Heceta Head Lighthouse

The morning was foggy when we drove past Yachats, not unusual for the coastlines of Oregon and northern California. We stopped at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint to admire the lighthouse, one of nine along the Oregon coast. From the parking area, we could see it perched on Heceta Head, shrouded in fog. Despite the weather, there were already many people here, quite a few of them enjoying the beautiful sandy beach.

The half-mile trail to the lighthouse goes past the historic assistant keeper’s house, which has been converted to a B&B. We wondered where the main keeper’s house was.

Assistant lightkeeper's house

The brightest light on the Oregon coast is cast by the lighthouse on Heceta Head. It has recently been beautifully restored. Unlike most fresnel lenses which were manufactured in France, Heceta’s was made in England, big enough to be classified as a ‘first order’ lens, a design responsible for the lighthouse’s stature as Oregon’s brightest.

Heceta Head lighthouse

The view out to sea was also obscured by the fog, making it difficult to see the enormous sea stacks which are home to birds and sea lions.

Another highlight of the area is the dramatic view from the parking area of the support structure underneath the Cape Creek Bridge, which is one of many designed by Conde McCullough. The understructure has been likened to a Roman aqueduct.

Cape Creek Bridge

A short distance down the highway was an area that dramatically shows the violent volcanic history of much of Oregon. It was tricky negotiating the jagged, uneven rocks, much of which appeared to be solidified piles of ejected lava.

Ejected lava

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail (Honolulu, HI)


To walk off the big breakfast (Rainbow Drive-In and Leonard’s) we had this Easter morning, we took the bus to Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline to hike the 3/4-mile trail to Makapu’u Summit. We were told about this hike by a couple we met at the Eat the Streets event. The bus doesn’t drop you off directly at the parking lot but at Sea Life Park, about a half-mile past to the northwest. As we were walking along Kalanianaole Highway to the trailhead, to our left were spectacular views of the beaches, rugged shoreline and islets out at sea. This being Hawaii, the waters were beautiful combinations of deep blue and turquoise.

Makapu’u Head is a remnant of an enormous caldera that partially collapsed into the sea about 1.8 million years ago and is the eastern end of the Ko’olau mountain range that is really the rim of the surviving caldera. The hike itself, a climb of over 450 feet in elevation over a paved surface, was nice on a cloudless day that was hot enough to make me a shade darker. This is a fairly easy hike, though some preparation is advisable; there are no water and toilet facilities on the trail or parking lot. On this Easter Sunday, there were lots of people on the trail, including families with children. It’s my understanding that some locals make this hike a regular routine. The vegetation along the way was interesting, suggestive of a dry, hot and windswept environment with succulents and cacti unexpectedly growing here. We missed the peak cactus flowering season as the blossoms were already spent. A good view of the lighthouse, still in operation by the U.S. Coast Guard, can be had from several vantage points. When we reached the summit, there were sweeping, spectacular views of the ocean and of southeastern Oahu. The wind up here is always strong, enough so that my wife had to remove her wide-brimmed sun hat that would have sailed away. This is also a prime spot for watching migrating humpback whales. We weren’t so lucky. A hiker we talked to told us friends on the day before had seen an entire pod.

The lighthouse is still operational and off-limits to the public

The lighthouse is still operational and off-limits to the public

Rather than returning to Sea Life to catch the bus, we walked in the opposite direction along the highway to another bus top at the Hawaii Kai Golf Course, which turned out to be about the same distance from the trailhead but our tired legs and hunger made it seem further away. Cold beers and a tasty kalua pork taco salad at the restaurant renewed our energy before boarding the bus back to Waikiki.

Along the trail, you can see the highway and Koko Head

Along the trail, you can see the highway. Hawaii Kai Golf Course appears in front of Koko Crater.

Kalua pork taco salad

Kalua pork taco salad at Hawaii Kai Golf Course

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline
Kalanianaole Hwy
Honolulu, HI 96825

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Trinidad Head Memorial (Trinidad, CA)

Trinidad Head Memorial

A replica of the Trinidad Head lighthouse sits on a bluff overlooking the sea. It is really a memorial to those lost at sea, whose names are on plaques along a concrete wall nearby. The lighthouse itself still is perched on the headland, not accessible to the general public. The fog bell that was originally used with the lighthouse now sits next to the memorial and the original Fresnel lens is housed inside. A trail leads down to the beach where you can wander around and get a closer look at the basalt outcroppings out at sea.

Beach below Trinidad Head

Point Arena Lighthouse (Point Arena, CA)

Point Arena Lighthouse

The San Andreas Fault that runs through much of California runs out to sea at Point Arena. We wondered if we could “see” the fault from the top of the lighthouse that lies north of the town. Unfortunately, we couldn’t. It turns out that the fault meets the sea at a point further north in Manchester State Beach. Nevertheless, from the top, there was a splendid view of the ocean and the shoreline which still shows evidence of geological forces at work. Evidence of subduction is clear when you look at the rocks below whose layers are tilted at extreme angles.

Extreme tilt of these rock layers shows evidence of subduction

Extreme tilt of these rock layers shows evidence of subduction

The lighthouse was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. A new one was erected with steel reinforcement rods encased in concrete to withstand future quakes. At the time of its installation, the Fresnel lens in the lighthouse was a technological marvel from France, consisting of 666 hand-ground glass prisms and weighing more than six tons at a diameter of six feet. The lens, no longer operational after having been replaced by modern automated rotating-light beacons, is now on display inside the lighthouse.

The original Fresnel lens is displayed in the lighthouse