It's usually a hot day on O'ahu's eastern-most coastline, with very little shade but a stiff breeze rolling off the ocean. During these warmer days, people flock to the Makapu'u Tide Pools to swim and wade in the cool, clear ocean water. The tide pools are off the beaten path of the popular Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail, which gently meanders up the seaside cliffs.
After the first large switchback, near the highest point along the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse paved trail, the trailhead for the tide pools breaks off to the right, just beyond the whale observation lookout and plaque. The steep descent is unrelenting and oftentimes slippery with loose rock and gravel posing hazards from the very beginning. Good shoes are recommended for the rock scrambling on the half-mile ascent and descent. At the bottom of the trail are the handful of colorful tide pools with varying depths. Keep an eye on the water for the occasional large swells that can inundate the entire area and remember to place your belongings well away from the spray!
Just a hundred yards from the pools is a mist-spewing cave known as the Devil's Nostrils, where you can hear the rumbling of crashing waves below your feet as the swell slams into the back of the submarine cave. Every so often, exceptionally large waves will shoot droplets of water out two openings in the rock and high into the air.
When leaving the tide pools, ascend the same way you came, making sure to follow the painted arrows on the rocks that mark the easiest way back up the ridge.
Parking for the tide pools and lighthouse fills up early, especially on clear-weather weekends. Park in the lot for the lighthouse if you get lucky or along the road between the Makapu'u Lookout and the lighthouse. Be aware that the swells can be unpredictable on the eastern shore and check weather and water conditions before attempting. Remember, when in doubt, don't go out!