You Had Me at Sunrise, Oahu: Lanikai Pillbox Hike


About the Author:
Maria Treen

Maria is a small-town girl from Upstate NY who left in 2015 and has been traveling ever since. She loves immersing herself in the culture of each new adventure and looks forward to this becoming her reality and muse for creativity.

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Anyone else absolutely love sunrises as much as me? How about a sunrise on top of a mountain with a view of palm trees and waves down below? I mean, really, what better scenic backdrop can you think of? I’m stumped. This hike is one you’ll have to put on your bucket list when on Oahu hands down.

It’s 5:30am-the first few minutes of my morning aren’t the prettiest- but in about an hour it will be a stunning view.


Lanikai Pillbox Hike, Oahu Hawaii

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Since we live in Wahiawa we have to travel southeast towards Kailua, which is only about a 35-minute drive in the morning if you can beat the traffic. Sunrise hikes are always worth the sleepy eyes and grumpiness for the first 10 minutes of the day, I swear. My mom and I grabbed my MUST HAVE go to snack while on the island–a papaya and a mango–and hit the road. Well we had coffee too, but that’s always a given with me. 

One reason I really love this hike is because I can bring my family with me. You see people of all ages there at the top–with such killer views of the waves down below it almost seems unfair for how short and moderate the hike is. It usually only takes us about a half hour or 35 minutes to summit the ridge lines to the pillboxes. How incredibly perfect? The hike starts off pretty steep though. But don’t worry- we are in Hawaii so- we all know there will be ropes on almost any hike you embark on. It definitely can get muddy and the gravel slips often so definitely don’t wear your favorite pair of sneakers to this one ☺. Or do, it’ll give them some character. You’ll be walking through a lot of red dirt. 

When you finally make it past the rock scrambling area and steep terrain, you’re first view will take your breath away. You will see the pillbox in the distance, a drop off to your left with the ocean below and some pretty palm trees aligning the beach, and a lush ridgeline to your right. 

You dig 360 views? Yea, same. This hike does not fall short of that. I can look in any direction and be in in my happy place. The pillboxes are such a cool addition to the hikes. With graffiti all over them, they are colorful and vibrant-you can sit on them, climb on them, and enjoy the view and your snack at the top. 


I could easily spend all day there-but unfortunately, I always have to hike back down to reality. The hike on the way down is just as beautiful as the way up. Have fun.

Fun fact for the history nerds like me: The pillboxes are really cool because they were used during World War II as protection method for the military. The openings in the front and side of the concrete pillbox were for military forces to shoot out at predators with and to see from far away. Today we can use them for leisure but many years ago they were used by the fighters of our country. 

Do you have a favorite sunrise hike? Share below! With so much light, and even more love.

– Mia