Family-Friendly Hikes on Oahu | Makapuu Tide Pools

Get Outside

We’ve been dragging lately. The summer heat and crowds feel oppressive and it seems we only leave the house for visits to Target (air conditioning) and the library (excellent air conditioning).

For the first time in … ever? The kids asked if we could go on an easy hike. They requested something within a half-hour drive of Kailua. I racked my brain, checked the tides and surf forecast and decided on Makapuu Tide Pools. We visited the pools only once in the past after following another hiker off the main trail for the Makapuu lighthouse. At the time, we were curious about what they were up to and after a bit of scrambling, we were rewarded with views of the gleaming turquoise pools far below. On that particular day, the surf was high and anyone brave (stupid?) enough to swim in the tide pools was thrashed about like rag dolls whenever a big set rolled in. However, the weather conditions seemed more forgiving on this day, so we packed our swimsuits and set off.

Family-Friendly Hikes on Oahu

The southeast corner of the Oahu is full of rugged beauty and adventure. It’s a harsh landscape dominated by sharp lava rock and pounding waves. Even the plants pack a punch. Only the most hearty and salt-tolderant can survive and you must carefully navigate around long-thorned kiawe, cactus, and more gruesome succulents like carrion plant.

At the Makapuu Lighthouse Trailhead, you have three options. You can hike up to the lighthouse (watch for whales in the winter!), down to quiet Alan Davis Beach or hike partially up and make the steep ascent to the tide pools.

The Makapuu Tide Pool Hike

To get to the pools follow the trail up as it weaves around the backside of the cliffs. At the third rest area, you will see two pairs of binoculars and an informational sign about whales. After that, look for a loosely defined trail allowing you zig-zag down the mountain. Go slowly to avoid slipping on loose rocks and most importantly, bring plenty of water.

You will be welcomed by a rumbling blowhole, which spits an impressive (and forceful) spray intermittently. After that, find your favorite tide pool and submerge. If possible opt for hats and shirts as a sunscreen alternative to protect marine life. If you need to use sunscreen, choose one believed to be reef safe.

family hiking along the makapuu lighthouse trail on oahu
view of waimanalo bay from the makapuu lighthouse trail
dad and kids looking out at the ocean along the makapuu lighthouse hike
Koko head views from the makapuu lighthouse family-friendly hikes on oahu
an outrigger race viewed from the cliffs at makapuu
siblings looking at koko head from the makapuu tidepool trail
boy standing on the edge of the trail to the makapuu tide pools
family hiking along the makapuu lighthouse trail on oahu with ocean in the background
dad and kids hiking down the steep ascent to the makapuu tide pools on oahu
boy sitting on the edge of a steep hike to the makapuu tide pools trail on oahu
rocky cliffs of oahu
girl watching waves splash against the rocks at the makapuu tide pools
boy sitting on the rocks along a cliff hike with ocean views in hawaii
boy enjoying the deep tide pools in hawaii
girl examines a purple sea urchin at a tide pool in hawaii
boy floating in the tide pools at the makapuu trail with cliffs in the background
boy climbing out of the ocean after jumping from rocks
kids jumping from rocks into deep tide pools at makapuu on oahu
view of the makapuu tide pools from the trail with waves splashing

Looking for More Great Family-Friends Hikes on Oahu?

Drive up the coast to Lanikai for this short hike with big ocean views. Needs more tips? Sign up for the Little Bird Post below to learn about the best family-friendly hikes, beaches, and more on Oahu.

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