The infamous Dead Man’s Catwalk on Oahu has had an interesting life-span. This amazing lookout over the east coast of Oahu came to fame when a cement platform known as the ‘Dead Man’s Catwalk’ became popular. Unfortunately the land is privately owned by Kamehameha Schools and they recently decided to remove the cement slab due to security and safety reasons despite no major issues at the site.
In this blog post I will share with you the details about the ‘Dead Man’s Catwalk’ hike, the current situation regarding accessiblity and the reasons why it was closed and if it should stay that way.
IS THE DEAD MAN’S CATWALK OPEN OR CLOSED?
Despite what its name might suggest, the Dead Man’s Catwalk providess more amazing views than perils. The catwalk referred to the cement slab that some claim was a possible war-era installation or was previously used as a launching strip for hang gliders. The words “The Dead Man’s Catwalk” were constantly being spray painted on the 6-yard strip that led out to a steep drop-off down the face of cliffs.
The land is owned by Kamehameha Schools and they recently decided to remove the cement slab due to security and safety reasons. Like many hikes on Oahu, many private land owners close down their natural lands to hikers because of liability. This hike is not really dangerous at all and there are no narrow ridge-lines. The viewpoint is near an edge but you do not need to go close to the edge to participate in the hike.
So, after giving you all of the information I can now tell you that the hike is technically closed. However, it is closed due to the land-owner prohibiting people from enjoying the hike due to ‘security’ reasons and not because the trail is dangerous in comparison to most hikes on Oahu. If you do attempt this hike you will be trespassing and there are occasional patrols in the neighborhood where you park your car but I have heard that as of 2021, these patrols are uncommon and many people are hiking the trail each day.
WHAT YOU COULD EXPECT AT THE DEAD MAN’S CATWALK
Standing on the catwalk, expansive coastal views and crystal clear waters made the short hike more than worthwhile. On a clear day you could spot the Na Mokulua (two mountains) of Lanikai, far in the distance. As I watched the waves roll over the reef below I felt on top of the world knowing that I was standing in a moment which you will remember long after your time on Oahu.
You will still have the same views if you went today just not the cement slab, which was just a novelty anyway. I would still hike Dead Man’s Catwalk even though the catwalk is gone., The views are still epic as ever and the cement slab was just a minor part of this amazing viewpoint.
This is a perfect hike for people who wanted the postcard views without all the hard work. Most of the climb is done in your vehicle before arriving at the beginning of the trail. The hike began well above sea-level, which is the reason why you could have such amazing views with only a short ascent.
Like many hikes on Oahu, Dead Man’s Catwalk is illegal but it was illegal long before the cement slab was taken down. The great views will still be there but the catwalk will no longer be a feature of the hike if you do choose to risk it.
HOW TO GET TO DEAD MAN’S CATWALK
The Dead Man’s Catwalk is a 25-minute drive from Waikiki and is quite close to Koko Head hike which many of you will have already done or heard of.
Duration: 1 hour
Altitude: 843 feet
MY FOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES ON OAHU
Looking for some idea for activities on your rest day from hiking? These are my favorite activities on the island… especially the doors-off helicopter flight.
- Oahu scenic helicopter flight: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off). You will be absolutely blown away when you see Oahu from the sky! Click to book your tour: Doors-Off Helicopter Flight Tour
- North Shore Shark Cage Adventure: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks! Click to book your tour: North Shore Shark Cage Experience
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Half-Day Cruise: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins. A once in a lifetime experience. Click to book your tour: Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: One of my favorite memories of Hawaii is floating in the water with a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. On this tour that is exactly what you will do! Click to book your tour: Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran
WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach. Luxury rooms overlooking the beach, a private lagoon and a free fireworks and dance performance show. Hilton is easily the most recognizable hotel on the Island. Kids can kayak, swim and snorkel with no worries.
Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach. The bar and nightclub at the Sheraton is a great place to relax after a long day of island adventures.
Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Hotels in Waikiki can be expensive. Deciding where to stay on Oahu can be difficult if you don’t have much cash. Luckily, there is an accommodation option on the edge of Waikiki that is excellent value. Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD. If you are like me, I never swim in the hotel pool anyway.
Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location. Walking distance to Waikiki beach and a central location to base yourself for a week of adventures. You can grab a dorm room for under $35 a night within walking distance to Waikiki surf beach.
Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like a theme park at times with just how many pools and activities are available. If you can afford it, this is the #1 place to stay for families on Oahu. A huge lazy river/tire tube lagoon is probably the highlight of the resort although the water slides and private beach aren’t too far behind.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
My Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST
What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY
A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?
Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018
The best Waterfalls: 11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII
The Best Hikes on Oahu: 10 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII
Oahu Open Door Helicopter Review and Photos: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII