With all of the food reviews I’ve been doing lately, I thought it might be a good idea to take us outside to get some blood flowing through our walking sticks. This way, if y’all pack on a pound or two trying out all the eateries I’ve suggested, I’m accountability free baby!
Now before we get started, you should know that I am no hiking pro by any stretch of the imagination (That’s why I have experts like Richard McMahon pen columns on the topic. Please check out his Makapu`u column when you get the chance).
What does this mean? Well, it basically means that I am taking you on a common folk’s first person’s perspective of a leisurely hike (with scenic photos). If you’re looking for historical data, elevation stats or that kind of thing, sorry dudes and dudettes, this noggin’ ain’t got that info. I’ll probably do some online research to help supplement the column, but that’ll be the extent of my “expertise”… It also means, as always, to make sure that you’ve got a clean bill of health before taking on this hike or any type of physical activity.
OK, so here we go… The Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike. If you’re coming from the Windward side of Oahu, you’ll pass Sea Life Park on your right and Makapu`u Beach on your left. As you drive up the road and start making your descent towards “Alan Davis” (Kaloko), slow down, the trailhead will be on your left. If you’re coming from town or Hawaii Kai side, head towards Waimanalo. When you pass Sandy Beach on your right and the Hawaii Kai Golf Course on your left, you’re almost there.
(! – Though they’ve recently built a new parking lot for wouldbe hikers and Makapu`u lookout patrons, people continue to park along Kalanianaole Highway. If you find yourself parking there as well, please be careful as drivers tend to speed in that area. Also, don’t leave any valuables in your car. The area is notorious for car break-ins!)
As mentioned, they’ve recently built a new parking lot and have actually been making a lot of beautification efforts in this area, so if you’ve done this trail before, you may want to just give it another whirl. Here’s what the trailhead looked like just a few months ago… Oh the memories!
Makapu`u Lighthouse Trailhead, circa 03/2006
The Makapu`u lighthouse trail is actually a fairly easy one. It’s almost entirely paved (pay no attention to that dated picture above!) and most spots are easy conquers for the everyday walker. And because of the paved path, it’s also pet and bicycle friendly.
Easy, paved path
(! – There is no shade along the entire trail, so be sure to handsomely lather yourself with sunscreen and pack ample drinking water. You may also wish to consider hiking before or after the 12PM-2PM peak sun hours. Ironically, there are no restroom facilities along the way, so all that water you’d be drinking from the heat will have to wait until you leave the trail. Be sure to “go” before hitting this trail or be forced to hold da buggah.)
A little more than mid-way up, you’ll hit the whale watching lookout point, complete with lookout lenses and posted whale information.
Whale watching lookout point
Whale details posted at whale watching point
(! – If you can afford it, bring along a set of your own binoculars. The one there is not that great, and you’ll enjoy looking for those little critters of the ocean from the comfort of your own locale.)
We were lucky enough to catch a little whale action using our own binoculars
Keep going… we’re almost there! But not until we hit some patches of scenic views and strange plant life.
At this point, we catch our first glimpse of the Makapu`u Lighthouse. Woo hoo, exciting times!
First glimpse of the Makapu`u Lighthouse
As the paved path ends and turns into a few hundred feet of treacherous terrain (notice the sound of sarcasm for those who couldn’t tell), you’ll soon realize that you’ve made it! You’ve conquered the Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail Hike! You’ve gone from sugary shave ice syrup sloth to born-again bodybuilding buff in just one month. You should be proud of yourself.
Before we celebrate however, you guys need to check out this view with me! C’mon, this is the whole reason why we’ve climbed all this way right?
On the way to the lookout points, we’ll pass by a monument built for nine American naval aviators who perished, not far from here, on April 5, 1942 while servicing our country.
Monument for nine American naval aviators who perished, not far from here, on April 5, 1942 while servicing our country
As you progress, you’ll hit the first of two lookout points.
From here, you’ll get a clear view of Manana Island, also known as Rabbit Island, and the great Pacific Ocean, leading into parts of Makapu`u Beach.
Manana Island, aka Rabbit Island
If we take a gander to the right from this vantage point, we’ll see where we’re headed next: the next lookout point, where we’ll get a bird’s eye view of the infamous lighthouse.
On the way to the second lookout point, I stop periodically to take a few, scenic, wanna-be “artsy-fartsy”-type shots. Man, I’m good! 😛
(! – The terrain from the first lookout point to the second is quite rough – no sarcasm here – so be careful and watch your step!)
Alas, we arrive at the second lookout point, which offers us the same majestic views of Makapu`u Beach and Rabbit Island as well as the bird’s eye view I mentioned earlier of the lighthouse.
Now, all you have to do is look forward to the cool and leisurely stroll back down the trail. The entire hike is approximately 2-3 miles long, and, if I remember correctly, didn’t take more than a couple hours or so to complete. If you’ve done Diamond head, this’ll be “duck soup” for you.
Good luck and have fun gang, but enjoy the great outdoors while you can. I’ll be fattening y’all up with the usual food reviews real soon!
- www.vthawaii.com/QTVR/MakapuTrail.htm – Full screen Quicktime VR from fellow columnist Dean Karamehmedovic’s web site
- www.cr.nps.gov/maritime/light/makapuu.htm – Info from Official National Park Service web site
- http://www.dofaw.net/ – Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife
- www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/pubs/index.html – DOFAW Publications, which includes maps, safety info, etc.
- www.hawaii.gov/dlnr – Department of Land and Natural Resources
- http://www.hawaiitrails.org/ – Na Ala Hele – Hawaii Trail & Access System
- www.backyardoahu.com/index.html?mlhr1.htm – Info from former columnist (and ex-pat) Greg Kingsley
In Memory of Warren Hiroshi Matsuda
(October 2, 1974 – September 27, 2002)
Warren Matsuda Memorial Web Site
I had the honor of knowing Warren though high school sports and running in the same crowds growing up in Hawaii Kai. He unfortunately lost his life off the beaten paths of this trail, but he will always be remembered. R.I.P. Warren.
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.