23 Sep Makapu’u Puka Hike – Oahu (now closed)
The Makapu’u lighthouse and overlook is a well-known landmark on Oahu, and this ridge trail was an off-the-beaten path hike along the cliffs nearby. These days, the trail is closed for safety, due to fatal accidents on the trail – most recently this past Spring. So we won’t be sharing any directions for this hike (which we did back before the official trail closure) but thought the pictures would still be worth sharing.
Side note: We had the unique opportunity to do this hike with Max, which is sort of a crazy story. When Max was a freshman at the University of Portland, he participated in a three-week service-learning trip to Nicaragua through the office I was working in at the time. I was the staff “accompanier” for the trip that year, and our whole group had a truly life-changing experience. That was 2010, and I left my job the following year as we prepared to join the Peace Corps. Flash forward five years and we ran into Max while hiking the Maunawili Falls trail! He’s currently stationed as a nurse on the island, so we took the opportunity to catch up and try a trail that was new to all of us.
View toward Koko Head
The path we took was not an official, maintained trail (even back then) so following it safely definitely required some diligence. We walked to “the Puka” (hole) and turned around (about two hours total) rather than continuing to the Tom Tom trail, which goes all the way to Waimanalo (4-7 hours one way).
Cliffs with highway below
Max and his dog
Fortunately, Max’s dog had mad hops and could power up a cliff when needed. There were a few places on the trail where the rest of us had to use all fours to scale up or down some of the rocks.
At the Puka. We actually saw whales breaching out by the islands, too!
After lots of up and down climbing and descending, we reached the Puka in less than an hour. We consider ourselves pretty fit, and we were definitely exhausted by the end.
Standing above the Puka with one of the ridges we just climbed in the background and Sea Life Park below
Again, this hike is closed for safety purposes. We are sharing these pictures not as an encouragement to do the hike but as a way to experience its beauty vicariously now that it’s off limits. If you’re looking for other great hikes around Oahu, we’ve covered a number of them in other posts. Happy hiking!
Free: Where to Stay on Oahu Guide
Get our in-depth local's guide to staying on Oahu. Includes recommended areas based on your trip goals, plus pros and cons break down for various regions of the island.