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Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail and Chill

[Waikiki, HI, Dec 28/29, 2018]

For the next few days, we went into major relaxation mode. On our first day in Waikiki, (Fri, Dec 28), the forecast called for rain most of the day. The morning was cloudy but it hadn’t started raining yet, so B and I decided to do a hike Vanya recommended. Makapu’u Lighthouse trail is one of the most popular on the island. We were a little leery about encountering crowds after our experience on the North Shore on our first day. This hike, she said, was worth the trouble.

It was an easy 30-minute drive to the trailhead, where parking was already becoming scarce at 9 am.

On the way to the trailhead
View towards Honolulu, which is behind the mountain in the photo. That mountain is Diamondhead, one of the most popular destinations on the island.

The trail is just under a mile one way and it’s paved, making it an easy choice for families and those who need stable footing. Given that it rains a lot in Hawaii, doing a paved hike also meant that we were not going to get muddy up to our knees. The hike is a steady climb up for about a mile, but the view from the top is totally worth it. Even on this overcast day, we could see Makapu’u beach, Kaneohe bay and farther towards the North Shore. This area is also the southeastern-most point on the island.

The Makapu’u lighthouse is visible from two different angles – from the top and also from a viewing area on the side of the trail before you reach the top. The lighthouse was built in 1909, after more than 20 years of lobbying for navigational assistance for the 26-mile Kaiwi channel between Oahu and Moloka’i. It is equipped with a hyperradiant lens, the only one in use in US lighthouses. In 1925, an accident with the oil vapor lamp caused the death of one of the lighthouse keepers. Not long after, the lighthouse was retrofitted to use an incandescent light bulb. By the 1980s, the isolated location made the lighthouse prone to vandalism and the Coast Guard turned over the lighthouse and the land around it to the state of Hawaii.

We decided to not drive back the same way we came, so we headed north. We stopped at a McDonalds to use the bathroom, and I couldn’t resist trying a local delicacy advertised from the windows. Haupia pie is a traditional Hawaiian dessert made out of coconut. McDonald’s Haupia Pie is a new take on the classic dessert with a thick, coconut flavored hot custard stuffed into a deep fried pie crust. It was quite delicious!

We then veered west and took route 61 back, which turned out to be quite scenic – definitely do this drive if you are able. It started to rain as we were driving back – it seemed that we had timed our hike just right.

Given the foul weather, we didn’t mind spending some time indoors. We met up with Vanya and her family at Ala Moana Center, which was quite busy as everyone else seemed to have come up with the same rain escape plan. I finally got to have some poke at Poke & Box, which was a bit hard to find – Ala Moana is huge!

For dessert, we got some Somisomi, which I’d never heard of before. Apparently I did not have to go to Hawaii to get it, as they have a location in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. SomiSomi is Korean-inspired softserve ice cream served in taiyaki, a Japanese fish-shaped cake. It was delicious!

The next day, we slept in and relaxed in our hotel room before spending a few hours watching the sun set at one of the fanciest hotels in Waikiki – the Halekulani. Someone had recommended their restaurant, House Without a Key, and we could see why. The patio was right on the water and we had a great view of Diamond Head, the most recognizable mountain on Oahu.

We spent a few hours feasting and listening to the live band playing Hawaiian music every Saturday night.

The Halekulani was beautifully decorated for Christmas! We loved walking through the halls on our way out, when all the lights were on.

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