Visiting Makapu’u Beach on Oahu (Hawaii)

Makapu'u Beach on Oahu Hawaii
Makapu'u Beach on Oahu Hawaii

Makapu’u Beach, located on the eastern tip of Oahu, Hawaii, is famous for its striking beauty and unique features. The beach is situated beneath the dramatic cliffs of the Ko’olau Range and is renowned for its picturesque lighthouse, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding ocean.

Makapu’u is not just a popular spot for sightseeing; it’s also a favorite among surfers due to its powerful waves and clear waters, making it ideal for experienced surfers looking for a challenge.

Apart from its surfing appeal, Makapu’u Beach is also beloved by families and nature enthusiasts. The area features tide pools that teem with marine life, accessible via a trail that provides an excellent opportunity for exploring and wildlife watching. During the winter months, the beach becomes an ideal spot for whale watching, as humpback whales can be seen breaching off the coast.

For those looking for a bit more adventure, the nearby Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail offers an easy hike with rewarding views of the eastern shoreline of Oahu, the lighthouse itself, and, during the right season, migrating whales. The cultural and natural richness of the area, combined with its recreational opportunities, makes Makapu’u Beach a must-visit destination on Oahu.


Makapuʻu Beach is located on the southeastern tip of Oʻahu, nestled between the rugged cliffs of the Koʻolau Range and the Pacific Ocean. This picturesque beach is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, featuring a broad expanse of fine sand and powerful, crystal-clear blue waves that attract surfers and bodyboarders alike.

The area is easily accessible from Honolulu, lying just a scenic drive away along the Kalanianaʻole Highway, which provides breathtaking views of the coastline. In addition to its surf, Makapuʻu Beach is also famous for the nearby Makapuʻu Lighthouse, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding ocean and a popular spot for whale watching during the winter months.


Parking is free with a large lot. We visited this beach a few times during our 5 weeks stay on Oahu and we never struggled to find a parking spot. Even on the weekends.

Swimming Conditions

Makapu’u beach provides a range of conditions suitable for various water activities, but it is particularly noted for its powerful shore break waves, which can be thrilling for body surfing and bodyboarding. These conditions are best suited for more experienced swimmers and surfers, as the waves can be quite formidable, especially during high surf periods.

Safety is a priority at Makapu’u Beach due to its sometimes rough and unpredictable water conditions. Rip currents are common, and the waves can unexpectedly become large. Lifeguards are typically on duty, providing an extra layer of safety and offering advice on current conditions to beachgoers.

In calmer conditions, the crystal-clear waters offer excellent opportunities for snorkeling, especially around the rocks and tide pools at the northern end of the beach. Marine life is abundant here, with possibilities to spot colorful fish and other sea creatures.

Things to do Nearby

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail – An easy (ish) trail that is perfect for the whole family. Short and sweet.

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