14 days! Yes, it’s been 14 days since my last hike! I feel like I have been depriving myself of air. This HAS to be how Cher from the movie “Clueless” would feel if she were told she couldn’t shop. “As-if!” Let’s just be real here, my mental well-being is night and day different if I don’t hike. It’s almost as bad as if I don’t have my cup of coffee in the morning. There is just something about the fresh salty air, the warmth of the sun on my shoulders and the ocean breeze tickling my face. I can’t get enough of it!
We’ve been on “holiday” as my daughter calls it (thanks to Peppa Pig) for about a week and a half. I tell you what, there is nothing that feels less like a “holiday” than a 8+ hour flight across the pacific ocean to the mainland! Needless to say, I was more than ready to hit the trails this morning!
Each week, I lead a keiki (kid) hike consisting of usually 3-5 year olds and their parents (usually around 10-15 adults). Today’s destination was Pu’u O Hulu. Or, as the locals call it, the “Pink Pillbox” or “Maili Pillbox” located on the Leeward side of Oahu, HI. This hike consists of several pill boxes (military bunkers) which were used back around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The significance of these old cement walls is pretty fascinating. If you want to read more about the history of these bunkers, here is a link to do so. Pillbox History
Exploring these bunkers which can be found all around the island has become one of my favorite things to do and Pu’u o Hulu is one of the best!
You can’t help but see the big, bright PINK pillbox as you get closer to the mountain. Because of this, it has become a controversial icon on the west side of the island. It was painted pink in support of breast cancer awareness back in 2015.
Because of this, it is now a very popular hike. Although locals may support raising awareness for breast cancer, many don’t feel that painting a historical bunker is the right means to do so. Either way, it remains in all of its pink glory looking all pretty. The fact that it’s pink is enough to convince my 4 year old to go hike with me so that makes it all good for me!
So, enough about the history of the hike…now for the fun part…HOW to do it! First off, this hike is located in Maili, HI. Once you arrive, you will see a noticeable (unmarked) trailhead. There is ample parking on the street so that shouldn’t be an issue. As usual, always lock your doors and hide your valuables (better yet, don’t even bring them with you). Car break ins are known to happen at several hiking spots–boo to them!
Anyways, before you begin, you should know this is a HOT, HOT, HOT hike! It may be short (1.9 miles out and back), but there is no shade and Waianae is known for being on the hotter side! With that said, always pack plenty of water. I drank a whole small-sized Camelback today and I would’ve appreciated more. It’s also a good idea to leave an extra water bottle in your car for after the hike. You may not need it, but it just might be what you are praying for if you end up running out of water on the trail. I also pack several snacks for at the top of the mountain. I may or may not bribe my daughter with snacks to keep her “so tired” feet a-moving! #momwin Today, I brought 2 Kind bars, a bag a fruit snacks, fig bars and a package of seaweed-yes, my daughter loves to eat seaweed. I personally don’t like the taste of dried up swamp but she LOVES it and it’s healthy so I just go with it!
As you begin your climb, you will notice the trail is very easy to follow. It can be pretty rocky in some places and will require a little bit of balance work but not difficult at all (in my opinion).
The kids had a blast making their way through the tall grass and keeping an eye on the prize-the pink pillbox on top! This hike may look intimidating from the road because it looks pretty high up. Luckily, there are several switchbacks (meaning rather than climbing straight up, you sorta zig zag your way up) which makes it much less of a challenge.
The entire climb up, you are rewarded with an ocean AND mountain/valley view. It is just beautiful! Don’t get too caught up with the view though, because there are some drop off sections towards the top. The paths are plenty wide for walking. However, if you have small ones with you, be sure to keep them close by for their safety.
Along the way, you will see the coolest (and one of the only) trees on the trail! The roots are exposed and just so cool to look at. We always find it a good stopping point to cool off a bit and for the kids to climb around on before continuing on the hike. Not much further, you will find a similar tree you can catch a break from the heat under. Remember to stay hydrated! This hike is hot!
After several more switchbacks, you will be near the top and the pillboxes should be in view again. You’re almost there! There are a few different pillboxes you can easily explore at the top of Pu’u O Hulu. Take your time and take it all in! It’s pretty spectacular!
When you are ready to head back down, just follow the same trail down. Be sure to get drink plenty of water afterwards.
I would love to hear from you! If you have hiked Pu’u O Hulu before or have any questions, please comment below!