I joined a day excursion to Lanikai and Kailua Beach from my hostel. Our driver dropped us off in the morning at Kailua explaining how we could walk to the trailhead to hike Pillbox, a short trail promising rewarding views of the area.
The trail is about 1.6km round-trip if you stop at the top (second pillbox), but there was an undeveloped trail that kept going further if you are up for it. It takes more or less 30min to reach the top, but give yourself plenty of time to soak up the views up there! The elevation gain up to the top is about 198m, with basically no shade (seems to be a thing in Oahu), loose rocks and some crowds. I definitely suggest doing this trail early in the day so you beat the crowd and the heat.
These were probably the best vistas I’ve seen in Oahu (although I know I could have done bigger hikes and treks, I didn’t feel up for it that week!). From the top, you can see the mountain range around, as well as the beach (which was our next stop!) and the beautiful ocean surrounding the island. The colours are outstanding.
When we came back down, we stopped at Lanikai Beach to rest and enjoy the sun. I had borrowed two floating tubes from our hostel that morning, so I swam around and relaxed in the water. After a few hours, we walked back towards Kailau beach where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Two of us decided to brave the elements and swim (armed with our floaties) all the way to Popoia Island State Bird Sanctuary – which is basically the flat island you can see right in front of Kailau. It took us about 20min to swim each way, taking our time and enjoying the trip. Most people reach it by kayak, but we didn’t have any trouble (we were both strong swimmers, too). I would recommend bringing some sort of footwear, though, as our walk around the flat island wasn’t very enjoyable (some hot old sharp volcano rock didn’t feel nice on the soles).
There were a few options to rent kayaks and paddle boards, which I would have done if I had a bit more money. Oahu being as expensive as it is, I had to make a few choices here!