Ehukai Pillbox, an iconic landmark perched high on a hill, is a treasure trove of eye-popping views and historical intrigue. Just imagine standing atop, wind in your hair, with the stunning panorama of the Pacific Ocean at your feet. Excited yet? Let’s dive into the heart of this hidden Hawaiian gem!


  • Ehukai Pillbox offers panoramic views of Oahu’s stunning North Shore coastline.
  • Explore the historical significance of Ehukai Pillbox, which served as a military observation point during World War II.
  • Embark on an invigorating hiking adventure to reach Ehukai Pillbox. The moderately challenging trail takes you through diverse terrain, including tropical forests and open ridges.
  • For surfing enthusiasts, Ehukai Beach is home to the famous Banzai Pipeline, one of the world’s most renowned surf breaks.


The beautiful view from Ehukai Pillboxes Hike
© Shutterstock

The Ehukai Pillbox sits on a foundation of deep historical roots. Its construction dates back to World War II, a testament to the turbulent times experienced on the peaceful island of Oahu. During the war, the threat of a marine invasion loomed large over the Hawaiian Islands. As a preventive measure, the U.S. military erected observational posts, or “pillboxes,” along the coastlines. The Ehukai Pillbox served this very purpose, providing a strategic vantage point for soldiers to monitor the Pacific Ocean for enemy vessels.

However, these concrete structures transcend their initial military purpose. They stand today as silent witnesses to Hawaii’s past, offering visitors a glimpse into a chapter of history usually overshadowed by the more infamous Pearl Harbor attack. These pillboxes have withstood the test of time, transforming from sentinels of war to beacons of peace, history, and natural beauty. Today, they serve a much lighter purpose, offering hikers a great history lesson with a side of adventure visiting the Ehukai Pillbox is not just about the hike; it’s about stepping into a slice of history, gaining a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s past, and reflecting on the journey from conflict to tranquility. The history and significance of Ehukai Pillbox make the hike much more than a physical journey; it’s a voyage through time.

Fun Fact:   Did you know that Ehukai translates to “sea spray” in Hawaiian? Quite apt, considering the breathtaking ocean views this hill offers!

Ehukai Pillbox Hike

© Shutterstock

Ehukai Pillbox offers a unique hiking experience that is both challenging and fulfilling, creating an opportunity for hikers to embrace the beauty of nature while testing their endurance.

Hike Specifications

The Ehukai Pillbox hike has an elevation gain of more or less 730 feet, providing a rewarding challenge for all those adventurous souls out there. The total length of the hike is a manageable 2-mile round trip. It usually takes between 60 to 90 minutes to complete, depending on your pace and how long you wish to revel in the views at the top. The terrain of the hike involves a steep climb with sections of ridge pathways and loose dirt, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear.

Difficulty of the Hike

In terms of difficulty, we would categorize the hike as medium. It’s accessible to most people with a reasonable level of fitness, but the steep and uneven sections can be a little challenging. However, trust us, the panoramic vistas at the top are worth every step! It is not recommended for young children.

Embarking on the Trek

Hawaii_Oahu_Ehukai Pillbox_JCPhotography
© JCPhotography via Canva

Ehukai Pillbox Trail is known amongst locals as The Sunset Pillbox Hike because it boasts undeniably stunning views of the infamous Ehukai Beach and the North Shore coastline

Situated behind the Sunset Elementary School, the trailhead to Ehukai Pillbox is easy to locate. As you embark on this journey, be prepared for a trek that takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the top. The trail entices you with a gentle start, leading you along a flat path that meanders through narrow trees, the leaves brushing against you and whispering in the wind. The calmness of the route, however, is short-lived. As you delve deeper into your adventure, the trail starts to challenge your mettle. It gradually ascends into a steep hill, demanding a bit of effort as you climb. But worry not, the exertion is worth it!

The Plateau Resting Area

Amid the hike, you’ll stumble upon a plateau resting area that offers a moment of respite. Here, a picnic bench awaits, serving as a perfect spot to catch your breath and soak in the tranquility of your surroundings. Dedicated to the students of Sunset Elementary School, this area blooms with a sense of community spirit. What makes it truly special, though, are the colorful handprints adorning the bench – the imprints of young explorers, each one telling a tale of adventure and curiosity. As you rest here, take a moment to appreciate these handprints, a testament to the vibrant young energy that infuses this trail.

The Climb to the Pillboxes

The journey to the pillboxes is no breezy walk in the park; it’s a steep and demanding climb. But as the saying goes, no pain, no gain! With each step, the ascent reveals increasingly stunning views, making the uphill effort worthwhile. Oahu. Don’t let the steep climb deter you – pace yourself, catch your breath at the bench midway, and continue onward to reach the top. As you reach the ridge, you’ll find pockets between the trees opening up to stunning vistas. Each one provides a unique view of the ocean, the surf, and the resident views. From this vantage point, you can also observe the bustling life of the island residents, their homes a splash of vibrant colors amidst the verdant landscape. Away from the noise and rush, this peaceful panorama allows you a bird’s eye view of island life, a rare perspective that only a few are privileged to witness.

The Eastward Trail

At this juncture, the trail bifurcates, leading both east and west. To continue the adventure, turn left and head east. This direction offers hikers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the untamed beauty of the North Shore coastline on Oahu, a vista that’s as exhilarating as the hike itself. The lush greenery framing quaint local settlements, and the majestic Waianae mountains standing sentinel in the distance, are nothing short of breathtaking. The eastward trail provides not just a route, but a journey into the heart of Oahu’s resplendent landscapes. So, grab your gear, set your stride east, and prepare for an experience that’s as indelible as the island itself.

Reaching the First Pillbox

Just a few minutes up the top flat ridge, and ta-da, you’ve arrived at the first Sunset Pillbox! This is where the magic happens folks. Take your time here, breathe in the fresh air, and let yourself be mesmerized by the sprawling view of the North Shore coastline. As part of your adventure, the old military bunker is accessible for you to step in and snoop around. Walking into the bunker, you’ll feel a sense of time travel back to the turbulent days of WWII. It’s an intimate peek into a vital part of history, a rare opportunity to touch and feel the past, right here in the heart of the magnificent Ehukai Pillbox trail.

Onwards to the 2nd Pillbox

Ehukai Pillbox Hike
© Shutterstock

As you progress on this exhilarating journey, you may notice the trail briefly disappearing, replaced instead by an intriguing landscape of bold rocks and tall grass. As you continue your hike, you may encounter signs indicating private property, “No Trespassing,” or mentioning guard dogs. Please respect these boundaries and the privacy of residents. However, by respectfully navigating past these signs, the trail soon reappears. Within a mere 5 minutes, you should find yourself standing at the second Ehukai Pillbox. Prepare for your breath to be taken away by the stunning views that await. The coastline stretches out, a ribbon of natural beauty, dotted with quaint beachside communities that embody the aloha spirit. Take a moment here, fellow adventurers, to soak it all in, for this is certainly a sight that imprints itself on your memory, forever associated with the thrill and accomplishment of your Ehukai Pillbox hike.

Photo Alert:  For those of you who are active on Instagram, you’ll likely recognize the Ehukai Pillbox hike for one particular feature – the bunker proudly sporting a large peace sign painted on its surface.  While the thrill of exploration might beckon you, it’s crucial to remember that the steep hillside surrounding the second Ehukai Pillbox is not open for meandering. Should you feel the urge to leap atop the decorated peace sign bunker, do so with utmost caution.

Safety Precautions

Recommendations for a Safe and Enjoyable Visit

For a safe and enjoyable visit, always stay mindful of the trail conditions. Stick to the designated paths to prevent any harm to the local flora, fauna, or to yourself. Be aware of your surroundings and keep a safe distance from the cliff edges. Remember to hydrate regularly and use sun protection to combat the sun’s intensity during peak hours.

What to Bring and What to Leave Behind

Dressing aptly for the weather and the strenuous nature of the hike is crucial. Wear comfortable hiking shoes with a good grip, carry a hat, and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen liberally. Bring along a reusable water bottle, some high-energy snacks, and a compact first-aid kit. Pack your belongings in a comfortable backpack to keep your hands free during the hike. Remember, it’s crucial to leave nothing but footprints. Avoid bringing plastic containers or wrappers that might contribute to litter.

Emergency Contacts and Precautions for Solo Travelers

In case of an emergency, dial 911. It’s also advisable to have the numbers of local authorities and nearby hospitals handy. For solo travelers, it’s especially important to inform someone about your plans and expected return time before setting out. Consider carrying a whistle or a personal alarm for extra safety. Always stay on the marked paths and avoid risky shortcuts or straying too far from the path, particularly when hiking alone.

Nearby Attractions and Points of Interest

People watch body boarder at Banzai Pipeline
© Shutterstock

Beyond the Ehukai Pillbox Hike, Oahu’s North Shore is a treasure trove of attractions and points of interest. For a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Hawaii, visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. If you fancy getting up close with marine life, Waimea Bay is home to a large colony of turtles. Don’t miss out on the Dole Plantation with its world-renowned pineapple maze, and for those interested in surfer culture, a visit to the Banzai Pipeline is a must.

Activities Along the North Shore

Panoramic aerial view of the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii, overlooking Ehukai Beach known for its large winter waves
© Shutterstock

When it comes to water-related activities, the North Shore will not disappoint. The surf capital of the world, Ehukai Beach, offers thrilling surf sessions for both beginners and advanced surfers. For a more relaxed day, try snorkeling in the clear waters surrounding Shark’s Cove. Or perhaps, take a boat tour for whale and dolphin watching. Stand-up paddleboarding in Haleiwa River is another fun-filled activity to consider. For those wanting to experience the North Shore from a different perspective, consider a helicopter tour. Some tours even include a fly-by of the Ehukai Pillbox, offering a bird’s eye view of this historic landmark and its surrounding natural beauty.

Tips for Visiting

  • Start your hike early to avoid the midday heat and be sure to bring adequate sun protection, including sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • Comfortable footwear is a must as the trail can be slippery, especially after a rain.
  • Remember to bring enough water to stay hydrated throughout the hike.
  • Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top while you soak in the breathtaking views.
  • Always stick to the marked trails to preserve the area’s natural beauty and for your safety.
  • Make sure to allow ample time to explore not only the trail but the surrounding North Shore area as well.

Best Time to Visit

Given Hawaii’s tropical climate, you can visit Ehukai Pillbox any time of the year. However, to avoid the tropical afternoon heat and enjoy the trail with fewer crowds, consider starting your hike early in the morning. If breathtaking views are your priority, plan your visit around the golden hours of sunrise or sunset. The light during these times paints the landscape in spectacular hues, providing perfect photo opportunities. During the winter months, you also stand a chance to spot humpback whales off the coast. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out as the trail can get slippery in rainy conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ehukai Pillbox is a historic military bunker located on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. It offers hikers a remarkable view of the Ehukai Beach Park, the Banzai Pipeline, and the vast Pacific Ocean.

To reach Ehukai Pillbox, head towards the Ehukai Beach Park in Oahu. The trailhead is located on Kamehameha Highway, adjacent to Sunset Beach Elementary School.

The Ehukai Pillbox hike is approximately 2 miles round trip. It is a moderate-level hike, and it usually takes around 2 hours to complete.

It’s recommended to wear proper hiking shoes, and carry plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Don’t forget your camera for the breathtaking views!

Yes, the Ehukai Pillbox hike is dog-friendly. Just make sure to keep your dog leashed and pick up after them.

The Ehukai Pillbox trail is open from sunrise to sunset. It’s advisable to check local listings for any changes in timings.

How to Get There

By Car

If you’re traveling by car from Waikiki, head north on the H-1 Freeway, then take the H-2 Freeway towards Mililani and Wahiawa. Continue onto Route 99, then take Route 83 towards Haleiwa. Keep driving along Kamehameha Highway until you reach Ehukai Beach Park. Parking is available at the beach park, from where the trailhead for the Ehukai Pillbox Hike starts.

By Bus

You can also reach Ehukai Pillbox by bus. From Ala Moana Center, take Bus 52 towards Wahiawa. Transfer at Wahiawa Armory to Bus 55, which will take you towards Kahuku. Get off at the bus stop directly across from Ehukai Beach Park, which is the starting point for the Ehukai Pillbox Hike. Please remember that bus schedules can change, so it’s advisable to check the latest timetable on TheBus website before your journey.

Ehukai Pillbox is a Bucket List Item

If you find yourself in Oahu, leaving without experiencing the majestic beauty of the Ehukai Pillbox would be a missed opportunity. This enchanting hike will leave you in awe, with its picturesque views of the roaring Pacific, the sun-kissed Ehukai Beach, and the lush greenery of the North Shore. So, lace up your hiking boots and experience the alluring call of the Ehukai Pillbox.