Challenge Yourself at Koko Head

Hawai’i is known to be a place where people are relaxed, laidback, and to some, lazy. But I feel that the latter description applies less and less to the locals I meet the longer I live here. Koko Head is one evidence that Hawaiian residents are clearly the opposite of lazy.

Koko Head is a hiking trail in Hawaii Kai neighborhood that involves a strenuous workout to finish. Instead of offering a walk in the park, it offers a nonstop, stairclimber-like routine for about half an hour to an hour straight, depending on the person’s fitness. The “steps” are actually part of an abandoned railroad track that was once used by the military to transport supplies to a lookout shelter at the top. Because of the challenging nature of the hike, Koko Head attracts a wide range of fitness levels. There is no need to feel discouraged if you see people sprinting their way up to the top or see the same person on his or her second climb of the day when you’re not even done with your first. At the end of the day, it’s a challenge anyone can do no matter how difficult (I saw a five year old girl struggle her way up!), and it leaves everyone feeling rejuvenated and accomplished. I promise!

Koko Head steps

When I say Koko Head makes people feel rejuvenated afterwards, it’s not just because of the endorphins. It’s also because at the peak of Koko Head, people see one of the most breathtaking (pun totally intended, as most people are out of breath after the climb) panoramas of the Pacific Ocean of their lifetime. If they are lucky to climb on a clear day, they can see Kauai and Molokai, Oahu’s two neighboring islands.



To make the journey up easier, I do have some tips:

  • Wear sunscreen and bring water. There is no shade to rest under until you reach the top.
  • Bring as little on you as possible. Your own body weight is already heavy enough to lift when going up those steps!
  • Try to go on this hike after a streak of dry days. There is a bridge made out of wooden planks that gets tricky to go over when slippery and wet. For some people, the bridge is still to scary to cross even on a dry day, and they opt to skip the bridge by going on the off-beaten track to the side of the trail (to the right if on your way up) which leads you back to the trail.
  • Don’t be startled to hear gunfires while you’re climbing up Koko Head’s steps. There’s a public shooting range in a nearby valley, but it’s far away enough that you’ll never have to worry about loose bullets!
  • Plan accordingly for post hike activities, taking into consideration the high likelihood of sore glutes
  • Treat yourself to some shave ice at Kokonuts after your climb, you deserve it!

Koko Head Railway Trail
Koko Head Park Rd
Honolulu, HI 96825

One comment

  1. Isabelle says:

    I love that you spend time in the outdoor! One of my goals this year is to start hiking more often too. Thank you for reminding me to get going with that goal! ;)

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