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Understanding the Significance

Climbing was a traditional daily activity for the Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians)

whether it was for traversing the islands cliffs, collecting items for cultural purposes, burials and for hunting or fishing. Today's version of climbing is different, but the Hawaiians who still climb do so for connection to the land and their ancestors.  Due to our fragile ecosystem, Hawai’i hiking and climbing areas are access sensitive.

Hawaiʻi is termed the Endangered Species Capital of the World. We make up less than 1% of the Land mass of the United States but hold 44% of the endangered species. The majority of our trailheads are in residential areas, so please be respectful to the local communities. Our land laws are very different from the continental United States, so it's important to do your research before trespassing or breaking any laws. Within the Kānaka (Native Hawaiian) spiritual beliefs the ʻĀina (Land) is very much alive and our spiritual sites are still VERY significant, even if the State of Hawai’i hasn't recognized or protected those sites. When we recreate in these Indigenous sacred spaces, we all have a KULEANA (responsibility) to protect and preserve the culture, the mana (divine spiritual power), the ecosystem and the history. 


All across The World there is a Native presence that is integral to every space. Natural formations are looked at as family members and hold a strong cultural significance. Sacred Sites and Indigenous spaces hold a massive amount of cultural and spiritual importance to multiple Indigenous communities even still today. Even though every site may not yet be recognized by local and federal organizations, they are still held with the highest respect and significance to the Indigenous people. There are many reasons a site may not be recognized or federally protected. Some of them are due to lack of funding or if there is no potential for development, the government will not do a cultural resource survey. As you navigate through spaces with presently imposed geopolitical boundaries, do your part to honor and respect these places with significant and irreplaceable cultural history.

Hawai'i Recreational Ethicʻs 

 I will take the time to understand that to the Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian People) the land is our family. 

I will give fish and other wildlife space. I understand feeding any wildlife can damage their health and disrupt behavior.

I will preserve and protect your home and will engage with the people, places, and wildlife in a respectful way. 

I will enjoy cultural sites from a far. I will not recreate in/on/ cultural sites / structures / formations as they are extremely fragile and still used in traditional ceremonial practices today.

I will give space to the local fishermen/hunters so I do not scare anything away. I understand Kānaka Maoli communities feed their families this way. 

I will support Indigenous owned businesses and will only patron legal licensed visitor accomidations.

I understand that even barely brushing coral, can kill an entire colony.

I will honor closures for Indigenous purposes and or Native species. 

I will only use “reef safe” sunscreens and bug repellents, free of oxybenzone and parabens to avoid ecosystem contamination.

Creating Trails and cutting plants is illegal in Hawai'i without a permit

I will not touch or damage rock art or make my own. These images hold a paramount of significance to the Indigenous People of the land. 

I will pack my trash and will even pick up the trash of others I may pass along the way. 

I will look for welcoming signage letting me know that an area is public and safe and I will always obey appropriate signage for the safety of myself and others. I understand that staying on marked trails and roads is the best ethical choice. 

(Nā Ala Hele Trails- Quick Links Page)

I will not take or remove cultural objects as souvenirs, I will leave the items in their place of rest and that are now part of the landscape. 

I will clean and decontaminate all of my footwear and hiking gear with 70% alcohol or a 10% bleach solution to prevent disease spread and stop other invasive species from spreading. Hawai'i holds 44% of The U.S.ʻs endangered species.

I will protect special places by never geotagging them on social media. Not to gate keep but to make sure the space can handle the foot traffic and is managed/protected with conservation funding.

I will sign the Mokulē'ia revocable permit before climbing, honor all rules required by permit and follow all DLNR laws for the area.

(HCC Permit- Quick Links Page)

I will promise that first ascents are never more important than Non-Renewable Cultural Resources. 

I will not Stack Rocks or take apart rock walls as it is offensive to native peoples.

I will always share aloha, kindness, and respect as I enjoy this special experience with others. Remember ALOHA is a two way street. 

Hawai'i Ethical Pledge

Thank you for helping us make a difference!

Kānaka Climbers has Partnered and Co-Founded The Indigenous Field Guide to create an Indigenous focused Pledge

for Turtle Island and the Pacific. If you are actively looking for ways to recreate more responsibly throughout the World check it out. 

Geotagging and Access

Geotagging isn’t something that Hawaiians (kānaka) or locals encourage.  Our landscapes are full of ENDEMIC and ENDANGERED flora and fauna, and culturally sensitive areas. Our islands and various hiking locations are under an immense physical pressure from overuse. 


Again, please do not share geo-tags, GPS coordinates, or locations of climbing or hiking in areas that are culturally or environmentally sensitive (or illegal) as this can attract unwanted attention to these unmanaged sites. If you haven't taken the time to learn about the area, we don't recommend going. 


Access concerns: Every climbing location in Hawai’i is access sensitive. Please do not post directions or geotag photos. This website does not give you permission to access any lands, either public or private. Recreate responsibly and enter at your own risk, and remember YOU represent the entire outdoor community. If a member of the general public or state agency asks you to leave, it is best to go. 

"As hikers, climbers, and outdoors enthusiasts, we love that access to America's Public Lands allows us to pursue these activities, but for non-Native people, it is too easy to forget that these public lands were created through the violent dispossession of millions of indigenous people - the system is designed to make us forget. As long as we continue to accept Indigenous erasure as the status quo, we continue to be complicit in the ongoing colonial project in the United States."


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