The Historic Pali Lookout

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To me, the Pali Lookout on Oahu has one of the most spectacular views in the islands. Pali means cliff in Hawaiian and the thousand foot cliffs of the Ko’olau mountain range it overlooks are magnificent to behold. From the lookout you will also see the Windward coast of Oahu – from Kailua to Kaneohe, and a small island called Chinaman’s Hat. The Pali Lookout has historic significance too because it was here in 1795 that King Kamehameha I and his army of 10,000 warriors defeated the armies of Oahu’s chiefs and sent them over the cliffs. Although this Battle of Nuuanu resulted in the unification of the islands under Kamehameha I, it was one of the bloodiest in Hawaiian history. In fact, when the first road was constructed on the Pali in 1845, 800 skulls – believed to belong to warriors from the Battle of Nu’uanu – were found there. Many legends and superstitions surround the Pali – from a belief that one should not carry pork over it especially at night to stories that there is a mo’o wahine or lizard woman who takes the form of a beautiful woman and leads men to their death. Combine these stories with the strong, howling winds that push up against you and whistle through the trees and you can see why you will want to be careful– especially in the evening. The Pali Lookout is located just five miles northeast of downtown Honolulu and can be accessed from the Pali Highway, Route 61. It is open 9 AM to 4 PM daily, weather permitting; admission is free, but there is a $3 parking fee.

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