Activity Finds: Kailua

1) Lanikai Pillbox Hike

For some, hiking is well, a pill. But to outdoor enthusiasts who want to take a walk on O‘ahu's more scenic side the Lanikai Pillbox hike (as it's referred to by locals) takes adventure seekers on a quick tour of Lanikai's pillboxes with views of the scenic shores of Lanikai, Kailua and Kane‘ohe.

Head out early (and with plenty of sunscreen and water) before the day heats up for the up to three hour jaunt - depending on how far you and your group want to go -- to the now-abandoned pillboxes that dot Lanikai's ridgeline. The historic World Ward II-era bunkers once used as observation decks to protect O‘ahu's Windward coastline against potential attacks from Japan, today takes participants on a scenic hiking tour along Kaiwa Ridge.

Great for families and those without a heart for hiking, the first pillbox is easily accessible in about 20 to 30 minutes with the second pillbox just another 10 minute jaunt away. Here, many O‘ahu hikers opt to stop for a photo opportunity (trust us, this Facebook album will get lots of likes and jealous comments from friends and family stuck at home) and head back.

Our tip: the initial 10-yard vertical climb can be a little daunting but well worth the jaw-dropping views you'll be rewarded with. If you're lucky, you may even be treated to a Hawaiian rainbow or two.

 

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2) Madre Chocolate

If you go cuckoo for cocoa a trip to Madre Chocolate in Kailua is a must. Dip into their organic, fair trade chocolates made right here on O‘ahu with a tour of their cacao farm and chocolate factory, or indulge in one of their luxurious tastings or "chocolate pau hanas." You bring your favorite choco pairing (wine, beer, whiskey or cheese) and they bring samples of new flavors they're experimenting with like jabotica or calamansi lime. It's a match made in chocolate heaven.

Winners of six Hawai‘i, US and international chocolate awards, Madre Chocolate's owner David Elliot is wrapping up work to put Hawai‘i on the map of artisanal chocolate powerhouses. Their one and a half ounce handcrafted dark chocolate bars are infused with unique, Hawai‘i-grown ingredients like ginger, plumeria, passion fruit and guava. Go exotic and try their new Kokoleka chocolate bar, inspired by Hawai‘i's fresh fruit, herbs and spices, captured in dark, rich Hawai‘i-grown cacao.

If you can't make it out to the Windward side you can grab a bar (or a few dozen) for yourself and your chocolate-loving friends back home from some of their vendors including the Ala Moana Center Farmer's Market, Fendu Belangerie in Manoa, Neiman Marcus, Tamura's Fine Wines and Liquors and Whole Foods Market.

 

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3) Lanikai Beach

More than living up to its name (in Hawaiian, Lanikai translates as "heavenly sea") Lanikai Beach in Kailua, consistently shores up as one of the best beaches in the world. With its white sand and gentle, turquoise waters, Lanikai Beach on O‘ahu's Windward side measures up - wave for wave - against the images that guests imagine and travel books the world over depict, as the quintessential Hawai‘i beach experience.

If you float by mid-week, Lanikai Beach is traditionally less crowded by the throngs of kama‘aina (local residents) and visitors who crowd the shoreline toe-to-towel during the weekends and peak summer months. For those who lose track of time, Lanikai also just happens to be the perfect place to stay to catch the moonrise over the Mokuluas.

While the beach itself is public property, because Lanikai Beach isn't considered state or county land there are no lifeguards, restrooms or showers. So make sure to stay safe and plan your restroom needs in advance.

 

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4) Kailua Bicycle Hawaii

Ditch your rental car for a different set of wheels and borrow or rent a bike to explore Kailua. This bicycle friendly neighborhood makes it the perfect place to take in some fresh air and appreciate our beautiful Hawai‘i weather.

Park your car at Kailua Town Center (or anywhere where parking is plentiful!) and roll on over to take your pick of local bike rentals - options include Kailua Bicycle and The Bike Shop. From there, the day is yours to take a short spin to Lanikai Beach (where you'll save yourself the time and headache of having to hunt down parking), grab shave ice from Island Snow and lunch and some light groceries from Kalapawai Café.

Another option is the state's new bike sharing program called Hawai‘i B-Cycle which has stations throughout Kailua where you can quickly and easily pick up and drop off a bike without the time and hassle of going to a shop. Purchase a membership online (you can choose from a 24-hour, 30-day or annual pass) at http://hawaii.bcycle.com and you're ready to hit the road!

 

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