Saturday, December 11, 2010

Things to Do: Pali Lookout

The Nu'uanu Pali State Park (Nu'uanu means "cool height" and Pali is "cliff" in Hawaiian) is commonly referred to as the Pali Lookout or just "the Pali".  It is one of the more popular lookouts in O'ahu giving visitors a scenic view of Kaneohe Bay and Kailua.  Known for it's panoramic views and near hurricane-force winds, the Pali overlooks the 985 foot cliffs of the Ko'olau Mountain Range.  On a gusty day, you can lean into the breeze and let the gale-force wind hold you up.  The narrow pass combined with strong trade winds forms a wind tunnel that will blow any hats or children away.  Just kidding about the children, but you might want to keep an eye on them, it can get very windy up here.

Located at the low point in the Ko'olau Mountain Range, the Nu'uanu Pali State Park overlooks a pass that  connects Honolulu (leeward or downwind side of the island) to Kanehoe/Kailua (windward or upwind side of the island).  This pass was the most traversable route on foot through the mountains from the southern and northern part of the island.  The series of footpaths was improved in 1932 with the Old Pali Highway.  This was further improved upon in 1959 with the construction of the modern day Pali Highway (Route 61) and Pali Tunnel.

The Pali was a vital site in the unification of the Hawaiian Islands.  In 1795, King Kamehameha's conquest of O'ahu began with his forces sailing from the Big Island of Hawaii, landing in the area of Waialae and Waikiki, and fighting the army of O'ahu's current king, King Kalanikupule.  Instrumental to Kamehameha's conquest were two Englishmen, John Young and Isaac Davis, who provided the technical expertise in the use and maintenance of rifles and canons.  Kamehameha's army pushed inland, cornered Kalanikupule's army at the Pali pass, and drove about 400 enemy soldiers off the cliffs.  This victory unified all Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom and was the forerunner of the modern State of Hawaii.

The park itself is small, with no restrooms, but with ample parking.  It's open from 9 am to 4 pm daily and parking is $3.00 per car.  Take your valuables with you, DO NOT leave anything expensive in the car.  Cars have been burglarized in the parking lot while visitors enjoy the view.

Don't mind the unexpected visitors, they don't eat much.

This is the view of Ko'olau Mountain Range looking to the left (north) of the pass.  

To the front (northeast), a scenic view of Kaneohe Bay and Kawainui Regional Park.  

To the right, what remains of the Old Pali Road.  The road is not maintained and not cleared of large boulders.  It's blocked off and foot traffic is not allowed.  The Pali is a small lookout with a big view.  Definitely a must see.  

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