When the Makapuu Lighthouse was built in 1909 for ships traveling between Molokai and Oahu, it was meant to serve as a luminary deterrent to keep ships away from the rocks. Today, however, the historic lighthouse with its bright red roof draws visitors to the rocks in droves, and the trail to the lighthouse has become one of the most popular hikes for visitors and families on Oahu.
Two miles long and entirely paved, the trail climbs at a moderate pace until the dramatic lighthouse terminus. During the winter months, humpback whales can often be spotted splashing in the waters offshore, and large surf can break along the shoreline during the long, hot days of summer. As part of the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline, the trail offers views of offshore islets such as Manana (Rabbit Island) and Kaohikaipu, which are protected from development as sea bird sanctuaries and provide a rustic nature to the coastline.
When traveling from Honolulu, the trailhead for Makapuu Lighthouse is 15 minutes past Hanauma Bay on Kalanianaole Hwy (Hwy. 72). There are no official hours for the trail, nor is there an entry fee, although early morning and late afternoon are the best for escaping the heat. To cool off after the hike, Sandy Beach and Makapuu Beach Park are only a few minutes away.