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Hiking Pu’u Piei Makai Trail On Oahu, Hawaii


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lee Baer



Welcome to the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, where adventure and natural beauty converge. Oahu is renowned for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and incredible hiking trails. Among the many trails on the island, the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail stands out as a must-do for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is a hidden gem tucked away in the Ko’olau Mountain Range on the eastern side of Oahu. This trail offers a unique hiking experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s diverse ecosystem and awe-inspiring vistas. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice explorer, this trail has something for everyone.


As you embark on your journey along the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the island’s lush rainforest, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic ocean vistas. The trail takes you through a mix of dense vegetation, rocky terrain, and occasional steep inclines, providing a challenging yet rewarding experience.


One of the remarkable aspects of the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is its rich biodiversity. As you hike through the trail, keep an eye out for the native plants and wildlife that call this area home. You might spot colorful birds, like the ‘I’iwi or the ‘Apapane, flitting through the trees, or catch a glimpse of the island’s endemic tree snails clinging to the lush foliage.


While the trail offers remarkable natural beauty, it’s important to be mindful of safety precautions. The unpredictable weather and rugged terrain require hikers to come prepared with proper gear and a sense of adventure.


So, lace up your hiking boots, bring your camera, and let’s dive into the details of the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable hiking adventure on the captivating island of Oahu!


Overview of Pu’u Piei Makai Trail

The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is a scenic hiking trail located on the southeastern side of Oahu, Hawaii. It begins near the charming town of Waimanalo and offers hikers a chance to explore the stunning natural beauty of the Ko’olau Mountain Range. The trail is approximately 3 miles round trip, making it a moderate-level hike suitable for hikers of varying experience levels.


As you begin your hike on the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail, you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush vegetation, towering trees, and the peaceful sounds of nature. The trail winds its way through dense rainforest, providing ample shade and a refreshing escape from the heat. Along the way, you’ll encounter several lookout points that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline and the sparkling Pacific Ocean.


The highlight of the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is undoubtedly the picturesque Makapu’u Beach. As you reach the end of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the turquoise waters and pristine sandy beaches below. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, soak in the beauty, and capture some memorable photos.


The trail is well-maintained and marked with signposts, making it easy to navigate. However, be prepared for some steep sections and uneven terrain, especially as you approach the lookout points. The moderate difficulty level of the trail makes it suitable for families and individuals who are reasonably fit and able to handle the elevation changes.


It’s worth mentioning that the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is not as crowded as some of the other popular hikes on the island, providing a more peaceful and intimate experience with nature. It offers a serene escape from the bustling city life and allows hikers to reconnect with the island’s natural wonders.


Whether you’re seeking solitude, stunning views, or a challenging hike, the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail offers it all. So, pack your hiking gear, bring plenty of water and snacks, and get ready to embark on a memorable journey through the enchanting landscapes of Oahu.


Trail Difficulty and Length

The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is a moderately challenging hike with a total length of approximately 3 miles round trip. It offers a rewarding experience for hikers of varying skill levels, from beginners to seasoned adventurers.


The trail starts off with a gradual ascent through a lush rainforest, leading hikers towards the first lookout point. This initial section of the trail is relatively easy and provides an opportunity to warm up before encountering more challenging terrain.


As you continue along the trail, be prepared for some steeper sections and uneven terrain. There are a few areas where you may need to navigate over rocks or roots, so sturdy footwear with good traction is recommended. Hikers with knee or ankle issues should take extra caution, as the uneven surfaces can be demanding.


While the trail does require a moderate level of physical fitness, it is manageable for most hikers with proper preparation. Pacing yourself and taking breaks as needed will help ensure an enjoyable experience.


The total time required to complete the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail can vary depending on your hiking speed and the number of stops you make along the way. On average, it takes around 1.5 to 2.5 hours to complete the hike, including time spent at the lookout points to soak in the views and take photos.


It is important to note that weather conditions can impact the trail’s difficulty level. Oahu’s tropical climate means that rain showers can occur frequently, resulting in muddy and slippery conditions. It is advisable to check the weather forecast before your hike and be prepared with appropriate footwear and rain gear if necessary.


Overall, the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail provides a moderate-level hiking experience that is accessible to most hikers. With its stunning vistas and diverse terrain, this hike is a great way to immerse yourself in Oahu’s natural beauty and enjoy a memorable outdoor adventure.


Scenic Highlights on the Trail

The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is renowned for its stunning scenic highlights that showcase the natural beauty of the island of Oahu. As you hike along the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas and picturesque landscapes that will leave you in awe.


One of the highlights of the trail is the panoramic view of Makapu’u Beach. As you approach the end of the trail, you’ll be greeted with a spectacular vista of the turquoise waters, pristine sandy beach, and rocky cliffs. It’s a perfect spot to take a break, capture some incredible photos, and simply appreciate the beauty of the island’s coastline.


Another scenic highlight of the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is the lush rainforest that surrounds the trail. The dense vegetation, towering trees, and vibrant greenery create a serene and enchanting atmosphere. Be sure to take the time to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of the rainforest as you make your way along the trail.


As you ascend the trail, you’ll encounter several lookout points that offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. From these vantage points, you can admire the rugged coastline, the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean, and the dramatic cliffs along the eastern shore of Oahu. These viewpoints provide an ideal opportunity to pause, rest, and appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.


Depending on the time of year, you may also be lucky enough to spot migrating whales in the distance. Humpback whales frequent the waters off the coast of Oahu between December and May, and if you’re hiking during this period, keep your eyes peeled for these magnificent creatures breaching and playing in the ocean.


Throughout the trail, you’ll also come across an array of colorful and fragrant wildflowers that add splashes of vibrant hues to the landscape. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate these delicate blooms and their contribution to the overall beauty of the trail.


Whether it’s the breathtaking view of Makapu’u Beach, the lush rainforest surroundings, or the panoramic vistas along the trail, the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail offers a feast for the eyes at every turn. Each scenic highlight is an invitation to connect with nature, find moments of tranquility, and create lasting memories of your hiking adventure on Oahu.


Wildlife and Flora

The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail provides a wonderful opportunity to encounter a variety of wildlife and appreciate the diverse flora that thrive in the unique ecosystem of Oahu. As you hike along the trail, keep your eyes peeled for fascinating creatures and captivating plant life.


Oahu is home to a rich avian population, and birdwatching enthusiasts will be delighted to spot several native bird species along the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail. Look out for the vibrant ‘I’iwi with its distinctive red feathers and curved bill, as well as the ‘Apapane, another endemic bird known for its shimmering red plumage. These colorful birds can be seen darting through the trees, adding a delightful touch to your hiking experience.


In addition to the birds, you may come across the native Hawaiian tree snails known as “pūpū kani oe” or the “ʻōhā” snails. These tiny snails are a unique feature of Hawaii’s natural heritage and can be found clinging to the leaves and branches of the vegetation along the trail. Take a moment to appreciate their vibrant shells and the important role they play in the island’s ecosystem.


The flora along the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is equally captivating. The lush rainforest that surrounds the trail is filled with a mix of native and exotic plant species. Look for the ‘ōhi’a lehua trees with their vibrant red blossoms, the fragrant maile vines, and the delicate ferns that carpet the forest floor. The diverse range of vegetation creates a mesmerizing tapestry of color and texture, providing a feast for the senses as you hike.


Many of the plants along the trail have significant cultural and medicinal importance to the Hawaiian people. As you explore, take a moment to appreciate the historical and traditional significance of these plants in Hawaiian culture.


While encountering wildlife and exploring the flora can be a thrilling experience, it’s essential to maintain a respectful distance and avoid disturbing the creatures or damaging the vegetation. Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles, stay on the designated trail, and enjoy the beauty of nature responsibly.


The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail not only offers breathtaking views but also provides a unique opportunity to connect with the natural heritage of Oahu. Take the time to appreciate the native wildlife and diverse plant life that make this trail a truly unforgettable experience.


Safety Tips

While exploring the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail, it’s important to prioritize your safety to ensure an enjoyable and incident-free hiking experience. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind before embarking on the trail:


1. Plan and Prepare: Before heading out, research the trail, check the weather forecast, and ensure you have a clear understanding of the trail’s difficulty level. Familiarize yourself with the route, paying attention to any potential hazards or challenging sections.


2. Wear Proper Hiking Gear: Choose footwear that provides ankle support and has good traction to navigate the uneven terrain. Dress appropriately for the weather, wearing breathable and moisture-wicking clothing. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.


3. Stay Hydrated: Bring an ample supply of water, especially on hot and humid days. Staying hydrated throughout the hike is crucial for your well-being. Consider bringing electrolyte-rich drinks or snacks to replenish lost nutrients.


4. Pack Essentials: Carry a small backpack with essentials such as a trail map, compass, extra layers of clothing, insect repellent, a first aid kit, and snacks. Additionally, bring a fully charged cell phone for emergencies.


5. Hike with a Buddy: It’s always a good idea to hike with a partner or in a group, especially when exploring unfamiliar trails. Having others with you provides assistance in case of accidents or emergencies.


6. Be Mindful of Weather Conditions: Hawaii’s weather can change quickly, so be prepared for rain or sudden gusts of wind. Check the forecast before your hike and be prepared with proper rain gear and extra layers if needed.


7. Stay on the Designated Trail: Straying off the marked path increases the risk of getting lost or encountering dangerous terrain. Adhere to the trail markers and avoid venturing into restricted areas.


8. Take Breaks and Listen to Your Body: Pace yourself and take breaks as needed, especially during steep or challenging sections. Listen to your body and rest when you feel fatigued. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can lead to accidents or injuries.


9. Respect the Environment and Wildlife: Leave no trace behind and respect the natural environment. Avoid touching or disturbing wildlife, and do not remove any plants, rocks, or other natural elements from the trail.


10. Notify Someone of Your Plans: Before starting your hike, inform a trusted individual about your plans, including your intended route and expected return time. This ensures someone knows your whereabouts in case of an emergency.


By following these safety tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience along the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail. Remember to always prioritize your well-being, be prepared, and respect the natural environment around you.


What to Bring

When preparing for a hike on the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail, it’s important to pack the necessary items to ensure your comfort, safety, and enjoyment throughout the journey. Here’s a list of essential items to bring:


1. Proper Footwear: Choose sturdy, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots with good traction to navigate the varied terrain. Proper footwear will provide stability and protect your feet from rocks, roots, and uneven surfaces.


2. Comfortable Clothing: Dress in lightweight, moisture-wicking layers to accommodate the changing weather conditions. Opt for breathable fabrics that allow for movement and regulate body temperature. Don’t forget to bring a hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun.


3. Ample Water: Hydration is vital during any hike. Carry an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated throughout the trail. Consider using a refillable water bottle or hydration pack to minimize waste and ensure a steady supply of water.


4. Snacks/Energy Food: Pack high-energy snacks such as granola bars, trail mix, or fresh fruits to keep your energy levels up during the hike. These portable snacks will provide a quick boost of energy without adding excessive weight to your backpack.


5. Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen with a high SPF. Additionally, bring mosquito repellent to ward off any pesky insects along the trail.


6. Navigation Tools: Carry a trail map or use a reliable hiking app on your smartphone for navigation. It’s important to have a sense of direction and awareness of the trail’s route to avoid getting lost.


7. First Aid Kit: Pack a basic first aid kit that includes adhesive bandages, antiseptic ointment, blister pads, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications. Be prepared for minor injuries or discomfort during the hike.


8. Waterproof Gear: Considering the possibility of rain showers in Hawaii, it’s wise to bring a lightweight, waterproof jacket or a poncho to keep you dry in case of unexpected rainfall.


9. Extra Clothing Layers: Depending on the weather, pack additional clothing layers such as a lightweight jacket or a long-sleeved shirt. These extra layers will come in handy if the temperature drops or if you encounter strong winds along the trail.


10. Other Essentials: Don’t forget to bring a fully charged phone, a backup battery charger, a flashlight or headlamp, a whistle for emergencies, and a small trash bag to pack out any waste.


Remember, the key is to strike a balance between being prepared and keeping your backpack lightweight. Consider the weather conditions, hike duration, and your personal needs when deciding what to bring. Being well-prepared will allow you to fully enjoy the beauty and adventure of the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail.


How to Get to Pu’u Piei Makai Trail

Getting to the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is relatively straightforward, and there are a few transportation options depending on your location and preference. Here are some common methods of reaching the trail:


1. Private Vehicle: If you have access to a car, driving to the trailhead is the most convenient option. From Honolulu, take the H-1 East freeway, merge onto the Kalaniana’ole Highway (Route 72), and continue east until you reach the Waimanalo Beach Park. The trailhead is located near the Waimanalo Beach Park entrance. Look for designated parking areas and take note of any parking restrictions.


2. Public Transportation: Oahu’s public bus system, known as TheBus, provides transportation to Waimanalo, which is close to the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail. Take bus number 57 from downtown Honolulu to Waimanalo. Check TheBus website or app for the most up-to-date route information and schedules.


3. Ride-Sharing Services/Taxis: Utilize ride-sharing services or traditional taxis to reach the trailhead. Arrange a pick-up and drop-off point with your driver. Keep in mind that availability and cost may vary depending on your location and the time of day.


Before setting out, it’s crucial to verify the current trail status and check for any closures or restrictions. You can consult local hiking forums or government websites for the latest updates or contact the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.


Once you arrive at the Pu’u Piei Makai Trailhead, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the trail map, signage, and any posted guidelines. It’s also a good idea to use a hiking app or GPS device to track your progress and ensure you stay on the designated trail.


Remember to respect the surrounding private properties and adhere to any posted signs or regulations. Do not block private driveways or access points, and be mindful of noise levels, especially if you’re starting your hike early in the morning or late in the evening.


By planning ahead and considering your transportation options, you can easily access the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail and kickstart your hiking adventure on Oahu’s gorgeous eastern coastline.


Trail Etiquette

When hiking the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail, it’s essential to practice good trail etiquette to ensure an enjoyable experience for all hikers and to preserve the natural environment. Here are some guidelines to follow:


1. Stay on the Designated Trail: Stick to the marked trail and avoid creating new paths or taking shortcuts. Straying off the trail can damage the fragile ecosystem and disrupt the habitats of native plants and wildlife.


2. Yield to Uphill Hikers: If you come across hikers going uphill while you are descending, give them the right of way. Uphill hikers may require more effort to navigate steep sections, so stepping aside and allowing them to pass ensures a smoother and safer experience for everyone.


3. Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and refrain from approaching or feeding them. Respecting the natural habitat and behavior of animals helps preserve a safe and healthy environment for both humans and wildlife.


4. Dispose of Waste Properly: Carry out all trash and dispose of it in designated bins or take it back with you. Never leave any waste or litter along the trail. This includes food scraps, cigarette butts, and any other non-biodegradable items.


5. Minimize Noise: Keep noise levels to a minimum to preserve the tranquility of the trail and minimize disturbances to wildlife and other hikers. Avoid playing loud music or shouting excessively, allowing everyone to enjoy the peacefulness of the natural surroundings.


6. Be Mindful of Others: Be considerate of fellow hikers and maintain appropriate social distances, especially in crowded areas or during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Respect each other’s space and give way to faster hikers if needed.


7. Leave No Trace: Follow the “Leave No Trace” principles, which include leaving nature as you found it, avoiding unnecessary damage to plants or trees, and refraining from carving or marking rocks or trees along the trail. Leaving no trace ensures the preservation of the trail’s beauty for future generations to enjoy.


8. Share the Trail: The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail may be shared by hikers, runners, and even mountain bikers. Be aware of others using the trail and practice courtesy by allowing them to pass safely. Be patient and communicate politely with other trail users.


Remember that by practicing trail etiquette, you contribute to preserving the natural beauty of the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail and ensure a positive experience for yourself and others. Let’s all do our part in being responsible stewards of the trail and its surroundings.



The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail on Oahu, Hawaii, offers a captivating and rewarding hiking experience. As you explore this hidden gem, you’ll be immersed in the island’s natural beauty and awe-inspiring vistas, making it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


With its moderate difficulty level, diverse terrain, and scenic highlights, the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail provides something for hikers of all skill levels. From the lush rainforest and panoramic ocean views to the chance encounters with native wildlife, every step along the trail is an opportunity to connect with the island’s natural wonders.


As you hike, remember to prioritize safety and adhere to good trail etiquette. Be prepared with proper gear, stay hydrated, and follow guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for yourself and others. Respect the environment, practice Leave No Trace principles, and cherish the unique flora and fauna that make this trail so special.


Whether you’re a local seeking a new adventure or a visitor looking to uncover Hawaii’s hidden treasures, the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is a hiking excursion that will leave a lasting impression. So, lace up your hiking boots, bring your sense of adventure, and embark on a journey through Oahu’s captivating landscapes.


As you traverse the trail, let the beauty of the rainforest, the panoramic coastal views, and the vibrant wildlife inspire and rejuvenate you. The Pu’u Piei Makai Trail is a testament to the extraordinary wonders that can be found in Hawaii, reminding us of the importance of preserving and appreciating these natural treasures.


So, immerse yourself in the natural splendor, breathe in the fresh air, and marvel at the magnificence of the Pu’u Piei Makai Trail. Let it be an experience that not only enriches your connection with nature but also leaves you with cherished memories of Hawaii’s remarkable landscapes.