A Quick Quide to Kailua's Most Popular Hike
Watching over the notorious Lanikai Beach is the Kaiwa Ridge, a dainty hillside on Oahu's east side.
I say dainty because in comparison to the wicked spines of the Moanalua and Ka’au Crater trails I did in weeks prior, the Pillbox trail was a leisurely, well-worn and wide trail with an easy ascent.
It’s kid friendly, dog friendly and even morning-exercise-before-work friendly; I noted a few locals lounging on the pillboxes before heading off to work for the day.
What to Take:
I highly recommend this hike for people wanting something low maintenance. It gets the blood flowing without any real risk of loosing any (cue the scabs and bruises I’m still flaunting after Ka’au). It's less than an hour round trip, not much elevation gain and a clear, safe trail.
- comfortable shoes
- a headlamp if you start before twilight
- snacks, water or coffee--it is a sunrise hike, after-all!
- charged camera; don't forget to load and format your SD card
- a hoodie/windbreaker
We were dropped off about 30 minutes before sunrise (around 6:30am) and made it to the first “pillbox” just in time for the sun to break over a few grey clouds loitering on the horizon. If you're anything like me, you just cringed at the "waking up before 8am" part; shut up and do it. Trust me. It's glorious.
Now a little history: so, the pillboxes are actually defensive armaments which were used as military observation units in the 40’s. Typically they mounted defensive artillery like machine guns, however these particular pillboxes only served as lookouts--as they continue to do for us early risers!
The government sold this land to a private individual after the war and eventually the land ended up in the hands of the Lanikai Association as part of Hawaii’s state trail system.
Because this hike is so accessible and yields fantastic views, it’s obviously very popular. Unfortunately though, the hike’s increasing popularity is causing some serious erosion issues, especially on the Luika Place (near Kaelepulu Drive) trailhead entrance.
The ultimate result?
Neighbors are increasingly wary of hikers. If you do this hike--which you should!--don’t disturb the community and please be respectful of the land. Stay on trail, leave no trace and be polite. Park respectfully and leave no litter; that includes cigarette butts and bottle caps, which are disappointingly common.
That said, enjoy the trail and relax on one of the cement pillboxes. You’re in sunrise paradise!
Other things I thought were neat?
1. Forced perspectives over Wailea Point
2. These boulders on the backway down the ridge:
3. The lava rock that is exposed underneath the soil erosion; a cool reminder that these islands are part of an infinitely changing environment that breathes with the oceans and exhales with the winds.
What the turbulent molten layers under the Earth's crust force to rise above the ocean are then slowly dissolved and deflated with each second of time that passes. Minutes to millennia, like successive footsteps on a fading trail or the billion individual heartbeats that trace the outline a life.
Hawaii is the heart of the pacific, both geographically and spiritually, so leave the mud on your shoes. Take it home with you; let the dirt and the memories wear away gradually with time, like the incessant waves that work corals and shells to sand and dust.
An easy-going mind that flows with the tides rather than against is the spirit of Aloha.