Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail: The Unconventional Approach

Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

One of my favorite hikes on O’ahu is the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. What makes it a contender for the top of my list is not for obvious reasons. Let me preface what I am about to tell you by saying that the ocean can be very dangerous. You must never turn your back to the ocean, and you should always check the tide levels and seasonal temperament of the south shore before you attempt this adventure.

entrance to the makapuu lighthouse trail

Take Water and a Hat

This hike is fairly easy and can be enjoyed by the whole family. It is ranked as a moderate hike due to how hot and dry it is. I recommend earlier in the morning or later in the day for this hike so that the burden of the sun is less. Make sure you take water and I also prefer to wear a wide-brimmed hat. You have the option to stick to the paved path for the entirety of the loop if you choose, but there are also many places to break away and explore. If you simply follow the paved path, you are up for around a 2-mile hike.

Take It to the Next Level

If you want to take the hike from moderate to difficult, I recommend finding the path that will take you over the side of the mountain and down to the tidepools below. You can locate the best place to traverse down next to one of the whale lookout nooks. There is lots of loose gravel and it is very steep so make sure to take your time and ensure your footing is secure.

waves crash on black rocks on oahu

Tidepool Swimming

When you get to the bottom of the cliff you will see there is a blow hole and 3 to 4 tidepools that are big enough to swim in. Before you get in the water take some time to sit and observe the water. Waves come in sets and every once and a while a huge wave can come crashing in. If you are not careful and if you are in a pool closer to the break of the waves you can get tossed around. It’s also the case that in the past people have been pulled out to sea. Use caution but chase adventure and enjoy life.

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