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

Nov 17, 2016 | KOTO, KOTO report | 0 comments


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.

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Start hiking. My son was still very energetic.

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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?


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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!

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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.


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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