Field Trip: Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, Oahu, Hawaii

The Makapu'u Point trail is one of the easier hikes I enjoy doing when in Hawaii.  Located on the southeastern side of the island, conveniently located near Sandy Beach and nearby Hawaii Kai.  From the road you can see the trail zig zagging up the hill and the lighthouse is also visible.

The trail is totally paved and there is a pretty decent incline as you make your way up the hillside.  It's a beautiful hike up so remember to take a moment and take in all the beautiful views.  Every time i've done this hike I always stop at the same points to take in the views of the beautiful, Hawaiian coast line and all that my eyes can see.  
The view from the start of the trail, looking south
There are several viewpoints further up along the hike that are pure ocean views, and on a clear day you are able to see a couple of the other Hawaiian islands.  It is quite amazing!  These viewpoints are also the best spots to see some whales.  On my recent trip back we were lucky enough to see several baby whales frolicking in the ocean and more exciting was seeing the water geysers shoot up and out of the water from the whales blow holes.  I didn't realize how exciting a whale sighting was until I did the hike with my 4-year old daughter!!
Whale watching while the little one tries to hide out in some shade
As I said the path is paved, so there is no need to worry about uneven ground, climbing or sliding on gravel/rock nor do you ever need to climb through brush.  The immediate surrounding is not as lush as the views but it rather dry, rocky and in some points even reminds me of desert terrain with many mature cactus.  The contrasting textures between the immediate surrounding and the view is great, personally I love it!  

The top of the trail is worth the hike, the views are indescribable, looking north its ocean, mountains and islands for days while looking east is the beautiful blue sea.  When you reach the top of the trail you are actually above the light house and you'll only need to look down from the viewpoint area to see the structure.  This is a great area to rest, have a seat on the many rocks and just take in your surroundings.  It's very zen to be up there and just think.  I know that sounds corny but after the hike up its the perfect point to center yourself.

Here are more of the details and logistics for Makapu'u Lighthouse trail:
The hike up is at a incline, but having the path paved is a real bonus.  Make sure to apply some sunscreen ahead of time because there is no shade so bring a hat, a water bottle and get there early.  I prefer to do this hike at around sunrise, if you can get there even before sunrise and plan to reach the top before the sun peaks over the horizon you will be in for the treat of a lifetime.  Sunrise from the top of this trail is nothing short of amazing!  I would strongly discourage you from hiking this trail at peak sun/heat hours.  It is killer!!!! The roundtrip is 2 miles and may take about 2 hours to complete, assuming you're walking and taking in views.  Of course, if you're just power walking up, taking in the view and then power walking down it will be a lot quicker.

There is a small parking lot that fills up quickly but the parking lot does not open until 7am (if I remember correctly).  If you get there early you can park along side of the road.  Just note its a two lane road so make sure you park in the shoulder and be very careful crossing as some cars drive rather fast on this stretch of highway.  I don't believe there are set hours for the hike, I want to say 6am - sundown.  So if you get there, and park on the road, and notice the gate to the lot is locked, just know you can climb over the gate and go on your hike, the gates are for the the parking lot only!

The park and trailhead are located off of the Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72) at the southeasternmost point of Oahu. From Honolulu, take the H1 freeway east until it becomes Highway 72. Follow the road beyond Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park until you reach the park area adjacent to the highway. From the windward side, take the Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72) southeast beyond Kailua, Waimanalo, and Makapu‘u Beach Park, after which the road climbs up toward Makapu‘u Head. The park will be on the left side of the highway.

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