koko head crater trail hike on oahu, hawaii
One of the most popular hikes in Hawaii lies on the east side of O’ahu in Hawaii Kai. The hike is at Koko Head District Park, and we’ve done it at sunrise, midday, and sunset on 3 separate occasions. The view from the top is incredible at any time though, so take your pick!
Once parked inside the parking lot, you walk up past a basketball court, go though a couple bushes, and you will see the treacherous 1,048 steps that you are about to embark on. Yes, it’s over 1,000 steps to the top. Prepare yourself friends!
At first you may start off a little cocky, as I did my first time up Koko Head. I quickly learned that this is a grave mistake, and I would highly suggest pacing yourself, or else you’ll die out quickly. The steps are wide, a real killer for my tiny legs, and they required grand lunges that really take a toll on your stamina.
About half way up or so there comes a “bridge”, in which the railroad tracks are over a gap. While this can be a bit dangerous and I would excise some caution, it’s not that bad and extremely doable. I’m a chicken and crawl the entire way like a crab, but most can steadily walk across without problem.
At this point of the hike the steps get real steep, and I’m already choking on my own saliva and crawling on my hands and knees. Other people who regularly exercise are doing much better than me of course, but it’s still a killer no matter how fit you think you are. It’s quite a humbling climb!
Once at the top of the seemingly never ending steps, you can finally vomit with relief. Of the 3 times Jarden and I did the hike, our times varied from 24-30 minutes to get to the top. The view is incredible, and it only gets better once you ascend! You can walk up a little hill and find a couple of bunkers, as well as a metal structure that many people climb on. The view 1,200 feet up is definitely worth the climb.
Now believe it or not, my least favorite part of the hike is coming down. While the descent is definitely easier on the lungs, it’s painful on the joints, not to mention legs are practically jello at this point. I don’t have bad knees whatsoever, but coming down Koko Head always makes me feel like I have arthritis, which really is the reason why I don’t do the hike more often. Other than that, it’s a really fun hike & a great workout. If your knees don’t mind the effort, I’d recommend trying it at least once!
Koko Head Crater Trail
7604 Koko Head Park Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96825