Stairway to Heaven, Haiku Stairs, Hawaii, Oahu, United States

Haiku Stairs, Hawaii

The Haiku Stairs, or what are also commonly known as the Stairway to Heaven or Haiku Ladder, is an almost vertical hiking trail located on the well known island of O’ahu, Hawaii. It consists of of almost four thousand steps (3,922 to be exact) which stretch along the mountains of the Ko’olau range.

A Dangerous Destination 

Haiku stairs
A section of the Haiku Stairs visible in the mountainous landscape of the island.

This hugely popular tourist attraction is on many adventurers’ bucket list, especially since after 1987. At that time, it was shut down for public access for good due to safety concerns and the potential for damages during storms. As a matter of fact, as far back as 1980 security guards had already been assigned to patrol the area near the road below the trail. This was not just to ensure its security, but primarily to prevent people from going up it as well.

Despite the prohibitions put into place in the 1980s, many avid hikers still continued to go up The Haiku Stairs. This was not just for the once in a lifetime experience it offered, but for the breathtaking view that it affords anyone willing to take on a little more risk than usual. The narrow and steep trail had always been treacherous and not for the faint of heart, but after the storm of February 2015, it became completely unsafe and more precarious than ever. This may be part of the stairway’s attraction, with the famous tagline “One of Americas Best Illegal Views” making every adventurous hiker’s heart skip a beat.

Major Attractions

Haiku Stairs Hawaii
View of the island from the Haiku Stairs viewpoint.

Strikingly stunning on its own with its 2,120-feet-long trail and spectacular panoramic view, now more than ever The Haiku Stairs is even more attractive to hike on following the local officials' formal closing of it down for good. Originally, it was built to allow access to the LORAN radio antenna by the United States Coast Guard. However, when military operations were shut down, the stairs became dilapidated and even more perilous. By the year 2003, repairs have been completed on the stairway, although open access was still not granted to the public. Parking is also limited, and not entirely welcomed by the residents. This is especially the case ever since illegal visitors have taken to occupying the spaces meant for the locals themselves.

The Haiku Stairs are in the Koʻolau Mountain Range, and all of its tropical vegetation and animal life. On Oahu, visitors can see a wide range of tropical flora and fauna, whether at sea, on the beach shore, or in the mountains. The Koʻolau Range is itself listed as a National Natural Landmark, as the mountains are exemplary of the natural wonders of shield volcano mountains.


It is important now more than ever for hikers planning to illegally climb The Haiku Stairs to understand that they will be doing so on prohibited piece of property. Expect the Honolulu Police Officers to turn you down right at the bottom of the trail, and don’t take it for granted that the locals will give you a warm welcome because, chances are, they won’t. If all the warnings and news reporting how dangerous the trail are are not enough to quell the adventurous spirit in you, then by all means go up the trail, but do so at your own risk. Furthermore, like every place you visit wherever you are in the world, do have the courtesy to leave the place exactly as you found it.


More in Places