Discover the Legend of Puupehe at Lanai's Mesmerizing Sweetheart rock
Local Expert's Rating:
5.0 / 5
The Bottom Line:

A peaceful setting, an easy-to-navigate trail, and a postcard-worthy view...there really is no downside to hiking Puupehe. This is absolutely essential on your Lanai itinerary, so set aside an hour or two for this memorable journey.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

You love everything about Lanai but aren’t quite prepared to tackle the island’s more difficult hiking trails. No worries — if you know where to visit, you can enjoy a brief jaunt that provides a powerful visual payoff. 

Everything you want in a short hike of .9 miles round-trip can be found when you hit up the acclaimed Puupehe Trail, which leads to Sweetheart Rock. This is one of Lanai’s most visited spots, but, given the more secluded vibes of this particular island, it lacks the busy, touristy feel of popular landmarks on other Hawaiian islands.

An elevation gain of 134 feet and just steps from Four Seasons Resort Lanai, this magnificent landmark provides the perfect photo opportunity for anyone who wants to observe iconic scenery but lacks the time for a multi-mile trek. A brief walk of less than an hour round-trip will take you to a scenic spot without requiring a great deal of exertion. Along the way, you’ll spot the brilliant blue water. Don’t be deterred if you’re typically afraid of heights, as it’s easy to stay away from the edge.

Your visit to Sweetheart Rock will be a lot more meaningful if you understand the story behind this site. According to local legend, a maiden known as Pehe attracted attention from a Lanai warrior named Makakehau. His eyes misted with tears every time he saw this gorgeous woman. He brought her to his island and hid her in a sea cave. She tragically perished during a storm surge.

Struck with grief, Makakehau called to the gods for strength. His pleas must have worked, as he managed to scale the 80-foot formation that stands before Puupehe visitors today. He buried Pehe on this rock island before jumping into the waves below.

Your visit to Puupehe won’t be nearly as dramatic or treacherous as Makakehau’s legendary climb, but you still might feel a bit emotional as you take in the sheer beauty of this landmark. A camera or smartphone is a must-have, as you’ll want to snap several photos before you leave. Picture-worthy moments also abound during the hike to the formation.

Your short expedition begins at the edge of Hulopoe Beach — right by Four Seasons Resort Lanai. You’ll observe rocky tide pools as you depart. Depending on your physical fitness and how often you stop for pictures, you could reach the landmark in as little as fifteen minutes. A slower pace will get you there in about half an hour. The formation will remain hidden until the very end — but as you round that final corner, you’ll discover that it’s more than worth the brief wait.

Insider Tips:
-If possible, begin your hike shortly before sunset. The trail should still be easy to navigate at this time — and you’ll enjoy the most remarkable scenery on the island. Sunrises can also be mesmerizing if you feel like waking up early.
-As you gaze at the formation, keep an eye out for spinner dolphins. They can often be seen from the Puupehe lookout spot. If you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to a display of the impressive acrobatic feats for which they’re known.
-Do you plan on staying at the Four Seasons Resort in Lanai? Take advantage of the resort’s guided hike, which grants you even more insight into the formation’s history and legends. This needs to be reserved in advance, so look into it before you depart.