Ka'ena Point Bird Sanctuary

Ka'ena Point Bird Sanctuary
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Address , Waialua, HI 96791
Protected bird sanctuary for the Laysan Albatross and wedge-tailed Shearwater.

• General: Cost: Free • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking • Hiking: Kid Friendly • Hiking: Level: Easy
• Hiking: Nature Walk • Hiking: Out & Back Trail • Sightseeing: Great Views • Sightseeing: Wildlife

Ka'ena Point Bird Sanctuary, a Hawaii State Nature Area Reserve, is located on the northwest tip of O'ahu and is enclosed by a fence that protects the birds that nest here. You see, back before any humans lived on O'ahu there were over 100 different species of birds that lived on the island because there were no mammals to eat them. Without any natural predators, land birds did very well here.

Once humans settled the island, things changed because cats, dogs, mongooses, and even rats came with them and these animals quickly enjoyed some fine dining any many birds species. Many species disappeared completely while others had their numbers reduced by huge amounts.

So what do you do when the birds are being exterminated because of predators we brought here? You install a predator proof fence, the first in the United States, that stretches less than half a mile to protect the point. At $290,000.00 USD it isn't a cheap fence, but that's certainly a small price to pay to keep these species of birds alive. Besides, compared to "border wall" prices these days it's a bargain!

The good news is that you can still easily access the point and see the birds up close, though you are asked to stay on the trail and don't mess with the birds. Of course, that didn't stop some people from destroying 15 nests and killing at least 32 adults and eggs. Turns out the sentence for the crime of killing these federally protected birds is only around 45 days. How insane is that!

You can enter the sanctuary via a gate system with dual doors. Open one door, enter a small room, and when the first door closes you can enter the second door. Well, it's support to work like that but on our last visit both doors opened at the same time so some maintenance is needed here (same for sections of the fence that are in need of repair).

Once inside you'll likely spot quite a few nesting birds, some just feet away from the path. Some are hard to spot even though they're right in front of you because they sit so still, as if they're some sort of Disney prop. The birds that are common here are the Laysan Albatross and wedge-tailed Shearwater.

If you'd like to visit the bird sanctuary, which is completely free, you can access it via one of two hikes which require a 2.5 mile hike (hot, but easy). From the Waianae side, you can use the Ka'ena Point Trail - North Shore and from the north shore you can use the Ka'ena Point Trail - West Shore.