O‘ahu Hike of the Month: Ehukai Pillbox
A moderate hike with an Instagram-worthy World War II bunker and beautiful views of the North Shore.
Editor’s Note: We love hiking! Fortunately, O‘ahu is full of great hikes. In this web series, we bring you our favorite O‘ahu trails once a month.
Photos: Alyssa Amasol
TRAIL NAME: Ehukai Pillbox
LENGTH: 1.6 miles roundtrip, 30 minutes to the top
WHERE: 59-178 Kamehameha Highway, Hale‘iwa
Hiking can be dangerous, and not every trail is a good idea for every person. Keep your personal fitness and skill level in mind, and always take proper precautions when venturing off road. Heed “no trespassing” and other warning signs.
With a historic World War II bunker, beautiful ocean views and a short uphill climb, the Ehukai Pillbox hike is a great place to stop on the way to Sunset Beach on the North Shore. Although similar to the Lanikai Pillbox hike on the Windward Side, this one is less crowded and runs through a forest of covered trees. The bunker at the top is covered with unique, colorful graffiti and provides a nice place to catch your breath and take photos against the gorgeous view of Banzai Pipeline.
The entrance to the trail is located near Sunset Beach Elementary School, right off Kamehameha Highway. Make sure to park in the lot for Sunset Beach Neighborhood Park or across the street in the lot for Ehukai Beach Park. Drink plenty of water—there’s a restroom right at the entrance for the park.
You’ll get your cardio in on this hike for sure, with its short but steep uphill climb among tree roots and stumps. It’s a little bit of a treacherous hill and will get your blood pumping, but there are multiple stops to rest along the way. And, if that’s not enough, there are also dozens of manmade stairs dug into the dirt trail to climb along the way, too.
There’s no real marked trail but the dirt path is visible enough to follow. If you think you’re lost or a little off course, just stick to the side closest to the ocean. I’ve heard of people venturing off course and going deeper into the forest or onto private property by mistake, but stick nearest to the views of the beach and you’ll find your way to the bunker.
After about half an hour of flat terrain, inclines and plateaus, you’ll reach the top and can explore the historic bunker and beautiful surrounding views. It’ll feel like you’re in a far off forest but also that you’re right at home overlooking the gorgeous North Shore.
If you’re on Instagram, the Ehukai Pillbox hike is known for the bunker with the big peace sign painted on it. Unfortunately, there’s a defaced “Private Property” sign a few minutes before the second pillbox, so we don’t advise trespassing to get there. The first bunker, forest of narrow trees, roots and breathtaking views along the way are just as Instagram-worthy!
Overall, this hike is moderate and quick enough to bring the kids and dogs. It’s short but strenuous with lots of trees and ground cover throughout. The awesome views of the North Shore from a few hundred feet above will keep you coming back time and time again.
Wear shoes with good support and grip for the dirt and loose gravel.
Bring lots of water to keep hydrated throughout the hike.
Stay on the forged path and out of private property.
On the way up, keep to the left or closest to the ocean. Don’t take any cut-off paths that wander deeper into the forest.
Check weather conditions. After a good rain, the mud can make the hike really slippery and dangerous.