KOTO reportMakapu’u Hiking with a Three Year Old Child

KOTO report
Makapu’u Hiking with a Three Year Old Child


Hawaii has many hiking spots. The most common and popular hiking trail is probably Diamond Head. It may take only about 30 minutes, even for an amateur, so we may believe that it is not difficult, but the trail is sometimes slippery and steep. Try doing the hike with a small child. You may guess that your little ones will ask you to carry them and you feel you shouldn’t go and you’re probably right, but there is a hike that you can take a kid or even baby on! It is called Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. It is past Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach. For this KOTO report, I will write about the Makapu’u hike with my three-year-old son.


Uneasy Start with slippers

According to my husband’s memory from the last time he did the hike about ten years ago, he said it is okay to go with slippers (flip flops), so I followed his advice and we went with our slippers. When we arrived and saw that most people were wearing sneakers and workout clothes we were a bit worried. Was it a hard trail? We asked a lady who had just finished the hike if it was okay to go with slippers. She said we should be okay even though there was one steep point and it was only a half hour up. We decided we could do it since my son was wearing shoes and we could always return if we thought it was too difficult to continue. Looking ahead, we saw that the road was paved and we should be okay. It was only 5 minutes from the start and the scenery was already fantastic. Your right side doesn’t have anything blocking your view of Koko Head, Hawaii Kai golf course, the road that we had just driven on and the blue ocean. There is a vast field below the mountain and a separate trail that leads to an isolated beach. It seems like a quiet and beautiful beach and we’d like to try this beach next time.

Hawaii's best hiking with kids Image01

Start hiking. My son was still very energetic.

Hawaii's best hiking with kids Image01-1

Sceanery of the beginning of hiking. This was just at the point of 5 minutes after we started.

We reached what I thought was the “top” of the mountain, but of course it wasn’t. The trail stretched further ahead and looked like a winding trail. We took about 10 minutes until this point and so far so good. There were no steep points and the pavement was very wide and my son was still full of energy. One side doesn’t have any barrier so you have to remember to warn your child who doesn’t understand the fear of falling. My son is very careful person, so he never went to that side.

When we kept walking to the top, we saw another trail going down to the ocean. This is also the famous Makapu’u tide pool trail. It might be difficult if you have little kid or weak legs, but you can climb down the trail and reach the ocean shore and the tide pools. The picture is too far so you can’t see but there were about 10 people at the bottom. The trail is little bit rocky and steep so if you want to go here, you need shoes.

Until this point, there were no problems with my slippers. Could we go like this until the end?


Hawaii's best hiking with kids Image01-2

Tide pool. There were about 10 people.

Reached the summit! Easy hike you can do even with the stroller

Even though there was a slipper problem, we could arrive at the summit without any problem. On the top were several lookout points. There were free scenic binoculars at one point and you might have chance to see some whales from November through April when they migrate from Alaska to Hawaii. The good point of Makapu’u hiking is the wide paved trail all the way to the top, so you can even go up with a stroller. We saw many families with babies and children who couldn’t walk well. Although you can go with slippers, I’d recommend wearing sneakers because it is less tiring on your feet. Also be sure to wear a hat since the mid day sun is pretty intense. Be careful though, the winds can get strong and your hat may blow off. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Hawaii's best hiking with kids Image02

From the top of the mountain.

What is the situation of a three year old child?

I was worried that my son would ask us to carry him, but he never asked and walked by himself to the top. I think he was determined since saw so many people doing the same and we encouraged him to keep going so he could see the majestic scenery. We stopped and had breaks often, so that may have helped too. Be sure to bring water as I didn’t notice any water fountains. I encouraged him to tell that we can eat snack on top.

Even though there were no troubles to go up, he asked us to carry him for a bit on the way down. Perhaps his legs were a bit tired, but he said it was a little bit scary. We carried him at one point for a few minutes and then he was fine and walked himself the rest of the way. He was always happy to see some of the many dogs on the trail on the way down. We even saw a man doing some intense exercise training with weight bags. So our first hike as a family was a success.


Hawaii's best hiking with kids Image03

The sceanery when we go down looked amazing too. Blue ocean. There are so many photo shooting spot.

Wrap up

Makapu’u trail is recommended to people who have babies or kids. I don’t think there are many trail that you can go with a stroller. I thought it would be difficult to do certain activities with a child, hiking being one of them, but you actually do this trail. You can walk and sweat and enjoy Hawaii scenery. There is no toilet or water fountain, so be prepared for that.

I recommend going to nearby Makapu’u Beach or the lesser-known Baby Makapu’u after hiking. I’d also recommend going earlier in the morning when it is less hot. It was already 1:30 in the afternoon, so we went to Costco in Hawaii Kai and got hot dogs for lunch and then went to the Kuliouou Beach. Kuliouou Beach is also nearby and highly recommended for families with babies or children.

I will write about Kuliouou Beach in the next KOTO report.


By car: From Waikiki, take H1 freeway going east. Drive past Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach and Hawaii Kai Golf Course. You will see the sign “Makapu’u Lookout,” then turn right into the parking area.

By Bus: Take #22 bus going to Sea life park. Get off at Sea Life Park and walk back towards the direction you came for about 12-15 mins. You will see the sign “Makapu’u Lookout.”


Makapu’u Light house Trail

KOTO report Experienced Manoa Chocolate Hawaii Factory Tour

KOTO report
Experienced Manoa Chocolate Hawaii Factory Tour


For this time KOTO report, I experienced their factory tour in Kailua. In the tour, they go over from farm: how to grow cacao tree, to making. About one hour tour includes chocolate tasting, which you can try all of flavors they make. This is one of the most interesting factory tour in Hawaii. Furthermore, they may give you 20% tour discount at the shop! This is really recommended spot when you visit Kailua.

About Manoa Chocolate Hawaii : Hand-Made Craft Chocolate

Manoa Chocolate Hawaii is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory sourcing good quality cacao from Hawaii and across the globe.
It is calld bean-to-bar chocolate when chocolate maker do whole process: from roasting the cacao beans to molding and packaging the chocolate in their own factory, and also these are called craft chocolate. Manoa Chocolate Hawaii is exactly this kind of shop. They do sourcing beans, roasting, tempering and molding with their very experienced and skilled technique.

Tour Starts! How are cacaos made?

At the beginning of the tour, we are leaded to the section that panels show chocolate making process. We listen to the story about farm side, how to grow cacao.
Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour01
Hawaii is the only state growing chocolate in the US. Over 20 years ago cacao trees were experimentally brought in Hawaii to see if the climate is tropical enough to grow cacao. Since it has been making Chocolate only 10 years here, they source cacao from Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Madagascar and Liberia. They actually go there to check the quality and decide to buy.
Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour02
They showed actual cacao fruit. This is still smaller size and they say it will grow about football size. Fruits is very tasty they say. But fruits are important to make the flavor of cacao bean when they ferment together, they usually don’t eat.

Let’s go inside of the factory

After we get lecture about farm side, we move to inside of factory. Presenter switched to chocolate maker Dylan, who control their quality of chocolate.

At first, we analyzed the beans from different countries. We smell the beans and look at colors. Papua New Guinean, Tanzania, Trinidad and Hawaii. Even though I am an inexpert, I could tell the difference of flavors between each bean. But common thing that I could tell is the color is very healthy brown and the surface is glazed. He showed us bad beans and those looked more white and pruney. We could even eat the nib if the beans are good one before roast. A little bit fruity flavor. It’s kind of natty. It is interesting notes happening in different times.

Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour03

After this, the beans are raosted and going to the process called winnowing. Winnowing means crack and de-shell.

Don’t be surprised. This machine was made by him! They added a back massager to control how fast the beans come down. He watched Youbube videos and figured out how other bars in the other industory in order to assemble their own machine

Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour04
And then they split shell and nibs.
Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour05

Here are beautiful cacao nibs. 100% chocolate.

Next process is crushing it up. What cacao nib are made of is half cacao powder and half cacao butter. They grind and mix in the machine until it become liquid. We looked the chocolate inside during the spinning, and it was very smooth like chocolate fondue fountain. Looked very delicious. Depending on the flavor, they add sugar or milk powder after. They say It takes at least three days.

At the end, they do tempering and put in the mold. After about 20 minutes and then we have chocolate bars. Tempering is the process that re-establishes the cocoa butter crystals. What they do is have the temparature becomes down and the cacao butter starts the line up in the very tight formation. Warm up a little bit then rocks in the place. Sounds pretty scientific, huh? You would kind of know if you have an experience that you re-mold chocolate after you melt chocolate bars. Wasn’t it more powdery or chokey? This is my memory of making chocolate on Valentine’s day.(In Japan, girls give chocolate to boys on Valentine’s day.)

Tasting Time!

At the end of the tour, we have chocolate tasting time. We can try all of flavors! They serve tea brewed with the cacao shell too. This tea is sold at shop too.
Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour06

Common thing in their chocolate is moderated-sugar and the cacao flavor is very rich. It also has slight sweetness so taste very good. They have various flavor, one is only cacao and sugar, another one is milk or honey are added. The most popular flavor is Hawaiian Coffee 60% Milk Chocolate, which is called breakfast bar. This is a masterpiece. This signature bar is sprinkled with a layer of roasted cacao nibs and coffee beans. Its crunchy and the balance of bitter and sweet taste wonderful. Each flavor doesn’t use too much sugar so you would be happier that you don’t have to feel guilty to eat chocolate.

Hawaiian Sea Salt taste slightly salt so its sweetness is more stand out. If you are not good at bitter taste, I recommend their Milk Chocolate.

Our online shop also have these three flavors so hope you will try! This time I choose something new. These three chocolates.

Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour07

The Ghost Pepper chocolate is available only when they have in stock. Ghost Pepper is said the spiciest pepper in the world. With the chocolate, it tastes very good with slight tangy taste. This is the good point to go to shop that you can buy these rare products

These are a crew that gave me a excellent tour. Everybody was very friendly and I had a great time.

Manoa Chocolate Factory Tour08
The tour starts from PM3:00, so I recommend to go there as a wrap up of after you visit Kailua beach or town.

Tour Detail

Manoa Chocolate Hawaii
315 Uluniu St Suite 203, Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 262-6789

English Tour:Mon、Wed、Fri、Sat 3:00 pm
Japanese Tour:May be available on Tuesdays at 3:00 PM.

The formal tour is 45-minutes – 1 hour and is geared for an adult audience. This tour is not appropriate for children under 12.


After making a payment on their website,
Call (808) 262-6789 to pick your tour date and time.
(24 hours advanced notice required)

Manoa Chocolate Hawaii