The Best Guide for Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

The Best Guide for Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail




Interest and Appeal






The Good

  • Wide, paved paths
  • Many things to do here off the normal path
  • Kid-friendly, bike-friendly, dog-friendly, slipper-friendly!

The Bad

  • Boring
  • Limited parking, but lots of people


Hiking Information

Also Known As:

Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline

Distance: 2 miles (3219 meters)

Elevation Gain: 500 feet (152 meters)

Region: Windward

Route Type: In-And-Out

Terrain: Paved Path

Hours: 7:00 am - 6:45 pm

Completion Time: 45 minutes - 3 hours (depending on what you do)

Difficulty: 1 / 5

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a great hike for families, dog owners, casual hikers, large groups, bikers, or just people wanting to jog an incline. The path is incredibly friendly. As a hike however, in my opinion, it is fairly boring, with little challenge. There are plenty of side adventures though, including a beach you can walk to, hiking beyond the path to the pillboxes, being up close to the lighthouse, and hiking down to the tidepools.


The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is located on the south eastern point of Oahu, on Kalanianaole Highway, past Hawaii Kai. If you are in Honolulu, simply take H1 East and go straight all the way. After you pass Hawaii Kai, you’ll find the road converges into one lane with a great view of the ocean! If you in Kailua or coming from the North Shore, you can head towards Waimanalo and jump onto Kalanianaole Highway going the other way and reach the same point.

IMPORTANT! The sign you’ll want to look for is “Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline.” If you hit “Makapuu Lookout” on the right, you’ve gone too far. 

Amazing overhead view to show the difference between Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline and Makapuu Lookout. Thanks Google Maps!


The whole area has a parking lot and shoulder parking. On busy days, if there is not enough parking, you might have to wait, consider parking up at the Makapuu Lookout parking lot, or consider parking on the grass by the sign (though I’m not sure if this is legal, I’ve seen cars parked here before). I came on a Sunday afternoon, so that’s why there are so many cars parked today.

The Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline parking lot

It’s More Than Just a Hike!

I like this area because it has an array of activities, in case you don’t want to just hike a paved path.

  • From the entrance, you can go right to walk to a beach and rock figure called “Pele’s Chair” (Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and eruptions were thought to be caused by her fury).
  • After the first turn, you can walk downhill to the tide pools, where you can see fish, other sea creatures, and get splashed by waves possibly
  • There are also random peaks that people go up
  • There are spots to use binoculars to spot whales (I didn’t see anything when I used them)
  • At the fork, you can go right and go near the lighthouse (there’s a fence there)

The Hike

This hike going up and down is a definitely 1/5 difficulty. It’s paved, not too steep, and it’s so easy that you’ll see people wearing slippers, little kids doing this, parents with strollers, little dogs, and even people biking up. It is not much fun for me, but I went anyway because I wanted to share my knowledge with you wonderful people!

Your journey begins!

If you stay on the paved path, you will eventually end up at this platform where you can see the entire shoreline and the lighthouse below you, in the distance. Or you can adventure around! The main draw of this area is that there are multiple things to do and you can easily spend half a day here.

The hike has many of these educational signs for people. These binoculars were not very good.

Detour 1: The tide pools

You can go off the main path and visit the tide pools! They are basically porous rocks that have tons of sea life washed up and living in there. You will find small fish, crabs, possibly shrimp. Be careful around rocks with algae because they are very slippery.

It’s down there, I promise. Watch your step though :).

Detour 2: Go to the lighthouse

As you go further down, you might see a red roof landmark (see picture). If you want to go right next to the lighthouse, take the lower road, which isn’t marked.

Once you get on this lower path, you can follow along the fence and eventually get to the lighthouse, which is behind a rusty fence, and a nice little area you can take photos at. Be careful though! There is no gate, fence at this dropoff!

Detour 3: Random Peaks

There are a couple of peaks you can climb to get a better view. They are not marked, but I think I see pillboxes on them and I always see people going up to them.

Back to the main peak!

The peak is a nice area where you can get amazing views of the entire shoreline.

And hey, it looks like our dog made a friend!

My friend’s dog greets his new friend.

Eating Afterwards

There are no vendors or staff members at the hike. However, if you keep going towards town (heading west), you will eventually head into Koko Marina Center, where you can find a lot of things to eat including

  • Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
  • Zippy’s (local style food)
  • Korean BBQ
  • Sushi
  • Subway
  • A Chinese diner
  • Starbucks
  • a truck selling Malasadas (Portuguese donuts)

One thought on “The Best Guide for Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

  1. Many tourists have died down by the tide pools. We local people know not to go hang around that area.

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