Great Hikes: Lanikai Pillbox Trail

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This brief hike rewards you with unbelievable views of Kailua Beach, Lanikai and the Mokulua Islands (commonly known as “The Mokes”). At the top of the trail, you can explore the two World War II era bunkers, aka the pillboxes. There are no entrance fees or specific “hours of operation” for this trail.


Trail Length: 0.9 mi. (round trip)
Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 387 ft


It’s pretty straightforward, to be totally honest. Once you find the trailhead, just keep heading up! The beginning of the trail is pretty steep – use the small trees to steady yourself if need be, as the dirt can be really loose. You’ll reach one “pillbox” (bunker), where you can stop and enjoy the views. If you continue on to the next one, just be careful of the trail narrowing. It may be tough to tear your eyes away from those ocean vistas, but safety first!


This hike is out in Kailua, on the eastern side of Oahu. If you are driving from Waikiki, it’s not too complicated but the directions are a bit lengthy so you can find them here. If you are taking the bus out of Waikiki, catch any of the buses over to the Ala Moana Shopping Center (the Ala Moana Blvd side, not the Kapiolani Blvd side). Transfer to Bus 57A heading towards Kailua. Get off at Kailua Rd & Hamakua Dr. Transfer to Bus 70 towards Lanikai. Get off at Alala Dr & Kaneapu Pl. Continue walking along Mokulua Dr. When you come to a Y, keep to the right and follow Aalapapa Drive, then take a right on Kaelepulu Drive. Just before the road hits a gated community you’ll see a side road to the left. Take this and you’ll see the trailhead in front of you.

When to Go:

Dusk and dawn are the two most popular times to do this hike, but it’s fun just about any time. Be sure to bring a lot of water and wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes. If you go in the middle of the day, be aware that there isn’t much shade on this hike so you may want a big hat and lots of sunscreen! Our suggestion would be to do this first thing in the morning and then either spend the rest of the day exploring the eastern shores and windward side of the island or enjoying a kayaking excursion out of Kailua.

Have questions about the Lanikai Pillbox trail or other Oahu hikes? Contact Elite Concierge at 808-971-1943 or


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