The Kaiwa Ridge Trail, often referred to as Lanikai Ridge, is a trail that never disappoints. Maybe it’s the vibrant, azure colored waters fronting the ridge, with the Mokulua Islands popping out from the ocean in the distance. Maybe it’s the appeal of the old, war time bunkers that you find along the trail. Whatever it is, the Kaiwa Ridge hike is rad and is therefore my go-to hike whenever I have friends visiting. Friends, like my friend Ryan.
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Tucked away in the ahupuaa of Kailua lies Kawainui Marsh. Over 4000 years ago, this marsh was an inland sea, which later became a sandbar. Eventually, that sandbar turned into the town of Kailua that we know of today. Ancient Hawaiians once utilized Kawainui as a freshwater fishpond. Today, state and federal personnel are working together to restore the surrounding habitat. Kawainui is home to four endangered species of marsh birds, including the aeo, or Hawaiian stilt. The gravel trail isn’t much of hike, but it is an experience. Keep your eye out for the endangered birds, gawk at Mount Olomana, and bask in the quiet setting.
Took the ol’ Polaroid (Cool Cam 600) with me to Kaiwa Ridge, affectionately known as the Lanikai Pillbox trail. Yes, it’s a crowded trail, but you can’t really argue with the views. Unfortunately for me and my Polaroid, we did the trail early in the morning. Why, unfortunate? The film that I used (Impossible Project PX 680 Color Protection) is very sensitive to light and so it didn’t mix very well with the sun, which would be facing us the entire hike up. You’ll notice that the colors are a lot more muted this time around, compared to those from Volume 1. Whatever subject I tried to focus on, became a silhouette because of the sun light. And although I knew this would be the case, I shot anyway. Luckily, of the 8 exposures, I did have a favorite, “Girl with a ballerina dress and a teddy bear.” I love that shot.
One of the most frequent email questions that I receive from Exploration: Hawaii readers is: “What are some kid friendly hiking trails on Oahu?” This post will help to answer that question. First of all, I will disregard the three hikes that both you and your children probably have already done: Diamond Head, Makapuu Light House, and the Manoa Falls Trail. Of course, these three hikes are definitely good options if you haven’t already completed them. I’d like to focus a bit on the more obscure, or out-of-the-way trails. It’ll add to your child’s sense of adventure, and maybe get them hooked on the outdoors. You’ve been warned.
NOTE: none of the trails listed below are probably appropriate for infants or toddlers. These are NOT the kind of hikes meant for infants or toddlers. I’d probably say kids 10 and older can manage the trails below, but of course, you, the parent, is the best judge of whether or not your child can hike the trails listed below. Try these hikes first: Diamond Head, Makapuu Light House, and the Manoa Falls Trail, before you try the ones listed below. I have no hikes to suggest for those looking to hike with an infant or toddler in a hiking backpack.
With that said, here are 5 great kid friendly hikes on Oahu. Below each description, I provide estimates for time and distance, a few tips, and trailhead directions. Each of these hikes were also previously mentioned in depth here and I have provided links to those posts as well. Before you venture out on any of these hikes, please review these tips on hiking safely in Hawaii. Have a suggestion for a great kid friendly hike? Leave it in the comments!
It’s Flashback Friday! This is another one of those hikes that our crew did a while ago, but never found its way to the Exploration: Hawaii blog. This Flashback Friday post brings us way back to August 2012. Located in the beautiful and affluent town of Lanikai, the “pillbox” hike, as it is known by the locals, is a short but scenic climb up Kaiwi Ridge. Once you reach the ridge line, in less than 10 minutes, you’ll begin to understand why this is such a popular hike amongst locals. The views are breathtaking. Directly in front of you is Lanikai Beach, and in the distance are two distinct islands affectionately know as “Moke’s,” which is short for Mokulua Islands.
Lanikai Beach has always been one of favorite beaches on the island of Oahu. Its crystal clear blue water, soft powdery sand, and scenic backdrop is the exact reason why Hawaii is a travel destination. As you sit on the shores of Lanikai, you’ll notice two small islands directly in front of you. These two islands, aptly named Na Mokulua, which in Hawaiian means The Two Islands, has always intrigued me. On any given day, schools of kayakers make the trip from either Lanikai Beach or the neighboring Kailua Beach Park, to “Mokes,” the name that the two islands is affectionately referenced to by locals. I’d finally get my chance to visit Mokes, and despite the trip being a wet one, it was definitely memorable, filled with both tragedy and love.
Update (April, 2018): This trail has a deadly record. As per this Hawaii News Now article:
“In 2015, a Florida visitor died after falling 200 feet while hiking between the first and second peaks. Honolulu firefighter Mitch Kai died in 2014 after tumbling 50 feet between the second and third peaks. And in 2011, Ryan Suenaga lost his life after a 150-foot fall between the second and third peaks.”
Know your limits before you choose to do this hike.