One Lucky Puka Shell Tour Guide

“Lucky we live Hawaii.” No matter how many times you hear it or say it, the island saying never gets old. For those who call the 808 state home, the popular phrase is often used as a way to express gratitude for Hawaii’s people, places and special events.

One of those places is the scenic lookout overlooking Makapu’u Beach along Oahu’s southeastern coastline. And like the phrase “Lucky we live Hawaii,” this view never gets old.

“Breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking,” says Angela Broader of Missouri. “Our friends from St. Louis visited Hawaii in February and said they saw whales from this lookout. They told us we had to make a stop here, that this was a must-see. I can see why!”

The stunning view is something I have the privilege to experience several times a week. My drive from East Honolulu to Kailua takes me on the winding road along the Kaiwi coastline, past Hanauma Bay and world-famous Sandy Beach. And while I usually steal a quick glance at the waves at Makapu’u when I round the turn and head toward Waimanalo, for some reason I recently found myself pulling into the parking lot of the scenic spot to take a closer look. I slowly climbed the stairs to look out and was greeted by a dozen visitors who were busy snapping photographs of the Pacific Ocean below.

“We saw the island of Molokai on one side, then we get up here and we can see the Windward coastline,” says Sam Harvey, a first-time visitor to Hawaii. “This is why people come to Hawaii, for views like this!”

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Oahu's beautiful southeastern coastline at Makapu'u

The lookout is steps away from a popular two-mile hike to the Makapu’u Lighthouse, which takes people along a jagged sea cliff some 600 feet above the crashing surf. The fabulous view provides a photo opportunity like no other place in the world, even for lifetime local residents.

“We don’t see anything like this in the Midwest, not even close,” says Harvey. “You have no idea how lucky you are to call this


Harvey is right. Island residents often take these scenic gems for granted, and his candid statement certainly reminded me just how fortunate we are to call this place home. As I stared in awe at the crystal-clear ocean below and a hang glider above, I caught myself whispering, “Lucky you live Hawaii.”

As shutterbugs posed for more photos, my focus turned to the two small islands offshore, Manana, also known as Rabbit Island, and Kaohikaipu, a volcanic tuff cone, aka Black Rock.

It was at that moment I heard a young boy ask his dad, “What’s the name of those islands, Daddy?”

“I’m not sure,” the father responded.

For some odd reason I thought of Rap Reiplinger. I couldn’t help myself and instantly became “a puka shell tour guide.”

“The big one is called Rabbit Island and the small one is known as Black Rock,” I told the family, which looked puzzled. “I know it doesn’t look like a rabbit. Actually rabbits were once raised there but were removed because they were destroying all the vegetation on the island. Today both islands are bird sanctuaries.”

“Thank you,” the father said.

“No problem,” I answered. “Enjoy your visit to Hawaii. There are many beautiful lookouts all over the island.”

I turned and took a few photographs before quietly walking away, feeling pretty good about spreading the aloha spirit. As I drove by Sea Life Park, I looked in my rear-view mirror and reflected on what had just happened. I smiled and thought, “Yep, lucky we live Hawaii.”