Sounds glorious doesn’t it? I guarantee you, once you climb to the top after 3922 stairs- the breath that you have left will be taken away by the view.
It. Was. Stunning.
I had just arrived to Honolulu at around midnight after 24 hours of travel. Luckily I bumped into a kiwi named Cameron. He was super nice and was asking the reception dude at the hostel about the infamous Stairway to Heaven. Of course I was listening and chimed in that that was my plan to do tomorrow as I only have one day here before I head to Australia.
I soon found out that it’s highly illegal. If you get caught by the police on the land of the Haiku Stairs, it was a HUGE fine, I’ve hear anywhere from $600-$1000.
The next morning I met Cam downstairs after I indulged in the free pancakes at the hostel. He had a map from another fellow that had done the hike a few times. It showed us how to trek through the jungle to avoid the security guard. I was super wary of this.
“So… like, there’s no trail? What if we get lost?” I asked.
“We won’t,” he assured me.
I trusted him. Our plan was to rent scooters but I met a couple from Hungary who had rented a car. They planned to do the stairs that day as well and offered us a ride. They too, were shocked at the fact that the stairs were illegal. The girl had just ran the Hawaii ultra-marathon two days prior. She was in a jean skirt and in the back of my mind I was thinking..
“I don’t think these guys know what they are getting themselves into.”
Joke’s on me, neither did I.
It had rained the night before so the trek was muddy. If I could somehow explain it, it was like rock climbing but with trees. Your feet weren’t going to hold you up so you had to rely on your arms and any roots or trees you could grab hold of. We all fell. More than once. The one time I cranked my shin on a tree and it started to bleed.
My dad probably would have told me to rub some dirt in it and I was already covered in mud so I just kept truckin'.
There was no trail at all and after the first half hour I was guaranteed we were lost in the mountain. (talk about having a positive mindset)
“Cam… we’re lost. I know we’re lost.”
We definitely had to backtrack a bit and find safer ways to get to the direction of the stairs, but we eventually found them.
We looked at ourselves and were completely covered in mud. The girl's jean skirt was torn all the way up in the front, bless her.
Now for the steps to the top. The sun started beating down and I was kicking myself for not packing enough water.
We met a few people on the way and some of them were so clean. WTF. HOW! They explained that they just walked past the guard. But the guard did tell them that they shouldn’t come down that same way because the cops were on the way. Hmmm.
We met others on the way down and they told us that we were coming at the perfect time (at this point it was probably 2pm) since earlier it had been super foggy and the visibility wasn’t the greatest. We even met a girl that had climbed the stairs 10 times before and this was her 11th!
We waited and waited for our Hungarian friends at the first look-out spot but they didn’t come and must have turned back. It was a long ways up. I don’t blame the girl either, she was a champ for even making it this far after running an ultra!
There were some really cool look-out spots on the way. Some were old, graffitied, concrete structures with WWII-era rusted machinery in them. One of the buildings had beer bottles from all over the world along the inside near the ceiling.
The stairs were metal but many of them were missing or loose. There was one section that was completely mangled with bent hand rails that we had to climb over.
We finally made it to the top. Sweaty, hot, hungry and dirty. But it was SO worth it.
There was a HUGE transmitter station you could climb on top of. You could almost see around the whole island. The bright blue reef areas in the ocean, the luscious terrain of the mountains and the incredible city of Honolulu.
The way down was a lot easier and I decided to go past the guard, who by the way, was super nice and he showed me a shortcut! Although he also told me that someone had set off sensors and that the police were on their way...
“If you see the police coming, just run into the trees and hide!” he said.
So assuring right?
Cam went around the stairs through the trees and met me at the bottom. It was time for the next adventure, getting back to our hostel. Since our friends went back early, we didn’t have a car or service on our phones to call an uber. We started walking through the residential neighborhood and got some pretty funny looks.
We looked like we had just survived an apocalypse.
Cam stuck his thumb out and the second vehicle that past us stopped. He said that he was going to opposite direction of wikiki but that he could take us to the bus stop. DONE. We jumped into the back of his truck. We later tried to hand him some money but he wouldn’t take it. So nice! A couple busses later and a little walk, we had made it back to the hostel.
It was definitely a day to remember :)
Thanks for reading,
Jenny D xx
*Please note that the Stairway to Heaven is dangerous and you do so at your own risk. It is illegal since the stairway is on private property. This post is by no means to encourage people to disobey authorities.