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The amazing Koko Head Hike Trail in Waikiki, Oahu

Your full guide to the Koko Head Hike in 2020!

How to do the Koko Head Hike (stairs of doom) 

The Koko Head hike is one of the best hikes to do in Oahu. It’s a beautiful but tough walk that takes you up into sky and rewards you with amazing views of the world below you – which is why so many travelers take up this top-rated trail in Oahu.

The height of the Koko Head sometimes seems too much for some hikers, however, if you thinking about taking on the challenging elevation, then this blog post will help you make your mind up!

If you’re on a vacation to Hawaii, you need to see my full Hawaii itinerary!

the Koko Crater Arch guide

Let’s look what’s included in this post;

  • History of Koko Head
  • Directions to Koko Head
  • How long does it take to climb
  • How many steps
  • Is it dangerous
  • Opening hours
  • Where to park
  • Botanical gardens
  • Koko Head cafe
  • Where to stay
  • Final thoughts

History of Koko Head Crater Arch

This cool attraction in Oahu has some very interesting history.

Did you know that the military used the summit of Koko Head to build bunkers during World War II – interesting right? Wait there’s more, the popular walking track was once the train track of Koko Head. This army used these tracks to transport goods and supplies up and down the mountain.

When the war finished the Hawaii National Guard and air force took over the base etc. However, this was later passed on to the City of Honolulu.

Fast forward to now, and the area is known as Koko Head Regional Park. 

the Koko Head trail history photo

How to get to the Koko Head Hike?

The best and easiest way to get to Koko Head is by jumping on the bus there. Here’s the good news, there are no transfers on the bis, it’s just a 40-minute ride from Waikiki to Hanauma Bay sign. From here, you just need to cross the road to begin your hike up Koko Head.

Please remember, Hanauma Bay is popular amongst tourists, so expect the buses to get crowded as the day passes by! If I was you, I would get to the bus stop as early as possible!

Photo of the koko Head stairs of doom
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How long does it take to climb?

One of the most popular questions is; how long does it take to climb Koko Head? To simply answer: this depends on your level of fitness. It can take anything from 20 to 50 minutes. However, I wouldn’t rush the hike. Take your time and enjoy the incredible views on offer!

the Koko Head directions up the stairs of doom
Credit for the phot0

How many steps are there?

There are not as many steps as the popular stairway to heaven Oahu – but there are quite a few! The actual number of the steps is 1,048 – sound a lot? This awesome climb takes you at least 1200 ft above Kawaii Kai. When you reach the top you will have incredible views of Hanauma Bay. It really is quite spectacular!

A photo of the beautiful Koko Head sunrise

The beautul arch on the Koko Head crater

Is it dangerous?

Yes, you could say it’s slightly dangerous! The trail is steep in parts and gets very slippy. This is why you should take your time and be sure to wear fitted trainers with grips. This will help you stay on your feet in those slippery areas.

burning calories doing the Koko Head trail

The Koko Head Railway stairs opening hours

The Koko Head hike is not a place that has a typical open/closing time. You can attempt to do this hike any time – obviously is not something you do in the middle of the night, however, people do here before sunrise, so they can make it to the top as the golden sun rises in the distance – this makes a cool Instagram photo! If you do decide to do the Koko Head hike for sunrise then remember to take a flashlight with you. We don’t want any accidents now do we 🙂

Overhead view of the Koko Crater Arch

Where to park?

The Koko Head parking is very handy! You will find the parking around at the base of the crater. Here’s the good news, the parking is free! So you can leave your car or motorbike there without paying a single dime!

What about visiting the Botanical Gardens

The Koko Crater is now popular amongst visitors wanting to check out the beautiful botanical gardens trail. You can treck on acres of land marveling at lush and rare dryland plants.

If you’re thinking about visiting the Koko Crater botanical gardens, then check out these tips;

  • There isn’t any water available so make sure you take your own!
  • No vehicles are allowed in the botanical gardens
  • Make sure you wear some decent trainers
  • You can’t take any furry friends (dogs)

Eating at the Koko Head Cafe

After doing the hike, your belly is going to be rumbling! So why not visit the cafe for some scrumptious food and put back on all those calories burned on doing the epic trail!

The menu offers you a range of tasty foods such as;

  • Alohi cakes
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Snacks
  • Scones

This cafe is open every day from 7 am so you can head here after doing the sunrise hike.

Where to stay?

There’s plenty of great places to stay in Waikiki. Let’s look at some of the best accommodation;

  • Waikiki Central – Ideally set in the Waikiki district of Honolulu, Waikiki Central Hotel is situated 200 yards from Waikiki Beach, 200 yards from Kuhio Beach and 650 yards from Queen’s Surf Beach.  You can check out the rooms here.
  • Aqua Oasis – Lush! A spacious balcony, 42-inch flat-screen TV, an electronics charging station and urban loft-style décor are included in each air-conditioned guest room. An en suite bathroom with an oversized deep soaking tub, hand-held shower head and hairdryer is also provided. Perfect for any trip to Waikiki! You can check out the rooms here.
  • Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel – The Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is steps from Waikiki Beach and adjacent to the Honolulu Zoo – making it one of the best places to stay in Waikiki. It features an on-site restaurant, poolside bar, and spacious guest rooms with a private balcony. You can check out the rooms here.

Final thoughts

This Koko Head trail is one of the most things you can do, and the views at the top are breathtaking! Which is why so many adventurers embark on this popular hike.

You should have all the information you need to take put in this fun activity in Waikiki!

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