The Lanikai pillbox hike is easily one of the most famous hikes on Oahu (after Stairway to Heaven, Koko Head, and Diamond Head). If you’re new to hiking, this could be a good way to motivate yourself to do a slightly more challenging hike. If you’re basically a pro hiker, this little trail will have a super rewarding view for the little bit of effort you’ll have to put in. Either way, here are some basics to help you with the Lanikai pillbox hike.
First, What Exactly is a Pillbox?
Pillboxes are little concrete rooms that were basically used to keep an eye out for approaching enemies. Oahu’s pillboxes were built for the U.S. military during World War II. (In other locations, pillboxes are used as a line of defense, but the ones on Oahu were never used for that purpose.)
How to Get to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Getting to the Lanikai pillbox hike is actually pretty simple. Google Maps will get you pretty close to the starting areas, and handmade signs that the locals have set out near the very start of the hike will lead you the rest of the way.
The struggle is figuring out the parking situation. There is no designated parking area for the Lanikai pillbox hike, so it’s all street parking. Please be considerate of those living in the area! Do not blog their driveways! Also, please be aware of any no parking street signs that are posted.
When to Go to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Honestly, the Lanikai pillbox hike is a perfect hike for any time of day. Many people opt to go for sunrise, because it’s the best place on the island to catch it. If sunrises aren’t your thing though, the view at the end of the hike is stunning any time of day.
The number of people on the hike is actually quite consistent from sunrise to sunset. (Clearly I’ve done this hike quite a few times.) The one aspect that the time of day might change is the temperature. If you’re going in the heat of summer, hiking in the middle of the day might not be the best move.
What to Bring on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike
You actually don’t need a ton of gear for this hike, so don’t burden yourself with anything extra.
-Water: honestly, you should always bring water with you when you hike.
-Shoes with Grip: the first section of the hike can be quite slippery, so it definitely helps to have shoes with some grip on the soles.
-Sunglasses: it’s Hawaii. The sun is usually quite bright. Sunglasses are nice to have.
-Camera: you’ve just got to capture that stunning view.
-Optional: a backpack just to carry the other items, in case you’re like me and you prefer to keep your hands free.
What to Expect on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike
While the first hundred feet of the hike are quite steep, don’t let that stop you! (I promise, that’s the worst it gets.) After that, take a quick break, and power on through. You can make it to the first pillbox in 25 minutes (roundtrip, the journey is about 45 minutes). There are other pillboxes further down the path, but honesty, the view stays pretty similar to the one you see at the first pillbox. You’ll see two small islands, locally known as the “mokes,” from the graffiti-covered pillboxes.
Fun fact: while one of the mokes is owned by the military, you can actually kayak to the other one!
Looking for another Oahu pillbox hike to try out? Check out the North Shore’s Ehukai Pillbox!
Or if you’re trying to find another fantastic Hawaii sunset spot, the Haleakala sunrise on Maui is pretty spectacular.
Have you ever done the Lanikai pillbox hike? Tell me about your experience in the comments! (I promise I’ll respond!)
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