With quiet, floral-draped residential streets, powder-fine white sand, and turquoise water, Lanikai is a well-known and beloved Oahu destination. Whether it is for a firsthand glimpse of the award-winning Lanikai Beach or a kayak trip out to the nearby islands, most tourists stop by Lanikai at some point during their stay. Located in Kailua, it is a tiny residential area with a road that loops through it, and no shops or commercial activity. The Lanikai Pillbox trail provides a perfect way to experience Lanikai, offering breathtaking views of the sleepy coastal community as well as sweeping panoramic views of Kailua, Kaneohe, and the coastline in both directions. Built between World War I and World War II, the pillboxes are part of the Oahu's defense system and used to alert shore artillery batteries about approaching enemy ships. Similar to the pillboxes you can see on Diamond Head, the Lanikai pillboxes were abandoned once the advent of radar made them obsolete.
AT A GLANCE:
This trail is short and non-intimidating, making it popular with families and hikers looking for a fun but not overly challenging excursion. It makes a great pre-beach activity, and can be hiked in approximately 45 minutes, from start to finish.
The trail begins at the end of Kaelepulu Dr. There are a limited number of parking spots there, or hikers can park along the side of Kamahele St. After parking, walk up Kaelepulu Dr and turn left to reach the start of the trailhead. There is a sign marking the starting point, and the first several yards of the trail lead up along a residential property fence line. Once you reach the top of this section, you will step out to be greeted with the first view overlooking Lanikai and the Mokulua Islands. The trail is open from here on out, offering views to both sides of the ridge line.
Also called Ka'iwa Ridge Trail, it is more commonly known as the Lanikai Pillbox Hike because of the two pillboxes (military bunkers) along the way.
There is little shade along the trail and it can get very hot, so bring plenty of water and plan to hike early or late in the day rather than at the day's hottest point.
Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734
From Waikiki, take the H1-W to the Pali Highway. Take the Pali Highway into Kailua. Once you reach Kailua, it will become Kailua Road. Follow it until it ends in a T; turn right onto S Kalaheo Ave. S Kalaheo Ave will become Lihiwai Rd, and then Kawailoa Road. Continue past Kailua Beach Park, and then turn left onto Alala Rd to follow the coastline. Alala Rd becomes Mokulua Dr as you enter Lanikai. It is a loop road to through Lanikai, so once you come down the hill into Lanikai you will directed to keep to the right. Turn right onto Kaelepulu Dr. The trail head begins at the end of this road and to the left.