Oahu is full of history, including old WWII military bunkers, known as pillboxes. Pillboxes are scattered over the island and many have been painted with colorful designs both on the exterior and interior. Since many of the pillboxes are in the mountains and overlook the ocean, there are quite a few great pillbox hikes. If you are looking to do a pillbox hike on Oahu, here are my top picks!
Lanikai Pillbox aka Kaiwa Ridge aka “The Pillbox Hike”
265 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734
This hike has multiple names: Lanikai Pillbox hikes, Kaiwa Ridge, and also is informally known as The Pillbox hike. This hike is arguably one of the most popular on Oahu for it’s beautiful views of the ocean and relatively easy trail. The views of Lanikai beach and the islands, known as mokes, are absolutely breathtaking.
There are two pillboxes on the trail and they are both fairly easy to access. However, the trail is rated as moderate and does have some more difficult parts to climb. There is no shade, so on hot days, it can be particularly brutal. Sunrise is a great time to do this hike and catch a glimpse of the rising sun. You can reach the first pillbox in 20-30 minutes and the second pillbox is only a small distance away on the ridge. While the whole ridge trail is listed as a 3.2 mile hike, you can reach the first two pillboxes in under a mile.
Puu o Hulu or Pink Pillbox
Kaukama Road Waianae, Hawaii 96792
On the west side of Oahu, the Puu o Hulu, also known as the Pink Pillbox hike, has some incredibly beautiful vistas. This is my favorite of the pillbox hikes! The summit of this trail overlooks the stunning blue ocean of Waianae and Electric Beach. While there are three pillboxes on this hike, it is most known for( you guessed it) the hot pink pillbox.
The pink pillbox trail is less trafficked than the hike in Lanikai, although the trail itself is a bit more narrow and you have to be careful of your footing. This hike is 1.6 miles and also ranked as a moderate intensity. The trek to the top could take around 30 minutes to climb. At the top of the hike, there are three pillboxes and a thin ridgeline at the top that connects all of the pillboxes. The trail is completely exposed to the sun and is on the hotter and drier side of the island. Definitely prepare with adequate water and sun protection. Sunset would be the perfect time to do this hike and watch the sunset over the ocean.
59-178 Ke Nui Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Located on the North Shore of Oahu, this pillbox hike is famous for the painted peace signs on top of the pillboxes. There are two pillboxes on this 2.1 mile trail. Similar to the other trails, this is rated as moderate and is fairly easy to hike with a few harder sections that require steady footing. The ground can get very muddy if it rains, so be mindful of the weather.
Unlike the other pillbox hikes, this trail is not so exposed to the sun and does have shade. The top of the trail overlooks the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore. The breathtaking blue ocean views are photo-worthy. And the pillbox is the perfect resting place to enjoy that view.
If you want to experience a beautiful and fun hike, definitely check out these three pillbox hikes. The trails are all relatively easy, compared to other hikes on Oahu, and the views are worth the hike!