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Makapu’u Point Tide Pools

Makapu’u Point Tide Pools ~ 8.11.15

If being IN the ocean is more your thing, and not just overlooking it — as was the case in the previous review of the very popular Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail — the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline offers two fantastic options: Alan Davis Beach and the Makapu’u Point Tide Pools, a.k.a. Makapu’u Tidepools.

The diving board at Alan Davis Beach ~ 8.11.15

I was originally going to bundle Makapu’u Point Tide Pools with my visit that same day to Alan Davis beach. However because there’s so many photos I’m including of the Tide Pools, we’ll keep keep them separate, and I’ll cover Alan Davis Beach in the next post.

Google Earth view of the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline

Here we go “balls out”, truly putting the HIKE in “hiking”, climbing down the treacherous rocky cliff of Makapu’u Point to discover its Tide Pools, as shown in the Google Earth screen capture above, plotted in blue.

Let me just start this by saying, if ANYONE tells you (e.g., those on Yelp and TripAdvisor) this is an “easy” hike? They are OUT OF THEIR MIND. Dude, I’ve walked and hiked MANY beaches and cliffs to access them in my lifetime, and this has got to be one of the most difficult one I have EVER attempted. It’s just short of having to swim across a channel filled with man-eating sharks, in my opinion, and I would NOT recommend you do this, unless A) You’re well-equipped, including having the proper footwear, sun protection and water supply; B) You’re in good to excellent physical condition; C)  You’re VERY clear-minded, meaning you’re not suicidal (and you REALLY WANT TO LIVE) or half-drunk from the night before (or intoxicated at ALL); D) You have not just good, but EXCELLENT balance and motor skills; and E) ALL OF THE ABOVE. In other words, you better be pretty much BAD @SS.

So how do you get to the Makapu’u Point Tide Pools? Well first of all you have to hike up the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, about halfway up past the return, where you’ll come upon this newly-built whale watching Kaiwi Channel lookout…

Right past that lookout on the top side you’ll head down the hardly-beaten “trail” that scales Makapu’u Point cliff…

If you’ve never done this hike down to the Tide Pools before, it’s best you do like I did and follow other folks on their way down so you know where the correct path is, as, again, it’s kinda’ hard to discern at certain parts going down.

I actually found going down the cliff to the Tide Pools more challenging from a balancing and footing perspective than climbing back up, while climbing back up was more a matter of endurance and, what would turn out, a hydration issue for me on this one particular day.


I will say this, this HIKE — and it really is one — can KILL YOU WITHIN A BLINK OF AN EYE. One wrong slip, and you’re history. We’ll be reading about HFD picking up your dead, if not critical condition body in the newspaper.

So there you go, you’ve heard all the warnings. That said, let me tell you after doing this myself what I would recommend you wear and bring: YOUR HIKING “A” GAME. And then from there, not only your hiking “A Game”, but also your waterman “A” Game, as once you’re down there, you’ll be in a volatile shoreline area where one rogue wave can wash not just you, but EVERYONE out to sea.

Once you reach the foot of the cliff at the bottom, the first thing you’re going to notice — and probably be surprised by as I was — is that along with the beautiful tide pools, that there’s a not just one but TWO blow holes there!

What’s a trip, is that unlike Halona Blow Hole near Sandy Beach, which is pretty close the edge of the sea shelf, the blow holes at Makapu’u Point Tide Pools are fairly far inland, so the lava tube that feeds them is quite a long one. And believe me, you can not just hear, but FEEL it rumble when the rough seas crashes into the shelf and sends water through that lava tube, up and out of the blow holes. Nuts! In fact, nuts enough that I stayed well clear of them, as again, I don’t want to end up on the HFD rescue chopper, or worse than that.

I may sound like I’m exaggerating, but even the folks down there at the time I was there – some of whom were “experienced” there — were “iffy” about the waves that were breaking high and HARD just off the shoreline shelf. It was, in a word, “sketchy”. So much so, one couple got out of the tide pool nearest the shoreline shelf.

And no I’m not exaggerating, as just earlier this year, a father and daughter’s body were found there.

Did I scare you yet? I hope I did, because this place can and has killed. However, it’s not THAT bad, however it does command RESPECT. And if you respect both it and your own limitations, the Makapu’u Point Tide Pools will reward you with what just might be the most EPIC experience of your lifetime. It is in a word, even more BREATHTAKING being right there in the tide pools than the highest view from above. I truly felt blessed having the opportunity to feel the “Mana” there. There’s this UNREAL SPIRIT OF FEELING ALIVE when you’re down there. Then again, I’m a very spiritual person, and I feel that, and if you are too, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

Other ways that can best describe being at the Makapu’u Point Tide Pools would be “SURREAL” and “OTHERWORLDLY”. Seriously, you have slap yourself or splash your face with water just to wake you up so you realize that THIS IS FOR REAL, and you’re not dreaming. This is one of those places you’ve dreamed and fantasized about being at, yet you really are there! AMAZING. AWESOME. UNREAL. SURREAL. OTHERWORDLY. WOW!!!!!!!


As for the tide pools themselves, depending on well, the TIDE, there’s two deeper ones on the ocean side, and several shallower ones more inland. While you can’t see it in these photos, there’s quite a bit of smaller reef fish such as Manini swimming in there, plus Wana (sea urchin) in between the rock crevices. There’s a probably a lot more sea life than that to see if you go in there with a mask, which perhaps I’ll do next time.

Now comes the “selfies”, which honestly I’m not into (and somewhat despise my own), yet I find looking at them somewhat HILARIOUS, if not informative. Not just my facial expressions, but also what they say about my state of mind at the time.

First of all, they say NEVER turn your back towards the ocean, and that applies especially here!  WRONG. See that wave crashing against the rock shelf? Had that been a rogue wave, I’d be out at sea and you’d hear about me in the news later that day or the next. Secondly, if it looks like I’m PARCHED from the sun, I AM! More on that in a bit.

OK, now this “selfie” I can get into! I may still look parched from the sun (because I really am), however being around a bunch of hotties in bikinis at an exotic and secluded tide pool in Hawaii? Are you kidding me? Bring it!!

The lovely Gabby chillin’ with her friends at Makapu’u Point Tide Pools

So yeah, I’m like in fantasy land down hear at the Makapu’u Point Tide Pools, however what goes down, must come up, right? As in us people down here. Well, remember I said TWICE how parched from the sun I was? I wasn’t kidding, I really was beaten by it. Yet to make matters worse, I didn’t have my water. Actually POWERADE.

Yep, halfway down the cliff, because I needed both hands to hold on to the rocks where the slope got really steep, I ended up stashing my 3/4-full bottle of POWERADE in a puka along the trail SOMEWHERE about 1/3rd near the bottom. BAD MOVE. After spending about an hour at the tide pools hanging out (I didn’t jump in the water), I headed back up the cliff, however for some reason I took a different path from where I came down, and couldn’t find the place where I stashed my drink! Dude, by the time I reached just a fourth of the way up, I was already feeling a semi-dehydrated nausea. Yet being the bad @ss I think I am, I kept climbing.

Shortly further up the steep rocky climb back up, my dehydration level escalated rapidly and I really started worrying, thinking to myself, “Oh s#@t, this is NOT good”. Not even halfway up the steep rocky Makapu’u Point cliff, my dehydration level was already in the RED ZONE, where I was THIS CLOSE to climbing back down and asking someone there for water. But I’m not a p@ssy, so I kept going and finally made it to the top, feeling like a “human raisin”, barely clinging to rocks that hated me. My legs and feet literally felt like jelly when I FINALLY reached the top main trail. My mouth, dryer than a cotton ball.

That cliff, compounded by the scorching hot sun and my lack of liquids to drink literally dehydrated me to the point of sickness. So bad, the next day I was still so ill, my stomach felt like it was turned inside out, and I had to call in sick for work, which I very rarely do. Thankfully plenty of water and a good rest and I’m now back in top shape. Actually better shape, as I lost about 5 pounds over the last 2 weeks from “extreme” (elongated) hiking adventures.

As I was leaving the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail from the Tide Pools this past Tuesday, Travis was busy actually WORKING (because he’s usually a lazy @ss sitting in his Babe Mobile), filling cement into the forms for the main side gutters of the trail road.

I told braddah Travis I going sign my URL www.TastyIslandHawaii.com in the wet concrete, and he said, “shoots brah, go for it!”. Nah, but I nevah like get in trouble. lol

Summing it up:

Makapu’u Point Tide Pools
• Difficulty level: 3.5 (plus or minus .5, depending on how hot the sun is, along with your own physical and mental abilities)
• Distance (round trip): (estimated) 600 ft.-plus VERY STEEP elevation descent and ascent
• Scenic highlights: Panoramic view of the Kaiwi Channel, crystal clear, blue tide pools filled with tropical ocean life (reef fish, crabs, Wana, etc.) hot, super-fit chicks in tiny bikinis (or less!) and hunky super-fit shirtless dudes, if that’s you’re thing
• Parking and facilities: Accessed from the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, featuring the same paved, marked parking lot, plus ample parking on the side of the road entrance and along highway near the entrance; no water or restrooms, limited rubbish cans; ZERO shaded areas
• Fun factor: 5 (out of 5)
• “Wow” factor: 5
• DANGER FACTOR: 5 (you CAN and will DIE here if you’re not careful)
• What to wear and bring: athletic wear and shoes, plus reef-friendly footwear while at the tide pools, hat, sunglasses; PLENTY of water; 100% focus and clear mind
• Danger notes: To access the tide pools below, you must hike down a steep, sharp, jagged rocky cliff with loose footing that can get you in trouble in a FLASH; “trail” is poorly marked and difficult to determine the beaten path; rushing, VERY POWERFUL incoming ocean waves (including rogue ones) from the Ka’iwi Channel can take you out in a FLASH, so NEVER turn your back on the ocean while down there!
• Other notes: Hike out what you hike in; respect da’ aina and TOTALLY respect your physical limitations
• The Tasty Island rating: 5 Ume Musubi (AWESOME!!!!!!)

Related links:
Makapu’u Tide Pools – Unreal Hawaii
Makapu’u Tide Pools – Oahu Mom
Makapu’u Tidepools to Pele’s Chair – HikeOneHikeAll Hawaii
Makapu’u Tidepools – Yelp user reviews
Father and daughter died doing what they love – Honolulu Star Advertiser
Ocean safety rescue two at Makapu’u – Honolulu Star Advertiser
Girl struck by wave, hurt at Makapu’u Tide Pools – KHON2 News

P.S. Getting back on topic as a Food Blog, along with that Laulau plate from Alicia’s Market after the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail hike, I also grabbed this Charsiu and Roast Beef combo’ plate….

Alicia’s Market 2-choice plate: Charsiu and Roast Beef, with Rice, Potato Mac Salad, Kim Chee and Chinese Shoyu-Mustard  Dipping Sauce (for the Charsiu). $10.49

Look ono, eh?! It WAS ono! Winnahz!

Plus a couple extra Laulau for later (freezer-bound)…


8 thoughts on “Makapu’u Point Tide Pools

  • August 14, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Wow, that sounded like an epic hike, not necessarily for it’s length but difficulty.  When we hike, we tend to bring more water than we usually need because I don’t mind carrying the extra weight if it means we’ll be supplied with water for the entire hike.

    In the last photo, my eye spied the Green River Slush.  That sounds so good.  After a hike, I would’ve gotten that instead of a plate lunch!


  • August 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.  There’s something a little similar here on Maui called the Nakalele Blowhole, although there are no tide pools IIRC.  But it’s a steep hike down crumbly lava rocks and a huge blowhole at the end.  Last year or maybe the year before someone was looking over the blowhole and fell in, never to be seen again.  So yes, they are very dangerous!

    • August 14, 2015 at 8:28 pm


      How ironic you mention the Green River Slush, as I actually took notice to the Li Hing Mui Slush sign, only AFTER seeing one of the gals working behind the counter doing a refill on the syrup for that flavor, and I was like, “dang, that sounds ONO!”. However I didn’t order it, yet will next time for sure, now that you mention it!

      Never heard of Nakalele Blowhole, however I have spent a few Sunday sunsets “buck nekked” amongst the conga drum bon fire party crowd at Little Beach! lol (really, I have been there)

      • August 15, 2015 at 12:19 am

        Now that you mention the Li Hing Mui Slush, when I went to UH, I would go to Ala Moana on the weekends and go to the Crack Seed Shop and always get the Li Hing Mui Slush.  And even though I never did really eat crack seed, that slush was, like you said, so ono!

  • August 15, 2015 at 12:37 am

    I may not go hiking much but in shopping walking around yes.   Every year

    I head to San Francisco to run in the Bay to Breaker with my friends and

    cousins just for fun.  And the San Francisco Marathron one of my best

    run ever.

  • August 15, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Pomai,  awesome photos of Makapuu Point.  Now how about some healthy

    places of Eats.  I found some places in Chinatown with vegetarian musubui

    vegetarian ice creams at Wing.   Some friends on this vegetarian kicks.

  • August 15, 2015 at 9:25 am

    At Yama there vegan laulau and another place I forgot the name vegan

    musubi and vegan loco moco

  • August 17, 2015 at 6:07 am

    @ Amy & Kelike – I’d never go full vegetarian. As a foodie, that’s just too limiting. I’ll happily go back to being pescetarian, however I’m trying a different approach to weight loss this time around, boosting my exercise levels considerably (particularly these type of “marathon” hiking adventures), while still enjoying comfort foods whenever I crave them. I’ll have to do a photo scale journal thing again, like I did back in ’12. That was fun for the readers, yet most importantly, it kept me on track to reduce the numbers.

    Speaking of vegetarian laulau and pescetarian, I’ll have to try Young Fish Market’s Butterfish Laulau (all Butterfish, no pork). Only thing with Young’s, from my last several experiences there,  their luau leaves were under-salted and undercooked. Hopefully they’ve resolved that.

    Give me any omusubi topped or filled just with tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables) and I’m totally happy camper! Good ‘ole Ume Musubi FTW!

    @ Amy – It would be neat walking, running or biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. At least I can say I got to drive (as the driver) across it! Also did a ferry boat ride underneath and around it in the bay.

    @ David – There a Crack Seed Store at the top of Waialae Ave. in Kaimuki that sells Li Hing Icee, which I understand is really ono, just like the Li Hing Slush you mention. I’ll check it out next tI’m out there.


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