Hailey Minton

Writer. Photographer. Explorer.

January 18, 2018 · 3 min read

360 Degree View from the Lanikai Pillboxes Hike

The overcast sky and the slight breeze made it the perfect day to hike to the Lanikai Pillboxes. 

The Lanikai Pillboxes gives a spectacular view of the Mokulua Islands. Most hikers climb on top of the bunkers for a better view. This trail is also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail. The peak gives you a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and city. It’s not the easiest hike to the top, but it’s short and it sure is worth it.

Start the hike really early in the morning or in the evening to beat the heat and be sure to take breaks to enjoy the view. Be aware that if you are bringing children, make sure you are comfortable being close to the edge of a cliff face for most of the hike.

A beginner surf spot to the right of the Popoia Island is north of the Mokolua Islands. The Marine Corps Base outlines the horizon.

Off in the distance you can see the Makapu‘u lighthouse (which is a nice hike with a less well known side trail to tidepools and blowholes.)  Rabbit Island lies off the coast of Waimanalo and is bordered by the Ko ‘olau mountains. Rabbit Island is on the far left with the smaller Kāohikaipu Island to the right of it.

It was at the peak of this hike I realized how small Oahu is and how many beautiful things are contained within it. 

From the top of this peak you think you see a lot, but there is so much you can’t see. You aren’t close enough to see the botanical gardens, the ancient heiaus, the hidden waterfalls, the breathtaking views from ridge lines, the pods of dolphins in the ocean, the pencil sea urchins wedged in the coral. These thoughts inspired me to consider all the places I have not explored yet. What do you pass by without even noticing? 

Lanikai Pillboxes Trail information

The trail is very exposed. A sign at the trailhead says heat exhaustion has killed dogs on this hike. This should give you a pretty good idea of what this hike can be like on a normal sunny day. Bring sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, and stay hydrated. 


Parking can be difficult since there is not a designated trail parking lot for the Lanikai Pillboxes. The trailhead starts in a residential neighborhood and the golf course across the street posted signs restricting hikers from parking on their property. Parallel park in the neighborhood East of the hike. This is your best bet of finding a place. It can be difficult to find a space especially since people use the same parking spaces for Lanikai Beach. Most parking is on the streets that run perpendicular to the beach.

Click here for directions on google maps.

You are close when you see these cross streets. Keep heading southwest.  
This is what the entrance to the trail head looks like. There is no parking on this street.

The Lanikai Pillbox Hike would fit in great as a week-day trip to Kailua where you are also prepared to have a relaxing time at Lanikai beach.