On the southeast shore of Oahu just past Hawaii Kai is a place called Makapuu. There’s a nice beach in the area, a scenic overlook, tidepools to swim in, and a very easy hiking trail taking you to one of the iconic lighthouses of Oahu.
If you don’t have a car, the local city bus may be your only option to get to the trailhead. Of course there’s other tour companies that will take you out there, but the price might not be realistic for the budget traveler. So take the bus. Both 22 and 23 goes there. And it will take you just under an hour to get there.
However, it can be a bit tricky since there is no bus stop at the trailhead. Some people have traveled along Kalanianaole Highway, got off at Sealife Park, and then walked back to the trailhead. But that can sometimes be dangerous since you have to cross a busy highway. The other suggestion is to get off right in front of the Hawaii Kai Golf Course and then continue walking in the same direction as the bus for about 15 minutes. You’ll eventually see the trail on your right-hand side.
Even though it is considered a hiking trail, some people would disagree as it’s not much more than a paved walking path. It’s probably the most easiest trail on the island. It’s only about a two mile hike and will probably take you about 30 minutes to get to the top.
You’ll see views of Koko Head Crater and Hanauma Bay about half-way up. You’ll also notice a separate trail off to the right that goes down to a secluded beach called Alan Davis Beach. You’ll see a spectacular rock formation called Pele’s Chair. And as you continue up the trail towards the lighthouse, you’ll notice some viewing stations you can use to try and spot some humpback whales.
At the top of the trail is the well-known Makapuu Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1909 on the southeast most tip of the island. This is the part of the island that ships encounter when bringing in commerce from the mainland U.S. And so there needed to be a lighthouse at this location in order to warn ships of an island just ahead.
The lighthouse was manned in the early years but is now automated. It has the largest Fresnel lens out of all the lighthouses in the United States, at 12 feet high. The light can be seen from as far as 28 miles away.
Besides the lighthouse, there’s some amazing views from the top of Makapuu Point. You’ll be able to see the Windward coastline. Just below is Makapuu Beach. And you’ll also notice two small islands not too far away called Rabbit Island and Black Rock, which are used as breeding grounds for thousands of different birds.
One could spend hours up here just taking in the views. However, there’s no shade anywhere. So it’s probably best to do this hike in the morning hours. Take plenty of water and sunscreen with you. And then maybe stop off at the beach on your way down and take a swim and cool off.