One of the greatest walks on Oahu is the Lanikai pillbox hike, which is also fantastic for dawn or sunset. It’s undoubtedly among the top things to do on Oahu!
This is a quick trek that is a little difficult but is still family-friendly. On the windward side of Oahu island, close to the community of Kailua, the Lanikai pillbox path offers several historic World War II bunkers with breathtaking ocean views.
This trek, which is short and offers breathtaking views of the sun rising over Lanikai Beach and the distant Mokulua islands, is also known as the Kaiwa Ridge trek or the Kailua Pillbox Hike.
You can find directions to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike in our travel guide, along with details on the trail’s length, price, parking, safety, sunrise recommendations, and anything else you need to know before you go.
Trail of the Lanikai Pillboxes: What to Expect
The Lanikai pillbox trek ascends the Kaiwa mountain on a gravel road till it leads to some former World War II concrete bunkers with expansive vistas.
You can’t really get lost on the trail once you’re on it. Simply adhere to the other hikers and the wide dirt path. Even at morning, traffic on this path is heavy and crowded. Additionally, there is very little shade, making a hat and sunscreen useful.
The dirt route is treacherous, especially on the way down, and includes a lot of loose pebbles and sand. You should monitor the weather before you go because this can get muddy after a significant storm.
There are breathtaking 360-degree views of windward Oahu from the ridge’s summit. The small Mokulua islands (the “Mokes”) and Lanikai Beach are visible to the east, and the Ko’olau Mountains and some of Kailua are visible to the west.
Distance to the Pillbox in Lanikai
The Lanikai pillboxes trek is a one-way distance of half a mile, however it may be a little bit longer depending on where you park.
Even though it’s only a short hike—you can get to the summit in 15 minutes if you hurry—it feels longer since it’s hilly and tough. Deliver water!
Even if you can’t make it to the first pillbox, you’ll still be treated to some beautiful scenery because the amazing views on this climb begin practically right away.
You may also extend your trip by continuing on the Kaiwa Ridge Trail past the Lanikai pillboxes and taking a more solitary route.
Kids have plenty of room on this route, but stay away from the edges later in the trip since there are some really large drop-offs.
It’s not very dangerous, but I’ve hiked the track in sandals several times (even at dawn when it was dark), so if you have them, hiking shoes are definitely preferable.
On this walk, there have been a few instances of individuals breaking their ankles and requesting an airlift.
Trail Kaiwa Ridge
The majority of hikers turn around and head back down the same way they came after reaching the second pillbox. However, the crowds rapidly thin out as you proceed and you can view more of the Kaiwa ridge.
Although the route is extremely quiet here, the vistas are still spectacular. The trail eventually leads you east down to Lanikai Beach if you go all the way down the Kaiwa ridge, or you may walk west to descend to Kamahele street and the Enchanted Lake neighborhood of Kailua.
Sunrise Hike to Lanikai Pillbox
This route is also one of the greatest places on the entire island to see the dawn and sunset because of the 360-degree views you receive from the top of the bunkers.
The images below demonstrate the types of morning vistas you might anticipate. You’ll be able to see the sun rising in the morning over the water (and behind the “Mokes”).
If you go at daybreak, you should bring a flashlight and a coat because the trail will be dark and it may feel cool up there as you wait for the sun to rise.