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Difficulty: BEGINNER

Time: 1-1.5 HOURS

Distance: 1.6 MILES

Elevation Gain: 600 FEET

Foot Traffic: MODERATE

Challenges: Potentially Muddy, Finding Parking

Sights: Pillbox, Sunset Beach, North Shore

A beautiful hike near Pupukea, this trail is great for anyone who finds themselves on the North Shore and is looking for a quick hike to conquer. The well marked trail takes you up and along the ridgeline before concluding at a pillbox, painted with a peace sign. This hike is often called the "Sunset Pillbox Hike" not only because it overlooks Sunset Beach, but it is a beautiful vantage point for a North Shore sunset.


It's amazing how your perception of distance changes after living on Oahu. On the mainland, driving a few hours for a weekend activity seems like no big deal. But on this island, the hour it takes to drive to the North Shore seems like a massive undertaking. That's why in my almost 2 years of living here, I feel like I haven't been up to the North Shore nearly enough. Luckily, on this particular Sunday I (with a little help from my friend Danielle) was able to motivate myself to make the trek. This little hike had been on my list for awhile, so I knew that it would have to be part of the day's agenda. With that, we were off in Danielle's green Jeep, ready for a North Shore adventure.

A sketch of the hike. It is very simple, just a marked trail that takes you up and along the ridge until you reach the pillbox.

The trailhead is located just outside Sunset Elementary School at Sunset Beach Park. There is a parking lot for the park, but it can get full, which means you will have to park along the Kamehameha Highway. This area does get busy on the weekends since it is right next to the famous Banzai Pipeline, so I could foresee parking being an issue at times.

If you look to the left of the Sunset Elementary School sign, you will see this orange sign and an opening in the trees. This is the trailhead.

It's hiking time!

Up we go. The ascent is relatively gradual. But that doesn't mean you won't work up a little sweat!

There's some stairs to help you out.

And even some ropes in case it gets a little muddy.

Starting to break through the trees.

Not a pillbox, that's a bench. But this is a solid place to stop to soak in the views and catch your breath if needed.

Soon after that lookout, the trail will level out. Just a short walk through the trees...

And we are here! There were quite a few people up here when we arrived. Normally, I am not a fan of crowds, but today I didn't mind.

A shot of that famous peace sign. There's something so pleasant about this picture, people of all ages just sitting and enjoying the north shore beauty together.

As is the case with all the pillboxes on Oahu, you can go inside. Enter if you dare...

Because you never know what terrifying art you may see on the interior. This purple glob thing creeped me out for some reason. Impressive but creepy...

Another shot of the interior. A lot of these pillboxes get disgusting on the inside because people like to leave their rubbish, which is really quite sad. I was pleasantly surprised to find this interior very clean. Maybe people are listening to these signs and reinforcing the good vibes here. That or a good samaritan recently cleaned it. Regardless, it was a nice sight to see.

This hike does have a second pillbox. If you continue along the ridgeline, you will come to this no trespassing sign. The pillbox (allegedly) is located a 5 minute downhill walk from here. Danielle and I didn't actually venture to the second pillbox, not because of the sign, but because I was getting hungry.

But I would delay my hunger for a little, because it was time to fly the drone. Luckily, Danielle and I were now the only ones at the pillbox, so I wasn't bothering anyone with my buzzing.

I decided to fly it out over the water along the beach. Here we are looking East, towards where the famous Turtle Bay is located.

And a shot looking West. The Waianae Mountain Range is in view, partially covered by the clouds.

And one last aerial shot of the beach, where we would find ourselves very shortly (after lunch of course). Oh North Shore! You never disappoint!

Check out my video of this pleasant North Shore hike!

Enjoy this post? Leave a comment below!

Also check out:

- Best of Oahu's post about this hike

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