The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, also
known as the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline, is the second most popular
of all the Oahu hiking trails, next to the Diamond Head Hike. This easy to moderate
summit trail is definitely one of the
most memorable, with stunning views overlooking Makapuu
Koko Head, the
windward coast, and Molokai & Lanai neighboring islands.
You will also discover some exciting points of interest along the way
including old military pillboxes, giant tide pools, a hidden blowhole,
and the popular Makapuu lighthouse landmark.
The Makapuu Lighthouse is located at the
southeastern point of Oahu where it tends to be dryer and much warmer.
Arriving early in the morning to begin this Oahu hike is ideal, as
warms up quickly without shady trees or other types of cover along the
There’s a gate that opens at 7am, which allows cars to travel another quarter mile down to a parking lot area.
If you wish to start
your hike earlier, you can park your car on the side of the road (make
sure to obey all parking signs), or drive a little farther up, where
you can park in the Makapuu Lookout parking lot.
This is a
scenic view point at the top, and is a great place to take photos of
Makapuu beach below. From here you will need to walk back down
to the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail parking lot, where the trail
begins back up the side of the mountain.
These Oahu hiking trails are paved from the parking lot to the
It’s a moderate climb that travels approximately 500 feet up to a
Most folks including younger kids will enjoy
this hike, and should be able to make the journey to the top.
I’ve even seen baby strollers being pushed up by energetic moms and
dads looking for a good workout!
Keep an eye out toward the ocean once you cross the first ridgeline, because you just might spot some humpback whales migrating if you’re lucky! Migrating seasons is typically May – November.
Although the Makapuu Lighthouse is off limits, you will have two opportunities to view it, including a great side view with a private curving walkway that leads to the structure.
yards up to the top, and you can look down at the beautiful 1909
landmark that still shines her light out to sea!
Once you reach the top, you’ll have your chance to climb the metal
platform and enjoy breathtaking views of Makapuu
Beach Park and the
beginning of the Windward Coast –enjoy!!
There are some giant tide pools and a giant blowhole that erupts on
windy and/or big surf days.
While these attractions are fun discoveries, it is NOT recommended for everyone to explore this area. It is quite dangerous for children and inexperienced hikers to make the trek down the hillside.
There is an unmarked trail on the left hand side of the sign that
down to the coastal reef. There’s a lot of loose gravel along the
steep hillside, so proper shoes and strong footing is a must if
attempted. The reef area below is also dangerous, as strong
waves tend to smash over the barrier reef onto the shelf area.
Still interested in going? About three-quarters of the way up,
you will come across a humpback whale informational display that also
happens to be the start of a loose trail that leads down to the
Makapuu Tide Pools and a blowhole. There are white arrows
pointing up that have been spray painted on some of the boulders,
leading the way back up...so you can follow them down as well.
At your own risk, you could swim in the larger tide pools. It can be a lot of fun…but dangerous at the same time.
I would highly
advise not swimming in this area during times when waves are breaking
over the reef into the pools, as you could get hurt or swept out to
sea. Also remember that the reef is sharp and the rocks tend to
be slippery when wet.
An impressive unmarked blowhole is also in the area. As waves roll into the coast, the sea water travels through an underground tube and erupts once it reaches the blowhole.
It’s an entertaining
show to watch, but please remember to keep a good distance away.
The force of water spraying through the the blowhole’s opening is extremely hazardous and can easy injure those around it. There’s also a powerful downward suction that is equally dangerous when standing close by!
When leaving the area, remember to follow the white arrows back up to the main trail. Please bring back up anything you brought down with you.
Take the number 22 or 23 Oahu Bus from Kuhio Ave in Waikiki, headed in the Diamond Head direction. Depending on traffic, it should only take about 1 hour to 90 minutes to arrive at the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail.
These buses run on the hour during weekdays and about every half hour on the weekends.
Recommended for this hike
Makapuu Beach is known for its powerful shore breaks, which are great for experienced bodysurfers and provide a good show for spectators.
Halona Blowhole – if you passed on the hike down to the Makapu’u Tide Pools and blowhole, make sure to stop at the Halona Blowhole on your way back to Waikiki.
You’ll find it just past Sandy
Park in the Halona Beach Cove parking lot, and walk up to the
All you need are some big rolling waves crashing
into the rocks, which will give an impressive show as the water
explodes through a small hole in the reef into the air!
Bay - This popular marine sanctuary is probably the most popular spot of all Hawaii to snorkel
and scuba dive
, as there are hundreds of fish and different
types of marine life to be discovered. It’s an experience not to
It is highly recommended to start early in the morning if you plan to visit both Hanauma Bay and the Makapuu Lighthouse Hike. Hanauma Bay gets crowded quickly, making parking quite a challenge, and the south dry mountainside heats up fast as sun rises. Maybe to beat the heat, you could arrive at the Hanauma Bay 6am opening, which will give you a couple hours to explore the bay’s reef, and then continuie on for a mid-morning hike?
Sandy Beach Park - This long stretch of beach is notorious for its shore breaking waves! You will find a good handful of the world’s best bodysurfers and bodyboarders on larger surf days, performing some daredevil stunts and tricks before the waves smash onto the shore!
This is definitely not your friendly swimming waters, but can be very entertaining to watch, and a fun beach to stop along your way!