Makapu’u hike, for incredible views of Oahu

By Mark Wiens 1 Comment
View of Sandy's beach
View of Sandy beach

Just about every time I visit my relatives in Honolulu, I take a drive over to the southeastern tip of the island of Oahu to enjoy the Makapu’u hike.

To get there, if you’re driving from Honolulu, you pass some nice views of the ocean and coastline.

Hiking in Oahu
Hiking in Oahu

Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline park is it’s official name, but it’s more often referred to just as Makapu’u hike or the Makapu’u lighthouse hike.

The southeastern tip of Oahu is on the edge of the leeward side of the island, meaning it’s the dry side, compared to the windward side which gets lots more rain.

That means it’s not jungle tropical scenery but more like shrubs and grass.

Starting the walk to the lighthouse
Starting the walk to the lighthouse

The Makapu’u hike is actually not much of a hike at all, but more like an easy uphill walk.

The entire trail is a small single lane paved road, not a real hiking trail. I often like to be a little more off-the-beaten path, but I keep coming back here because the views are wonderful, and it’s a real leisure hike.

This was actually one of the greenest times I’ve ever seen it. Normally the grass is just a bit browner.

A glimpse of Koko Head crater in the distance
A glimpse of Koko Head crater in the distance

Since there is relatively few trees and plants, the benefit is that you are provided with wonderful panoramic views in every direction you look.

On one side you’ll see Koko Head crater (another wonderful hike), and on a clear day you can also see Moloka’i or even the top of the mountains on Maui.

Makapu'u lighthouse hike
Plants along the hike

Even though the distant views are so stunning, also remember to check out some of the small flowers and plants.

Makapu'u hike in Oahu
Makapu’u hike in Oahu

Along with the great views of the Pacific Ocean, another reason to take the Makapu’u hike when you’re in Oahu is for the chance to see humpback whales.

The season normally runs from about December through March, and during these months you have a pretty decent chance at seeing these magnificent creatures breaching the surface of the water.

Last time I went, I didn’t have any luck, but other times I’ve seen a few.

Makapu'u lighthouse
Makapu’u lighthouse

The hike barely takes 30 minutes, and at the very top, you can peer down at the Makapu’u lighthouse.

46 feet high, and with an intensity of 115,000 candlepower white (I don’t really know what this means), the light from this strategic lighthouse could previously be seen from 17 nautical miles away – it’s a powerful lighthouse.

Makapu'u hike
You can almost see the curvature of the earth, can’t you?

Turn your head the other direction from the lighthouse and you’re presented with an amazing panoramic view of the Oahu cliffs that rise above Makapu’u beach.

Makapu'u lighthouse
View from Makapu’u lighthouse

I wasn’t able to spot any whales this time… but the views from the Makapu’u hike are still always breathtaking!

Tuna bomb from Genki Sushi
Tuna bomb from Genki Sushi

Food should always be a part of your plans in Hawaii, and I could not end this post without mentioning that after completing the Makapu’u hike, I headed straight to Genki Sushi.

Their spicy tuna bombs, always hits the spot!