Within Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline on Oahu’s Windward Coast, the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a popular hike ending at the historical red-roofed Makapu’u Lighthouse, built in 1909. Though the lighthouse is not open to the public, the moderately challenging hike attracts travelers and locals alike for its stunning coastal views.
The scenic Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is entirely paved and stretches for 1.2 miles (2 kilometers). The hike affords views of Makapu’u Beach, Koko Head, and, on clear days, the neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai. Lucky hikers will also see humpback whales breaching in winter months. There are also several delights along the trail, including military pillboxes and teeming tide pools.
Most travelers hike the trail independently, while many group and private tours of East Oahu and the entire island include stops at the Makapu’u Point Lookout.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Makapu’u Point is ideal for lighthouse enthusiasts and anyone looking for a lovely, low-impact outdoor experience.
- There is no access to the lighthouse.
- Good walking shoes are recommended, as are a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. On cloudy days, tote a rain jacket.
- The trail is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, though it does have a moderate grade to the lighthouse. The side trail to the tide pools is not accessible.
How to Get There
The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is located on Oahu’s southeastern point, about 16 miles (26 kilometers) from downtown Honolulu. If driving, park on the street or in the free Makapu’u Point Lookout parking lot (opens at 7am) at the base of the hike.
When to Get There
The trail is open year-round. Oahu has mild tropical weather but can be wet in winter and quite hot in summer. No matter the time of year, arrive early in the day to avoid crowds and heat.
Makapu’u Tide Pools
Once you reach the third rest stop along the lighthouse trail, you can climb down a challenging, rocky trail to the Makapu’u tide pools. Made of black volcanic rock, the pools host sea stars, crabs, fish, and intermittent blowholes. Be advised that this portion of the hike is unpaved and best suited to experienced hikers. There have been serious injuries and deaths at the tide pools—visitors are advised to stay far from the area during high tide.