One of my favorite Hawaii spots is the view from atop the Ka Iwi Ridge behind Lanikai. The short, steep hike to the “pill boxes” offers breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands and Koolua Mountains. After a recent visit, I started to wonder about the history of these little mysterious boxes in the sky.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. The Lanikai site, appears to have been an observation post, was likely built during the autumn of 1941, when Army engineers quickly strengthen defenses on the Windward side of the island. Eventually they were stripped out and left abandoned by the military.

In addition to the historical relevance of the pillboxes, they are beloved by many. An Internet search illustrated I was not alone in my curiosity and appreciation for these small gems. There are numerous personal blogs created by tourists and residents with images dedicated to the pillboxes. A group of Waimanalo teens adopted the Lanikai area, collecting trash and painting the pillbox graffiti. A popular spot for wedding proposals and most touching was a man who had his ashes scattered at one of the pillboxes. Considering Lanikai translates to “heavenly sea” I can’t think of a better final resting place.

Photos By Cara M & Waymaking


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