The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, located near Hanauma Bay, offers visitors an unforgettable hiking experience and breathtaking views. The trail has become a favorite among both tourists and locals. In this article, we’ll explore the history, sights, and wildlife you’ll encounter on your journey along this scenic trail.
History of the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
Established in 1909, the Makapu’u Lighthouse has been a beacon of safety for ships navigating the treacherous waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands for over a century. The 46-foot-tall lighthouse, now automated, is a vital part of the United States Coast Guard’s navigation system. The trail that leads to the lighthouse was initially built for lighthouse keepers and maintenance workers. But it has since been transformed into a recreational path for visitors to enjoy.
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a 2-mile round-trip hike. It takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes Oahu has to offer. The well-maintained, paved path gently ascends to an elevation of 500 feet. This makes it accessible for hikers of all skill levels. Despite the relatively short distance, there is a limited shade. So, do not forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, especially during the hotter months.
Sights Along the Trail
As you hike up the trail, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Hanauma Bay’s turquoise waters and Koko Head Crater’s lush greenery. Additionally, you’ll admire the rugged cliffs along the Ka Iwi coastline. On a clear day, you can see as far as the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. The trail also offers multiple lookout points for whale watching, especially during the humpback whale migration season from December to April.
One of the highlights of the trail is the historic Makapu’u Lighthouse itself. Perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean, the lighthouse is not accessible to the public but can be viewed from a distance. The bright red roof and white structure create a striking contrast against the blue ocean and the black lava rock cliffs.
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is home to a diverse array of wildlife. Along the way, you might encounter seabirds like the red-tailed tropicbird, wedge-tailed shearwater, and the great frigatebird. The cliffs and tide pools below the trail are also home to various marine life, including monk seals and green sea turtles. Remember to respect the wildlife and keep a safe distance to preserve their natural habitat.
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a must-visit destination for nature lovers, history buffs, and outdoor enthusiasts. Its unparalleled views, rich history, and diverse wildlife make it a memorable experience for hikers of all ages and abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time visitor to Oahu, the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail should be on your list of must-see attractions.