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Makapuu Lighthouse

makapuu lighthouse

Located on the east side of Oahu Makapuu Lighthouse is a nice moderate hike that can be undertaken while touring this part of the island. If not interested in an uphill hike then there is a street level lookout beneath the lighthouse that can be driven to in order to take pictures of the beach below and the coastline. In fact the photo at the top of this page was taken from there. It's one of my favorite spots on the island and I always enjoy driving over there to clear my thoughts and relax.

makapuu lighthouse rabbit island

The island in the distance to the right is Rabbit Island (aka Manana) so named because from a distance it kind of looks like a rabbit and was actually inhabited by rabbits before. Currently it is a bird sanctuary and on clear days the islands of Molokai and Lanai can be seen.

makapuu lighthouse beach view

The beach below is Makapuu beach. It's mostly popular with bodyboarders but surfers go there too. The currents are strong but the water is very clear, blue and beautiful. This is one of my favorite beaches.

makapuu lighthouse hike start

During the winter months from mid December to early April this is a good place to watch whales so bring binoculars. They can often be seen breaching here but you'll probably have to do the walk up to the lighthouse to see them because they do that in open ocean further away from the beach.

makapuu lighthouse hike trail

The vertical incline is about 500 ft and the distance round trip is about 2 miles. It takes me about 20-30 minutes to get to the top but I walk kind of fast. Most people might want to give themselves about 1.5 hours factoring in stopping to take pictures, catch your breath and hang out at the top. The vegetation is mostly dry and there are some cactus type plants up here. Makapuu lighthouse was built in 1909.

makapuu lighthouse lookout stairs

If you wander along the trail leading to the ocean at the bottom of the hill you'll eventually wind up at the ocean and there are tide pools and little geysers spraying water up from the ocean. Be careful of crashing waves so that you don't get swept into the ocean. Continue along the coastline towards Sandy Beach if it seems safe to you. I don't recommend doing this alone as it is quite isolated but is very peaceful and beautiful.

Location and Pricing

Directions: The park and trailhead are located off of Kalanianaole Highway (# 72) at the southeasternmost point of Oahu. From Honolulu, take the H1 freeway east until it becomes Highway 72. Continuing beyond Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park you'll eventually reach the park area adjacent to the highway. From the windward side, take the Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72) southeast beyond Kailua, Waimanalo, and Makapu‘u Beach Park, after which the road climbs up toward Makapu‘u Head. The park will be on the left side of the highway.

Shuttle service is available to do this hike. Normally it's $21.75 through Kaimana Tours but if you purchase an activity pass it's free and you can include Hanauma Bay snorkeling and the Diamond Head hike as well for no extra cost. Excellent deal.


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