Lanikai pillboxes

Lanikai Pillboxes - Easy Oahu Hike

One of the most picturesque and rather easy hikes on Oahu is the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, also known as Kaiwa Ridge Trail. It's located on the windward side of Oahu, Hawaii and it offers stunning views of the beautiful Lanikai Beach, Kailua Beach, and the Mokulua Islands. If you're looking to do this hike, read on for directions to the trailhead and tips to make the most of your hike. Also, check out the hyperlapse video that shows you exactly what you're in for.

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What are the pillboxes?

This hike gets its name from the two military observation stations (pillboxes) from World War II that are located on this hiking trail path. Each pillbox offers a resting point for hikers as well as stunning panoramic views. Depending on your pace, you can reach the first pillbox in about 20 minutes or less. It's not unusual for most hikers to make it to the first and/or second pillbox and turn back from there. But if you're on the more adventurous side, you can go further down the path into the valley for more scenic views and generally smaller crowds. The whole hike itself usually takes about 1 hour to 90 minutes round trip.

Also worth noting is the best time of day to do this hike. Sunrise is best viewed from this side of the island, but sunset happens on the Waikiki side. Sunset can also be a trickier time of day since the mountains block the setting sun, causing the windward side of the island to get darker faster. Thus, sunrise is a good time of day for optimal photography lighting conditions, especially if you want to beat the mid-day heat. But sunset can also be great to enjoy after colors and a significantly less crowded hiking trail.

Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail

Getting to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike

The Lanikai Pillbox trailhead is located just off of Ka'elepupu Drive, directly across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club. It's a little nondescript that may or may not have the sign up (it wasn't there during our recent trip). But due to this hike's popularity, it can usually be marked by the handfuls of people heading to the trail. This hike is free and there technically are not set operating hours although it is best done in daylight.

Due to the location of this hike in a residential neighborhood, it's recommended that you drive or take a bus. It's about a 40-minute direct drive from Waikiki. Just be forewarned that there isn't a whole lot of parking in the area. Your best bet is to find parking near Lanikai Park and simply walk the few blocks over to the trailhead. Make sure to read traffic signs and park in designated parking zones as traffic police tend to patrol the area regularly.

Lanikai Pillbox Hike - Safety Tips

Although this hike is considered intermediate, plenty of beginners can handle the terrain if they come prepared. The hardest part is the 10-yard long steep hill you encounter at the very beginning. If you start off on the far right side of the trail, there's a rope that can help with your ascent or descent. But if you're an inexperienced hiker, we highly recommend bringing a walking stick such as these compact folding hiking poles that we bring with us on every hike.

Hiking sticks or poles will help you with your balance while going up and down steep terrain. Several other hikers on this trail saw our hiking poles and immediately commented on how they wished they had some too. Along the lines of gear, proper hiking shoes are recommended to protect your toes and give you a good grip. This hike has many rocks and dirt paths that can get slick and muddy. Be very careful if you do this hike right after a heavy rainfall.

Day Trip - What to Do in Lanikai After the Hike

If you're making your way out to Lanikai for the hike, spend the rest of your day in the area. On your way into Lanikai, you'll pass by the popular, ever-crowded Kailua Beach. Spend some time here if you're lucky to score a parking spot. Or if you park near Lanikai Park as suggested above, walk a few blocks towards the water and enjoy Lanikai Beach. Top your day off with a post-hike fresh juice or açai bowl at Lanikai Juice.

More Oahu Hiking Guides

- Best Oahu Hikes: http://bit.ly/best-oahu-hikes -

Underrated Oahu Hikes: http://bit.ly/underrated-oahu-hikes

- Lanikai Pillbox Hike: http://bit.ly/lanikai-pillboxes

- Koko Crater Trail Hike: http://bit.ly/koko-crater-trail

Lanikai Pillbox Hike Photos

Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail

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Hawaii Hiking Trail
Hawaii Hiking Trail

Best Hikes on Oahu, Hawaii

There is no shortage of stunning hiking trails on Oahu. From popular trails with more people than you can count to more serene destinations where it's just you and nature, there's something for everyone. This is a list of some of my favorite hiking trails on Oahu. I have personally completed these hikes and have found them all to be very enjoyable and photo-worthy.

Recommended Hiking Gear

As a rather risk-averse hiker who is wary of heights, the first two hikes were somewhat easy for me. The latter was truly difficult and I had a hard time making it to the top and back. If you too are not much of a hiker, know that there's absolutely no shame in turning back if at any point you feel uncomfortable. No hike is worth risking your health and safety. On that note, do make sure you are duly prepared with proper hiking equipment. This alone can make your hiking experience much safer and more enjoyable.

Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail - Very Easy

This is a pretty popular trail that can at times seem crowded if you judge on parking availability alone. But to be fair, the parking lot to this trail is on the small side, and it's actually ok to park your car on the side of the road just outside of the gates. Even if the parking lot seems full, don't be deterred. Makapu'u Point is quite large with many little side trails so it doesn't feel very crowded. The main trail is nicely paved, allowing for baby strollers and those in wheelchairs to access the top. But it is a somewhat steep climb. The view at the end is such a reward and worth the hike. Makapu'u tidepools can also be accessed from this trail, although that path isn't paved and requires a bit more agility.

Kaena Point Trail - Easy

The easiest hiking trail I've done on Oahu has to be Kaena Point Trail. It's roughly 5-miles long (roundtrip). The terrain is flat and there's little to no descent. It winds along the westernmost coast of Oahu leading to a nature reserve where you can see seabirds (mainly albatross) and large Hawaiian monk seals in the wild. Since there are two different trails, this hike is rarely crowded and is one of those "off the beaten path" trails.

Read more about the Kaena Point Trail.

Kaena Point Beach and Hike on Oahu, Hawaii
Kaena Point Beach and Hike on Oahu, Hawaii

Lanikai Pillboxes - Moderate

A moderate Oahu hiking trail is the now popular Lanikai Pillbox hike. Located on the windward side, this hike is actually quite short, but it involves a quick, steep ascent. It's not terribly difficult, but those with a fear of heights and poor balance may have issues. The reward comes rather quick in the form of a stunning panoramic view of Lanikai and Kailua Beaches. This hike can be somewhat crowded, but traffic is restricted by the difficulty in finding parking in this area.

Read more about the Lanikai Pillboxes Trail.

Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail
Lanikai Pillbox Oahu Hiking Trail

Koko Crater Trail - Difficult

By far the hardest hike I've yet to do on Oahu is Koko Crater Trail. From what I've read, there are many other hikes that are much more difficult but I warn you again that I'm not much of a hiker. So for me, Koko Crater Trail exceeds my comfort zone by a lot.

This trail is short (under 2 miles), but it's very steep. It also involves climbing old railway tracks that now serve as makeshift stairs. Except these stairs are much longer and taller than the ones that modern humans are used to, so they're not terribly easy for those of us with shorter legs. But like Lanikai Pillboxes, the reward is in the panoramic view at the top. So in that sense, Koko Crater is worth doing at least once.

Read more about the Koko Crater Trail.

Koko Head Crater Hike on Oahu, Hawaii
Koko Head Crater Hike on Oahu, Hawaii

Over To You

What are your favorite hiking trails on Oahu? Let me know in the comments below!

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Best oahu hikes
Best oahu hikes