Makapu‘u Trail

by Justin

The Makapu‘u Lighthouse Hike is a popular hike on the eastern shore of O‘ahu. This trail is roughly 1 mile long, 2 mile round trip. The trail starts at the foot of the Makapuu Head and takes a steady climb up to the top of the Makapuu Head. At the top of the trail you will have a beautiful view of the windward side and the Makapuu Lighthouse trail below.

Makapu‘u Lighthouse

There are a few tips to remember when photographing the Makapuu Lighthouse and the first tip is to photogaph the lighthouse in action. This requires coming to the lighthouse at night. It is recommended to come shortly before sunirse, because during this time, the lighthouse will still be operating and there will be some ambient light to provide the required light to get additional detail of the surroundings of the ligthhouse. Next, look for a different angle than those presented by the paved trail. The paved trail leads you to a view where you are looking down upon the lighthouse. Although this is a unique vantage point, to be looking down upon a lighthouse, it does detract from the feel of the lighthouse. Ligthhouses are supposed to be beacons to ships at seas and it is difficult to display that in a photograph from this type of vantage point. Stray from the paved trail and look for a side angle such that the ligthouse can be shown shining onto the open, deep and dark blue sea.

Windward Views

Once you get about half way up the trail, you will have beautiful views looking east, south and west. When you get to the end of the trail, there will also be a view looking north onto Makapuu Beach and the offshore islets. When composing your photograph of the windward views, be sure to tie your viewer's eye into the photograph with a piece of foreground. Also as you compose the rest of your background shot, ensure that there is significant depth in your photograph, so your viewer can look at your photograph multiple times and notice something new each time.

Best Time to Shoot

The best time to shoot is the hour before sunrise and sunrise.

Local Tips

Please do not leave valuables in your car. If you plan to hike the Makapuu Lighthouse trail before sunrise, you will need to park on the main road at the gate, then make the walk up the trail.

How do I get there?

Parking Address: Nu'uanu Makapuu Trail Dr, Honolulu, HI 96817

From the airport:

  • Head west on the H1 for 10.4 miles
  • Follow the H1 Freeway until it ends and turns into the HI-72.
  • Continue on the HI-72, Kalanianaole Highway for 9.9 miles.
  • Once you pass the Halona Blowhole and Sandy Beach you will shortly come across the entrance to the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
  • Park in the parking lot. Parking = Free!