I’ve always regarded lighthouses as being shrouded in mystery, full of intrigue, hidden stories, and secrets. If there’s one remotely close to an area where I happen to be traveling, I make a point to visit it. So when I moved to Oahu, the picturesque Makapu’u Lighthouse was one of the first island attractions that I saw.

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This historic, red-roofed windward landmark was built in 1909 and although you (unfortunately) can’t go inside, it is a must-see for both the beauty of the beacon itself as well as the panoramic views along the trail. From the top of the cliffs, you have a birds-eye view of the coastline of Waimanalo and Kailua, along with Koko Crater, Rabbit Island, Diamond Head, and, if you’re lucky and visibility is good, the islands of Lanai and Molokai. 

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A beautiful view of Rabbit Island from a deserted beach near the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

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Looking towards Honolulu is the majestic Koko Head Crater, one of my favorite (and simultaneously hated) Oahu hikes with 1048 oddly-spaced “stairs” (old railroad ties from a track leading straight up the side of the mountain.)

Just a short drive from Honolulu, the trail to the lighthouse is paved and not difficult, although typically very hot and dry with little shade along the path. Along with the amazing views, the trail leading up to the point provides excellent whale-watching opportunities during the winter months… be sure to bring a camera and binoculars! There are also some tide pools at the bottom of the cliffs that you’ll often see visitors hiking down to, but as always, use caution if you decide to do this — the waves, tides, and currents can be unpredictable. Makapuu Lighthouse Oahu-13

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From the top of the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, hikers can enjoy views of the rugged Ko’olau Mountain Range, with the peaks of Olomana in the distance.

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The lighthouse trail (Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline) is located off of Kalanianaole Highway on Oahu’s windward (east) side, just south of Waimanalo.

From Honolulu, take the H-1 East; it will become Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy 72.) Follow the road past Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach Park and Sea Life Park. The pull-off to the parking area for the trail will be on your right — you will see a large parking lot extending down towards the start of the trail and a sign marking the “Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline.”      Makapuu Lighthouse Oahu-7