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Koko Head (Stairway)


"The way to prove yourself, is to better yourself. That's the American dream."

Updated: November 22, 2016

Location: Just past the Koko Marina Shopping Center is one of the most well known hikes in Hawaii, Koko Head! Park in the Koko Head District Park.

Type: Ridge hike

Hike Difficulty: Beginner

Total Time: 30 minutes to 2 hours (depending on your speed and stamina)

Distance: ~.5 miles from bottom of stairs (each way)

Elevation: ~1000 feet

Things to Consider

  • Kid friendly: yes
  • Pet Friendly: yes
  • 1048 steps to the top! But hey who's counting!
  • The steps are fairly steep, so go one at a time and don't skip any steps.
  • The hike takes a lot of determination. You may be able to see the destination from the bottom, but it takes a lot of out you!
  • The bridge portion of the hike is the "scary" part of the trail, but there is a contour trail off to the right side.
  • Some steps are old and breaking and may even move (the bridge section). Take your time and watch your steps.
  • Take it slow going down as the pressure is very hard on your knees. Especially if it is your first time doing this hike.
  • The hike is a little less than a mile in total, but don't let the distance fool you. The extreme gain in elevation after the bridge portion will leave you sweating and breathless.
  • Do not attempt this hike during peak Sun hours from 12pm to 3pm. The heat will be unbearable and your feet will be burning even with shoes!

Your hiking backpack

  • Sun Screen
  • 1 to 2 Liters of water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • GoPro/camera


Take Kalanianaole Hwy towards Hawaii Kai. Drive past Koko Marina Shopping Center and take a left on to Lunalilo Home Road. Continue straight and take the second right on to Anapalau St. Continue to the end of the road and you will enter Koko Head District Park. Pass the basketball courts and park at the end. Follow everybody to the dirt road and continue up to the start of the hike.

Our Journey

The famous Koko Head! If you live in Hawaii, you have hiked Koko Head at least once. You may have hated your life after doing it, but everyone has at least did it once or twice. One of the most popular hikes on Oahu, this 1048 step trail up the side of the crater gives you gorgeous views of Hawaii Kai. You can see Diamond Head all the way to Makapu'u! I suggest to either go early in the morning (maybe catch the surise), or after 4pm when the sun isn't unbearable. This is also a great hike to watch the sunset and if you wait a little longer, you can see all the city lights after dark. Going down Koko Head in the dark isn't too bad because of all the lights from the park, the stars, and the city lights. However, you can bring a flash light if needed. Most people think it is super easy because the first portion of the hike is fairly flat. Once you reach the bridge, that is where the fun begins. The bridge is maybe 8 to 10 feet about the ground with space in between the steps, so take your time and be careful. You may choose to take the trail off to the right if you aren't comfortable doing the bridge portion. After the bridge, the steps get further apart and extremely steep, almost like climbing a ladder! Some people turn around at this point because of  the heat and the stamina needed to complete the hike. However, once you reach the top, all the pain in your legs go away from the breathtaking views! There is also a hidden tunnel inside the mountain leading to a pretty big bunker. However, the floor is stink with pee and rubbish so if you go in, go at your own risk! It is interesting to see though. You can continue on up to the top bunker and the spot where everybody rests and takes pictures. You can also see the whole crater, and the ocean all the way to Makapu'u. Some people have also been climbing the telephone poles to get to the lookout even higher. The views are amazing. I have my personal best time at 18 minutes. I used to go once a week and kept trying to beat my time. Now don't think I can make it up in 30 minutes!

























From the parking lot, Koko Head in the distance.

























Walking along the dirt road.

























Here's the start. Time yourself!

























The railway stairs has 1048 steps to the top.

























Here's the bridge. Don't look down! You can also contour around the right side.

























So the bridge is fairly high off the ground. There's space between the steps and some of the steps are loose. Be careful and take your time here.

























The bridge takes maybe 5 minutes or so.

You will spend most of your time on the steps after this.

























The top! At this point you made it! Check your watch for your record time!

























Just a little further up is this hidden bunker that leads inside the crater.

























Go check it out. Bring a flashlight because it goes pretty deep.



















It's a tunnel into the crater!

























We decided not to go all the way in because it smelled really bad!

























You can climb up the telephone poles to that board for a better view.



















There's also a prayer box up here.

























Here's a view of the crater and the East Rim Trail on the right.

























The view is amazing. You can see all the way to Makapu'u.

























Awesome spot to take a picture!

























And here's the best spot to see a 360 view of the top.

Also a great spot to watch the susnet.

























Found a nice spot for a hammock. You get the full view.



































Waiting for the sun to go down. Beautiful sunset!

























After the sun goes down, the lights come on!

























For a write up of the East Rim check out the Koko Crater East Rim.

























Time to head back down. For another great hike down this side of the island, check out the Koko Crater Arch.

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