Standing on a trail 500-600 feet above Lanikai, the green windblown hills stretch down to tiny square houses below and the aqua blue water of the ocean blends into the sky. After climbing a steep incline in the first part of the hike, you stretch out on an old military bunker to watch the sun continue to rise from a deep orange over the ocean to a bright yellow above. This is the Lanikai Pillbox Hike.
A unique combination of hiking and history, the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, commonly known as the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, exposes you to breathtaking scenery on your way to two old military bunkers. This is a fairly short hike at about 90 minutes round trip, but with a steady steep climb from the start of the trail, it does require some effort. Caution should be taken throughout the first section of the trail, as it is full of loose gravel and steep drop-offs. There will be plenty of views to soak in as you climb, with the white sand from Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach beckoning in the distance and the Mokulua Islands rising from the blue Pacific.
After about 20-30 minutes, you’ll reach the first of the military pillbox bunkers. These old concrete observation stations were built in 1943, and at that time were armed with high-powered telescopes to survey possible enemy ships. They have recently undergone $250k repairs to restore the structures. Another ten minutes along the trail will take you to the second bunker.
At this point, most hikers retrace their steps back down the trail to their starting point, resulting in about a 1.2-mile hike in total. Another option is to continue hiking along the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, taking in more coastline views and leading you to the descent into the residential houses on A’alapapa Street. From here you would walk back to your starting point on Ka’elepupu drive.
The trailhead is located across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club in the east coast town of Kailua. Heading away from the ocean on Ka’elepupu Drive, look for a small unnamed street among houses on the left side of the road. You will see a sign on this small road marking the Lanikai Pillbox Hike. Parking is along the side of the road or near the entrance gate to the Mid-Pacific Country Club.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
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