If you are looking for a challenging trail that will take you into the Hawaiian Islands then the Makauwahi Cave Trail is for you. It starts near the parking area at the edge of the cave and follows the direction of the cave as it meanders through geologically diverse terrain. This moderate grade trail takes about four hours to complete and is a well-known and easily accessible hiking trail within Hilo, Kapue and the Na Pali Coast. Since it follows the path of the caves ceiling it is called “Cave Trail”.
The trail begins by turning left and proceeding down a level dirt road which crosses an earth bridge. A sign at the top of the road gives directions to the next signed intersection which leads to the trail’s start-off point. About a quarter mile further there is a sign for “Makauwahi Cave Reserve”. The trail then makes a challenging climb towards the entrance of the cave. Ahead is a bench at the base of the cave.
Just ahead of this is a signed intersection for the coastal trail which starts from the exact same place. This route continues to a wooden boardwalk on the beach where there is a parking area. Cross the wooden boardwalk and then make a short walk onto the beach where there is a restroom and pavilion. Further along the path another small beach is to the left where another well-used path crosses an exposed sandstone boulder. The trail proceeds to a wooden boardwalk at the end of which there is a second restroom and pavilion.
The next two marked trail heads continue along the beach to a third sandy beaches with lots of great ocean view photographs. Just past this is a signed intersection where a restrooms and pavilion is just visible across the bay. Just past here is an extremely faint sandstone rock formation which used to be a landing site for airplanes. In addition, there is a very faint trail leading to a very wet and muddy area which used to be the ocean floor. Just past this trail two white-washed limestone cliffs face the beach.
Just past this, an easy access to the Makauwahi Island Golf Course is located. Just beyond this trail, about one miles further along the beach, you will find two magnificent viewpoints of the Makauwahi Island Golf Course. It is easy to see the magnificent view from this location. In addition, the trail continues to a sandy spot where another overlook of the poipu bay golf course can be seen.
Just beyond the white-washed limestone caves, a signed intersection is just visible to the left. From here, the trail proceeds to a wooden boardwalk with numerous panoramic views of the bay, including the beach, Punaloa Point, and a view of the tunnel entrance. The trail then makes a turn and leads to an extremely wet and muddy path. This path will take you to a sandy area where another overlook of the Punaloa Point Lighthouse can be seen from.
When you reach the conclusion of the trail, turn left and go back to the Makauwahi Island Golf Course. Plan to spend about one hour at the course before taking your return journey back to the cave. Within the course, you will find two more foot trails that lead towards a ruined house and another limestone cliff. These ruins contain pottery, an iron fireplace, and an old stairway to a cave entrance.