Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail (Oahu, Hawaii)

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

The Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail is a scenic hike located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii. This popular trail offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the Makapu‘u Lighthouse, and, during certain seasons, humpback whales. The hike is relatively easy and suitable for all fitness levels, making it a great option for families and casual hikers.

Trail Details

  • – Location: Southeast coast of Oahu, Hawaii
  • – Length:Approximately 2 miles round trip
  • – Duration:1 to 2 hours
  • – Elevation Gain:About 500 feet
  • – Difficulty:Easy to moderate
  • – Trail Type: Paved trail

How to Get There

The trailhead is located in the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline area. From Waikiki, it’s about a 30-minute drive. Parking is available at the trailhead, but it can fill up quickly, especially on weekends and holidays. Public transportation options are limited, so driving is recommended.

What to Bring

– Water: Stay hydrated, especially since the trail is exposed to the sun.

– Sunscreen and Hat: There is little shade on the trail, so sun protection is essential.

– Comfortable Hiking Shoes: The trail is paved but can be steep in some areas.

– Camera or Binoculars: For capturing the stunning views and possibly spotting whales during the winter months.

– Snacks: Light snacks for energy, especially if you plan to spend time enjoying the views at the top.

The Hike

1. Trailhead: The hike begins at the parking lot with a clear sign marking the start of the trail. The path is well-maintained and easy to follow.

2. Initial Ascent: The first part of the trail involves a gradual ascent. The wide, paved path makes it accessible for strollers and wheelchairs.

3. Scenic Views: As you climb, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the coastline, the Pacific Ocean, and offshore islets. On clear days, you can see the neighboring islands of Moloka‘i and Lana‘i.

4. Whale Watching: From November to May, keep an eye out for humpback whales. There are several lookout points with informational signs about whale behavior.

5. Makapu‘u Lighthouse: The highlight of the hike is reaching the viewpoint overlooking the historic Makapu‘u Lighthouse, built in 1909. While the lighthouse itself is not open to the public, the views are spectacular.

6. Summit Viewpoint: The trail culminates at a lookout point offering breathtaking vistas of the rugged coastline and the endless blue ocean. This is a perfect spot for photos and taking in the natural beauty.

Tips for a Great Hike

– Start Early: To avoid the heat and crowds, start your hike early in the morning.

– Check the Weather: Oahu’s weather can be unpredictable. Check the forecast and be prepared for changes.

– Stay on the Trail: For your safety and to protect the environment, stay on the designated path.

– Respect Wildlife: If you spot whales or other wildlife, observe from a distance and do not disturb them.

– Leave No Trace: Carry out all trash and leave the trail as you found it.

Nearby Attractions

Makapu‘u Beach: A great spot for bodyboarding and relaxing after your hike.

Sea Life Park Hawaii: Located nearby, this marine park offers educational exhibits and shows.

Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline: Explore other parts of the scenic shoreline for more hiking and nature opportunities.

Beaches Near Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail

1. Makapu‘u Beach

Distance from Trailhead: Approximately 0.5 miles

Makapu‘u Beach is the closest beach to the Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail. Known for its dramatic cliffs and strong waves, this beach is popular among bodyboarders and experienced surfers. The beach offers stunning views of the lighthouse and the offshore islets. Due to the strong currents and shore breaks, it is not ideal for swimming but is perfect for enjoying the scenery and watching surfers. Read more about Makapu’u Beach here.

2. Waimanalo Beach

Distance from Trailhead: About 3 miles

Waimanalo Beach is a long, white sand beach with turquoise waters, located a short drive from the trailhead. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. The gentle waves make it family-friendly, and the beach is often less crowded than other Oahu beaches. There are facilities such as restrooms and picnic areas, making it a comfortable place to spend the day. Read more about Waimanalo Beach here.

3. Sandy Beach

Distance from Trailhead: Approximately 4 miles

Sandy Beach is known for its powerful shore break and is a favorite among bodyboarders and bodysurfers. The beach is beautiful but can be dangerous for inexperienced swimmers due to the strong waves and rip currents. It’s a great spot for watching the action or enjoying a walk along the shore. The beach has limited facilities, so bring what you need for your visit.

4. Hanauma Bay

Distance from Trailhead: About 7 miles

Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life conservation area and a world-renowned snorkeling destination. The bay offers calm, clear waters teeming with colorful fish and coral reefs. It’s an excellent spot for snorkeling and learning about marine life. There is an admission fee and reservations must be made in advance, the bay is closed on certain days to allow for environmental recovery, so check the schedule before visiting. Facilities include restrooms, showers, and a snack bar.

5. Bellows Field Beach Park

Distance from Trailhead: Approximately 5 miles

Bellows Field Beach Park is located within the Bellows Air Force Station, and parts of it are open to the public on weekends and holidays. The beach features soft, white sand and gentle waves, making it a great spot for swimming and relaxing. It’s less crowded and has a more secluded feel compared to other beaches. The park has picnic tables, restrooms, and showers, making it a convenient place for a family outing.

Tips for Visiting the Beaches

– Check Conditions: Always check the ocean conditions and weather forecast before heading to the beach, especially at beaches with strong waves like Sandy Beach.

– Bring Supplies: Some beaches have limited facilities, so bring essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, and beach gear.

– Respect the Environment: Follow the principles of Leave No Trace to help keep these beautiful beaches clean and safe for wildlife.

– Safety First: Be aware of your swimming abilities and heed any warning signs about currents and wave conditions.


The Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail is a must-do hike on Oahu, offering spectacular views, a chance to see marine wildlife, and a glimpse of a historic lighthouse. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a beautiful walk, this trail is sure to provide a memorable experience.

Enjoy your hike and the natural beauty of Oahu!

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