Also known as the Makapu’u Tom Tom Trail, this is one of the most underrated hikes on Oahu due to its spectacular views of the beach from perilously steep cliffs.
TEXT BY JACKSON GROVES // IMAGES BY JACKSON GROVES & MARTIN SOLHAUGEN
This is possibly the most underrated trail on Oahu. After living in Hawaii for almost two years I only decided to do this hike during my final week and then I did it twice that week! It has the most amazing sunrise and the view quality/effort ratio is unmatchable on the island.
You might also want to check out my favorite hike on Oahu: The Stairway to Heaven
How to get to Tom Tom Trail
You will need to begin from the Makapu’u lookout parking lot and cross the road. From there you follow the fence either inside or outside it doesn’t ,matter the fence will end in a few hundred yards and there are holes throughout it. To the left of the fence is safer but some of my favorite vantage points came early on in the trail if you venture right. Be careful either way.
You might also be interested in one of the most popular blog posts I’ve written: TOP 10 HIKES ON OAHU
Makapu’u Tom Tom Trail distance/length
This is an out and back hike and some of the best views come very early in the hike so depending on how energetic you are feeling it can be as short as a 2 mile hike. The total out and back hike is a 6.6 mile hike. If you just want to see the Tom Tom Trail Puka it is probably about 3-4 miles out and back.
I lived on Oahu for 2 years. Click to see my Favorite 25 Photos
What to expect on the Tom Tom Trail!
The first 15 minutes of the hike are steep and full of regretfulness. However after those first painful moments, you are walking along the edge of the cliff for the rest of the trail. You can peer over at the Makapu’u Lighthouse and check the surf conditions at Makapu’u Beach. We could even watch a dolphin show with our birds eye view of Sea Life Park.
For those Puka fans out there, this one will not disappoint. This hole is beautiful and can make a nice frame for photos. The rock formations along this hike are all actually very interesting but not all were perfectly stable, so take some serious care if you are getting close to the edge for a view or photos. I would tell you not to do anything stupid but how could you really listen to me after the two photos above.
While you can hike all the way through to Waimanalo (maybe leave a second drop car there so you don’t have to walk back), most of the people I know, including my lazy self, turned back after reaching the Puka.
Sunrise at Tom Tom Trail
If you weren’t convinced about this hike already, here is one more reason for you to consider it, but it might have you getting out of bed at a ridiculous hour. Start walking up the trail with a phone light or torch about an hour before sunrise. Sit wherever you can find a comfortable rock, ponder your thoughts with some coffee or a snack and wait for the sun to rise over the ocean, lighting up Makapu’u beach and revealing the lighthouse. I took a timelapse for sunrise at this very spot and just sat and enjoyed the sunrise as the camera snapped away. Wow, I know everybody heads to the Lanikai Pillboxes for sunrise but why crowd around with 50 other people when you have a rock sofa on a cliff all to yourself!
The Instagram Couple
You know who you are! I can’t say I have never posed for a photo or set up a shot… I definitely have. However this story was too funny to watch unfold.
My hiking partner Uriel and I sat at the top of the cliff relaxing, time lapse snapping, coffee being brewed. No-one else was to be seen and the sun was set to rise in 15 minutes. All of a sudden a couple appear on the first lookout of the hike, roughly 15 minutes from the bottom. We thought to ourselves that we weren’t the only ones who were about to enjoy a great sunrise.
All of a sudden a red tent is being assembled. In a matter of minutes there it is a bright red tent sitting atop the lookout ready for a good night sleep… Oh wait! Here is the man running up the cliff. What is he doing now? He seems to be holding a camera.
The woman is standing beside the tent and as the sun creeps over the horizon he hopefully snapped the moment they were searching for.
No harm in creating a moment whether you did actively participate in it or not. I have to appreciate the creative effort. Maybe I found it so funny because I have done similar things in the past, not necessarily putting a tent up but creating false scenarios. Once again I have nothing against posing for a shot but we thought the whole scene was great entertainment and was thinking you guys might like a real moment from our morning hike… rather than our own posed photos.
Just a reminder.. don’t believe everything you see on social media!