mother and son together on fulfilling family hike in oahu hawaii

Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail | Sunrise Hike with Family


What to Know

2 mile paved trail

Easy to Moderate for all ages

No Shade

No Bathrooms

Small Parking Lot and Road Parking

Can’t Actually Reach the Lighthouse

Morning is Best

We have done this trail twice now and both times we went for sunrise. I might go for a sunset also because I do love the hike but can’t imagine going any other time. I have heard other moms say this trail was harder than advanced climbing trails simply because it is Hot and there is absolutely zero shade… Anywhere. I can’t say I had a problem with this as in the morning it is breezy and beautiful. In fact, it will be Cold until you start the climb and start warming up.


When you get there you will find plenty of parking on the road. There is also a small parking lot that opens at 7am but it fills up fast and seems more hassle than just walking the extra 100ft. Once you get past the parking lot the incline starts. And does not stop.

The first time we did this hike I was not in good shape. At all. I was out of breathe and my legs were burning the first 2 minutes. It is a good thing this trail starts off with pretty views the second you get out of your car. The nice breeze also helps.


Once you get to The first look out point you are greeted with near 360° views of beauty. Starting here there are tons of little paths you can take off of the main trail. Some of them will just be tiny little lookouts and others can lead all the way down to the tide pools.

I would love to do the trail without the kids one day to explore the tide pools, as this part of the trail is not well marked and treacherous. The tide pools can be extremely dangerous and even though my husband and I are quite ridiculous and flock to these scenarios.. we try our best to wait until we don’t have the kiddos with us.


Even with the babes it is a fun and engaging hike. The trail Is known for whale watching and there a few lookouts with telescopes for just this. We didn’t get to see any on either of our trips But they say winter is the best time.

When you get towards the top there is an old Road that leads you to the decrepit pathway for the lighthouse. Unfortunately this is gated off Due to falling rocks and other hazards so you can’t get to the Light House anymore. There is still a beautiful look out to go enjoy here though.


If you’re like me the first time I did this hike this here will be your sweet spot. The Top.

This makes it all worth it. The feeling of accomplishment mixed with Awe that creates a wonderful fulfilling experience and leaves you nothing but content. Even If only for A moment.


Helpful Tips and Things to Know

  1. Morning is the best time. I would suggest being there at least 30 min before sunrise.
  2. It is Cold in the morning. We brought blankets snacks and water for the babes and they sat cozy and content in their strollers nearly the entire hike.
  3. The hike takes us close to 2 hours each time because we are explorers and there is a lot to see in the little distance you seem to cover. You can do this in less than an hour easily if you want a beautiful morning exercise.
  4. There are a few other hikes off the paved trail. 2 on the bottom that go to a beach and tide pools and a faster hike that stays off the paved road and goes straight up the top of the mountain.

What to do in the area

This side of the island is one of my favorites and offers lots to see and do. There are a number of lookouts from the road to stop by and plenty of fun activities to fill the rest of your day.


  • Makapu’u Point Lookout

This is at the entrance to the trail right next to the entrance of the trail. Surprisingly I have done the trail twice and drove by numerous times and have yet to see for myself. Apparently there is a parking lot and a paved walkway that leads to an area that overlooks Makapu’u Beach Park, the sea cliffs, as well as Rabbit island (also known as Manana Island) and Kaohikaipu Island.

Another great lookout with beautiful cliffside and views of the 3 islands lanai, molokai, and Maui


My favorite lookout of the main ones in the area. It has a large easy parking lot and great views of sandy beach. It also has its own little pocket beach nestled into the cliffs. You can climb down the side of the cliff to access this popular spot made famous by the movie From Here To Eternity. Hence the nickname Eternity Beach.

Activities and Beaches

  • Sea Life Park

We walked through it one evening to get to the Chiefs Luau when it was here and it looked so cool we bought annual passes with their Black Friday sale. On their website they boast that “Sea Life Park is Hawaii’s best wild life and wild animal park, offering fun and educational family experiences for the entire family. With a focus on education and conservation, our shows, exhibits and interactive programs offer thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime up-close encounters, like swimming with dolphins, petting sharks, and more!

We came here after one of our sunrise Makapu’u hikes and it was a Long fulfilling day. We had been before and I imagine we will be back at least one more time before we leave the island. The bay is world known for snorkeling and has its own lookouts and hike. After watching a short educational movie that explains how to care for the reef you can walk or ride the tram down the short hill to pristine waters protected by gorgeous cliffs. Often crowded the parking lot fills up fast on the weekends so come early! Read Our Experience Here

In Hawaii Kai about 10 minutes from the lighthouse in Koko Marina is Hawaii Water sports Center, which offers a plethora of water activities. The center has it all from parasailing, jet skiing, scuba diving, wakeboarding, and water skiing to banana boat and bumper tube rides.

Good Eats

Holy Moly I love this place! Pronounced Bio Bowls this place is the ultimate modern eatery for the health conscious people of Hawaii. The food is locally sourced and presented in such a beautiful way its almost a shame to eat. The portions are HUGE so its a perfect place to share an Acai bowl or Poke Bowl. The spicy poke bowl from here is The Spiciest Poke on the island. Insane spice and Sooo Good!

This is a chill spot for the typical bar food that is actually delicious and lots of Kona Beer on tap. The wait can be long but even the managers will be running the floor with a smile on their face to get you your drinks and food on time. Right on the water with lots of activities near by this is a great lunch spot.

I hope you are able to enjoy the hike for yourself and maybe find another fun spot to see and most of all Have an Amazing Day!


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