On the dry eastern tip of Oahu is the Makapu'u Point State Wayside, which is home to several lovely things to see and do. Most notable, perhaps, is the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail and a magnificent looking area nearby, with views of sea and land.
Hikers will have the best chance at views and cooler weather in the morning. Avoiding the heat of the day is a good idea in Makapu'u because the landscape is dry and rocky; it's beautiful but there aren't any big trees or lush greenery to cool the area.
Views from the Makapu'u trail — Photo courtesy of Banzai Hiroaki
The area is about a half-hour drive from a Waikiki hotel and about 45 minutes from Kailua and Kaneohe. Coming from Hawaii Kai and Honolulu on Kalanianaole Highway, visitors will see two parking lots at Makapu'u.
The first parking lot has access to the trail that traces Makapu'u Point and leads to the lighthouse. The approximately three-mile round-trip walk takes place on a wide, paved road that gains slight elevation as it goes. On clear days, hikers can see the islands of Molokai and Maui in the distance, and this is also a great place to whale watch.
At the end of the hike is the 46-foot-tall lighthouse, which was built in 1909. Although the public is not allowed inside the lighthouse, visitors can get close enough for a good photo with the ocean in the background. Visitors are allowed to walk around the rocks and check out the summit at 647 feet. But the rocks are sharp, so be careful.
Makapu'u Lighthouse, built in 1909 — Photo courtesy of Pete Markham
Back on the highway, the second parking lot has access to an amazing lookout area. The lookout area offers views of the Waimanalo Coast, the ruggest end of the Ko'olau Mountain Range and two offshore islands: Manana Island and the Koahikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary.
These offshore islands are home to nesting wedge-tailed shearwaters, sooty terns, brown noodies and a few other species. No one is allowed on the islands, but you'll get good views from the lookout. You may also hear Manana Island called "Rabbit Island" by locals, because long ago a ranger tried to raise rabbits on the island.
Those who love to hike can actually make a loop out of the entire site. Adventurous types can make their way from the lookout up the back side of the point to the summit and then connect to the lighthouse trail from there. Take the paved road back to the first parking lot for a nice loop.