Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail: Experience Breathtaking Views and Coastal Serenity (updated 2023)
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail in Windward Oahu is one of the most popular hiking trails in Oahu to do right after the hike to Diamond head in Waikiki.
The trail is fairly easy to moderate and on paved road in the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline. The best time to get there and do the hike is in the morning when parking is light and not as many visitors get to the east side this early.
Directions to get to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
From Waikiki, it is approximately 45 minutes to get to the parking lot area
Take the Kalanianaoli Hwy 1 heading south which eventually becomes Hwy 72
Follow H1 through the Koko Head Crater and past Sandy Beach heading to Makapu’u Point
Turn into the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline and enter the Kaiwi parking lot which is free.
Gate opens at 7am
Start the Trail (2 miles roundtrip)
Start the trail at the parking lot where the trail markers are located back up the side of the mountain. The trail is actually paved from the bottom to the top and climbs up an elevation of 500 feet to the viewing platforms.
The hike take about 30 minutes to reach the top and you’ll go through some switchback areas that have fantastic views along the way to enjoy and take some pictures. There is a detour to the tidepool and blowhole area that takes a little bit more effort and is detailed below.
Attractions and landmarks at the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail
Check out the Makapu’u lighthouse landmark (there is no access to the lighthouse, just views of it from the top of the observation area)
Enjoy the panoramic views from the observation area at Makapu’u Point to Makapu’u beach and the east side areas below.
Visit the old military pillboxes in the area
Check out the hidden blowhole and the tidepool areas to the side of the hiking trail.
Here’s a quick tour of the trail and viewpoints at Makapu’u below
Explore the giant tidepool areas at Makapu’u Point
There is a small trail that leads from the left side of the coastal reef to the tidepool areas and even a blowhole. Take care in walking down this steep area with loose rocks and gravel, once at the bottom area you can explore the tidepool areas but also be careful of giant waves that splash on the pools occasionally.
There is an unmarked blowhole that erupts with the intake of seawater traveling through some of the tubes and exits at the blowhole, this is fun to check out at a safe distance. Some people do swim in the larger tidepool areas but do so at your own risk since there are no guards or people watching in the area.
Here’s a look at the climb down to the tidepool area of Makapu’u below
Follow the white arrows on the rocks heading uphill to get back to the main trail area.
Also, bring back what you brought with you and no opala or trash in the area.
Weather and best time to visit Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
Weather: The weather at Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is generally warm and pleasant throughout the year. The area experiences a tropical climate, characterized by consistent temperatures and moderate humidity. The temperature typically ranges from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 24-30 degrees Celsius).
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is during the drier and sunnier months, which are generally from May to September. During this period, you can expect clearer skies, calmer seas, and more favorable hiking conditions. The summer months also offer longer daylight hours, providing ample time to fully enjoy the trail and the breathtaking vistas it offers.
It’s important to note that the trail can be exposed to the sun, so it’s advisable to plan your visit for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the peak heat of the day. Additionally, weekdays tend to be less crowded compared to weekends and holidays, allowing for a more peaceful and enjoyable hiking experience.
While the weather is generally pleasant, it’s always a good idea to check the local weather forecast before heading out to ensure you are prepared and dressed appropriately. Keep in mind that weather conditions can change quickly, so it’s essential to bring sunscreen, a hat, plenty of water, and suitable footwear for hiking.
More details to visiting Makapu’u light house trail
There is no cost to park or to do the hike to Makapu’u lighthouse
The area is sunny and exposed so bring appropriate clothing and liquids to keep cool.
On a clear day you can see the neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai in the distance
The trail is open from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., so visitors who plan on watching the sun rise should park on the side of the main road.
If you plan on exploring the tidepool area, be careful about the hike downhill, trails are not marked clearing and are very rocky or slippery.
Other things to explore in the windward areas of Oahu
There are some other cool beach towns and beaches on the windward side of the island to discover. Check out our posts about these fantastic places and attractions to explore on the east side of Oahu below.
Lanikai Beach – one of the pretties neighborhood beaches with the softest sandy beach to lounge in
Kailua Beach and town – This popular beach area has it all with a fun downtown area to hang out in and gorgeous beach and ocean to enjoy a fun beach day.
Waimanalo Beach – a wide expansive beach to explore and enjoy less crowded conditions on the east side of Oahu
Check out Hawaii Kai in East Oahu, this burb has fun shopping, eating and hang out spots to explore outside of Honolulu area
Climb Diamond Head for beautiful views of Honolulu, check out the iconic Diamond head and hike to the top of the crater.
Conclusion on Makapu’u lighthouse trail on the windward side
For East side fun, you’ll love explore all fun activities and attractions around the windward side to include Waimanalo, Lanikai and Kailua areas. Hope this gives you some great ideas of things to do and see around the town and outlying areas to visit.
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