An Oahu landmark, the Makapuu Lighthouse sits on a ridge that rises to 647 ft (197 m) above sea level and forms the eastern tip of the island. The lighthouse is 46-ft (14 m) tall and still active.
Established in 1909, the lighthouse was built after the steamer Manchuria grounded on the Waimanalo reefs. Makapuu Lighthouse was automated in 1974. Protected by locked gates, the lighthouse itself is off limits to the public.
The scenic Makapuu Point, however, can be reached by a foot trail and provides panoramic views of the Pacific including windward (eastern) Oahu including Makapuu Beach, Sea Life Park, the small offshore islands of Kaohikaipu and Manana (Rabbit Island) which are both state bird sanctuaries, and also the islands of Molokai and Lanai in the distance across the Kaiwi Channel. On a clear day the island of Maui can also be seen.
The hike to the point follows a 1.75-mile (2.8 km) paved trail that is fairly steep on some parts as it winds around the southern end of the ridge called Puu o Kipahulu, and then traverses the ridge as it rises to the top of the sea bluff at the point where the lighthouse stands.
Makapuu Lighthouse has been seen in episodes of Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. Constructed in 1909 on Makapuu Point, the lighthouse was automated in 1974. Makapuu means “Bulging eye” and is said to refer to an image that was in a cave here known as Keanaokeakuapololi.
During the winter months this lookout point a great spot to look for humpback whales as they pass by offshore, often breaching up from the water and landing with a splash. Also in view from Makapuu Point are some remote blowholes that even more spectacular than the more nearby Halona Blowhole when a south swell is running.
Wear and hat and bring sunscreen and water as there is no shade along the trail. It is best to do this hike very early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Access: Makapuu Point Lighthouse can be reached from Waikiki by going east on Kalanianaole Hwy. past Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach and parking along the road about 1/2-mile past the Hawaii Kai Golf Course where you will see a gate at the trail entrance. Makapuu is located near the town of Hawaii Kai and also close to Waimanalo Beach.