Also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike has always been one of my favorite weekend activities. Considered an intermediate hike (totally possible in flip flops but I highly recommend sneakers), the trail will take you up a steady yet steep uphill climb right from the trail head. The starting point is right off of Ka’elepupu Drive, and is marked by colorful signs so you won’t lose your way.
Throughout the climb, you will find beautiful views of the Mokulua Islands, Kailua Beach, and Lanikai Beach. By the time you reach the top, you’ll be able to see the famous Kaneohe Bay, Chinaman’s Hat, Waimanalo Bay, and the Makapu’u Lighthouse.
The Nitty Gritty
Roundtrip, the hike will take you between 1 hour and 90 minutes. You’ll be able to easily reach the first military pillbox between 20 and 25 minutes. I suggest bringing a full bottle of water (or two) and some nice fruits to enjoy when you reach the top. Although most hikers turn to go back to the trailhead at the second, higher pillbox, you also have the option of continuing on to trk farther along the Kaiwa Ridge Traul which will eventually take you back to the residential area on A’alapapa St. From here, you will have another half hour walk back to where you got on the trail.
What to Take
Be sure to bring water (stay hydrated!), a hat, sunscreen, light snacks, a camera, and a backpack. After the hike is done, drive on down and soak up some rays at Kailua Beach Park. Once you’re done in the sun, nothing beats a job well done like a shave ice from Island Snow!