The Magic of Makapuʻu Beach Park

Overlook at Makapuʻu Beach Park
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > The Magic of Makapuʻu Beach Park

Wondering if you should visit Makapuʻu Beach Park on Oahu? We’ve been to this beautiful place many times and are sharing all kinds of info so you can spend your vacation time at Hawaii’s best beaches. 

The conditions of Hawaii’s beaches often vary by the day and even the hour. You could be enjoying a nice swim one afternoon only to find “No Swimming” signs posted up the next. On more than one occasion, I’ve witnessed waves on the North Shore jack up from a playful two feet to a barreling six feet in a couple of hours.

Here’s an example of how looks may be deceiving a beautiful beach that can often have dangerous currents and waves.

Makapuʻu Beach Park, located on the east side of Oahu, falls into this category of unpredictable beaches. On calm days, its clear sandy waters light up the bay and entice swimmers and snorkelers to jump right in. But on red-flagged days, which prohibit swimming, Makapuu looks like a completely different place. Deep-sea waves roll across the bay and into a pounding shore break. Not great for swimming, but bodysurfers and bodyboarders dream of these perfect Kona wind swells that bring glassy, hollow rides.

And on the roughest days, the bay can resemble a washing machine, with waves crossing up from the h3 winds.

Lifeguards & Conditions

Fortunately, lifeguards on duty make the call on whether it’s safe enough and are always a good resource for beach-goers not familiar with the beach. They’ll most likely tell you about the dangerous riptides and the powerful shore break that could slam you into the sand and cause injuries.

They may also direct you to friendlier beaches nearby in Waimanalo or Kailua and warn you about a similarly dangerous beach a couple of miles east called Sandy Beach.

What to Do When Makapuʻu Beach Park is Rough

I know of many families that still go to Makapuu even when the surf is up. Instead of going in the water, they enjoy the two-mile stretch of beach for barbecuing, tanning, or taking in the panoramic views. 

You can also hike Makapuʻu Trail, which will take you to the top of the seacliff to enjoy great views of the ocean. It’s the perfect place to see whales here in the winter months. 

Scenery & Wildlife

Outside of Makapuʻu Beach Park, you’ll see the lighthouse on the right-hand side and then two islands to your left. The one resembling a floppy-eared rabbit is called Manana Island, or rabbit island. As a kid, I imagined the rabbit swimming toward a carrot, which the smaller island closely resembles. It’s actually more than that – it serves as a state seabird sanctuary called Kaohikaipu Islet.

Where is Makapuu Beach Park

You’ll find this beautiful spot in windward Oahu, about 30 minutes away from Honolulu. You’ll drive east on the H-1 and continue as it becomes highway 72. It’s just across the street from Sea Life Park. 

MAKAPUU BEACH PARK • Waimanalo, Oahu • Lifeguard on duty daily 9am-5pm, otherwise people are advised to swim at their own risk • Free parking in lot; Near bus route