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 Beach, Koko Head, the windward coast, and Molokai & Lanai neighboring islands.
You will also discover some exciting points of interest along the way
including Makapuu Point, old military pillboxes, giant tide pools, a
and the popular Makapuu lighthouse
Elevation 500 Feet
Length 2 Miles Round Trip
Duration 60 to 90 Minutes
Terrain Hilly, Paved Trail, Hot
Difficulty Easy to Medium
The Makapuu Lighthouse is located at the
southeastern point of Oahu, not too far from Sandy Beach, 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 Point Lookout parking lot.
There is a beautiful scenic view waiting for you at Makapuu Point, which is also 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!
The Makapuu Lighthouse hike will take you about 30 minutes to reach the
a few switchbacks, you’ll find some great viewing spots early on and
along the way. Take time to enjoy the beautiful coastal views
towards Koko Head as you start your climb.
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
Beach and the
beginning of the Windward Coast –enjoy!!
There are some giant Makapu'u tide pools and a giant blowhole that
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
and inexperienced hikers to make the trek down the hillside.
There is an unmarked trail on the left hand side of the sign that leads down to the coastal reef. There is 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
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 no 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. Stay far enough away from the ledge,
and 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.
Set yourself up for a half day of discovery and adventure along the southern tip of Oahu, hiking up to an amazing viewing platform with views of the Windward side and lighthouse, and also to the top of Diamond Head.
These Oahu attractions are both located on the south side of Oahu, yet not many folks have achieved climbing both in the same day. This adventure includes transportation to and from your hotel.
Here are 3 additional Oahu Hiking Trails that are similar to hike, which you might want to consider climbing after this one...
Check out the Oahu GO Card that gives discounts to multiple attractions, museums and tours, including transportation to this Oahu hike...
Also consider a direct lighthouse shuttle service to and from your hotel. It's a great option if you don't want to rent a car or navigating getting there.
Take the number 22 or 23 Oahu Bus from Kuhio Ave in Waikiki, headed in the direction of Diamond Head. 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.
* Good hiking shoes
* Hat & sunglasses
* Sun screen
* Light snack
Hiking Gear Picks including Compact Hiking Poles, Mosquito Repellent, and GPS Mapping Tracker
Makapuuu Beach – Below the lighthouse is one of Oahu’s most distinctive and stunning beaches known as Makapu’u Beach Park.
It’s not only a good stop for a bathroom break with public facilities, but also a wonderful place to set up a picnic on the tables overlooking the beach, the rocky coastline, and lighthouse that you just finished hiking up to!
Beach is known for its powerful
shore breaks, which are great for experienced bodysurfers, and
provides a good show for spectators.
A thrill of a life time swimming with sharks or sea lions in a controlled environment at Sea Life Park! This Oahu adventure alone offers lots of exciting marine exhibits to explore, but not many theme parks offer opportunities to interact with the animals.
Spend 20 to 30 minutes in a 300,000 gallon tank with trained professionals that educate and lead you through the experience.
Price of admission includes transportation and a full-day pass to Sea Life Park. Reserve Limited Tickets Now!
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 this spot next to 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 Makapu'u 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 continue on for a mid-morning hike?
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,
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!