January 12, 2018

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail :: Best views for whale watching :: oahu hawaii. oahu hikes.

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: Oahu hikes, Hawaii


So if you’re looking for a day away from Waikiki Beach, have a look to the southeastern side of Oahu!

A visit to this side of the island will likely end up being a memorable part of your visit to Hawaii.

You have a number of hiking trails on Oahu to choose from around the island, and you just may want to consider the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail.

This isn’t a dirt hiking trail, but rather a paved path. It comes with stunning views!

There is no entry fee, so it’s one of the free things to do on Oahu!

Best short hikes with scenic views on Oahu

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near makapuu lighthouse trail >> things to do on east side of oahu

Now, here are a few things about the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail.

This trail is a part of the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline

The Kaiwi Shoreline Trail is designated as a state scenic shoreline by the State of Hawaii.

Basically, there are two paths that you can take when you’re at the trailhead of the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail. One path will take you on the main paved trail in the direction that almost everyone goes. The other path will take you to see another part of the scenic shoreline.

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: Kaiwi scenic shoreline trail, Oahu, Hawaii

In this picture above, the narrow path that veers off to the left is the less walked path.

Side note!
If you'll be snorkeling on your next vacation, consider wearing these types of UV swim shirts. Also see about what to pack for Hawaii for hiking, snorkeling, and more essentials! And for Hawaii vacation ideas, see the best things to do in Oahu that will give you Hawaii vibes!

There are plenty of spots along the trail that you can set up for some ocean photography shots

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: Ocean photography and whale watching on Oahu, Hawaii

There is no shortage of scenic views!

The lighthouse for which the trail is named is off limits

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: Makapuu Lighthouse, Oahu, Hawaii

But you can view the Makapuu Lighthouse from above when on the trail!

This trail can be a good spot for free whale watching

If you’re in Hawaii during the winter months when it’s whale season in Oahu, there’s another incentive for you to go on this trail! The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is known as having a good potential for whale sightings. There are binoculars along the trail so you can test your luck!

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: Binoculars for whale watching on Oahu, Hawaii

Or, you can pack along your own binoculars! These binoculars can work out well for whale watching.

There is free parking at the start of the trail

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail parking, Oahu, Hawaii

You might have to walk a little extra if it’s a busy time! But no problem, because you are there to hike anyway! 😉

Taking the bus to the trail means that you’ll have to walk on a stretch of road with a narrow shoulder

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail by bus from Waikiki and Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

The nearest bus stop to the start of the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is about a 15 minute walk. There really isn’t a notable sidewalk, which means that you’ll be walking on the side of the road with cars zooming past you. So be careful! But it is a scenic walk!

more: makapuu lighthouse trail by bus

Makapuu Beach is a 5 minute drive from the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail parking lot

Makapuu Beach is known to be good for boogie boarding. When you’re in the beach area, you can also get a different perspective of the Makapuu Lighthouse!

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: Makapuu Lighthouse from Makapuu Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

See the white dot in between the palm trees?! That’s the Makapuu Lighthouse!

Also nearby for more things to do in the area:

more: things to do in east oahu

It’s about a mile hike to reach the trail summit

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: Oahu hikes, Hawaii

It’s an out and back trail, so around 2 miles round trip. On the out, it’s pretty much uphill the whole way. And you’re rewarded with views!

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail summit, Oahu, Hawaii


It can get hot in Hawaii so you want to make sure that you stay well-hydrated, especially since you’ll be hiking up a hill!

For any hike in Hawaii, even if you’re going to be on the trail for less than an hour, it’s always a very good idea to take water to make sure you stay SAFE! And for the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, you will likely be on the trail for more than an hour, so this means that you should really consider bringing along water!

And here are some small backpacks to take a look at to pack along water and those extra snacks. Because snacks are also a very good idea when you’re hitting the trails in Hawaii.


what to wear in hawaii >> what to wear hikingwhat to wear snorkeling

more things to do on oahu | map >> more things to do on east side of oahu

best short hikes on oahu

There are affiliate links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, I may receive a commission.

Best shoes for your active vacation

Hit search at the top for any of these items to get more variety on Amazon through these affiliate links!
- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see more about the best shoes for hiking in Hawaii.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.

Swimwear for snorkeling and beach

- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!

see more:
- What to wear hiking
- Snorkeling essentials for Hawaii
- What to wear on a cruise formal night

more Hawaii travel tips:
-- Oahu travel planning map
-- 3 day Oahu itinerary
-- 2 week Oahu itinerary
-- Best short hikes on Oahu with amazing views
-- Big Island travel planning map
-- 7 day Big Island itinerary
-- Best beach hikes on the Big Island with amazing views