Airstrip: Our path to Kaena Point is clearly seen in this air view looking west. In the foreground is Dillingham air strip, where visitors can take a flight in a glider. Notice how deeply eroded the mountains are compared to the coastal plain.
Reef: Ancient coral reefs are one of the first things that one sees at the trail head for the Point. These raised reefs pose challenging questions to geologists -- were they formed at a time when sea level was higher (if so, why do we not find similar reefs elsewhere in Hawaii?) or has this part of the island been raised by some process (if so, why did the island rise out of the ocean?).
Trail: One cannot drive to Kaena Point, but there's an old dirt road that points the way. This part of the island is almost always sunny, and is a great place to see many unusual birds that enjoy the relative seclusion of this part of the island.
Plants: Soon after leaving the car at the trailhead one starts seeing unusual plants that have invaded this part of the island. All of the coastal plain is very dry, so that large cacti are quite common.
Hills: As our hike continues towards Kaena Point, we see many deep valleys that have been carved into the northern side of the Waianae Range. Thick vegetation in this area makes hiking off the road difficult, but many of these areas look so peaceful and inviting that it's worth the effort!
Ground Panorama: There are few places on the ground to get an overview of Kaena Point, but a scramble up the cliff side at least lets one see the distribution of sand dunes. In the top part of this image, we show a full 180-degree panorama, with the enlargement at the bottom showing how some of the dunes are now stabilized by vegetation. The rocks just offshore mark the westernmost part of Oahu.
Dike: The location of the long peninsular of land that forms Kaena Point is controlled by numerous very resistant volcanic dikes from the Waianae volcano that have slowed erosion of this part of the island. Here we see one of these dikes (between arrows).
From here you can see four aerial photographs of Kaena Point , or you can pick another point from the Southwest Oahu Virtual Field Trip page.