Hiking to the Kaena Point Pillboxes | Veteran’s Day 2018
One of our favorite things to do on the island is to return to a hike that we enjoyed and turn it into a new hike. To see the area from a different point of view, to find a ‘secret’ spot off a busy path to enjoy alone, or to take a lesser used side trail. On this particular weekend, we managed to do all 3 of these on an old favorite trail: Ka’ena Point, which leads to the Westernmost point of Oahu.
Curtis had most of Veteran’s Day off, so we drove up to the North shore and to the end of Dillingham highway. It was fairly busy that morning, but the path is wide enough that it didn’t feel crowded. We enjoyed the sound of the big, loud North shore waves crashing against the coral and rocks as we walked. It’s still a little early for whales, but we kept an eye out just in case.
We made it to the point, sat down at the pillbox and played a little PokemonGo before checking to see if there were any monk seals. Sure enough, we saw 2 right away, at the same spot where we saw our first one last February. We then began to wander around, looking for more, as well as other sea creatures in the tide pools.
We turned a corner, and saw one lying in a pool with its face underwater. We stood and watched, looking for signs of movement. We didn’t see any, so Curtis slowly walked around to get a better view. He looked for breathing, twitching, anything to show it was alive. He saw nothing. A dad and his young daughter came over and stopped to look at the seal. Curtis came back over and started to tell him, “If you want to see a live monk seal, there’s two over there–”
“This one is alive,” he replied, and sure enough the seal poked his head out of the water at that moment as if to say ‘Ha! I fooled you!’ Now you know, seals can apparently sleep with their head underwater! We were relieved, and watched him a bit longer before continuing our walk.
I had heard somewhere that there were pillboxes somewhere above the point, so we decided to find the trail that leads up to them. We left the enclosed protected area and searched the hillside for a trail. After scaling a rock, Curtis found a clear path, so we began our uphill trek. The trail was narrow and rocky, and started out by switchbacking up to a concrete platform. From here, we were already enjoying overlooking the rocky point and tide pools, but since we still could see more concrete bunkers above us we kept hiking. The sun was beating down on us and the trail became steeper, eventually just going straight up the hill. We passed by several concrete structures, including one with a ladder that went at least 20 feet down.
Looking down at Ka’ena Point from the pillbox — Note the difference between the waves from the North vs. West
We ended our side trek at what we recognized as a traditional pillbox, covered in graffiti. We stood on top and enjoyed the breeze. We looked out at the coast, and noted the comparison of how big the waves on the North Shore were compared to those on the West side. We then went inside the pillbox to explore and found dozens of HUGE spiders — yikes!
The downhill trek was a bit slow going at first because of the loose gravel and the steepness of the path, but we eventually made it down and walked back to our car. Altogether our hike was 6 miles long, and even though it was our 4th time hiking to Ka’ena Point, we still enjoyed it just as much as our first visit. I love that we were able to enjoy this remote area from a new point of view.