Military Matters: The Makapuu Lighthouse

Military Matters

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A well-known trail on Oahu, visited by numerous people every day, leads to some epic views.

The Makapuu Lighthouse trail also leads to this structure, which the trail is named after.

It’s hard to imagine, but mariners still use these lighthouses despite new technology.

“There’s always new technology and we’re always looking to make the ETS navigation system more efficient. and reduce ETS that may not be necessary, but the lighthouses are important,” said USCG ANT Honolulu Officer in Charge Joshua Williams.

Although the state owns the land the Makapuu Trail sits on, the U.S. Coast Guard owns and operates the lighthouse, as it does, all the lighthouses in Hawaii. For more than a century, the Makapuu Lighthouse has served as a navigational tool to keep mariners safe.

“What it is, it’s a Fresnel lens. Interesting thing is, it’s the largest Fresnel lens in the United States. Inside of it, you can see our lights that are inside. There are two inside, but only one flashes at any given time,” said USCG ANT Honolulu Executive Petty Officer.

The Makapuu lighthouse provides 19 miles of visibility, the most out of any other lighthouse in Hawaii. There are six other major lighthouses in the state, including another popular one on Oahu, Diamond Head, which still has a resident on its property, and a lawn where events are sometimes held. The lighthouse still guides vessels approaching the harbor at Honolulu.

“Really anyone on the water has relied on the lighthouses, from recreational boaters to commercial vessels and military vessels,” said Williams.

When it comes to these structures, the Coast Guard is trying to keep up with the times.

“The lamps will burn out every so often. We’re trying to modernize those and use LED’s and that’s another project we have,” said Williams.

He says it would be the most cost-effective and more reliable. Also keeping up with the times, the Coast Guard has thought about opening the Makapuu Lighthouse up to the public, at least on some occasions, so people can enjoy and appreciate these navigational tools up close instead of at a distance.

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