Lanikai Pillbox Hike / Kaiwa Ridge Trail

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Phone (808) 587-4175
Address 357 Kaelepulu Dr, Kailua, HI 96734
Popular hike that pays off with some amazing views at the top.

• General: Cost: Free • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking • Hiking: Length: 1-2 Miles • Hiking: Level: Easy
• Hiking: Level: Moderate • Hiking: Major Elevation Changes • Hiking: Out & Back Trail • Hiking: Ridge Hike • Hiking: Rock Climbing
• Sightseeing: Great Views

The Lanikai Pillbox Hike, which is also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, is a 1.6 mile long (each way), out and back style hiking trail in the Kailua area of O'ahu. This is a hugely popular trail with locals and tourists alike.

Because it's so popular and the parking situation is lacking (welcome to Hawaii!) it may be tough to find a place to park. Going early is your best bet and look for legal parking on Kaelepulu Drive. Make sure you don't park where the signs forbid it. This will also be the best time to avoid the heat.

Bring plenty of water for everyone and wear good shoes as parts of the trail can be muddy and slippery at times. It's an uphill climb pretty much the whole way. The steepest and usually slipperiest parts are in the beginning. As always, be sure to read Hiking Safety & Essentials before heading out and apply sunscreen to Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer as the trail is completely exposed.

While this is an easy trail for many, it still has plenty of dangers and areas where you can slip and fall. Easy is a relative term as well. It's short, but you'll climb in elevation very fast so it's like a big stairway to the top.

Of course, the stairs are just compressed dirt trails and loose dirt and rocks so it's easy to slip. Easy does not mean a walk in the park so this isn't for everyone. In fact, while many bring kids on this trail we don't suggest doing that. There are places where a fall will be very serious, possibly even deadly for keiki (kids).

But, if you just want to hike to the first pillbox then you're really only looking at about a 0.5 mile hike up (and the same back down) with around a 380 foot elevation gain which is far more manageable and what many people do. This is why most consider this an easy hike. Continue on and you're looking at overall elevation gains around 600 feet.

When you reach the top you'll find the pillboxes that give this trail its common name. These are a great place to snap some amazing pictures since you can climb on top of them and enjoy incredible views of Lanikai Beach.

I'd avoid this if it is raining or just rained. If it's windy outside it will be worse as you go up. Certain areas are pure ridge with steep falls on both sides so wind won't help if you're not comfortable with heights.