The small town of Lanikai in Oahu, Hawaii is probably by far my favorite place on the entire island. However, if you are looking for the best views of Lanikai I would highly recommend hiking up to the Lanikai Pillboxes up on the mountains. It is definitely worth the hike. Kailua is home to the most beautiful beach areas in Oahu. The water is a gorgeous turquoise color just like you see in the vacation magazines and it’s so clear. Just absolutely gorgeous. This destination is definitely one that you don’t want to miss if you are visiting Hawaii.
I will be sharing with you on this post all of the details about the hike, how to be safe, LNT, and where to park. Best time to go is in the early morning so you can snag the best parking spot to the pillboxes.
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PARKING FOR LANIKAI PILLBOX AND FINDING THE TRAILHEAD
Once you arrive at the location, I recommend finding a parking spot on the side of the road close to the trail head. The later you arrive in the morning the harder it is to find a parking spot close to the trailhead. As you walk up Kaelepulu Drive towards the end you can find a dirt path to your left. This is where the trail begins at. If you can’t find it, always ask a local or anyone that seems like they just got done with a hike. I’m sure they will be nice enough to point you towards the right direction.
HIKING TRAIL DETAILS FOR LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE
Length: 1.25 miles one way (it is an out and back trail)
Elevation: 500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate but can be steep in some areas. Hold on to the ropes or trees to avoid slipping.
Time Roundtrip: 1 hour to 90 minutes. Maybe more depending on how far you are hiking this is the estimated time to reach the first two pillboxes and take a small break for pictures.
Cost: Parking – free on the side of the road
Location: 265 Kaelepulu Dr. Kailua, HI 96734
RELATED ARTICLE: HIKING WITH KIDS – BEST TIPS FROM AN OUTDOOR MOM
HIKING OAHU’S LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE
The hike is easy to find but not the easiest hike to do with little kids. If you go make sure you can carry your kid all the way up. With bigger kids, holding hands, a harness, or even a rope to help them grab onto something may be ideal. I’ve done this hike already twice and can’t wait to do it again.
The beginning of the hike I think is the hardest part. It is very slippery and steep. If you aren’t careful you can get seriously injured. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen so always stay hydrated, wear proper clothing, sunblock, and a hat. It is mostly all exposed to the sun so the heat will get to you. It’s best to do this hike in the early morning right after the sun comes out and the day is still cool. You can also go before the sunrise so you can catch the sunrise from the mountain top but definitely bring a headlamp, flashlight, and extra batteries to help guide you through the darkness.
Once you have passed the rough part in the beginning the rest of the way is rocky and uphill. There will still be some climbing and slippery areas so be careful. There’s some areas where it’s a ridge so definitely hold your little ones’ hands. Once you get to the first pillbox you can go around to the right side of it and climb on top. The view from here is absolutely gorgeous and worth it. It was our perfect resting spot.
From the first pillbox you can see the second pillbox. It’s not too much further but it’s crossing another ridge and some more climbing and going uphill in order to get to it. I stayed behind while my husband went up to explore more. I didn’t dare take the little ones but this is up to your own discretion. My kiddos were already exhausted by this point so I didn’t want to push their limits.
RELATED ARTICLE: TOP 5 KID FRIENDLY HIKES IN OAHU, HAWAII
THINGS TO DO AFTER YOU HAVE HIKED TO THE LANIKAI PILLBOXES
After doing this hike we always end up going to the beach to cool off and relax. It’s a really great way to just chill and enjoy the rest of the day after a great hike. Lanikai always brings a great vibe to my day so if you’re ever on Oahu, this is one of the must go places before you leave. At the beach you can rent kayaks and paddle boards in various locations. You can also bring your own if you have one on the island. Definitely bring your snorkels so you can find some of the gorgeous fishes in the area.
You can also check out the local shops and restaurants to satisfy your thirsty and try some delicious local food as well.
LEAVE NO TRACE, ONLY FOOTPRINTS
Please keep in mind that when visiting the outdoors it is always important to follow and practice Leave No Trace Principles. These principles are very important in conserving our planet and minimizing your impact while exploring the world around you. You can learn more on how you can practice LNT principles here.
PACKING GUIDE FOR LANIKAI PILLBOX HIKE
I want to go over the things I packed down below so you can get more of an idea of what to bring and what is needed. Please make adjustments to your own packing list as you find fit. Take note that this is what I packed for us and our kids. You can also find individual guides regarding hiking essentials in the articles below if you are looking for a more in depth guide on what to pack for your hikes.
- Baby Hiking Essentials – geared towards toddlers and infants.
- Hiking with Kids Essentials – geared more towards toddler age and up.
You can also download our FREE packing lists in our Resource Library when you sign up below.
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE HIKE
- Water / Hydration
- A hat
- Sunblock (Check out our reef safe options here)
- First Aid Kit
- Baby Carrier – I like to use the Ergo for back support. Reach more about it here.
- Sneakers or hiking boots
- Active clothing that is comfortable and easy to move in.
- Backpack if you need one to carry your items.
RELATED ARTICLE: HEALTHY SNACKS FOR KIDS ON THE GO
WHAT TO PACK FOR AFTER THE HIKE AND FOR A BEACH DAY
- More water. It can get hot and staying hydrated is very important.
- Change of clothes. I always like to have a backup just in case I get dirty or muddy on the trail.
- Swimsuit and a towel if you plan to hit the beach
- First Aid Kit – I can’t stress this one enough.
- Snorkels, paddle board, kayak, sand toys, etc. – This is perfect for hitting the beach.
- Bag to put all your items in.
- Lunch and snacks
RELATED ARTICLE: BEACH ESSENTIALS FOR THE FAMILY
- Hike the Lanikai Pillboxes, Pillboxes Trail by The Outbound Collective
- Lanikai Pillbox Hike by The Katie Show Blog
- How to Get to Lanikai Beach by The Katie Show Blog
- Lanikai Pillbox Hike by Best of Oahu
Well that’s a wrap for this hiking guide. I really hope you enjoyed the guide and are able to plan ahead for it. Always go prepared and bring what you need to hike safely. Don’t forget to always practice Leave No Trace and be courteous of others on the trail. Also if you enjoyed this blog post then you can check out more of our Hawaii travel guides here if you’d like. follow our adventures on Instagram so you can stay up to date on upcoming travel adventures, tips, gear reviews, recipes and more. Don’t forget to share or pin to save it. Thank you for reading and happy hiking!