Hawaiian Lighthouses

Hawaiian Lighthouses: Visit These Beacons of The Sea

You’ll find beautiful and historic Hawaiian lighthouses on five of the Hawaiian Islands. There are fifteen “lights” in the state associated with the U.S. Coast Guard (U.S.C.G.), including the 10 major navigational aids mentioned below. When you add in other minor lighthouses, the total number jumps to 43 statewide. We look forward to you sharing your personal experiences with Hawaii Lighthouses and your favorites.

Our list starts on Oahu. You can quickly reach the three major lighthouses in about an hour, starting in either direction. Those include Makapuu, Diamond Head, and Aloha Tower.

Aloha Tower Lighthouse, Oahu.

Now retired, it is a Hawaii historic landmark that was built in 1870 and opened in 1926 at Pier 9 in Honolulu. It’s welcomed ships for nearly 100 years. Once the tallest structure on the islands, it is in a Gothic style and stands 184 feet high. It once guided ships into Honolulu Harbor. Can you imagine the sight after a long ocean crossing before air travel?

Barbers Point, Oahu.

The 71-foot tall Barber’s Point Lighthouse is located at the southwest point of the island and was named after Captain Henry Barber. The original lighthouse was put in place in 1888, while the second tower was erected in 1933. It is a beautiful spot for sunset photos.

Diamond Head, Oahu.

Pictured above, the Diamond Head Lighthouse remains in use but  isn’t open for visitation. It was built in 1899. The lighthouse is located at 3399 Diamond Head Rd. It’s been used as the end of the biennial Transpac Yacht Race from Long Beach, California and now has an electric light.

Makapuu, Oahu.

The Makapuu lighthouse features an easy hike with beautiful views. It is on the easternmost point of Oahu and was built in 1909. The Makapuu Lighthouse trail was repaved with additional lookouts added in recent years. We’ve seen whales from there in season.

Cape Kumukahi, Big Island

The 1929 lighthouse is 25 miles southeast of the port of Hilo on what is the easternmost point in the state. It was named for Hawaiian Chief Kumukahi, who legend says wouldn’t allow Pele to participate in royal games.

Kauhola, Big Island.

The historic light was positioned near Kapaau, at the northern tip of the Big Island. Built in 1933, the eighty-five-foot tower was demolished in 2009. Erosion over time and due to an earthquake in 2006 made the lighthouse’s collapse imminent. It was replaced with a monopole light positioned further from the cliff.

Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai.

A personal favorite of ours is the Kilauea Lighthouse here on the north shore of Kauai. The 52-foot tower is positioned nearly 200 feet above the Pacific and was commissioned in 1913. In 2013, it was dedicated to U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, who helped raise public and private funds for the lighthouse’s three-year-long restoration. It’s also a place where we’ve spotted humpback whales.

It is now restored to be like new, except for the light itself. The mercury on which the lamp was floated became too dangerous. So, while the lamp itself does work and is lit on occasion, it no longer rotates. There are tours that include the complex Fresnel lens, designed to be seen more than twenty miles out in the ocean. The kerosene lamp was replaced with a quartz one with 2.5m candlepower.

You can visit Thursday through Saturday from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Reservations are required, which can be booked online through recreation.gov. The entry fee is $10 for adults 16 and older. Under 16 is free.

Nawiliwili, Kauai.

The original Nawiliwili Lighthouse tower was built in the 1890s and stood 34 feet high. It was restored in 1932, with a new tower 118 feet above the water. In 1960, U.S.C.G upgraded the light to 2m candlepower.

Lahaina, Maui.

The Lahaina Lighthouse at the harbor of the same name, has had a light in place since 1840. The original light was just 9 feet tall and burned whale oil. In the early 1900s, a new lighthouse was built. Reaching up to 55 feet. While originally electric, it has since become solar-powered.

Molokai, Molokai.

The Molokai Light was built in 1909 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1985, leaking mercury caused the U.S.C.G. to replace the light with a new beacon.

How many Hawaiian lighthouses have you visited? 

Comment from Beat of Hawaii regarding title – According to Google, people search Hawaiian lighthouses instead of the more proper name: Hawaii lighthouses. 

5 thoughts on “Hawaiian Lighthouses: Visit These Beacons of The Sea”

  1. Thank you BOH for a great article about our lighthouses. Even though I grew up in Honolulu in the 60s and 70s, and come back multiple times each year, I am ashamed to admit I only know of the Diamond Head lighthouse from driving through the area, and have only visited the Aloha Tower lighthouse twice – and both occasions were in 2019. I’ll need to work on getting out more! Mahalo and Aloha.

  2. Aloha – visited three lighthouses – diamond head, aloha tower, Kilauea – all great to see

  3. Thank you for articles that are so informative. Some how I didn’t know the Aloha Tower was a lighthouse even though I’ve been there.

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