I volunteer to lead children and their parents on various age-appropriate hikes around Oahu. This week, I lead a 1.5 mile hike to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Pillboxes. I had done the popular Makapu’u Lighthouse trail several times but never to the World War II Pillboxes. So, I was pretty excited! I knew the view from the Lighthouse Trail was beautiful which made me eager to see what the view was like from the pillboxes.
Unfortunately, this hike can get a little hot because there are no shade trees (bring plenty of water.) It can also be high in traffic with several tourist hiking this trail every day. Because of its popularity, it honestly is not a favorite of mine (I’ve been spoiled by some of the more hidden gems on Oahu.) But, I gotta say…once I took some extra time to explore the off-trails, it moved way up on my list of favorites!
And, you just never know who you will run into out there…
One of the most attractive things about this hike is that you can get all of the way to the top by a completely paved path. This makes it a great stroller-friendly hike which is another plus if you have little ones.
Immediately upon starting the hike, you are greeted with a beautiful ocean view. You are also rewarded with a great view of Koko Crater and Hanauma Bay.
If you come during whaling season (December-May), you can oftentimes see Humpback Whales breaching along the Ka Iwi shoreline below. There is even a viewing area about mid-way up with binoculars so you can get a closer look of these spectacular creatures. Whaling season is my favorite time of year to do this hike!
On a clear day, you get a surprising view of the neighboring islands off in the distance!
They just recently finished construction at the very top and made a nice look-out area with a breathtaking view!
You will also find a plaque which is dedicated to nine Naval aviators who crashed into the hillside in 1942. As with so many places on Oahu, the history behind this trail is so special.
The Army began construction on the site in 1932. The buildings they constructed housed radar that was used for targeting aircraft and ships by relaying coordinates to gun batteries located at Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head crater, and at Kaneohe Bay. After World War II, the military abandoned the site. Shortly thereafter, it was handed over to the state of Hawaii in 1987. Now, we have the pleasure of using it as a hiking trail!
In order to go to the World War II pillboxes, you will take a left just before you reach the look-out area. You will just follow the path and wander your way on up to the first pillpox.
Once you reach the first pillbox, you will see a stunning view of Makapu’u Beach and Sea Life Park down below as well as the actual light-house.
There are actually 3 pillboxes up at the top. So, take your time and explore them all! This is where we decided to have a little snack and take in the view.
On our way down, we took some of the side trails and had a blast finding these gems:
And, if you know me, you know we always try to find a geocache when we are hiking. My little Ladybug is the one who actually discovered this one buried under some rocks!
There are also some great tide pools off of this trail which we’ve hiked down to before. We’ve been antsy to go back and swim again! But, that’s for another post 😉
This is one of the top hikes on Oahu. So, if you ever get a chance to visit, be sure to put this one on your list! After today’s experience, it is definitely one I look forward to doing again and again!
2 thoughts on “The Makapu’u Lighthouse Pillbox Hike”
Thanks for the adventure! I was exhausted from the night before but thankfully I made it to the hike.. best morning to start off my birthday. (haha! Even tho I kept that a secret!) My nephew sure had fun, I think I broke his hiking virginity now. lol The highlight has got to be the ice cream!!
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Always an adventure when we get together! It was nice to spend your birthday with you. The ice-cream WAS the best part! It totally hit the spot after all of that time out hiking!