I was very fortunate to have lived on Oahu for a short while in my life. I made some lifelong friends who will forever be considered my ohana which is family in Hawaiian. One of my sisters on the island occasionally asks me to house sit for her. I know what you’re thinking, poor me. If my schedule permits, I’m happy to do so. Pam Davis and her husband, Brian Farr, have a house really close to Koko Head and I love challenging myself on many levels in life so I’m always excited when I house sit for them.
I had a real eye opener regarding Koko Head during my las stay a couple of months ago. I’ve learned that Koko Head aka Koko Crater Trail has become a huge phenomenon amongst locals and tourists. A few weeks ago the traffic on the trail was heavier than the H1! There is even a Facebook group called the Koko Nut Challenge (Koko Crater Stairs Challenge) that keeps people motivated to continually challenge each other on a daily basis. It’s quite common for some of these locals to climb Koko Head 7 or more times a day. Koko Head is consisted of old railroad ties that are mounted to the hillside from the bottom to the top. The military created lookout pillbox bunkers during World War II. It’s been somewhat disassembled leaving the wooden frame creating a stair like structure. The stairs are uneven, long and taller than your regular 7 inch stairway riser. There are 1,050 steps in total but feels like over 2,000 with the challenge of the construction of it.
I should mention that you must be careful on any hike you do on Oahu. Be smart. It can often rain making challenging hikes even more dangerous and always listen to your body. Take breaks when needed. Bring water, sunscreen, hat and hiking boots. There is no shade on this hike so it’s best to do it in the morning. I’ve seen some locals do the hike barefoot but it’s really not recommended.
The first 100 steps are quite easy but gets progressively more difficult. There is a flat area three quarters of the way up but that part can be a little dangerous as it is a bridge and if you’re afraid of heights, like I am, it can freak you out. Luckily, after my twentieth time climbing this, I discovered there is an alternate route to avoid the bridge for people like me. If you do choose to cross the bridge just be extra careful and watch your footing.
The views on the way up are breathtaking. You can see Hanauma Bay and Port Lock Peninsula at the same time. The views from the top on the other side is extensive sandy beach and lava rock coastline. You can make a day of the south side of the island and go to Hanauma Bay after your hike as a reward. Hanauma Bay is a snorkeling adventure and cooling off after the hot hike is perfect. You do want to give yourself about an hour and a half to three hours to do Koko Head. You might want to bring a snack for the top before heading back down. Going down is easier but your muscles will be sore and throbbing from the hike up so pace yourself and above all, enjoy the adventure.
By Kelly Vohnn