Travel to the southeast shore of Oahu just past Hawaii Kai and you come to a place called Makapu’u. The area here is most famous for the lighthouse trail giving you views from Koko Head all the way around to the Windward coastline. But there’s a lot more here than you might know about it. Let’s explore it together.
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
Most notably is the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. This easy paved pathway takes you to the top where the well-known lighthouse projects over the southeast corner of the island. The views are amazing. You’ll see the Windward coastline, Makapu’u Beach just below, as well as Rabbit Island and Black Rock off in the distance. There are many off-shoot trails at the top you can explore giving you better views. The winter season is when humpback whales use the area as breeding grounds before returning to their homes in Alaska. Use the free viewing stations to see if you can spot any.
Makapu’u Tide Pools
After the Lighthouse, head back down the main trail. But not too far or you might miss one of the coolest spots on the island. Not many people know about the tide pools at Makapu’u because they’re kind of hidden and tucked away. But it’s about a third of the way down on the left. You can look off the edge and see a little cove area. You’ll need to scramble down some rocks but there’s a natural-like staircase that will help you along.
The pools are great for swimming as most are quite protected against any big swells. Just be careful if you’re swimming near the edge though. Sea stars, crabs, and other fish hang out in this area. And sometimes even blowholes shooting water straight up in the air.
Alan Davis Beach
If the lighthouse trail and tide pools were not enough for you, head back to the beginning of the trail to find a second one. Did you notice there were actually two trails? Take the dirt trail off to the right and it will lead you down to a place called Alan Davis Beach. It’s a more secluded beach with not many tourists. Once you’re at the beach, go left to the rocky area and you’ll find some great swimming holes for jumping. This might be better with high tides when water levels are deeper. There are even some wooden planks lodged in the side of the rocks to make it even more fun. Just a tip though: This place is really popular with locals and gets very busy on weekends, so try to plan this trip on a weekday if you can.
In the same area as Alan Davis Beach, you’ll see a huge rock formation that almost looks like a chair. This is known as Pele’s Chair. Pele is the Hawaiian Goddess of fire and volcanoes. Legends tell us that Pele traveled throughout all the Hawaiian islands to find a suitable place she could call home. While on Oahu, it’s believed this is the throne where she sat while overlooking the South Shore of the island. Then, in later years, she finally made her home on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The throne still sits there for traveler’s to enjoy as they climb up lava rocks to get a closer look. And a nice little secluded beach sits just below if you need to cool off. Don’t forget about hiking up the main Makapu’u Trail to the lighthouse, watching for whales, and heading down the rocks to enjoy the tide pools. There’s plenty to do around the Makapu’u area. You can almost make a day of it.
Image by: on-walkabout.net