Ehukai Pillbox Hike

Looking for a view of the North Shore? Enjoy this beautiful hike that brings you to overlook the island! Right across the street from Sunset Beach, this hike is moderate and takes about 60-90 minutes.

There are multiple pillboxes to explore and its even fun to go inside, it almost feels like your in a big cave that has graffiti everywhere. Some people even like to take paint up and paint inside or even use glow sticks at night to splatter paint everywhere. This is a great hike to hit if you’re in the North Shore area.

Located behind the Sunset Elementary School, this Oahu hike will take you about 30 minutes to climb up to the top.  The distance to reach the top of the ridge is short, but can be a little strenuous and challenging to get up to for some.

It starts off flat through some narrow trees that you will weave through for about 100 yards.  Shortly after that the trail progressively climbing up a steep hill. Like most mountain side hiking trails, you will find yourself climbing over small boulders, ducking underneath fallen trees, walking across soil eroded tree roots, and will eventually find some man made stairs dug in the hill to make your climb a little easier.

You might feel like you’ve made it midway up, as you will come across a plateau resting area with a picnic bench waiting for you.The views are nice from this spot, but gets better as you climb higher to the pillboxes. Reach this ridge and you’re close!

The first Pillbox is only minutes away once you reach the top flat ridge. As exciting as it is to reach the 1st bunker, the real views await you at the 2nd pillbox.

The Trail seems to disappear for a second as you travel on past the large bolder rocks, and start hiking down through the tall grass. You will come across a private property, no trespassing, and guard dog on duty signs, and given you push forward like we did, the trail comes back into sight, and you should reach the 2nd Ehukai Pillbox within 5 minutes.

Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

The Makapu’u Point trail once again offers visitors stellar views of the island’s coastline. And at just 2.5 miles roundtrip, it’s an easy trail for almost anyone to complete. On the trail, visitors will also catch a glimpse and snap a photo of the red-roofed Makapu’u Lighthouse.

You can park at the lighthouse trail parking lot. If the lot is full, there is street parking as well. The trail starts at the end of the parking lot. You will find a series of yellow poles, followed by a nice paved path.

The wide, paved path is lined with cactuses and windblown brush. As you round the bend for the final stretch to the top of the hill, look up to the left and see a number of WWII pillboxes peaking out of the landscape. Toward the summit, marked by two lookout points, a plaque is dedicated to nine naval aviators who crashed into the hillside in 1942. Meanwhile, the entire stretch offers gorgeous, show-stopping views of the coast and the dreamy, deep blue sea stretching to the horizon.

The view at the top is breathtaking, of the scenic shoreline of Makapu’u beach stretching toward the North Shore, of southeastern Oahu including the inside of Koko Crater. You also will be likely to spot whales up here as it’s a popular whale watching location.

Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail Reviews | U.S. News Travel

You can also adventure down to the Makapuu Tide Pools (which I highly suggest) which can be found just down from the first set of whale information signs. Here you will see amazing tide pools and blowholes formed in black lava rock on the East side of Oahu. 

The beginning of this hike is very easy being that you follow the Makapu’u lighthouse trail talked about above (which is paved). At the third rest stop, there will be a sign that talks about the whales, this is where you begin your descent to the tide pools. This trail will lead you to the tide pools. The trail is very steep and some rocks can come loose so hike carefully and wear appropriate shoes. 

Several blowholes/geysers shoot water up into the air as pressure grows below the surface. Depending on the tides and conditions water can shoot with huge force tens of meters into the air! It’s really fun to explore these tide pools in any season. 

Makapu'u Point Tide Pools – Tasty Island

When entering the tide pools, be careful. The rocks are very slippery. The day that we were happened to be there, the waves were enormous. Every time the giant waves crashed against the pools, a torrent of water shot up at least 30 ft in the air. That being said, make sure you keep an eye out for the waves. This can get very dangerous as they can get very big and the currents can be strong. You may want to avoid the edge because it can be pretty unpredictable.

The huge waves were also giving plenty of water to the blowhole, which was erupting every 30 seconds or so. I would highly recommend bringing plastic bags or some sort of protection for electronic devices as well as a dry place for your clothes. When the blowhole goes off, it gets water everywhere! 

When you are done enjoying all of the incredible views and water features, you can head back up the way that you came down. If you look hard enough, you can usually find an easy way up most ledges. Luckily, the lava rocks will get you good traction if you are wearing the appropriate footwear. The arrows painted on the rocks are a little easier to spot on the way up and you should be back at the top in no time! Once you reach the top you have two choices. You can either turn right and head up to the lighthouse or turn left to head back to the car.

Moana Falls

Located at the end of Manoa Road on the south of the island, this easily accessible trail is a short distance from downtown. This 1.6 mile round trip trail is well-known for its appearance in scenes in “Jurassic Park” and “Lost,” making it an extremely popular destination. 

You can find free parking if you park in the residential neighborhood and walk 1/4 mile to the trailhead or paid parking if you park in the Paradise Park parking lot at the trailhead. From the Manoa Falls trail sign, you’ll start your journey across a bridge, and slowly hike up along the sides of the deep rainforest valley. 

You’ll have a fairly easy hike through bamboo and guava tree forest to the the 150-foot Manoa Falls. This lush, rainforest-like hike can be quite muddy even when it hasn’t rained recently, so come with the right shoes. Note that this popular trail is often closed for trail repair and maintenance, so be sure to check for current closures before heading to the trailhead.

A nice thing about this trail is you’re shaded by trees for pretty much the entire journey. At the start of the trail, you’ll see and smell eucalyptus trees, and then further up you’ll encounter gnarly, old-growth banyan trees, tropical flowers, and eventually a bamboo grove. What remains constant is the breathtaking, panoramic view of the misty green valley as you hike uphill.

Midway up the trail, there’s a detour that takes you on a parallel path through the bamboo grove, and then it eventually rejoins the main trail. This detour tends to be less muddy and slippery, so many tend to take it.

At the end of the trail, you are rewarded with a view of the 100-foot-high Manoa Falls, which flows straight down a large rock face.

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Located in Kahului, this is another pillbox favorite! Here you can hike to two incredible pillboxes that are fun to explore while giving you a view of the Mokulua Islands, Kailua BeachLanikai Beach, and everything in between!

Lanikai Pillbox Hike is ranked intermediate because of the steady steep grade of the uphill climb right from the start of the trail head. Incredible hike to see 180 degree views! 

This hike is a moderate 1 hour to 90 minute hike (roundtrip), depending how far you decide to go.  You can easily reach the first old military pillbox bunker in about 20 to 30 minutes. From here, another 10 minute walk along the ridge will take you to the second pillbox. 

You also have the option of trekking another hour farther along the Kaiwa Ridge Trail and it will take you around the coast a bit farther, and finally lead you down to the residential houses located on A’alapapa Street. From there you will need to walk approximately mile back to Ka’elepupu Drive, where you first started.

It’s a long steep climb up the initial part of the ridge, with lots of loose rocks and gravel that you could slip on. There used to be a climbing rope on the side of the trail to help you along your way.  But since the rope is gone now, I like to walk through the tall grass on the side of the hill, which seems to give me a little more grip.

The starting point of the Lanikai Pillbox Hike is located on a small no name street that branches off of Ka’elepupu Drive. You will see it directly across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club.  There should also be a small sign further up this “street” indicating the Pillbox Hike. Next to the sign, you will need to step through some brush and immediately climb up about 10 feet to reach the Kaiwa Ridge Trail.

Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay is one of my all time favorite spots to cliff jump in Oahu. I am not one for touristy activities but this cliff is too fun to pass up. Drive an hour northward from downtown Honolulu and you will find yourself in Waimea Bay Beach Park on the North Shore Oahu. With crystal-clear aquamarine waters, ocean cliffs (approx. 10 meters in height), calm ocean surface, and powdery white sand, Waimea Bay a perfect spot to try cliff jumping while in Hawaii in the summertime season. If you’re not much for cliff jumping, it’s also a great place to beach it. 

Your introduction to cliff jumping/diving should probably begin here.  This is the medium cliff jump – not too high and not too low.  It’s approximately twice as high, and several times more thrilling, than the rock at Sharks Cove.  But it’s just a little more than half as high, and significantly less scary, than the rock at Kapena Falls.  It’s just high enough to seem a little intimidating without really threatening any serious danger.

The highest point is basically right in the middle of the rock.  If you don’t feel comfortable starting there, first jump from a lower spot out toward the end.  You can jump from either side of the rock; but be aware that the back side (facing the edge of the bay) has a rockier bottom, whereas the front side (facing the bay) has an almost entirely sandy bottom.

If you go to Waimea Bay when the winter surf is getting big (around October to March), you’re in for a much different extreme adventure! It’s not uncommon to have waves crashing across the top of the jumping rock and/or a five-meter shore break (measuring by wave face) crashing into the sand across the entire width of the bay – trust me when I say that winter at Waimea Bay is for risk takers at this time of year.

No longer should you think about letting your kids play in the water or plan on jumping off or swimming through the rock.  I would advise to just chill it out from the shore and watch the pros do their thing!

Waimea Bay - Best North Shore Beach

There are bathrooms, showers, and a well-maintained picnic area at Waimea Bay, but there are no other conveniences (concessions, etc). Parking is often sparse even on the less-crowded days.  Arrive early for your best shot at availability or park on side of road leading up to it.

There are lifeguards on duty throughout most daylight hours every day. Even on a calm day, there can still be a bit of a current in the water. 

All in all, Waimea Point is definitely a must see. Whether you’re with friends, family or solo – its definitely a vibe.

Electric Beach Dolphins

Camp out here at Electric Beach and in the morning (best around 6/7am) swim with flocks of dolphins. The dolphins are drawn here because it is next to the Hawaiian Electric Plant, which outflows clean warm water through two large cooling pipes. At the openings of these pipes the water temperature is several degrees warmer than the surrounding ocean.  The warm water attracts scores of sea life.

The Kahe Point Beach Park snorkeling area is located on the west side of Oahu, just north of the Ko Olina Resorts. Electric Beach is best suited for the intermediate to advanced level snorkeler as there is a moderate swim involved and no life guards are in the area.

When I say flocks, I mean flocks – there were swarms of dolphins by us we couldn’t get enough! There are tours that offer to take you out to see these dolphins, but if you are a strong swimmer, you can see them just as much yourself and not have to pay a dime.

However, if you’re more of a beginner snorkeler, I would advise taking a snorkel tour.  I have heard great reviews on the Dolphin and Whale Snorkel Sail tour and would suggest checking them out or one similar.

Electric Beach is very shallow near shore, getting progressively deeper as you head out.  You’ll be able to find whatever depth of water you feel most comfortable swimming in.  The water is about 20 feet deep at the opening of the pipes, giving you a bird’s eye view of the schooling fish.  Large smooth boulders cover the pipes but most of the sea floor is made up of white sand and some coral flats.

Do not dive down in front of the openings to the pipes!  The flowing water is more than strong enough to make you wipe out.  Just snorkel around and above them; believe me there’s plenty to see.

Enter the water at the small sand beach just to the right of the large pavilion.  There’s going to be some breaking waves near shore, so keep a hold of your mask and fins as you enter. Last time I lost my mask there without paying much attention. The combination of the waves and sand beach make the water near shore very cloudy, but just keep swimming out and just past the waves the water will clear up dramatically.

Along with dolphins, you may also see an array of fish including the butterfly fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, surgeon fish, tang, wrasse, squirrel fish, big eyes, perch, trigger fish, the former Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, goat fish, snapper, hawk fish, jacks, mackerel, cornet fish, needle fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates. Another common sight at Kahe Point is the Hawaiian green sea turtle.  They congregate around the coral heads that form along the length of the pipes.

The parking lot looks out over the ocean and is right next to the pavilion area.  There are bathrooms and showers located between the pavilion and the small sand beach.  There is no lifeguard on duty or stores nearby to buy drinks or food so remember to bring a cooler with your goodies.

Waimea Falls

The Waimea Falls hike is ranked among some of the best Oahu hikes.  It is more like a pleasurable one mile stroll through lush botanical gardens that lead up to the grand waterfall. 

There’s a pretty good collection of plants at the Waimea Valley botanical gardens that includes native species, as well as plants found in different parts of the world. The botanical garden is considered the finest collection of Polynesian plants in the world. Visitors can also see other rare and endangered plants that are native to the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, Waimea Falls Park features presentations and workshops that perpetuate the rich culture of the Hawaiian people.

You do have to pay an entrance fee of about $15 per person since the grounds are now run by Waimea Valley Hi’ipaka, however the scenery leading up to the falls is worth it all. 

For history on the Falls, Waimea directly translates to “reddish water” in Hawaiian. Some even say that Waimea means “sacred spot.” This valley has held a huge significance to the people of the island. Ancient Hawaiians knew that the land was sacred – they often would have gatherings and other religious ceremonies in the Valley region.

Crouching Lion Hike

Crouching Lion is a short but very steep incline hike that offers breathtaking views of Kahana Bay, Kaaawa, and Pu’u Manamana. 

Right from the start, this hike takes off at a steep incline. You will definitely work up a sweat as you climb over gnarled tree roots, and duck under stooping branches. As you continue to climb, the trail becomes more and more paved. There are parts that are very slippery, especially if it has rained a lot recently but still doable for sure. This is a more adventures hike as it can be dangerous, however the views are incredible. 

Coming across the first pillbox of the hike, we decided to climb atop and check out the view of Kahana Bay. On this pillbox, someone has painted a giant red, orange, and green ‘Aloha’. The views are already pretty sweet from here and it only takes ten minutes to reach this point.

After a few minutes of walking, we began to explore some of the smaller trails leading to the rock formations and the cliff edge. We also found a few cool little caves hidden on the cliff side of the formations. This is where the trail came atop a wide ridge offering gorgeous views of both Kaaawa to the left and Kahana Bay to the right.Here, there is an abundance of little caves and overhangs that you can venture to. The rocks in this area are a bit crumbly though so if you do decide to climb out, use caution.

In the midst of all the rock formations, we came to a small clearing overlooking Kahana Bay.  Crouching Lion Hike is named for a rock formation along the hike that from the right angle, looks like a lion laying down. This rock formation comes up on your left as you continue hiking towards the bigger clearing.

Crouching Lion Hike Short route: The trailhead is located in between a ‘Do Not Pass’ sign and a telephone pole. It isn’t marked and looks like it’s heading straight into the bushes, but once you get a few steps into the bushes you can begin to see the markings of a trail. When we did this hike there were quite a few other small groups along the way which reassured us that we were headed in the right direction.

This route is the most common and leads you along a safe path through the undergrowth to the viewpoint. It is much shorter than the second route and the popular pick among most hikers. Generally, we park a few hundred meters down the road on the right-hand side of the road coming from Honolulu. The trailhead is on the left-hand side of the road coming from Honolulu.

Crouching Lion Hike Long Route: Park at the Swanzy Beach Park and then walk up Huamalani Road till you find the trailhead. The Crouching Lion trail can be difficult to follow in parts but ribbons usually mark the way. The trail rigidly follows the Pu’u Manamana Ridge and the entire loop is called Kahakili-Manamana loop taking 4-5 hours to complete. This route is very dangerous and has claimed lives as the drop-offs are incredibly steep and the terrain can be dangerous. I would only suggest doing this hike with a local who has navigated the route before. 

Byodo-In Temple

Surrounded by lush grounds, Oahu’s Byodo-In Temple is tucked away in the Kahaluʻu Valley at the foot of the Koʻolau mountain range. A replica of a temple in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture, the landmark is a testament to the island’s strong Japanese community.

When you first arrive, there is a large bell you can ring to have a long and happy life. Once entering the temple, you see a large gold Buddha statue and may be offered to burn incense inside. There are beautiful koi fish in the ponds surrounding the temple that are fun to feed as well. 

It’s also a popular spot as the TV series Hawaii Five-O and Magnum, P.I. featured several episodes where the temple is incorporated into the plot. The temple and its gardens also appeared in an episode of the ABC series Lost, “House of the Rising Sun” in season one as the home of Sun’s father.

To give a little history on this site, it was established on June 7, 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The Byodo-In Temple in O’ahu is a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan. The Byodo-In Temple is a non-practicing Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty.