Lanikai Pillboxes Hike

Set above the hills of Lanikai, the Pillboxes Hike is one of the most popular on the island, and for good reason. In front of perfect turquoise waters, dark blue skies, and two iconic offshore islands, the two WWII Pillboxes give you a breathtaking sight to see. Depending on what time of day you go, you’ll be treated to vibrant shades of blue midday, reds and oranges from the sunrise, or deep purples after the sun sets. And after you finish the hike, you can take a dip in the perfect waters of Lanikai Beach.


The hike starts on a side street close to the Mid-Pacific Country Club. You’ll want to find parking on the cross-streets or near the canoe club, but not on the circular drive. It’s will be only a 15-20 minute hike to the first pillbox and then another 5 minutes to the second, more famous box.

Photo Essay:

In a very short and steep few minutes of climbing, you’ll quickly rise out of the neighborhood where you started, and see all of Kailua to Kaneohe. There are a few different trails to take up after the first initial ascent. Just choose the one that you find most comfortable and climb your way up to this graffitied structure. 

Julie joined me on this hike. After we got to the top of the first pillbox, we took a break to take photos. Then it was off to the second pillbox.

From the edge of the second pillbox, you can see views of Waimanalo bay and spot Rabbit Island and Makapu’u. Far in the distance will be Maui and Molokai, only a faint strip of land above the water.

If you go during the middle of the day, make sure to bring your hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Any additional protection against the sun is recommended too. If bringing your camera, make sure to pack your circular polarizer to remove all the glare. You’ll get the most insane blues you’ll see on the island. Below is a photo without using the polarizer – edited as best as possible. The rest of the photos are using the polarizer. Just look at the color of the blue in this photo and the next.

And that was it. The best short hike on Oahu. We went directly to Lanikai Beach to take on the sun and swim in the waters. It makes for a great day for anyone visiting.

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