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Star-Bulletin Features


Thursday, September 21, 2000



By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Makapuu Lighthouse trail hiker Lynn Ogasawara
waves to friends in a tidal pool below.



Take a Hike!

Makapuu Lighthouse trail offers
awesome views for hikers and
future hikers-in-tow


By Nancy Arcayna
Special to the Star-Bulletin

GETTING reacquainted with nature doesn't have to mean venturing into the wilderness or risking a call search and rescue teams to come and find you.

Beginning hikers will find the Makapuu Lighthouse trail -- at two miles roundtrip -- no work at all. The path may seem dry and barren at first, dotted as it is with thorny kiawe trees, clumps of cactus and dry grass, but you will be rewarded in the end.

The incline is steep, but the roadway is paved, making it easily accessible, even for families with infants.

"Being able to use a stroller made the trek possible," said one such hiker, Kelly Sawyer. "My 5-year-old son was able to gain some hiking experience while my 2-year-old daughter could ride in her stroller and also enjoy the surroundings."


By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
The Makapuu Lighthouse



The entry gate has a sign stating "no vehicles allowed" and is about a half mile down the road from the Hawaii Kai Golf Course. A quick trip up a dirt road leads to the paved trail and you are on your way.

My family and I started our hike at 8 a.m. The breeze and sunny skies made the trek to the lighthouse a pleasant experience. Water, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are recommended.

The first lookout along the way offers a birds-eye view of Koko Head and the Sandy Beach area. In the distance, we could see the island of Molokai.

The rocks served as a resting-place, so we stopped and gave our 4-year-old son a snack. The view was refreshing. The steep rocky cliffs below were stomping grounds for the massive ocean waves. The sounds were calming and if you closed your eyes for a moment, it was hard to imagine we were just outside of a major Honolulu suburb.


By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Jill Ige and Brian Rietfors relax in a tidal pool at Makapuu.



As you near the top, there is a lookout for whale watching. A sign provides tips on sighting Humpback whales and describes their typical behaviors. The best time to spot the majestic creatures is when they migrate from Alaska to Hawaii from mid-December to mid-April to give birth to their calves.

Next you will see several concrete safety barriers, which make great seats for those in need of rest. One woman sat there meditating. For us, it was a place to stop for a water break.

At the edge of the cliff, you'll get your first glimpse of the lighthouse. Down the trail a bit, the lower platform at the main lookout offers a panoramic view of Rabbit Island and the Waimanalo coastline. In the far distance, a glimpse of Kaneohe and Kailua adds to the picture.

Makapuu Lighthouse is a fully functional automated navigational aid for ships at sea. The lighthouse, built in 1909, was originally maintained by a lighthouse keeper.

The main lookout features the famous lighthouse. Although there is no public access to the lighthouse, the view from the trail is spectacular.

The red roof of the lighthouse is noticeable from a distance as it sits majestically on a white concrete base on the side of the cliff.


By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Entry gate of the Makapuu Lighthouse hike
has a "No vehicles allowed" sign.



World War II pillboxes, or old concrete army bunkers, still dot the rocky path from the main lookout. These were used as lookouts and first-line defense positions against enemy attacks.

Just below the lookouts, we found a shady spot for our lunch. We ate while peering down at the glistening ocean and soaking in the view of the Koolau Mountains.

Our preparation for the trip had been minimal. At home, we simply threw sandwiches, chips and drinks into a backpack. For those who don't want to prepare a lunch, Koko Marina Shopping Center has a variety of eateries to choose from and is only a few miles down the street.

The downhill journey was much easier. We left with a sense of accomplishment as we climbed down with our 4-year-old in tow.

Our days are normally filled with traffic, to-do lists and daily chores. The few hours of hiking broke the monotony and provided us with a little tranquility, as well as a chance to appreciate some of the reasons we live here.



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