Makapuu Lighthouse trail

by Mariam Beard • Last Updated: March 4, 2021

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In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know to hike MAKAPU’U LIGHTHOUSE TRAIL: What IS Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, Know Before You Go, What to Expect, Getting There, Facilities, and What to Bring.

Quick Details | Makapuu Lighthouse

  • Island: OAHU
  • Hike: Makapuu Lighthouse Hike

Important Info

  • Hours of Operation: Opens 7:00am, Closes 6:45pm
  • Cost: FREE
  • Hike Distance: 2 miles (3.2km) roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 500 feet
  • Time: Allow 1-1.5 hours to do hike

How to Get There

Getting There

  • Drive (easiest, recommended!) ⇨ It’s about 14 miles (22.5km) from Waikiki which is about a 30-minute drive. There is a parking lot at the hike. Parking is free.

Other Options if you do not have a rental car:

  • Uber/Lyft/Taxi: This will run you about $35-45 with Uber/Lyft. 
  • Moped: While you can drive a moped to this hike, keep in mind that most moped rentals have governors. These mopeds can usually go 35mph but drop to 25mph at full-throttle when you are driving the inclines. If you opt to still moped here, make sure you are cognizant of cars around you and pull over as necessary to let cars (and faster traffic) pass you. However, I still recommend a rental car over a moped.
  • City Bus (“The Bus”): Total travel time is 1.5 hour one-way.The easiest and DIRECT bus route is #23 “HAWAII KAI-SEA LIFE PARK” which you can catch on “Kuhio Ave + Seaside Ave” (among other places on Kuhio Ave). It’s about 1 hour 10 min by bus with 60+ stops. You’ll disembark at SEA LIFE PARK. From there, you’ll walk 1.0 mile (1.6km) to the MAKAPU’U POINT LIGHTHOUSE TRAIL trailhead – about 20 minutes.  1-Day bus pass is $5.50 (cash only, exact change) and is purchased on the bus itself.  Click HERE for more bus information.​

What to Expect

  • Well-marked trail (entire path is fully PAVED) with clear trailhead start.
  • Well-trafficked trail (a hike that you can easily go solo as there are plenty of people around)
  • The entire hike is at an incline.  Wear athletic shoes (tennis shoes, runners, gym shoes, etc.). You will not need hiking shoes or hiking spikes. 
  • Wear sunscreen. The hike is not shaded.

What IS Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail?

Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a fully paved trail overlooking a lighthouse.  This trail does NOT hike down to the lighthouse itself.  Instead, you’ll hike to the top of the trail and look down at the lighthouse (see photo below). 

Makapu’u Lighthouse has beautiful 360° views. During whale season (Dec-Feb), you might see some whales! It’s located 14 miles (22km) from the center of Waikiki on the East side of the island.   The drive to the hike has beautiful ocean views the entire way there with a few scenic points to stop at for photos.

Keep in mind though that although the hike is fully PAVED (like a sidewalk), it is at complete incline the ENTIRE way up.  Know your own fitness level and take your time.  When I went on this hike, I saw people walking their dogs, families with children, and some jogging up the hike as well. 

The Review


  • Public Restrooms?: NO. There are no restrooms at the trailhead.
  • Gift Shop?: NO.
  • Food? NO.  Bring your own snacks.
  • Water refill area?: NO. Bring your own water with you. While the hike is short, it can be vastly different depending on what time of day you go. Hiking in the morning (8am) is the best option. I would avoid the afternoon as it’s the hottest time of the day and there is NO SHADE on the hike.

Must Bring:  (Click HERE for my full hiking Hawaii packing list)

  1. Water. I’d bring 32oz/1L! But bring At LEAST 16oz/500ML at the bare minimum. 
  2. Hat Clip. It is very WINDY so make sure your hat is securely on – or bring a hat clip.

What to Pack

  1. Water. I’d bring 32oz/1L! But bring At LEAST 16oz/500ML at the bare minimum. 
  2. Small backpack. Since the terrain can be uneven, keep your hands free with a small backpack. Leave the sidebags, totes, purses, etc. in the car.​


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Aloha! I'm Mariam.

I'm an Oahu resident sharing my adventures here in Hawaii to help take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Hawaii.

I've worked full-time as a concierge for a decade and have planned thousands of itineraries for travelers like you!


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