On the windward side of O’ahu is Makapu’u Point (pu’u means hill or cone, a word seen a lot on the islands). Here at Makapu’u Point, there’s a lighthouse trail, an overlook, and a beach (going east to west). All three are fun in their own right and worth exploring.
// Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
The lighthouse trail is the first parking lot you’ll come to. It’s a two mile, newly re-paved trail which cuts back and leads up the 500ft elevation to the lighthouse on the makai side of Makapu’u Point. It’s a pretty popular hike (being pretty easy and very accessible), so the parking lot is often full. People will park on 73 (the main road) so be careful driving, and walking, along that road.
The views from the top are gorgeous and stretch from Kailua to Moloka’i.
There’s not really any shade along the trail, so be prepared with sunscreen, hats, lots of water, etc.
On a calm day, the Makapu’u tidepools will be accessible by a 15-20 minute hike down the side of the rocks. You’ll probably see people heading down that way. There isn’t an officially sanctioned trail here so do be careful and prepared if you head down the rock (sandals won’t cut it here as they would on the paved trail).
// Makapu’u Lookout
Shortly after the drive for the lighthouse trail parking lot there is a smaller parking lot for the lookout. This is the quick and easy way to get a great view. Below you’ll see Rabbit Island and Makapu’u beach, stretching beyond to Kailua.
Most days the lookout parking lot has a spot or two. Heads up: the parking lot’s west most exit ONLY turns west. So come back toward the lighthouse trail exit if you need to head back around the island east.
// Makapu’u Beach
Makapu’u Beach is below you as you continue west of 72, down the large hill. It’s well known for the boogie boarding and waves, although it’s probably a bit safer than Sandy’s Beach (which you passed to get here). There’s a parking lot, which is often full.
// Getting there
Here’s a google map to get you started. If you’re driving around the windward side after spending some time in Honolulu, you’ll find yourself in a drastically different landscape and setting. The people and buildings give way to cliffs and ocean views. It’s one of my favorite parts of the island.