Makapuu Lighthouse Trail Hike – Revisited

Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike - Revisited
Imi Loa group shot [Photo Credit: `Imi Loa]
Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike |  Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike – Revisited 

Since we stay on one roll with the “revisited” kine action (see Tokkuri Tei – Revisited), let’s pay a return visit to a place we’ve been to once before. Back in August of ’06, your boy covered the popular hiking spot in Hawaii Kai called : the Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike. As a former resident of the area (or “God’s country” as we like to call it πŸ˜› ), I used to frequent the trail quite a bit and thought I knew it pretty well. Au contraire, mon frΓ¨re.

There is a whole ‘nother side to this puppy, as we’re about to find out.

So the “normal” trail is pretty duck soup. It’s a semi-curvy, paved path on a slight incline most of the way. It ain’t no Koko Head, das fo sho!

Paved path up Makapuu Trail
Paved path up Makapuu Trail

And then you have the side that gets all nuts, or “off-the-beaten path” as they say. A little more challenging on the ol’ quads, but a lot more rewarding if lighthouses ain’t your bag. On this side, you’ll be able to hike down to the tide pools, see a blowhole or two, and take a dip in the ocean near Pele’s Chair.

Side Note: Recently, there has been sad news of a father and daughter losing their lives on this side of the trail. Though, it’s still unclear how they died (at the time of this writing), most experts believe it was not from a fall from the trail. Regardless, please be aware of your surroundings and be very, VERY careful any time you trek any of Hawaii’s beautiful trails. Hike at your own risk. R.I.P. Charles and Stephanie Casados. πŸ™

OK, so I gotta admit. I did indeed know about the tide pools, but wasn’t quite sure how to get to them (and didn’t bother to research it). It wasn’t until a recent field trip with the hiking group `Imi Loa, that I was able to experience this other side of Makapu`u trail that had eluded me.

`Imi Loa Hiking Group logo
`Imi Loa Hiking Group logo

`Imi Loa is an informal circle of friends brought together by leader Howard Chi. Here’s his story of how it all began:

“It started as a small group of friends and we would just send out group emails to see what’s up and when or who could make what date… then as more and more people wanted to come the emailing became a mass back and forth mess of blah… so I took it upon myself to make a page and name us as ‘Imi loa… now the dates are preset and there are event evites with the 411… I think originally it started off with about 30 of us and now it has ballooned to 187 currently… but really it was just another reason for us to get together and hang out.”

According to the group’s Facebook profile, they are a “network of like minded individuals who share a common interest in exploring our island backyard.” Each month, they meet up to conquer a new hiking trail around the island and are now up to 190 peeps strong at the time of this writing. If you’d like to be a part of this exciting group, drop `Imi Loa a line via Facebook!

Anyway, where were we? Ahhh yes. The tide pools. To the tide pools! To get there, take the “normal” path up the Makapu`u trail until you get to the whale lookout point.

Whale lookout point
Whale lookout point

Whale lookout point
Whale lookout point

Whale lookout point
Whale lookout point

Whale lookout point
Whale lookout point

After gathering yourself, head out to the edge on the right and choose a path.

Todd showing us the way
Todd showing us the way

The path on the right was more direct, but steeper in nature. The path that veered to the left was roundabout but gradual, and seemed to be the easier one to take. Our group split in two on the way down and the group that went left got to the bottom quicker (probably due to the relatively flatter terrain). Either way, it goes without saying that it’s a good idea to take your time and watch your step as there is loose gravel along the way.

Looking back
Looking back

Looking down
Looking down

Looking to the side. Artsy yeah? :P
Looking to the side. Artsy yeah? πŸ˜›

Almost there!
Almost there!

Now compare that to the folks on the right side path!

Steep path
Steep path

Yikes! And here’s a look back on their trail. Nuts yeah?

Looking back
Looking back

We finally get to bottom, where a mini blowhole greets us.

Makapu`u Blowhole
Makapu`u Blowhole

Let’s wrap around to the other side to time some scenic shots!

Makapu`u Blowhole
Makapu`u Blowhole

Makapu`u Blowhole
Makapu`u Blowhole

Other taking photos of the blowhole
Other taking photos of the blowhole

Waiting for the others to make it down
Waiting for the others to make it down

Continue to the left (if you’re facing the ocean) to get to the tide pools.

At the top of the tide pool
At the top of the tide pool

Scenic shot
Scenic shot

Calm tide pool
Calm tide pool

It looks pretty relaxing and peaceful, but once in a while, the waves will come and bum rush you one quick one (see below). So heed da Ka`au Crater Boys’ advice (“Keep your eye on the wave, don’t ever turn your back”) and be careful.

Not so calm tide pool
Not so calm tide pool

At the midway point of our hike, it was a good a time as any to stop and take a group shot. Check it!

`Imi Loa group shot [Photo Credit: `Imi Loa]
`Imi Loa group shot [Photo Credit: `Imi Loa]

Then, it was time to make our way back up to the main trail.

Heading back up
Heading back up

Heading back up
Heading back up

Group leader Howard taking a little breather
Group leader Howard taking a little breather

Getting steeper!
Getting steeper!

Getting there...
Getting there…

Almost to the top!
Almost to the top!

Back to the whale lookout point.
Back to the whale lookout point.

Since we chose to go up the steep side to get back, many of us took this opportunity to catch our breath and take a break. When we were well rested, we headed back down the main trail to get to the path to Pele’s Chair.

It’s a little hard to explain, but the trail head for Pele’s Chair is to the right of the first major left of the paved path (on your way up). Basically, look for this view overlooking Alan Davis and you’re there.

Near the trailhead for Pele's Chair
Near the trailhead for Pele’s Chair

Note: You can also get to Pele’s Chair directly from the parking lot via a dirt path. It’s a straight shot so it’s a lot easier, but what fun is that right? πŸ˜‰

In order to get down to Pele’s Chair, another zig-zag trail awaits you.

Path towards Pele's Chair
Path towards Pele’s Chair

Path towards Pele's Chair
Path towards Pele’s Chair

Ed’s Tip: Be careful of objects along the path. My friend Todd pierced his leg with a hidden bush stump.

Cactus on path towards Pele's Chair
Cactus on path towards Pele’s Chair

Boulder on path towards Pele's Chair
Boulder on path towards Pele’s Chair

Before long, it opens up and flattens out, and you can see the water to the right and Pele’s Chair to the left.

Path towards Pele's Chair
Path towards Pele’s Chair

We’ll come back and hike a bit to the left to check out Pele’s Chair, but that water looks too refreshing to miss right about now!

Path near Pele's Chair
Path near Pele’s Chair

Path near Pele's Chair
Path near Pele’s Chair

Plank near Pele's Chair
Plank near Pele’s Chair

That man-made diving board/plank is made out of what appears to be an old telephone pole. Although make-shift, da buggah was supah fun to jump off of!

After soaking our bones in the water, we headed back to our cars in the parking lot… But not before taking a quick detour to Pele’s Chair, named after its chair-like shape.

Path towards Pele's Chair
Path towards Pele’s Chair

Pele's Chair
Pele’s Chair

Pele's Chair
Pele’s Chair

And there it is. Another “revisited” column with 40+ photos! Geez Louise! These be a lot of work son! Let’s hope and pray for an original piece next month. Ahahahaha! Nah, all worth it. Hope y’all enjoyed it! Shooooots!

Just as I did in my previous article on Makapu`u, I’d like to take just a moment to honor a friend who unfortunately lost his life off the beaten paths of this trail. You will always be remembered bruddah. R.I.P. Warren. R.I.P. also to Charles and Stephanie Casados who recently lost their near here…

In Memory of Warren Hiroshi Matsuda
(October 2, 1974 – September 27, 2002)

Warren Hiroshi Matsuda
Warren Hiroshi Matsuda

Tom & Warren Matsuda Scholarship Fund
Warren’s father Tom’s life was also tragically taken from us. In their honor, Roy’s Restaurant has – with the help of an annual endowment through the University of Hawaii – started a scholarship fund in Warren and Tom’s name, awarding the winner of their annual culinary competition with monies to further his/her education in the art. For more information about the Tom & Warren Matsuda Culinary Scholarship Fund, please contact Roy’s Restaurant’s Rainer Kumbroch at (808) 396-7697 or Robbyn Shim.

Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike |  Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike – Revisited 
More from World Wide Ed Read More

2 Comments

  • Thanks for the article and photos. Charles is my brother and Stephi , my niece. We went to Makapu’u after their accident and your photos are something I was able to show my mom who could not make the trip to Hawaii. So beautiful and yet unpredictable.

    Thanks again.