We did the Lanikai Pillbox Hike on the Ka’iwa Ridge Trail in Oahu with Liz and Becca. The beginning of the trail is steep but the views of Lanikai and Kailua beaches are great. Currently, the state owns 4.07 acres of Lanikai Pillboxes trail, but it does not maintain the trail or put up signs on it. It is deemed an “unimproved trail.” That means it is not designated for public use or maintenance.
More information on Hawaiian walking trails can be found here:
Desciption of the Lanikai ‘Pillbox’ Trail:
- The short, steep hike to the pillboxes offers breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands and Koolua Mountains. While it is unclear how many were actually constructed, we do know that both the Lanikai and Diamond Head pillboxes were part of the island’s defensive system. They reportedly were observation posts built between World Wars I and II, which could alert shore artillery batteries to any approaching enemy ships. Eventually they were stripped out and left abandoned by the military. [The Kailua Chamber of Commerce]
- The two famed Lanikai “pillboxes” on the trail are misnamed. In military terms, a pillbox means a defensive site such as a machine gun pillbox. The two concrete structures on Kaiwai Ridge were built to be observation stations, not sites for defensive armaments. Military historian John D. Bennett says the observation stations were constructed in 1943 and equipped with high-powered telescopes to fix positions of possible enemy ships. The job of the soldiers working in the structures was to transmit target information to artillery batteries on the Mokapu Peninsula, and later to serve batteries at the Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station and Puu Papaa. [Denby Fawcett]
- Part of network of coastal artillery, Fire-control station “Podmore” was built in 1942 to direct fire from the 3 and 5 inch guns of former Battery Wailea. Each held optical range finding equipment to target the artillery in the event of a Japanese landing during WWII. [XP Not So Great Hiking Blog ]