Lanikai Pillbox Hike (Kaiwa Ridge)

Lanikai Pillbox Hike (Kaiwa Ridge)

Suitable for:
Active travellers, nature lovers, families, couples
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Well known, but not overcrowded
Insider Tip
Time needed:
2.5 hours
Optimal arrival time:
06:30 o' clock
Suitable for:
Active travellers, nature lovers, families, couples
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Well known, but not overcrowded
Insider Tip
Time needed:
2.5 hours
Optimal arrival time:
06:30 o' clock

Profile of the hike

Distance total:
1,4 Kilometer
Distance uphill
0,69 Kilometer
Distance downhill
0,69 Kilometer
Altitude meters uphill
113 Meter
Altitude meters downhill
- 112 Meter

Lanikai Pillbox Hike (Kaiwa Ridge) - Description

The Pillbox Hike (also called the Kaiwa Ridge Trail) is a 2.9 km, heavily visited hiking trail near Kailua, Oahu. It passes beautiful viewpoints and there are wildflowers as well as wildlife to see. Due to the incline and distance, the trail is considered moderate. The route is accessible year-round. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

The trail starts in the middle of the residential area of Lanikai and is a bit difficult to find. But with the address below in the navi, it is not a problem. You should not be confused by the many signs and simply take the small path between the road and the private property in the woods.

Even in dry weather, the paths through the forest are extremely slippery, despite the attached ropes. On rainy days, this part of the hike becomes a pure slippery slope.

As soon as the grove ends, there is a beautiful view of the coast of Lanikai. The bright sandy beach lined with palm trees meets the turquoise shining ocean. Off the coast lies a well-known photo motif in the water: the two islands of Moku Nui and Moku Iki (in short: "The Mokes" or "The Twin Islands").

The rest of the hike goes directly over Ka'iwa Ridge, so you have great views on both sides. At the top, you reach the decommissioned pillbox bunkers from World War II. Like everywhere else on the island, the high mountains were converted into gun emplacements to defend Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor. From there you have the best view of the south and north. The green slopes of the Ka'iwa mountain range stretch down to Waimanalo Bay.

What we say

Perfect for children from +6 years! The kids can climb (they must be careful of course!), have fun and once you arrived at one of the pillboxes, you have a great viewing platform. And after the descent, you go down to Lanikai Beach and marvel at where you've just been ;-)
This short hike is suitable for an early and great start to the day. The hiking trail itself is not particularly spectacular but the view is. Since this trip only takes about 2-3 hours, you'll be back by late morning and have already experienced a great sunrise view. During the day, the lights are not as beautiful (and the Pacific is not as turquoise) as around sunrise. In addition, it is mostly crowded with hikers. A short meditation or round of yoga on the bunker with the rising sun and few people is worth getting up early. You can combine this hike with beach visits to Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach.
The Pillbox Hike is always great and can, due to the small time requirement, also be done perfectly in a self-driven island roundtrip as a stopover. Then, however, you are usually a little late (consider stops in advance!) and it will be a little busier (parking lot search could be more difficult but does not have to be).
Our checklist & tips:
  • Finding a parking space is difficult because it is in the middle of a residential area.
  • Do not use the parking lot at Mid Pacific Country Club. That means trouble ;)
  • Parking at Kailua Beach Park is further away but there is often a parking space available there.
  • The hike is recommended at sunrise (sunrise page).
  • Enjoy the time in the morning with a meditation and yoga on the bunker before it gets too crowded.
  • Can be combined with beach visits to Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach.

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Map and contact data

265 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734
Longitude: -157.7188823268674
Latitude: 21.39031649481243

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