The Need to Knows:
- The Lanikai Pillboxes Hike trail head is located at the end of a private driveway off of Kaelepulu Drive, Kailua, HI 96734. It's exact location is here:
- Parking is definitely an issue here, as it is with the whole neighborhood of Lanikai. Please obey all parking laws and be respectful to the homeowners who reside here when you're hunting for street parking and when you're walking through the neighborhoods (basically don't be loud or toss trash). I suggest parking around Lanikai Park if none of the handful of spots are open at the trail head.
- This trail can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours to complete, depending on how far you go or how long you soak in the views. Next time we go I'll use GPS to figure out how long it is.
- I would rank this hike as somewhere between beginner and moderate. It's not as easy as Manoa Falls or the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, but it isn't too tough either.
- I definitely recommend hiking or running shoes with good traction, especially if it's been raining -- I bet it can get very muddy!
- Once you make it onto the ridge portion of the trail, the sun will be beating down on you, so wear sunscreen and a hat and bring water to stay hydrated.
- This hike is dog-friendly as well as child-friendly, but definitely not suited for strollers. Just be sure to keep an eye on your kids and keep your dog on a leash!
The Lanikai Pillboxes Hike is a short but semi-tough hike that not only will get your blood pumping, but will also reward you with stunning views of the windward coastline of Oahu. It starts in the very popular and ritzy neighborhood of Lanikai in Kailua and overlooks the gorgeous Lanikai Beach as well as the picturesque Mokulua Islands, two of Oahu's many offshore islands.
Mr. L and I have been itching to do this hike for a long time, so we were thrilled when a friend came into town to visit and gave us the perfect excuse to go check it out! We headed out pretty early one morning to make sure we didn't get overheated and to also ensure that the trail wasn't too crowded.
The first 15 minutes or so of the climb is basically all uphill. You definitely need to be wearing shoes with good traction, particularly if it's muddy (thank goodness the day we went wasn't!) since it can be very easy to slip and fall. Keep your hands free as well so you can grab on to rocks, tree trunks, and sometimes rope to help pull yourself up.
|Looking back onto the country club from the trail head (See all that red? Definitely do not park there! Haha)|
When you make it to the first lookout area though, you begin to appreciate what all your effort will get you! You can already see some delicious views of the Moks and a sliver of Lanikai Beach. But don't break for long -- you've got to make it to the first pillbox now!
|Part of the trail and the first pillbox|
I actually sat at the second pillbox for a long time because our friend and Mr. L decided to go try to find the elusive third pillbox. After about an additional 30-45 minutes, they came back and informed me that the third pillbox had no view and was really just a concrete block. They declared it wasn't worth the extra effort, but I didn't mind. I enjoyed hanging out at the second one and probably would have stayed there longer if I could have. Watching the colors of the water shift and change with the sunlight was just so gorgeous!
|Gorgeous Lanikai Beach|
|View of the rest of the Lanikai neighborhood and Bellows and Waimanalo Beaches beyond|
|Mr. L and our friend GC farther down the trail|
This was probably one of my top hikes we've done on Oahu so far. It gave me a workout but we were practically instantly rewarded with jaw-dropping views. You can't beat that! I definitely cannot wait to head back and to bring more friends and family to experience this beauty for themselves.
|You can actually kayak out to this island, Moku Nui, and explore it; the other island, Moku Iki, is a bird sanctuary that is off limits|
|Looking back on the trail, Kailua, and K-Bay in the background|