Time: 1-2 HOURS
Distance: 2 MILES
Elevation Gain: 700 FEET
Traffic Density: MODERATE
Challenges: Shadeless, Some Narrow Ridges
Sights: Pillboxes, Waianae Range, Mount Ka'ala
What to Bring: Water, Sunscreen
This short and sweet hike in Waianae is a great way to experience the beauties of the west side of Oahu without straining yourself too much. You follow a series of switchbacks until you reach a small ridge that runs parallel to the coast. From this ridge, you can explore several different pillboxes or simply take in the incredible views of the Waianae Mountain Range and the western coastline. Make this adventure even more special--bring some dinner, grab a seat, and watch the sun dip below the horizon from one of the best spots on the island.
This is an update from my original post a few years ago. While the hike hasn't changed, the photos have gotten a bit of a makeover. I found myself itching for a little Sunday sunset hike. And in my opinion, there's almost no place better than Pu'u O Hulu.
The trail is simple, a couple of switchbacks allow you to gain some elevation to reach the crest of the ridge. Its location right on the coast is what makes it so unique. It is very similar to its sister pillbox hike, the Lanikai Pillboxes, located over on the Windward side of the island.
This is some of the easiest parking I've ever seen for a Oahu hike. You can park anywhere along Kaukama Road and the trail begins just off the road. No trespassing or trailhead searching required. Simply enter the opening off the road and begin the climb. This isn't an overly difficult hike as there are a lot of switchbacks. That being said, you still have to gain about 700 feet of elevation.
The scenery along the trail is kind of interesting. There are several leafless trees that look dead. This isn't a sight you see as much on the Windward side. But I suppose those leafless trees give you clearer views of the beautiful the Waianae coast.
There was also this sweet tree with what appeared to be roots growing above the ground. It never ceases to amaze me the new life I discover with each hike on this island.
If you look up you may get a glimpse of the tops of the pillboxes. Looks like quite the trek to get up there...
But other than a bit of uneven footing, the ascent isn't too bad. The switchbacks are gradual enough that you will only break into a minor sweat.
The final little push to the top.
We've reached the top! Pu'u O Hulu is basically a ridge parallel to the coast with several different pillboxes to explore and enjoy. It's not nearly as spread out as the Lanikai Pillboxes, nor as crowded. After reaching the summit, you can get to each subsequent pillbox in a few minutes.
The eagle eye view down to the coastline is amazing. Those varying shades of ocean blue with the white wash crashing against the coast is mesmerizing. This is what Hawaii hiking is all about.
This hike's more common nickname is the "Pink Pillbox Hike" and evidently, there's a reason for it. Let's go take a look. Getting in between the pillboxes requires you to traverse the ridge, which, while somewhat narrow, still has plenty of room on both sides.
Here be that Pink Pillbox. There is a story behind why this pillbox was painted pink. A powerful and inspiring message hidden among the many hikes of Hawaii.
You can expect this hike to be crowded. So, yf you're looking for some more solitude, trek along the ridge past the pillboxes, and you will get a gorgeous view of the Waianae Range. Just like the last time I was here, I got a little rainbow reward. No matter how many times they appear, a rainbow sighting is always exciting.
Want to know something else exciting? Aerial views! I decided to get a few shots circling around the coast and pillboxes. I wasn't alone either. There were a few other drones trying to capture the area with that late afternoon light.
A glimpse of the ridge from just off the coast. There are those that hate on the West Side, saying it's a long drive and the mountains aren't as pretty as the green Ko'olaus. But with beautiful landscape like this, I'd beg to differ...
After a safe drone landing, there was nothing left to do but kick back, and watch ocean swallow up the sun.
Another successful trip to Pu'u O Hulu! And I'm sure, it won't be my last.
Check out my video of this short yet beautiful hike!
What is your favorite Hawaii pillbox hike? Post a comment below!
Also Check Out:
- Hik3beastHawaii's post about this hike
- The Wandering Five's post about their family adventure on this trail
- This article about when and why the second bunker was painted pink