There’s a hike in Lanikai that’s close to my heart for various reasons…
Lanikai Pillboxes was the first hike I did with Jake — before we were even together — my first (and last) sunrise hike, and just this year on my birthday, Emily and I made the trek the morning of my 23rd birthday.
It’s a really easy hike — but let me tell you, whether it’s cloudy, sunny, morning, afternoon, or evening, you’ll get a unique and beautiful experience every time you hike it. I think that’s why I keep coming back.
You’ll find the trail head in a residential neighborhood in front of the Mid Pacific Country Club. Parking used to be easy to find here, but the volume of hikers this trail sees has started to ware on homeowners in the area. Now there are only a few stalls.
Parking shouldn’t be a problem in the early morning or evening, but if you can’t find a stall there’s always street parking along the other residential roads nearby. Think of the extra walk as part of the hike.
The last time we went, a little girl and her parents set up a lemonade stand at the beginning of the road leading to the trail head. (Supply and demand… A budding business woman already!) $0.50 for a cup of ice cold lemonade, strawberry or regular, and $0.75 for water. She was saving up for a laptop.
The trail is easy to follow and fairly narrow in some parts, but it’s not one of those hikes where you could accidentally get lost in the forest or something. You’ll begin the trail by scaling a fairly steep dirt hill, but after that you’ll get a rest with some flatter parts of the trail before climbing up some rockier areas.
If you’re hiking in the morning, you’ll get a beautiful view of the mountains as the sun rises and floods them with light. You can see that in the picture above, along with a silhouetted pillbox — your target!
There are two pillboxes (three actually, but the last one is a lot further and lacks a beautiful Lanikai view). We typically take a quick break at the first to take in the scenery, then hike to the second where we find it’s usually less crowded. You can even crawl around inside the military remnants — a sure way to avoid the beating sun if you’re hiking in the afternoon.
Whether you end up standing on top of a pillbox at noon or at 6am, you’re going to have a beautiful view of Lanikai Beach. The high sun brings beautiful shades of vibrant blues, while a moody sunrise brings a softer, gray-blue pallet sprinkled with pastel pinks, purples, and oranges.
Seeing the sun rise from the pillboxes is truly a beautiful thing — you need to do it at least once. Sitting there, looking out over the ocean as the sun rose on my 23rd birthday was a really spiritual experience for me. Another year, another day, another sunrise.
Here’s to many more.