Hiking Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

A new friend of ours clued us into this hike, saying the views would be lovely and the tide pools off the trail were fantastic and worth exploring. It didn’t hurt to learn that the trail was paved the whole way and rated as an easy hike. Hey, we don’t have to kill ourselves every time!

The trail is 3.3 miles out and back, and reaches an elevation gain of about 630 feet. It’s a moderate incline all the way up, and there isn’t much shade, so water, sunscreen and hats are a must.

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The tide pools are well off the trail, at the base of the ridge. If you squint, you can see them in the photo below — they’re in the little outcropping near the center of the frame. We had worn our bathing suits in anticipation of taking a dip, but had second thoughts once we got there and saw it was going to be a pretty steep hike down and back, and on pretty rocky terrain. I had sustained a freak beach injury on the sole of my foot the week before that was still causing me issues, and while the flat paved trail was okay, I didn’t want to risk injuring myself even further ‘off-roading’. So, we left the tide pools for another day.

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The lookouts were remarkable, and the day was perfect in terms of visibility.

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The history of the lighthouse is pretty interesting, with its existence ultimately based in disaster. Makapu’u overlooks the Kiawi Channel — a shipping channel between Moloka’i and Oahu. Shipping companies began asking the government as early as 1888 to build a lighthouse to aid ships travelling the channel at night, but it wasn’t until the cargo ship Manchuria carrying 257 passengers ran aground off Waimanolo in 1906 that they agreed.

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Below is a view looking north toward Waimanolo.

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The structure of the lighthouse was completed in 1908 and measures 46 feet in height. It sat empty for a bit while it waited for the lens and lamp to be installed. The lens itself is nine feet wide by 12 feet high. The incandescent oil-vapor lamp was finally lit on October 1, 1909, its glow reaching 25 miles out to sea.

Access to the lighthouse is prohibited, but we were able to admire it from the lookout above.

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Heading back down, we were able to take in views of the ridge itself, which was quite lovely and dotted with several pillboxes (one of which you might be able to see in the next photo, if you squint even harder than before — just below and to the right of the peak).

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It took us about an hour and a half to do the entire trail out and back, with about thirty minutes of that spent stopped at the various lookouts to check out the views. This hike is great for all levels, and we’d gladly go back with any visitors who don’t feel the need to push themselves to a near coronary, like we’ve done on some of the other hikes ’round these parts.

If anyone has been to Oahu and gone on any good hikes we haven’t covered here (btw, we have just done Diamond Head, so stay tuned for that post), please let us know in the comments!

E malama pono (take good care),

Jess

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