Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

Makapuu Lighthouse

If you are looking for a beautiful sunrise hike on Oahu, I recommend the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail on Oahu’s southeastern most point.  In addition to the excellent views of Makapuu Lighthouse along the trail, you’ll also enjoy outstanding coast views from Koko Head on the South to Kailua on the North. You’ll also see Makapuu’s role in WW II history with the concrete pillboxes built into the cliffs.

In the winter months, Makapuu offers a great vantage point for watching Humpback Whales. Along the path, there’s an educational plaque about Humpback’s annual visit to Hawaii. We were there in February and unfortunately we didn’t see whales. We did see dolphins, though.

On top of the great views, we enjoyed seeing lots of cacti. This section of Oahu is rather dry and only receives about 20 inches of rain per year. I don’t typically associate cactus and Hawaii, so that was an interesting contrast.

Oahu-Hawaii-Feb-2009 43

I think the best time of day to hike Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is early in the morning, if possible to enjoy sunrise and the cooler temperatures. Note that taking this hike is an excellent way to use jet lag to your benefit.

I would classify Makapuu Lighthouse Trail as a relatively easy hike. In fact, it’s more of a semi-steep walk. The path is actually a road that’s used to access and maintain the working lighthouse. (Note that no motorized traffic is allowed.) Since this trail is actually a road, it’s wide and well paved except for a few steps at the trail’s end.

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is 1.4 miles one-way. It’s not a strenuous trail, but note that you’ll be gaining elevation all the way from the parking area to the trail’s end. The elevation gain is gradual, though.

You’ll find Makapuu Lighthouse Trail just off Highway 72, Kalanianaole Highway. See this Google Map and note the location of Makapuu Lighthouse Road. That’s the trail. There is a parking lot for this trail. As always, make sure that you don’t leave anything of value in your car.

See all our photos from hiking Makapuu Lighthouse Trail.


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About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

7 comments

  1. Been there many times. Try going at sunset during a full moon to watch the moon-rise.
    Aloha,
    Keahi

  2. As always, great description and detail about the trail. Clicked through to the photos, too, and they were just as nice.

    This post jumped out at me because I remembered seeing a similar picture of that lighthouse over at the Hawaii Photography site, but it wasn’t labeled. Now I know what and where it is. :)

  3. @ Keahi – oh, I love that moon rise idea!

    @ Kris – Thanks for the kind words. We all learn something new about Hawaii each day, don’t we? ;-)

  4. I have a question for you. Do you have to wait for the Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline State Park to open before you can park and begin the hike? Or can you arrive earlier and park without encountering any issues? Sunrise is closer to 6, while the park does not open until 7. This is my first trip to Oahu and I am not sure how the park rules are regulated. Thanks!

    • Hannah — the gate was open when we went before sunrise a few years. Other people, mostly locals, were already parked and there walking the trail for their morning exercise. Unfortunately, I don’t know if that has changed or not. I’ll see if I can find out anything about that, but I can’t make any promises that I’ll get an answer.

      • Just did some quick searches and found this useful information on Yelp:

        “The park gates open at 7AM, but one can park in the lot North of the entry which is open 24/7, and can walk down to the park entrance before 7 AM. Some park their cars along the Highway, which I am not sure is legal…”

        Check out this google map Notice that that parking area the Yelp reviewer mentioned is at a scenic lookout, which is about 700-ish feet north (above) from the Makapuu Lighthouse Road and trail entrance. At this time, there are no gates at that upper parking lot, so you can park there if you arrive before the parking gate opens to the Makapuu trail parking area.

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