Oahu Lighthouse Hikes, Trails and Maps
If you own a camera and enjoy taking pictures, there is a very good chance you’ll like lighthouses. We are proud to present our much anticipated list of Oahu lighthouses for adventure seekers and photographers alike! Each Oahu lighthouse is unique and has its own historical tale.
Check out the Oahu Lighthouse Map with pinpoint locations for each site. Also, don’t miss our step-by-step guide on visiting all six Oahu lighthouses in one day!
The folks at LighthouseDigest.com remind us that, “Just like people, we should not judge a lighthouse based on its physical appearance or size. If it has served to aid and guide mariners through those countless rocks and reefs surrounding Oahu, then perhaps that’s what we need to look at.”
Location: At the tip of the Southeast shore of Oahu, Hawaii
Description: The Makapu‘u Point trail, within Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, offers outstanding views of O‘ahu’s southeastern coastline, including Koko Head and Koko Crater. From the trail’s destination at Makapu‘u Head, one is rewarded with magnificent views of the windward coast and offshore islets, as well as the historic red-roofed Makapu‘u Lighthouse built in 1909, which makes a stunning picture against the deep blue sea below (the lighthouse itself is off-limits). On a clear day, you may even see Moloka‘i and Lana‘i. The offshore islets are wildlife sanctuaries for Hawaiian seabirds, such as the ‘iwa, frigate bird, and tropicbird. This trail is an excellent place to view migrating humpback whales in season (November-May). Source: HawaiiStateParks.org
Note: You must hike to this lighthouse (2 miles round trip).
Ka’ena Point Lighthouse
Location: At the westernmost tip of the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii
Description: Ka’ena Point is a celebrated legendary site for the Hawaiian people. In 1919, the Bureau of Lighthouses decided to place an unmanned acetylene light on Ka’ena Point. By the 1980s, the Navy requested that the range of the Ka’ena Point Light be increased to assist submarines. Rather than install a more powerful light on the beach, a navigational light was activated atop a building at the Ka’ena Point Tracking Station on the bluffs behind the point. The new light has a focal plane of 931 feet and a range of twenty-five miles. The area immediately around the point is off-limits to dogs and vehicles which has helped restore the natural landscape and elevate the number of nesting Laysan albatross and wedge-tailed shearwaters. Source: LightHouseFriends.com
Note: You must hike to this lighthouse (5 miles round trip).
Barbers Point Lighthouse
Location: Southwest Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Description: This 71-foot high lighthouse stands on Barber’s Point outside of Kalaeloa on the southwest tip of the island. The point is named for Captain Henry Barber whose ship wrecked on a coral shoal off the point on October 31, 1796. The lighthouse was originally established as a station in 1888. The current concrete structure went into service in 1933 and was automated in 1964. There is no lighthouse keeper quarters and it is not open to the public. Source: HawaiiWeb.com
Note: You can drive to this lighthouse and walk less than 100 yards. Check out our latest photo walk at the Barbers Point Lighthouse
Diamond Head Lighthouse
Location: Southeast Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Description: Built in 1899, the Diamond Head Lighthouse is an active lighthouse that houses the Coast Guard admiral in charge of that region. For mariners of yesteryear, Diamond Head also served as a landmark for their approach to the harbor at Honolulu from the west coast of the United States. With the increase of commerce calling at the port of Honolulu, a lookout was established in 1878 on the seaward slopes of Diamond Head for spotting and reporting incoming vessels. Source: LightHouseFriends.com
Note: You can drive to this lighthouse and walk less than 100 yards (down then up a paved walkway to the beach).
Aloha Tower LIghthouse
Location: Metro South Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Description: Originally proposed as an “establishment of lights for Honolulu Harbor,” the lighthouse at (now) what is known as Aloha Tower, progressed to reality in 1869 after a series of proposals and funding efforts since 1851. Though visible from a distance of nine miles and found to be quite useful to mariners, the Honolulu Harbor Lighthouse played a great role into the next century with the surge of sugar and pineapple exports. The eleventh floor of the tower served as a lookout for the harbor pilots, with balconies on all four sides. Right below the balconies, the word ALOHA was spelled out in large letters, certainly the reason the structure was called the Aloha Tower. The tower was also topped by a beacon to help captains enter the harbor. Source: LighthouseFriends.com
Note: You can drive to this lighthouse and walk less than 100 yards.[/row]
Pyramid Rock Lighthouse
Location: Kaneohe Marine Corps Base – East Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Description: Kaneohe Bay on the Windward side of Oahu is the largest sheltered body of water in the Hawaiian Islands. The U.S. Navy purchased the western side of the peninsula in 1939, & construction soon began on Naval Air Station Kaneohe. Dredging of the bay started in 1939, and in 1941, Pyramid Rock Light was established atop the natural feature on the northwestern point of the Mokapu Peninsula. The Pyramid Rock Light currently consists of a light mounted on the roof of a square concrete workhouse, painted with distinctive black & white diagonal stripes. The light guides vessels into Kaneohe Bay & overlooks a recreational beach for the marines. Source: AnthonyCalleja.com
Note: This is on an active military base. Be sure to call ahead of time and check on protocol for entry. You can drive to this lighthouse and walk less than 100 yards.
Visit all Oahu lighthouses in one day!
Ready for the path to successfully hitting all lighthouses in one day?
Here’s our recommendation, based on lighting and heat from the sun…
We hit #1-3 early in the morning when it’s cool, since these require a bit of hiking (with Pyramid Rock Lighthouse en route). Bring breakfast, drinks and snacks in a cooler for the road. Then hop in the car and continue on to to #4-6. Recover and celebrate with a drink on the beach in Waikiki 🙂 P.S. – check this article for tips on shooting night scenes in Waikiki. Top 10 Best Places to Take Pictures in Waikiki
1. Makapu’u Lighthouse
Start your morning before sunrise at Makapu’u. Be at the base of the trail an hour before sunrise (check the internet for daily timings). It will take about 30-45 minutes to hike up, but give yourself time to get set up and ready for the light show. Before you get to the top of the hill, the lighthouse will be on your right (this is one of the better shots of the lighthouse). Then head to the top for sunrise! Also, don’t miss the photo-op on the east side of hill showcasing the panoramic stretch of the eastern shore of Oahu.
2. Pyramid Rock Lighthouse
Since you’re on the Windward side, drive up the cost to Kaneohe Marine Corps base to capture the Pyramid Rock lighthouse. Again, pending protocol – you may have to take a buddy with a military ID to help you get on base. Check ahead of time for current protocol as policies change.
3. Ka‘ena Point Lighthouse
Once you’re done on base, hit the H3 straight over to the West side of the island, merge onto H1 West, and drive till the end – where it becomes Farrington Highway. Farrington Highway then comes to an end, at which point we recommend parking near the life guard tower to minimize potential break-in to your vehicle. It’s been a long drive, probably over an hour, so you’ll be glad to get out and start that hike up to the point. Along the trail don’t miss photo ops of crashing waves, tide pools, as well as the famous West side arch, an interesting carved rock formation (image seen above). At the end of the trail, you’ll see the lighthouse — not a very attractive one, but highly active in duty for that side of Oahu. A bonus sighting might be seals, whales, and/or albatross, which frequent that spot. This is a destination to pat yourself on the back for!
4. Barbers Point Lighthouse
Head back down Farrington Highway, onto H1 east, and exit at Campbell Industrial Park onto Kalaeloa Blvd. At the T-stop, turn right on Olai Street and continue until the road ends in the Germaine’s Luau Parking Lot. The lighthouse is located just to the right of Germaine’s. A day shot of the lighthouse is great, but if you prefer to visit this spot at sunset, check out this post. (Tip for sunset: Choose to go on a Monday because Germaine’s luau is closed on Mondays. Otherwise, if the luau is happening, your shot will be crowded with too many people and big tourist buses — you get the picture. 🙂
5. Aloha Tower Lighthouse
Venturing east again on the H1 into Honolulu, exit in downtown to get to the Aloha Tower Marketplace. You’ll want to have some cash on-hand for parking. Wander into the shopping area / marketplace and you’ll soon find a view of the lighthouse looking out onto Honolulu Harbor, just on the right inside the channel where the boats come in. Take the elevator up to the second floor for another vantage point. Get some ice cream and perhaps take a lunch break after that long drive from the West side.
6. Diamond Head Lighthouse
To cap off the journey, let’s head into Waikiki (take the scenic route along Ala Moana Blvd., which then winds into Kalakaua Ave.). Pass the Waikiki strip, the Duke statue and beautiful coastline, and make a right onto Diamond Head Road going up the hill. As you’re nearing the surfers’ and beach access area (lots of cars parked along the road), you’ll see the lighthouse on the right hand side on the shoreline. Find a spot to park. Enjoy shots from above, as well as from below – walk down the paved path to the beach and enjoy a stretch of sand favorited by locals and tourists alike (see above image).
Woohoo! You did it!
So, what new shots and sights did you discover while on this all-encompassing tour? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Oh, and if you prefer not to DIY, we invite you to connect up with us for the next group tour.