When I hear “light house” I think of a towering spire, withstanding the wrath of monolithic waves and protecting lost ships from the jagged shore. The Makapu’u Lighthouse is a cute, little thing. It has a bright red top and is seated half-way up a jagged ocean cliff. The Makapu’u Lighthouse hike trail goes all the way to the top of the cliff, above the lighthouse so that hikers actually look out over the ocean and down at the top of the lighthouse. (Great opportunity for a little trick-photography.)

For anyone who wants an enjoyable, easy hike, the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail is perfect. On the southeastern point of Oahu, the 2 mile path up Makapu’u Point is about 5 feet wide and paved. Although the hike is definitely uphill to the lighthouse and down hill back, it is a very comfortable incline and this is a great walk to take the whole family on.

Starting about half-way up there are fantastic 180-degree views of the ocean and offer a perfect photo opportunity of Cocohead Crater. Also about half-way up, by the Humpback Whale Migratory Patterns sign, there is a trail down (over 200 feet) to beautiful sapphire tide pools that are large enough to fit groups of 20! This trail is very steep/probably dangerous and only for those who are very determined to get to the pools. The 3 pools get a sprinkle every time a larger wave crashes on the surrounding rocks but seem fairly safe- though exciting. I’ll admit that I have not gone down to these enticing pools. If I were still dating, I think I’d make this a required (wild) 2nd date, but with my old age, marriage and motherhood I enjoy just looking down at the ant-sized, possibly naked bodies, gliding across the aqua pools and climbing on the cool, wave-splashed lava rock. Those grinning teenagers you saw scurry down the trail in bikinis were there for the pools, not the view of the lighthouse.

Back on the trail though, once at the top of the lookout, there is a completely un-hindered view of the ocean, the east coast of Oahu, Cocohead Crater and on a clear day, the island of Molokai. This is a great place to watch the Humpback whales spouting as they migrate through the Kaiwi Channel (between Oahu and Molokai which is 25 miles away) from December to April every year.

I took my mom on this hike for her birthday and she really enjoyed it. She likes to hike, but doesn’t enjoy intense, un-paved, jungle-hiking (which is the kind that is most prevalent here in Hawaii!). The incline is steep at times, but we had no problem talking and laughing all the way up and all the way down. Next weekend my friend and I are bringing our 2 year old daughters for their first hikes. We see moms with jogging strollers huffing and puffing their way up this hill every time we go! It can be difficult to find a good “family” hike that isn’t too difficult for kids and/or those with older joints but is still interesting. The views from the top of Makapu’u Point are a refreshing reward to anyone on this hike.

It is pretty hot on this side of the island and there is no shade on this hike, so hats and sunscreen are highly recommended. (I usually just go after 1pm to avoid the strongest rays of the day.) A gold star goes to this hike from me because there are no mosquitoes thanks to the lack of shade and very little underbrush! Keep an eye out for the pretty little wild flowers growing along the path and all the wild basil. Also be aware that there are porta-potties at the base of the trail by the parking lot, but no bathrooms toward the top of the lookout.

Coastal views, spouting whales, coastal cliffs, turquoise water, a secret swimming spot, no mosquitoes; this hike has everything you’d want in a Hawaiian hike- in a family-friendly variety.

To get to Makapu’u Point, take H1E. It becomes Kalanianaole Hwy/Hwy 72 past Diamond Head. Turn right from Kalanianaole Hwy into the Makapu’u Point parking lot about ½ mile past the Hawaii Kai Golf Course.