Every winter North Shore beaches get pounded by some of the biggest waves on the planet. Surfers come from all over to ride the wild waves, making the North Shore the unofficial surf capital of the world. However, the surf here isn’t the only thing that’s world-class. The Waikiki trails are a hidden treasure that can be downright heavenly. One such hike for the brave is the Haiku Stairs – 2500 feet of rock, pointing almost straight up. Their slope and height have led many to refer to them as the Stairway to Heaven. The stairs, stitched to knife-edged ridgelines, are not for the faint of heart, and are not currently open to the public. But Oahu city planner Terry Hildebrandt is working to change that and offered to usher me up every single step. The stairs were built by the Navy in 1942 to access a long wave radio station used during World War II.
“They put it in so they could communicate from Pearl Harbor all the way to Tokyo Bay , so they were actually communicating to submerged submarines all the way around the Pacific,” John says.
These days the radio station is not in use. Sections of the stairway must be fixed before the public is invited up, but the views need no repair. As we continue our slow, steady climb, the noise from the highway below begins to fade and the weather begins to shift from clear to cloudy. Back down at sea level, the weather is clear. And so is the road we follow north to a little town with a big reputation. The town of Haleiwa on Oahu ’s North shore is the world’s surfing mecca. And while sliding down the face of an 80-foot wave is something that most of us will never experience, enjoying the natural power of Oahu is an easy rush.
BAB Show #S4