Landscapes,  Travel

Photographing the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

On the most eastern point of Oahu right off of Kalanianaole Highway, the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail provides some beautiful photo opportunities.  I rank it high on the list for nature and landscape photographers visiting Oahu.

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse

The Hike to Makapu’u Point Lighthouse

It’s a short 1 mile hike (one way) to the top on a paved trail.  However, the trail is fairly steep so make sure you look at how much gear your bringing with you.

It can be hot walking up the trail so make sure to bring sun screen and water.  If you plan on visiting during the weekend, make sure you go early as the parking lot can fill up later in the day.

The photo below shows the trail from an aerial view.  The parking lot is in the upper left while the top of the trail is in the upper right of the photo.  This photo was taken during a doors off helicopter flight I took from Waikiki Airport.

Aerial View of the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail

Aerial View of the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

Photo Opportunities

There are several good photo opportunities along the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse trail.

  • The trail to the lighthouse is off limits but compositions of the lighthouse can be taken from the trail above.  Another way to get a good shot of the lighthouse is to take a helicopter flight from the Honolulu airport.  See my blog on the topic for more information.
  • The view at the top is spectacular providing compositions of the coastline looking north and Koko Crater.  Also keep a lookout for Humpback Whales at the top from November through May.  Although photographing the wales would require a longer lens.
  • About half way up the trail, take a break at the overlook facing south for a beautiful composition of the shoreline facing south.
Oahu's Eastern Shore taken from the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail

Oahu’s Eastern Shore taken from the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail

What Photography Gear to Bring on the Hike

Depending on your level of fitness, I would pack light since this is a moderately difficult trail due to the incline.  I brought a micro four thirds kit with a small Gorillapod Tripod. With my Olympus OM-D E-M1, I brought the Olympus 12-40 Pro lens, the Olympus 9-18 lens, and an Olympus 60mm macro lens (just in case). 

Also make sure to bring along a circular polarizer for your lenses.  This will help to reduce the glare on the water, darken the blue skies, and help from blowing out the white clouds.

Helicopter view of Makapu'u Point Light

Helicopter view of Makapu’u Point Lighthouse

Written by Martin Belan

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