We’ll Leave the Light On for You!

View of Aloha Tower from Fort Street

What is the fascination with lighthouses? Why do artists like Thomas Kinkade paint them all the time? Are they silent sentinels? Are they watchdogs that watch over the coastlines while we sleep? Are they lines of protection that keep passers by from crashing into our skylines? Are they places that harbor the romantic passion of lovers separated by distance or loss? Perhaps they are all of these things.

I have to say that I am going to take the stand that, for our purposes here, Pyramid Rock and Ka’ena Point lighthouses don’t make the cut to be included here or acknowledged for anything more than the light they give. I will only mention them in passing since they are either inaccessible, not worth seeing or both.

Pyramid Rock is a light fixed on top of a rock on a military base so it doesn’t count because not only is it nearly impossible to get to, there is no “house.”

Ka’ena Point has fallen due to coastline erosion and has been replaced by a light on top of a stick. Sorry, I have an attitude about Ka’ena Point because it is part of my old stomping ground as I was growing up. It is the part of the island that is, I feel, ignored and neglected by government officials.Closer view of Aloha Tower

Even the Coast Guard is now guilty of this same lack of interest in replacing/restoring one of its own lighthouses to its original glory.

Anyway, the Ka’ena Point lighthouse is no longer worth the trip unless you want to see the fallen over lighthouse now covered with graffiti; or, unless you want to see the light-on-a-stick which certainly interferes with any romantic sensibilities about lighthouses.

I will only deal here with places of interest that have significant meaning and/or give us something to talk about.

We’ll begin with Aloha Tower as it tops our pictorial story. I never even thought of Aloha Tower as being a lighthouse. I always considered it just a giant clock, and that’s only when I even paid any attention to it at all.

Aloha Tower and entry to the marketplaceIt used to stand as a solitary sentinel but now it has become the focal point for one of Honolulu’s newer, tourist-attracting shopping centers.

Some people will remember it as one of the fly-by photos during the opening sequence of the old TV show, “Hawaii 5-0.” Yes, it has been here that long… longer!

We’ll talk about Aloha Tower Marketplace in another post. I promise.

Did I say, “I promise?”

It seems to get me in trouble when I promise things.

Here we are back at Makapu’u Point so we can get up there and get pictures of the lighthouse.

Some time back I promised readers that I would get pictures of those abandoned bunkers left over from WW II.

WW II bunker from Makapu'uTrying to be good to my word, I did indeed run up to the top to take pictures of these things that cannot be seen from the street below (including the lighthouse of course).

I need to note here that if you think you see anything in the waters surrounding this area, you probably do. This is a place people go to whale watch and there were whales in the water that day.

On this day that I went up to get these photos, a gentleman was standing calmly with his camera as he stood overlooking the lighthouse and the water below. He said he was watching a mother and baby humpback whale and he tried to point out a flipper emerging from the water, but I didn’t see it.

Back to my promise…

Remnants of WW II bunkers on Makapu'u Point

The fox holes that I mentioned in the article I posted a couple of months ago are really, more than anything, ruins and leftover remnants of manhole stations that protected war-time, military personnel and allowed for a bird’s eye view of any oncoming threats.

WW II bunkers at Makapu'u

More bunkers at Makapu'u

No entry blocking path to Makapu'u Lighthouse
As for getting good pictures of the Makapu’u lighthouse, that in itself was no easy task. It took me a while to figure out that there were different pathways to get to different things. Along the main path there is a large sign that talks about the humpback whales.

As much as we love our marine mammals, we will talk about them in a later post. Yes, I promise.
The biggest problem with photographing this lighthouse is that some of the areas close to the edge of the point are now considered unsafe. For safety reasons, signs are posted and the gate leading to the path that goes directly to the lighthouse is locked.

So, some of us felt we needed to take it upon ourselves to get those pictures anyway.

Ledge at Makapu'u

View of lighthouse from ledgeIt’s not like it’s life threatening or anything like that, ahem. No, there was no railing, no nothing. Needless to say, I didn’t continue to stand there for very much longer. Beautiful though, isn’t it?

I managed to get the picture that I wanted — even if it wasn’t as close to the lighthouse as I would have liked it to be!

I found other interesting things too. There was a large plaque mounted to a rock on the ground. It had a story, a good one and one that I will share here.

Aside from all of the romantic notions about them, lighthouses are, most importantly, the beacons that summon and guide travelers home — symbols of safety, warmth, security and serenity. They are the first welcome sight for nautical or aerial travelers returning home.

Sometimes, however, it doesn’t work out exactly right. Unfortunately, I have to burst my own bubble with this story. A lighthouse may guide travelers home, but not necessarily safely – especially when nighttime visibility is poor.

Travelers, no matter who they are, do need to know which lighthouse it is that they’re looking at!

While flying with “zero-zero” visibility, even an experienced naval pilot may find a welcome sight to be not quite so welcoming. Tired after being in the air for over twelve hours while monitoring the perimeter of this small island, nine naval aviators lost theirClose-up of the lighthouse light lives when they mistook Makapu’u lighthouse for Barbers Point lighthouse.

Coincidentally, April 6th (this Friday) will mark the 65th anniversary of this tragedy. In my opinion, this is one that belongs to the list of tragedies associated with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were not only flying in very poor weather conditions, they were also flying without any navigational assistance because of the “blackout rules” put in effect after the bombing of Pearl Harbor only four months before.

The crew members were:

William H. Howe, Ensign, Patrol Plane Commander

Makapu'u Lighthouse

George L.

Doll. Ensign, first Pilot

Orren A. Roberts, AMM1c (NAP)

Joseph H. Hayman, AMM3c

Jack Parrish, ARM2c

Billy B. Herrin, AMM2c

Delbert G. Berchot, AM3c

Charles L. Andrews, RM3c

William F. Allen, Sea1c

That plaque cemented to that rock near the lighthouse was put there in their memory. In this way, they will always be remembered for their service to their country.

Barbers Point lighthouseThe poor visibility caused them to mistake Makapu’u lighthouse for this one — Barbers Point lighthouse. As you can see, there are no jagged cliffs surrounding this lighthouse and an aerialBarbers Point lighthouse and shoreline swing around this site would not have caused such a tragedy.

Located out towards the West side of the island, Barbers Point is now, more than anything, an industrial area. In spite of that label, it is peaceful and its beach front is nowhere near as threatening as the shoreline at Makapu’u.

Even if the Ka’ena Point lighthouse no longer offers the romantic notion of that call to “home,” Barbers Point comes close enough to the calm serenity that my mind associates with the West side of O’ahu.

Last but certainly not least on our list of lighthouses falling within the City and County of Honolulu, is Diamond Head lighthouse. This one falls right in the middle of what I will call Honolulu proper. It is just about at the middle of the distance between Makapu’u and Halawa. In addition, it really is a house and it literally houses the Commander of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District.

Diamond Head LighthouseThere is a sign posted near this lighthouse, but a lot of the information contained on it is incorrect. So, I will only include here the information that I cannot dispute.

Although Diamond Head lighthouse was originally built in 1899, this lighthouse had to be rebuilt in 1917 after it developed cracks.

Lighthouse enthusiasts will find it interesting that this lighthouse still uses its original Freshnell lens that now directs a more modern, electric, 1000-watt bulb that can be seen from over 18 miles out to sea!Diamond Head Lighthouse

This lighthouse is located just beyond Waikiki on the way to Kahala. This is an interesting time to examine the photo that makes up the header of this website at the top of this page. The Diamond Head lighthouse is located very close to the vantage point from which that header photo was taken.

It is comfortably nestled within a rather affluent residential neighborhood. Its real charm is, of course, its location along the edge of the shoreline.

That pretty well covers the lighthouses for Honolulu. I may update this down the road if I find more information of interest, or if the Coast Guard restores Kae’na Point lighthouse to its original form or at least to something more than it is now.

I did discover that you learn a lot of things while getting close to the lighthouses. There are things about their locations, their surroundings and their histories that may surprise you. While we’re at it, perhaps we can add “teacher” to our list of lighthouse attributes.

Diamond Head overlooking the ocean

For now, if you are away from home and homesick, on vacation and returning for another visit, or if you’re just in the mood to contemplate history or tales of the sea, I promise, we will leave the light on for you!

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Titania // Apr 3, 2007 at 11:01 am

    I truly enjoy Lighthouses and especially Thomas Kincades artwork. I have few of his hanging up in my home office. They promote such tranquility.

    Those were very interesting facts about your local lighthouses. I have never had the opportuity to visit your lovely islands. I know I would love it with it’s magical enchanting beauty. :o)

  • 2 Carole // Apr 3, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Great pictures, wonderful article!

  • 3 Evelyn // Apr 3, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you, Carole, for visiting, reading and leaving such a nice comment!

  • 4 Evelyn // Apr 3, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    I’m not surprised, Titania, that you have Kincade’s work hanging in your home! Tranquil it is and I hope you get to see our lighthouses up close some day!

  • 5 Walt // Apr 9, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Very cool. I love looking at and visiting lighthouses. Though I only get to go tothe ones on the east coast.
    They represent the peril and adventure of the sea. They make you think of fog horns sounding in the mist, of grounded ships in the storms, and the men (and women) who found employment, adventure, and freedom in a life at sea.(Sorry I was feeling a bit melodramatic this evening 🙂 -Walt

  • 6 Evelyn // Apr 9, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you, Walt! No apologies needed — you sound just like me. The only difference is that I am like that most of the time. Thanks for visiting, for reading and for sharing your thoughts! Oh, and thanks for the added lighthouse adjectives too! 🙂

  • 7 alex // Apr 11, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    hi nice site.

  • 8 Evelyn // Apr 12, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Thank you, Alex. Please visit often!

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