take about 20-30 minutes to get to Crouching Lion but it is very steep. There are some rope sections and if it has rained recently will be suuuper slippery.
Once you get to the point where the trail levels out you will track left toward the east. The trail is thin and will take about 5 minutes to get to end. The views here are amazing as you look over Kahana Bay on the left and Ka’a’awa on the right—if the sun is shining the water is a gorgeous deep blue.
I’ve never quite seen the “crouching lion” but it is a rock formation that juts out on the far east side. You’ll have to climb up onto the small formation and take in the gorgeous view from hundreds of feet above.
Crouching Lion is cool but Pu’u Manamana is next-level amazing! From Crouching Lion you will backtrack and then follow the ridge line up as the trail winds left then right and eventually loops back around through Kahana Valley. There are some rope sections and, although there aren’t too many technical sections, the fact that you are so high and the trail so narrow causes you to move slowly. That, combined with the breathtaking views every hundred feet or so that force you to take photos, means this hike will likely take a few hours at least.
Once again, make sure there are no heavy winds or a chance of showers on the day you decide to go. You’re high up so the winds will be stronger and that would be absolutely horrifying since the ridge is so thin. Rain will cause the trail to be extremely slippery and make this already difficult trail nearly impossible.
Overall, Pu’u Manamana is probably my favorite thing to do on Oahu. The heights, the thin ridges, and the incredible views make this a must-do for your trip to Oahu. Watch the video below to get a true appreciation for Pu’u Manamana–reading about it just doesn’t do it justice.
For another great adventurous hike to do on Oahu, check out: Mokoli’i Island (Chinaman’s Hat)