It’s called the Haiku Stairs, also known as the (Stairway to Heaven Hawaii), and it has one of the most breathtaking views on the entire planet.
However, that view comes with a price… because it’s actually illegal to climb. The stairs were originally installed during World War II so military could access a radio station antennae that sat roughly 2,000 feet up in the mountains.
Located on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, this staircase, which reaches a peak of nearly 3,000 feet, is forbidden by the Hawaiian government due to liability issues and land access problems….. a guard was even present during the day (though many people now say the guard is gone).
The majority of the haiku stairs are nearly vertical
You wouldn’t want to look down
Even with all the restrictions, it doesn’t stop the thrill seekers, they say it’s worth the risk of being arrested. There are many parts to the hike that are pretty terrifying, but one of the scariest moments are early on, when you’re forced to climb a ladder vertically up a steep mountain.
There’s 4,000 stairs in total
photo credit: Art La Flamme
The view is absolutely worth it
photo credit: Brock Roseberry
Now the sad part…. Just recently a powerful storm damaged most of the stairs making it now almost completely inaccessible in some spots…. the entire fate of the stairs is now up in the air unless community organizations come together to fix it—> *Update on this below.
Many people start the hike early in the morning when it’s still dark so they can catch the sunrise
photo credit: Michael Keany
The steps up the steep mountain actually use to be all made of wood… if you can believe it. However, in the mid 1950’s those wooden steps were replaced with sections of metal steps and ramps totaling approximately 3,922. Just imagine walking around on wooden steps, that would be even more terrifying.
Recently, a nonprofit organization called Friends of Haiku Stairs, laid out a plan to collect revenue from tourists and local hikers.
The money would go towards reconstruction and maintenance costs. They’re proposing a plan that includes a $100 fee for out-of-state visitors, and a $5 to $20 fee for Hawaiian residents.