Hiking to the Heavens: Lanikai Pillbox Trail
When it comes to picturesque hikes in Hawaii, the Lanikai Pillbox Trail is a gem that should not be missed. Nestled on the island of Oahu, this short but rewarding trail offers breathtaking views of Lanikai Beach, the Mokulua Islands, and the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Let's take a closer look at what makes this hike so special.
The Lanikai Pillbox Trail, also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, is a relatively short and moderately strenuous hike located in the Lanikai neighborhood of Kailua on Oahu's windward side. The trail gets its name from the World War II-era pillboxes (bunkers) that are positioned along the ridge. These concrete structures were once used as military lookout points, and today, they serve as scenic viewpoints for hikers.
What sets the Lanikai Pillbox Trail apart is the unparalleled beauty that unfolds as you ascend. The trail is only about 1.5 miles round trip, but it's packed with natural beauty. As you hike, you'll be treated to panoramic vistas of Lanikai Beach, consistently ranked as one of the world's most beautiful beaches. The turquoise waters and white sands below create a postcard-perfect scene.
The highlight of the hike is, of course, the pillboxes themselves. You'll encounter two of these concrete structures along the way, each perched on a hilltop. These pillboxes offer not only a glimpse into Hawaii's history but also incredible vantage points to soak in the surrounding landscape. Many hikers choose to climb onto the roofs of the pillboxes for even better views.
One of the most popular times to tackle the Lanikai Pillbox Trail is at sunrise. Setting out early allows you to witness the sun emerging from the horizon, casting a warm glow over the Mokulua Islands and the tranquil Lanikai Beach. The experience is nothing short of magical and is a favorite among photographers and nature enthusiasts.
- Footwear: Sturdy hiking shoes are recommended, as the trail can be rocky and uneven.
- Water: Be sure to bring plenty of water, especially on hot days.
- Sun Protection: Don't forget sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun.
- Respect the Environment: Stay on the designated trail and be mindful of the fragile ecosystem.
The Lanikai Pillbox Trail is a hike that offers a lot of reward for relatively little effort. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking for a memorable experience in Hawaii, this trail is a must-visit. It's a journey that combines history, nature, and awe-inspiring views, making it one of Oahu's most treasured hiking experiences.
A short hike up & *BAM* you're surrounded by the beauty of Kailua, Lanikai, Waimanalo & an ocean of deep blue Pacific. Miles of beaches as far as the eye can see.
As named, the Lanikai Pillbox hike is made up of two pillboxes or bunkers. Used long ago by military stationed in Hawaii during World War II, they are now abandoned and visited daily by outdoor lovers or anyone who just want to hang loose & relax.
Wear stable shoes, the beginning of the hike can be a bit dusty & tricky. Steady yourself with the ropes or the tree branches nearby. Once you make it past this beginner's hump, the rest of the way is easy breezy.
Walk along the ridge & take in the view. See what we mean by instant gratification?
We're slow hikers, rather taking in the view than rushing through nature. Allot 60 to 90 minutes and bring some snacks. Climb up the pillboxes & soak in the view.
No wonder Lanikai is named one of the top beaches in the world :)
- Secure walking shoes
- Bring water & snacks
- Steep incline at the start, steep decline at the end
- Trail is along the ridge of Kaiwa
- About two miles round-trip
- 1 to 1 1/2 hours round-trip
- Park your car near trail or side of street
- Please respect nearby homes
- No restrooms
- Admission: Free
Lanikai Pillbox Starting Point: