Makapu'u Point & Makapu'u Lighthouse
If you are seeking a great view of Oahu’s southeastern shoreline - with tall sea cliffs and an azure blue ocean - Makapu’u Point is the location for a panoramic view of the coast.
Situated on Kalanianaole Highway on the southeastern tip of the island, Makapu’u is on the right side of the highway about 12 miles east of Honolulu, past Koko Head, Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park. Makapu’u is a remnant of a volcanic ridge that rises over 600 feet from the ocean. It is the easternmost point on the island of Oahu. Look for the signs for the parking lot at the point where the road surmounts a large hill, before it turns sharply and steeply downhill towards Waimanalo.
The scenery along this coastline is magnificent and there are many things to see on the way. We recommend at least a full day to explore Diamond Head, Koko Head and Hanauma Bay before heading towards Makapu’u. If you are travelling from the Waimanalo side, Makapu’u Point is a major attraction of interest en route to Honolulu via the scenic coastal road.
From the lookout, panoramic views of Manana Island and Black Rock Island can be seen as well as the expansive blue ocean. On clear days you can see the entire eastern shore of the island and sometimes you may be able to spot the islands of Molokai and Lanai. This is an ideal place to whale watch in the season. Look for old WW11 bunkers on the cliff edges – some of the many relics from the war that still exist on Oahu.
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Makapu’u means ‘bulging eye’ in Hawaiian, named after a Tahitian god that lived in a cave in the area and possessed eight bright eyes.
Nowadays a modern type of ‘bright eye’ shines brightly here in the form of Makapu’u Lighthouse that stands on the cliff edge at the far eastern tip of the island. The structure is 46 feet tall, and has the largest lens of any lighthouse in the United States. A navigational aid had been required in that location by commercial vessels for some time before it was constructed, and various petitions had been put forth until finally it was built in 1909. The point that it sits high on is considered one of the most breathtaking views in the United States, and worth the 2 mile Makapu’u Lighthouse Hike. The path is mostly paved and is a moderate hike suitable for most people but sections of it can be quite steep.
At Makapu’u Point, there is a lot to see in a small area. Journeying down the hill along the cliff-hugging highway, you will catch a glimpse of a white sandy beach at the base of the cliffs. Makapu’u Beach Park - situated opposite Sea Life Park - is encircled by the sheer black cliffs and is a popular place for body boarders and surfers. Swimming here is not recommended but a stroll along the sandy beach or the rock pools is really pleasant. There are areas for picnics, as well as BBQ grills. The Ku Heiau, which is located to the left of the Makapu’u Beach parking lot, is an area that is held as sacred to the Hawaiian people and is being lovingly preserved by local people.