Kalaheo Hills/Pu'u Papa'a Hike (Aikahi Pillbox)


"Always take the time to explore the path less taken."

Updated: December 6, 2016

Location: Located next to the Aikahi Park Shopping Center in Kailua, there are two ways getting to this pillbox. Wonderful views of Kailua and the Nu'upia Fishponds.

Type: Ridge hike

Hike Difficulty: Beginner

Total Time: 2 to 3 hours (from Aikahi Park Shopping Center)

Distance: ~2 miles

Elevation: ~600 feet

Things to Consider

  • Kid friendly: yes
  • Pet Friendly: yes
  • There are actually three different trails that link up to each other here. One starts at the Kalaheo High School parking lot, another starts at the end of Ilihau Street through private property, and the other starts in between the Aikahi Gardens and the H-3 freeway.
  • This hike goes through private property so please hike at your own risk and respect the neighbors.
  • This hike leads to the bunker with the famous girl painting from a famous graffiti artist.
  • If you take the route from Ilihau Street, you will pass by an old water tank, a billboard, and finally to the bunker. The trail is overgrown with thorns and brush.
  • The easiest route to the bunker is from the Aikahi Gardens route. It is just a steep paved road up to the bunker.

Your hiking backpack

  • Sunscreen
  • 2 Liters of water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • GoPro/Camera


Take Kalanianaole Hwy towards Kailua side. Continue on to Kaneohe Bay Dr. Parking will be at the Aikahi Park Shopping Center next to Gyotaku. This will lead you to the trail starting from Ilihau Street and you can also walk to the route starting from Aikahi Gardens. You cannot park in the parking lot at Aikahi Gardens as it is only for the residents. If you want to take the trail from Kalaheo High School, you need to park in the school's parking lot in the back.

Our Journey

The first time we did this hike, we took the longer route from Ilihau Street. We passed through the neighborhood and literally had to trespass over somebody's lawn to get to the trailhead. Although there is a ribbon here to let you know where to start, please be courteous of the neighbors. The route is extremely overgrown and your legs will get scratched up. This trail is a lot more fun than the shorter trail, through Aikahi Gardens. There is a faint trail through the brush and eventually you end up by a fence. Go through and you will see the huge water tank. When we went, there was a make-shift ladder made out of part of the fence in order to climb up the tank. However, if for any reason the fence falls over, there is no ladder or anything around to get down, and the tank is at least 10 feet high. The water tank is amazing and there is a view of the fishponds from the top overlooking the brush. You can also enter the tank by descending down the ladder. There is no water in the tank, but it's dark. Then we ventured up past the water tank and continued on the trail. You will need to cross the fence again to continue on the trail. Continue up the hill and you will see a huge billboard with graffiti on it. This is the next land mark on the hike. Some people even climb up to the top of the billboard, but some of the rails are rusted and the white pant rubs off on your hands and clothes due to being so old and faded. There is also a view behind the billboard looking past the fence. Then you continue on through some deep brush and trees. You will also encounter a hidden bunker on the hillside. Keep going and you will come out to the hills. The trail goes up and down a couple of times before finally reaching the girl painting bunker! This hike became famous from this painting from a famous artist. It has since been fading away, but it is still a beauty to see. The view of the Nu'upia fishponds is also amazing! We took lots of pictures and ended up going back down the shorter way. Not because we weren't prepared, but because our legs were scratched up and we weren't prepared.

The route from Aikahi Gardens is an easy one! We took this route the second time around. You just walk past the fire station along the road back towards the H-3. You will see the Aikahi Gardens on the left after about 10 minutes of walking and continue on until you see a chain link blocking a dirt road. There is also a no trespassing sign here. This is the start of the trail. The dirt road goes through some brush, but the trail is fairly maintained. Then you come out to a paved road and you just follow the road up to the top. There are some junctions, but don't turn left. Continue up the road all the way and pass the offices that have a/c. Follow the trail and you will come out to the girl painting bunker.

We haven't done the hike starting from Ili'aina Street (Kalaheo High School), but we will update this page once we do. I know they put up a rocking chair along the trail! Definitely a reason to do this hike! This is the longest route of the three. Keep checking back for more updates soon!






















Finding our way through the brush. You can see the neighborhood houses on the left and the hills on the right.
























Amazing view from on top of the tank!





























Just relaxing on the side of the water tank. Lanikai in the background.






















We headed back on the trail, up the hill and over the fence shown on the bottom.






















The view of the Nu'upia Fish ponds.
























After about 10 to 15 minutes we reached the bill board!
























Then there's the hills. It took a while to get to the girl painting bunker. There are a couple of hills before you reach the top so keep going! The only strenuous part of the hike.






















So...that's where we came from. Past the telephone poles.


















Just a little more climbing. The bunker is where the first

 telephone pole is in the distance.






















I didn't notice how steep it was until seeing this picture.

It actually wasn't that bad though.
























And we made it finally after about an hour and a half.

The painting is fading away though. It's been up for a couple years now.


















If you are coming from the Aikahi Gardens side, continue straight from the Aikahi Park Shopping Center heading towards the H-3. There will be a dirt path past the townhouses. Just go around the chain link fence.
























This is looking back from the trail up to the bunker. The right is where we came from and the left side is the H-3 freeway. Just follow the paved road up.


















Next time we will be doing the hike from Kalaheo High School!

Check back for updates!

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