adventure, family, hiking, oahu, Travel

Pu’u Ma’eli’eli – Digging Hill Hike

Who knew an awesome hike was hiding behind the guard rail on busy Kahekili highway?

Last week I asked for hike recommendations and my friend Lori came through BIG TIME.  She suggested I try this one in Kaneohe with the girls and after 3 days of failing to get my act together, today was a win!  This is a great hike and with all the raving people do about Lanikai Pill Box hike I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about this one.  I’ve never seen a view quite like it.  We sat there for quite some time staring out at the ocean, watching a C-5 practice takeoffs and landings at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe and generally just enjoying the sunshine, breeze and being together.  My girls are the best hiking buddies!


Here’s the thing, it was a little hard to find.  I parked on a residential road off Hui Iwa Street.  If you turn at the McDonald’s in the Ko’olau shopping center you can park in the adjacent neighborhood.


At the corner of Hui Iwa and Kahekili we headed south, back in the direction of the Windward Mall.  There is a guard rail that you can either hug and pray a lot that passing buses and cars will stay on the other side of the white line or you can do what I did which was toss the kids over the rail and then climb over and just stay on the cement on the other side.  It felt safe and there weren’t too many bugs or other types of excitement.


Near the end of the guard rail is a post with a yellow reflector.  Here is your starting point!  My lovely models are throwing you the shaka because YOU CAN DO IT!


We did this in clear, sunny weather.  There is a lot of shade and a nice breeze on the trail.   If it were raining heavily this could be a slippery mess so keep that in mind.  There is a lot of evidence of water rushing down the somewhat steep inclines.  As a mom I am a huge fan of any hike that doesn’t require me running everyone’s shoes through the washing machine afterwards.  (It’s the little things.)

Along the way there are lots of places to peek through the trees and catch a glimpse at Kaneohe Bay.  As you get closer to the turn around point an informative sign explains the Hawaiian Mythology behind Pu’u Ma’eli’eli and the history behind the pillboxes located there.


As gorgeous as the glimpses are on the way up , nothing quite prepared me for the HUGE view at the top of the hill.

How can a view be HUGE, Jennie?  I know, it just doesn’t sound the same when I say it compared to #45 but this view is huge.  It is wide.  It is deep.  It is all encompassing.  I am not sure how to describe it so say it with me, “This view is HUGE.”  Feeling unconvinced? I guess you’ll have to lace up those go-fasters and hike yourself up there!


At the lookout there are multiple pillboxes and lots of opportunity to explore if you are feeling brave.  I let both kids descend the ladder into the main pillbox and they thought it was fabulous.  B announced, “MOM!  There is a lady spray painted on the wall wearing those skinny underwear that look like they hurt!”  Bless.

Whenever I let the girls do borderline adventurous stuff they marvel at my awesomeness and shower me with praise for several hours post-adventure.  They are no dummies; their momma is a praise-hound.  This is their ticket to future craziness and they know it.


We brought snacks and water to enjoy at the pillboxes and took time to savor the view and our hard work.  The kids were so pleased with themselves and that alone made my day.   (Though that gorgeous view didn’t hurt!)


The return hike wasn’t bad at all.  Keep in mind that there is some loose gravel and even though T says she loved sliding all the way down one hill and happily proclaimed, “I’m not even BLEEDING!” I’d take it slow and easy on the way down.   We crab-walked a good portion and kept the rhythm with silly made up versions of rap songs but you can improvise and sing whatever you like because, well, it’s a free country and everything.

Pay close attention to the branches over your head.  Let’s just say we are 2/2 because one of the girls found out the hard way.  She will survive but was quite stunned for a few seconds after walking directly into one of said branches.


After the hike we were HOT.  My CRV felt like an oven inside so I pulled into the shopping center and located the Koolau Snack Shop where we were brought back to life by the sweet proprietor’s delicious Icees.  I was instantly very popular with my kids so on top of all the praise about the adventure…well, you can see this whole experience worked out in my favor.

Give this one a shot!  It’s a great hike, isn’t too hard, doesn’t take too long (probably a little more than 1.5 miles) and is nicely shaded most of the way so you have no excuse.

Come back and comment after you try Pu’u Ma’eli’eli and let me know how you like it!

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