Hiking on the West Side of O’ahu-Pu’U’Ohulu Kai

Hiking on the West Side of O’ahu-Pu’U’Ohulu Kai

The weather has been super gloomy in town the past week on O’ahu and I didn’t want to spend another weekend stuck inside. So, to escape the cloudy skies in Waikiki, and most importantly to celebrate Earth Day, I noticed the weather was better on the cool part of O’ahu, the West Side. This side of island is very country and quite the opposite of what you would expect when coming to Hawai’i but in a real surprisingly cool way. 

The beach scenery here is always so vibrant to me, with metallic blue oceans that are so clear it is like you are swimming in a pool. Along with tall green palm trees and soft white sand to lay out on while you are looking off into the distance checking out the dark green majestic mountain tops in the background. What better way to appreciate this gorgeous scenery than from high up on a mountain top!

There are pillbox hikes on each part of island, North Shore, East Side, and here on the West Side, is Pu’U’ohulu Kai Hike or aka Pink Pillbox Hike. A light moderate hike that leads you to an epic panoramic view that really shows everyone truly how beautiful and unique West Side of Island really is.

Here is some tips and insights to help you check out how cool this hike really is. 

How to Get Here and What to Expect-

Right off the Farrington Highway you make a right on Kaukama Road where you can park then head up on the sidewalk to the entrance of the trail. Starting from Kaukama Road, on the right side of the road, you will see there are tall street lights, count 9 street lights up, and it will lead you to the entrance of the trail. A dirt path road that ziz zags you up the mountain. You can find quicker routes crossing through the brush, but I recommend to stay on the trail.

This hike I would say is very mellow and definitely for everyone. I saw families with young kids, elderly people, and others like myself just going for a quick workout. You are zig zagging up a mountain, so the trail does get rocky. It is an easy hike, but also important to be cautious and mindful where you are walking.

There is a slight incline, so definitely wear good hiking shoes, always bring water and SUNSCREEN, it gets very hot on the West Side. Don’t forget snacks and most importantly bring bug spray! There are annoying little bugs everywhere but mostly there are in the pillboxes.

The hike is about 2 miles and I would say it takes about 30 minutes or less to get up. The trek up is very enjoyable, you get an incredible view of the ocean and the hidden Ma’ili neighborhood behind you in the valley.

Exploring the Pillboxes-

You are already in awe while you are hiking up this trail and then you get to the top and instant MIND BLOWN. I swear all the scenery in Hawai’i is so alluring and magical and it never looks real to me. I always feel like I stumbled into an exquisite painting that comes to life.

The first pillbox was my favorite, definitely best view and popular spot for photos. You will see a little mountain right in front of the first pillbox that has the closest and most epic view.

You get a sweeping panoramic scenery from Nanakuli Beach towards Makaha Beach and being that high up gazing at this view gave me chills, it was very liberating and free being up there.

Then head back over to the first pillbox and hop right on top! You will see some graffiti with mostly positive messages like my favorite one about sending good energy to the world. Perfect place to be to celebrate Earth Day! I spent most of my time here resting up and appreciating the killer view.

Being up around the pillboxes you definitely need to be very safe since it is very easy to fall around here. You are very high up and the cliffs are very steep, so just be cautious since you do have to climb around the pillboxes to get up.

The second pillbox is the bright pink pillbox you can easily see from the highway. It was fun to kick it around here and I really liked the artwork inside this pillbox. All the pillboxes have cool graffiti on the outside and inside, this pillbox was more spacious and less bugs inside!

The third pillbox you can hop on is the smaller out of those three and where you can see the views of Nanakuli Beach.

I definitely had a blast here exploring and taking photos!

Rinse and Cool off at Maipalaoa Beach Park-

Right across the street and towards Hookele St, I rinsed off real quick at this beach and walked around for a bit. I didn’t stay too long because I wanted to  keep an eye out on my valuables. The West Side is cool, but definitely not where most tourists frequent. Stuff gets stolen a lot here, so definitely keep valuables in your car if you have one and hide them away safe.

Directions from Waikiki-

Driving (45 minutes): Merge onto the H-1 W, keep left at the fork to continue on H-201 W follow signs for interstate H201 W/Aiea/Fort Shafter

Use the right 2 lanes to take the interstate H-1 W exit toward Pearl City and merge onto H-1 W, keep left on the fork then continue onto to HI-9 W (Farrington Highway), then turn right on Kaukama Road.

Bus (1 hour and 40 mins): You can take the 2 towards School Street or the 13 Towards Liliha and they will take you to S. Beretania and Punchbowl. Then you hop on the C Country Express! Towards Makaha and the bus will drop you off right on Kaukama Road.

The bus drivers will drive very fast on Farrington Highway, and the announcement of stops might be off, so let the bus driver know where you are going.

Have fun, be safe and never hike alone! xoxo







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Jen Bunce

Traveling Alone Often ➳Finding the Keys to Happiness ➳Chasing Enlightenment Around the World

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