Lanikai Pillbox Hike (Ka’iwa Ridge Trail)
Ka’iwa Ridge Trail, or popularly known as the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, is one of O’ahu’s most attractive and picturesque hikes the island has to offer. Visitors and hikers from around the world come to enjoy the beautiful views of the Windward Coast and the famous twin islands, Nā Mokulua, or commonly known as “The Mokes,” located offshore of Lanikai Beach. The trail overlooks the exclusive neighborhood of Lanikai along with its beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters.
Lanikai Pillbox is located in a residential neighborhood, so please be respectful to the surrounding community as you make your way to the trailhead. The hike is located off of Ka‘elepulu Drive. Once you come into Lanikai you will take a right at the fork in the road onto A‘alapapa Drive and then make your first right onto Ka‘elepulu Drive. It can be hard to find parking closer to the trailhead so I recommend parking on the residential streets and then walk to the trailhead.
The trailhead is roughly 20 – 30 minutes from the start to reach the first lookout point at the old military bunker (pillbox). It is about another 10-15 minutes to reach the second lookout point further up along the ridge where the other military bunker is located. To complete the entire pillbox hike, it will take about an hour from start to finish. The trailhead does not provide a substantial amount of shade; it is open and you are exposed for most of the duration of the hike, so bring your hats and sunscreen! There are a few areas where it is steep and narrow and can be slippery after heavy rainfalls, so please be cautious and make sure to bring your hiking shoes.
The trail is ranked intermediate considering there’s a steep grade going uphill at the beginning of the trailhead and a few other areas that are lofty and narrow. The total distance of the trail is about 1.8 miles and is open to the public year-round. If you wish to bring your four-legged friends, dogs are allowed on the hike, but must be kept on a leash. Overall, Lanikai Pillbox is an attractive hike to go on walks, runs, and as a way to get outside and enjoy the beautiful nature that Hawai’i has to offer. Not to mention, Lanikai Pillbox is a phenomenal destination for sunrises and sunsets!
Sunrise and Sunsets at Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Waking up at the crack of dawn, packing your bag, and making your way up the ridge for a beautiful sunrise is quite the adventure! Keep in mind you will want to start the hike an hour before the sun rises so that you can give yourself plenty of time to reach the lookout point and set up camp. We recommend looking up the time of “first light” the exact time of the sunrise before planning your adventure, as times change throughout the year. Please be mindful that it will be harder to navigate in the dark, so please bring a good headlamp or flashlight as you begin the hike. Make sure to bring your camera for when the sun rises or the sun sets, as the sky will light up with the most vibrant colors anyone has the pleasure of witnessing. It is a great start to your day as you overlook Lanikai, observing the island coming to life, as well as a fantastic end to your day as the last glimpse of light fades away in the midst of the pink and yellow hues.