Monday, March 14, 2011

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

One nice thing about visitors - no matter where you live - is that they encourage you to do "touristy things" or provide you with the motivation to do things you've "been meaning to do."  This week I have two friends in town from Chicago and over the weekend we hiked to the Lanikai Pillboxes.  I had been meaning to do this hike for a while and a number of people recommended it to me, but for some reason I just never made it up there.

Getting there wasn't difficult per se, but it wasn't easy, either.  From Waikiki, it only takes maybe 30 minutes to get here (if you take the Pali Hwy).  First of all, I discovered that everyone knows where the start to the trail head is, but no one can tell you how to get there.  When I asked directions, I was told multiple times, "it's next to the golf course."  Have you ever seen a golf course!?  It's not like, "oh, it's across from McDonald's."  Golf courses are huge and there are a lot of places that can be "across" from a golf course.  So let me explain in very simple terms how to get to the Lanikai Pillbox hike:  From the highway (rt 61) heading into Kailua, bear right when you get to the Shell Gas Station (on your left) onto Kailua road.  Note: Kailua road actually goes straight AND right.  You want to go right.  Continue along Kailua road until you come to a traffic light.  Turn left at the traffic light.  You are still on Kailua road.  Go to the end of the road and turn right onto Kalaheo Road.  You are now headed into the Lanikai Loop (where Mokolua Dr becomes Alapapa Rd).  At your first right on Alapapa Road, turn right onto Kaelepulu Dr.  Park anywhere along that road and the trail head entrance is directly across from the entrance to the Mid-Pacific Country Club parking lot.

The short hike up to the pillboxes (also known as Lanikai bunkers) on Ka'iwa Ridge offers one of the most breathtaking views of the windward side of the island. The hike itself is pretty easy.  It's uphill and there are loose rocks, but the view is definitely worth the hike.  The first part of the hike is steep and very slippery due to the dry dusty ground. There is nothing to hold onto other than tall grass and a few bushes, so it's probably a good idea to wear hiking shoes or be prepared to end up on your bum a couple of times on your way down. There is no shade on this hike until you reach the pillboxes so make sure to bring some water.  It took maybe 45 minutes to get to the top and about the same to get down.  I did not see too many older people on this hike, but it is not nearly as steep as Diamond Head or some of the more difficult (but popular) hikes in Honolulu.  I highly recommend this hike if you have a day to spend in Kailua/Lanikai.

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