PINK PILLBOX HIKE ON OAHU’S WEST SIDE
The Pink Pillbox hike is surrounded by breathtaking mountains and overlooks the crashing cerulean waves on the West Side of Oahu.
Text by Jessica Blackmun
Want to save this post to Pinterest for later?
The Pu’u O Hulu or ‘Pink Pillbox’ Hike is a short ridge hike on the West Side of Oahu that overlooks the surrounding suburbs and beautiful stretches of beaches that Oahu is known for. The hike extends along the ridge between the Nanakuli and Maili suburbs and can be seen clearly from the Farrington Highway below.
The Pu’u O Hulu hike starts on Kaukama Rd after the 9th light pole on the right hand side of the road. One of the cool things about this hike is that it has different route options to take you to the five pill boxes at the top.
There is a steep and challenging route which is much shorter or there is an easier kid friendly option that zigzags up the mountain. We took the more direct route.
The grass on either side of the trail scratched up our legs a little bit. While the trail is clear, this hike isn’t nearly as crowded as some of the other hikes on the island and we didn’t pass anyone until we got to the pillboxes.
The skies were a clear bright azure and the sun beat down on us as we hiked up the steep dusty trail that led to some natural rock ‘stairs’. Before clambering up the natural slab steps we took a moment to look around and appreciate the view we had so far. From this height you could see the suburb of Maili and the bright blue water at the rock quarry.
The rock stairs started off pretty even and easy to climb, but as they went on they grew taller and the climb became a little more challenging. At this point in the hike I was starting to regret the leg day I had done the day before and the long run I’d done earlier that morning. It was almost like a natural version of the Koko Head Stairs!
The top of the stairs opens up into a dip of the ridge, giving you with a breathtaking view of the ocean. To continue the ascent towards the pillboxes you take a left here. We decided to explore to the right before continuing on, here we climbed out to the edge of the cliff and looked out over Maili and the shore line.
After doing some yoga on the cliff and reenacting the iconic scene from The Lion King, we decided to head towards the pillboxes. The route we took takes you along the top of the ridge so you gain an amazing view along most of the hike. We came across a rock cliff that dropped the 700 ft. straight down and decided to do a little climb.
This wasn’t part of the hike but we wanted to see things from a higher viewpoint. This ended up not being the brightest idea as the rocks were quite crumbly. At one point the rock Jackson was using as a handheld completely broke off. He quickly reached out and grabbed on to the closest thing… my butt! It was quite a scare at first but we all got a good laugh before getting back to the actual hike.
We reached the first pillbox and took some time to check out the graffiti inside before climbing on top. Looking out from the Pillboxes you are rewarded with a great view of the ocean below and if you turn around you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains
We continued the climb and found the next pillbox which was gigantic. It was the size of three regular pillboxes. One of my favorite things about pillbox hikes like this one, Lanikai Pillbox hike, and Diamond Head, are that the pillboxes offer a perfect spot for a picnic or snack break.
After the giant pillbox we came across the Pink pillbox. This was painted a bright bubblegum pink in October of 2015 in dedication to Breast Cancer Awareness. Standing inside it felt like you’d been transported to the inside of a Pepto Bismol bottle. The pink pillbox had recently been given a fresh coat of paint so the walls were pretty bare. We decided to climb on top where we found a painting of a pink ribbon, a symbol for breast cancer awareness. From here you could see the coral reef through the cerulean waters extend for miles down the shoreline in both directions.
About 100 ft beyond the pink pillbox is the final pillbox and the end of the hike. After enjoying the dazzling view and taking a few hundred photos we headed back the way we came but decided to take the zigzag trail down. I would definitely recommend taking the stairs up and taking this way down as the steep route would be very slippery because of how dry and dusty it was. Also the longer, winding route offered some beautiful scenery that you wouldn’t want to miss.
This hike is less than 2 miles but with all of the pillboxes to explore and the distractingly impressive views of the west coast it takes over an hour.
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!