Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail
Photo Credit: Kelvin Lu
Kaiwi sunrise 2012

Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail


Due to anticipated storm-generated wave heights of up to 15 feet (Hawaiian) which equals a 30 foot wave face on the east-facing shores of O‘ahu, the Division of State Parks is temporarily closing the unimproved foot path that leads down to the popular Makapu‘u tide pools at Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline.

DLNR is asking that the public please honor and respect this closure and only take photographs of the waves from the authorized viewing area along the paved trail in order to stay out of harm’s way from the excessively large storm surf.

On August 30 and then the following day on August 31, two males in their mid-20’s, in severe distress, were rescued by the Honolulu City and County Water Safety personnel from the turbulent ocean along the shoreline below these tide pools after being swept out to sea. A few months ago, a father and daughter tragically drowned from being swept out to sea at this location.

Trail Length 2.0 miles (round trip)
Activity Pedestrian
Difficulty Moderate
Terrain Hot, Dry Slopes
Elevation Gain 500 ft
Park Name Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline


The Makapu‘u Point trail, within Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, offers outstanding views of O‘ahu’s southeastern coastline, including Koko Head and Koko Crater. From the trail’s destination at Makapu‘u Head, one is rewarded with magnificent views of the windward coast and offshore islets, as well as the historic red-roofed Makapu‘u Lighthouse built in 1909, which makes a stunning picture against the deep blue sea below (the lighthouse itself is off-limits). On a clear day, you may even see Moloka‘i and Lana‘i. The offshore islets are wildlife sanctuaries for Hawaiian seabirds, such as the ‘iwa, frigate bird, and tropicbird. This trail is an excellent place to view migrating humpback whales in season (November – May). Binoculars are suggested for viewing the whales and seabirds. An interpretive sign and viewing scope along the trail help you view and identify the whales seen from this location.

This portion of the island tends to be hot and dry and the vegetation includes low-growing kiawe and panini (cactus). The trail is exposed and is usually sunny and hot. It can be very windy at the summit. A hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water are recommended. Give yourself about 2 hours to enjoy this hike and it’s wonderful views.


A parking area offers access to the trailhead. Follow the trail as it climbs up the western side of the ridge. Upon reaching the top of the ridge (about the halfway point), the trail switches back to the north, following the eastern side of the ridge. At this point it levels out somewhat, but still climbs gradually to the summit, where a pair of guard-railed lookouts offer panoramic vistas. To return, retrace your route.


The park and trailhead are located off of the Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72) at the southeastern-most 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.

Additional Info

  • Stay on the trail.
  • Pack out at least what you pack in.
  • No open fires.

UPDATE 2/3/16 – Repairs and Improvements to the Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail


UPDATE 2/3/2016. The repaving of the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail was completed in October 2015. Several of the new viewing areas and rest benches along the trail are finished, including the placement of interpretive signs and viewing scopes. Renovation of the uppermost lookout continues and this lookout, plus 2 of the viewing areas, remain closed until the new railings are installed in March. The trail and completed viewing areas will remain open and accessible during this final phase of construction.