Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail – The Easiest “Hike” on Oahu

I love hiking – being outdoors, the views, engaging my body physically, the sense of unknown and adventure. But, even though I love hiking, it is a highly conditional love. To start, I do not love carrying heavy things, or really anything. I would blame injuries, but even before acquiring any, I did not love hauling backpacks endlessly. I distinctly remember finishing a multiday mountaineering expedition as a teenager in the Teton Mountain Range of Wyoming, pulling off my backpack, discovering that my shoulders were bleeding and thinking, “I am not sure this sport is actually fun or just painful.”

So, at my core, I am definitely not a real hiker. I am more like a flâneuse with a serious reverence for nature (flâneuse being of course the female form for the delightful French word flâneur, which means roughly, someone who likes to stroll around. The term carries a whole host of associated stereotypes.).

As a result, I have a huge appreciation for beautiful but still accessible hikes. The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse trail easily meets both criteria. The only question is whether it qualifies as an actual hike, or whether it is really just a nice walk.

Hike or walk? Hard to tell, but the view is sure lovely.

Hike or walk? Hard to tell, but the view is sure lovely.

The trail itself is paved, and is even stroller accessible. Toddlers to 80 year olds can do the roughly 2 mile round trip hike/walk. There is a mild incline for most of the path, and the total elevation gain is around 500 ft.   The views from the trail and summit are spectacular – encompassing the historic Makapu’u Lighthouse, the Eastern shoreline, and the beautiful Waimanalo Bay. From November to May, humpback whales can even be spotted in the surrounding waters.

Spot any humpback whales?

Spot any humpback whales?

On a clear day, you can all the way to Molokai’ and Lana’i. The nearby offshore islands are Hawaiian seabird sanctuaries.   Sound nice? It is.

Lighthouse overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Makapu’u Lighthouse overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The Makapu’u Lighthouse trail is an exceptionally beautiful and imminently accessible hike. Hardcore hikers will still find plenty to appreciate in the views, and non-hikers will appreciate the fact that they can wear flip-flops. In other words, there is really no good reason to miss the chance to walk this trail.

View from the top. Makapu’u lighthouse trail.

View from the top. Makapu’u lighthouse trail.

Practical Information:

There is very little shade along the route, so it can be quite hot on the pavement. Bring water and sunscreen. Morning or late afternoon is the ideal time to visit. If you are a particularly early riser, this would be a beautiful place to watch sunrise. There are no facilities (read: bathrooms, concessions, etc…), so come prepared.

The trail is located on the east side of Oahu, along an exceptionally beautiful stretch of the island. The road from Honolulu passes along the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline, and makes a great potential day trip, with potential stops in Hanauma Bay, the Koko Crater, the Halona Blowhole, and Sandy Beach.  After the hike, you can continue onwards to Waimanalo Bay and Kailua, before returning over the mountains and back to Honolulu.



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