Pu’u Ma’eli’eli: An Easy Hike In Kahaluu With a Panoramic View of the Windward Coast of Oahu

Note: Puu Maelieli trail is a closed trail and is not open to the public. As our disclaimer partially reads: “I’m not your daddy, these are dangerous as sh*t hikes, even the simple ones, if you got [insert applicable disorder, disease, or physical impairment] don’t even think about it yo.” Also, consider these tips on Hiking Safely In Hawaii. Mahalo.

If you’re on the Windward side of Oahu and looking to do a short hike with an amazing view at the end then consider doing Puu Ma’eli’eli in Kahalu’u. Or, if you’ve got kids that enjoy hiking then this is a great option. This short 30-45 minutes shaded hike is relatively easy to do, despite a few steep sections in the beginning and toward the end of the trail. However, once you do reach the end, you’ll be greeted with not one but two World War II bunkers and a grand view of the Windward Coast.

A very sharp and tall Agave sisalana (Sisil). Thanks to L Steve Rohrmayr for identifying this plant.


Another interesting plant. If you know the name of this plant then please leave a comment.

Some funky looking Ardisia crenata (Hilo holly). Thanks to Nate Yuen for identifying this plant.

Tree friends.


A Tangled Tree.


Puu Maelieli Welcome Sign and History.

Or, you can read it here:

“According to Hawaiian mythology, Pu’u Ma’eli’eli translates to “Digging Hill.” The companion-Gods, Kane and Kanaloa, once raced to the top of the hill and had to dig into the slope with their hands to climb up. The bunkers found on the summt are the reminants of the Heeia combat training area (Camp Heeia) built during World War II to support nearly 4,500 military personnel. “

A few feet past the wooden sign will be the first bunker. You can climb down, but be careful, its a fairly far drop down. Inside you’ll notice the remnants of an old World War II bunker. Just past the first bunker will be a second bunker and the best part of this hike – the rewarding summit view. If you complete Puu Ma’eli’eli then you’ll be treated to an excellent view of the Windward Coast. To the left will be Kualoa, Kahana Valley, Manamana, Ohulehule, Chinaman’s Hat and on your right will be Kaneohe Bay and the peak of Keahi a Kahoe. Just below you is the Marine Corps Base of Hawaii. The sky was unbelievably clear on this day and we decided to just hang out and enjoy the panoramic views. We ended up spending about an hour at the top. Moments like this remind me of why I love living in Hawaii.

Eventually we did have to leave Puu Ma’eli’eli. We went down the same we came up. However, I imagine that if you staged two cars you could finish the hike on the other side and end at Heeia State Park. We’ll save that hike for another day.

A man made structure, function unknown.

The rabbit hole down Puu Maelieli WW2 Bunker #1.

Pass the first bunker will be an amazing view of the Windward side of Oahu.

Coty is totally stoked by the view atop Puu Maelieli.

This plane kept flying around. I guess someone was practicing their flying skills.

A shaka from a Waialua boy.

Coty Rests on Bunker #2.

This is what the second Puu Maelieli WW2 bunker looks like. The bunker that Coty is sitting on in the above photo.

From bunker 2, turn left and you see all the way to Kahana Valley, Manamana, and Chinaman’s Hat.

From bunker 2, turn right and you see Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base of Hawaii and the peak of Keahi a Kahoe.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.


      • I can definitely see that ; pics are awesome. Looking forward to spectacular views! I was going to attempt Lulumahu Falls this Sunday, but I’ve decided to this one instead. I’ll save getting lost in a bamboo forest for another weekend, LOL. If time permits, I may also be doing Kapena Falls right after since it’s on our way back into town. Lets hope this is an easy one too.

      • Lulumahu Falls is actually not too bad, Grace! It’s definitely worth checking out. We went maybe two-three weeks ago and found it relatively easily. It takes about 30 minutes to get there from the Pali. I should have a post up about it soon (maybe sometime next week). If you do decide to do Lulumahu you should also take some time to check out the ruins of King Kamehameha’s summer home. I have a post about it here…it’s very neat. You can really feel the “mana” flowing there.

        • Coty, where is your Lulumahu Falls post?? =) I moved to Oahu about a year ago and have really enjoyed hiking the island. Your website has helped me do that. Thank you for sharing you passion. I’ve googled Lulumahu Falls and I haven’t found a website where I feel comfortable with the directions or description like I do when I read yours. Thanks again!

        • Hey Jesse, thanks! Glad you enjoy the site and find the directions useful! I did do Lulumahu back, but for some reason I never found the time to post it up. I’ll work on getting something up soon, though. I’ve actually been thinking of revisiting this spot.

  1. Found this site by accident and glad I did! I’m ashamed to say that I’m a local and don’t know a majority of these trails/hikes existed. Thanks for sharing your mana’o. I did this hike Saturday and it was breathtaking! Wasn’t an easy hike, especially for a beginner. Got scared and wanted to turn around a couple times because I thought we were lost. Hike feels very secluded and it was longer than I assumed by reading this story. In any event, totally worth it and I plan to hike this trail again. Mahalo!

  2. I lived just down the road from this trail in the ’90s on Lulani st. – i had no clue that one could hike right off of Kahekili highway; Growing up in Kailua, i hiked to many old bunkers and ruins on the windward side with my friends but i never saw these two and their amazing view.
    My 6 year old daughter had no trouble with the trail and she loved exploring the bunkers at the top. She found a bush with christmas tree ornaments near the bottom of the trail. I wanted to do Ulupaina as well, but the lure of the happy meal from McDonalds was too much for her to overcome. We will have to come back so i promised her spam musubi from Times for that trail.
    My daughter and I love the hikes and photos on the EH website- i have learned to add at least 25% extra to your trail times to get a good 6 year old pace. We took Waimanu a couple of weeks ago and ended up returning in the dark with a flashlight for 2 hours because i failed to add enough extra time for her.

    • That’s awesome, Check! I’m stoked that you are your daughter are having a blast outdoors – so much to do in Hawaii outdoors! And yes, good note about adding the 25% extra time to the trail times. Plus, it’s always good to get a nice, good start in the early morning so you avoid getting stuck out there in the dark. It’s a good thing that you had a flashlight when you did Waimanu! Happy trails!

  3. Just a heads up, if you continue on the trail down towards Heeia, you will actually end up in the backyard of a private home. I only know this because at a young age I made the mistake of doing so. Luckily the couple that owned the home at the time was very understanding. I can’t remember if the trail bends off to another direction, but that was my experience.

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