Discovering Oahu's Beauty: Hiking the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail

Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail


If you're seeking a hiking adventure on the island of Oahu that offers breathtaking views, a glimpse of Hawaiian wildlife, and a chance to connect with nature, the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail should be at the top of your list. This iconic trail offers outdoor enthusiasts a memorable experience with its stunning vistas and natural beauty.

A Scenic Gem

The Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail is located on the southeastern tip of Oahu, near the town of Waimanalo. It's known for its relatively easy accessibility and well-maintained pathway, making it suitable for hikers of all levels, including families and beginners.

Trail Highlights

As you embark on this scenic adventure, you'll encounter several noteworthy highlights:

  1. Panoramic Views: One of the primary attractions of this trail is the awe-inspiring panoramic view it offers. From the summit, you can gaze out over the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, take in the lush Windward Coast, and even spot the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai on a clear day.

  2. Makapu'u Lighthouse: The trail is named after the historic Makapu'u Lighthouse, which was built in 1909. Although the lighthouse itself is not open to the public, the viewing area provides an excellent vantage point for appreciating this piece of Hawaiian history.

  3. Whale Watching: If you visit during the winter months (December to April), you may have the opportunity to witness humpback whales breaching and playing in the waters below. The Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail is renowned for its whale-watching opportunities.

  4. Flora and Fauna: The trail is surrounded by a variety of native Hawaiian plants, including the 'ohai ali'i and the indigenous naupaka. Keep an eye out for seabirds such as the red-footed booby and frigatebird, which nest along the cliffs.

Trail Details

  • Distance: The trail is approximately 2.5 miles round trip.
  • Difficulty: While the hike is relatively short, it can be moderately steep in some sections. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring water.
  • Accessibility: The trail is paved and wheelchair-accessible for the first 1,000 feet, making it suitable for strollers as well.
  • Safety: Stay on the designated path and avoid going off-trail, as some areas can be dangerous due to steep cliffs.

Dog-Friendly Adventure

If you're a dog owner looking for a great outdoor experience to share with your furry friend, the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail is a fantastic choice. Unlike some hiking trails that have strict no-dog policies, Makapu'u is dog-friendly!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when bringing your dog along for the hike:

  1. Leash Your Pup: For the safety and enjoyment of all hikers, it's essential to keep your dog on a leash at all times. This ensures that your pet remains under control and prevents any unexpected encounters with wildlife or other dogs.

  2. Stay Hydrated: Just like you, your dog will need water during the hike. Be sure to bring enough water for both of you to stay hydrated, especially on warm days.

  3. Mind the Heat: The trail can get hot, particularly during midday. Be cautious of the temperature and the heat of the pavement on your dog's paws. Consider hiking during cooler times of the day to protect your furry companion from overheating.

  4. Clean Up After Your Dog: Please bring waste bags and clean up after your dog. Keeping the trail clean ensures a pleasant experience for everyone and helps preserve the natural beauty of Makapu'u.

With these tips in mind, you and your four-legged hiking buddy can enjoy the stunning vistas and outdoor adventure that the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail has to offer. It's a fantastic way to spend quality time together while exploring the beauty of Oahu's coastline.

Best Time to Hike

The Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail is open year-round, but it's best to embark on your adventure in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of midday. The sunrise and sunset views from the trail are particularly stunning.

Getting There

To access the trail, drive east from Honolulu on Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy 72). Look for the well-marked Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trailhead parking lot, which is on your right when heading east. Parking can be limited, so plan to arrive early, especially on weekends.

Final Thoughts

Hiking the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail is a memorable experience that allows you to connect with the natural beauty of Oahu while enjoying panoramic views of the coastline and the Pacific Ocean. Whether you're an avid hiker, a nature lover, or a casual adventurer, this trail has something to offer everyone. Don't forget your camera, as you'll want to capture the breathtaking vistas and the sense of awe that this remarkable hike provides.

So, lace up your hiking boots, pack some water, and get ready to explore the beauty of the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail. It's an adventure you won't soon forget, and a chance to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Hawaii's diverse landscape.

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse

As you make your way up the most southeastern tip of Oahu, you're surrounded by the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean and the gentle slopes of Koko Crater.

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse

Midway up the hike, brand new telescopes have been installed for whale watching... These are free, so take a peek :)

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse

Humpback whales make their annual migration to Hawaii around December to May. If you see people pointing out to sea in excitement, it's most likely a whale coming up for air or waving us "Aloha" with their tail.

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse

After your brief break at the whale-watching station, continue onward to another breath-taking look-out. This one overlooks Rabbit Island and Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary.

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse

Keep your eyes open for the bright red lighthouse stationed on the very tip of our island's coastline. And here's a fun little trivia... The Makapuu Point Lighthouse has "the largest lens of any lighthouse in the United States". (Source: Wikipedia)

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse

Remember to bring your camera & capture some gorgeous selfies and Instagram your favorite postcard wonders.

Have fun & Aloha!

Trail To Makapuu Lighthouse



  • Comfy walking shoes
  • Stay hydrated - bring water
  • Sunscreen
  • Flat incline trail with scenic viewing spots
  • About two miles round-trip
  • 1 to 2 hours round-trip
  • Park your car at the beginning of the trail
  • Don't leave any valuables in your car
  • No restrooms
  • Admission: Free

Makapuu Lighthouse Parking & Starting Point:

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail:

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