Hiking Hawaii: Spectacular Views from Lanikai Pillboxes Trail

April 13, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

-by Edyta-

One of our favorite things to do when we visit Hawaii is hiking - in fact, it's one of our favorite activities wherever we are. With two volcanic mountain ranges spanning along the island, Oahu has no shortage of hikes. Vlad and I enjoy challenging ourselves by doing various hikes, taking in the nature and getting different views of the island we wouldn't necessarily get out of the comfort of our car. 

Looking for a quick hike during Gabi's visit, we decided to climb to the Lanikai Pillboxes (aka Ka'iwa Ridge Trail) in the Kailua residential area. It's a 1h round trip trek that lands at two military bunkers (pillboxes) at the summit. My second time doing the hike was a month later, with our friend Rocky who used to live on the island. This time, instead of turning back after the second pillbox, we continued further down the ridges. This added about an hour to the hike and we got to return back to our car a different way - through a quiet, residential area. 

From what we hear, the Lanikai Pillboxes hike is one of the most rewarding hikes on Oahu. As Rocky put it so eloquently, the reward to effort ratio is very high here - and we couldn't agree more. At 20 minutes into the hike, you reach the first pillbox. It's probably the most intense portion of the hike, as it is up a steep, dry, dirt surface, with roots sticking out ready to trip the unsuspecting hikers. But the reward quickly makes you forget the effort! In another five minutes, you reach the second pillbox. Both pillboxes offer spectacular views of the residential Lanikai area with our favorite beach stealing the show. And if you turn around, you'll be rewarded with yet another amazing view - this time of the Kualoa mountain range (my favorite mountain range in the world, everyone has a favorite mountain right, no?? lol).

As you guys probably know by now, such beach & mountain combos rank very high on our list. But don't take our word for it - peep the pics below to see why! 

Lanikai PIllboxes Hike Lanikai PIllboxes Hike

Not gonna lie, your heart rate will definitely go up as you hike the steep mountain side towards the first pillbox.  First stop to look over the edge.  One of the pillboxes in the distance.  Spectacular views from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Spectacular views from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Gabi and I at the top. The day both of us hiked was very sunny; second time around it was more cloudy.  Spectacular views from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Spectacular views from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii View from one of the pillboxes on Lanikai beach and Na Mokulua or "mokes" islands.   Looking north you can admire the majestic Ko'olau mountain range.  Spectacular views from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Spectacular views from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Spectacular views from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Gabi looking tiny on top of that mountain. You can see the first pillbox sticking out of the right side of the mountain.  Hello!!! Btw, could the water look any more beautiful?

Vlad & Rocky on top of one of the pillboxes, on a cloudier day but with equally stunning views.  Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii While we were taking in the views some local hikers came by and shared beer with us. We gave them granola bars in exchange :-) Now that's the aloha spirit.  Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Wouldn't it be so nice to live in one of those beach front houses? Continuing past the pillboxes the hike takes you on top of the ridges. You can see the final path on the left hand side going down the middle of the mountain.  Koolau Mountain Range as seen from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Koolau Mountain Range as seen from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Koolau Mountain Range as seen from Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Most hikers turn back after the second pillbox so there were barely any people past that point of the hike.  Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii Lanikai Pillboxes Hike in Oahu, Hawaii

Rocky leading the way.  The struggle is real here! Hiking path is visible on top of the ridges on the right.  View of Lanikai beach & some lucky dwellers. What a perfect place to live. 

Descending down the last part of the hike which was steep, slippery and could be dangerous if you're not careful!   We had to be careful not to fall.  Especially when distracted by pretty plants...  This is where we ended up once we got of the mountain. The street name is pronounced Poh-oh Poh-oh, not Poo Poo Lol.  Walking to our car we passed some pretty houses. Most of them had plumeria trees and other beautiful plants in their yards.  This one looked big and fancy.  I loved this tropical gate.  Even mailboxes in Hawaii show the aloha spirit! How could anyone not fall in love with this place? 

Ok, so now you know that if you ever come to Oahu and have time for only one hike, Lanikai Pillboxes should be that hike. It's quick but the views are extremely rewarding. And you can always go for a swim in the nearby Lanikai beach to cool off after. 

So how about you guys - do you enjoy hiking as much as we do when you travel?


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