Whether you’ve had the chance to visit Hawaii or not, you’ve probably heard of Diamond Head. It’s the pretty famous crater located right at the edge of world renowned Waikiki Beach. Known to tourists as an iconic image in Hawaii, many make it a point of walking up the path, often unprepared in flip flops, for the chance to cross it off their bucket list. If you would rather stay away from all the hype and try something different, try Koko Head!
At an elevation of 1100 ft. above sea level and a total of 2100 stairs, this hike will get your heart rate up while leaving you breathless from both the workout and the views. It’s not for everyone but if you decide to go for it, reaching the top is definitely worth the climb.
Getting there: A quick drive from Waikiki via Interstate H-1 E which turns into the Kalanianaole Hwy. Turn left on Anapalau St. Follow Anapalau St to Koko Head Park Rd, which is three streets down and then turn right. You will drive through a neighborhood area until you reach the parking lot. You can also reach it by bus and some walking.
As you reach the very beginning of the climb you notice it is a series of old railroad tracks that go straight up the crater. Half way through is a bridge of sorts that is pretty daunting the first time up and can leave you a little shaky if you have a fear of heights. A secret path has been carved out to the right of the bridge for those who don’t want to chance it. But shhhhh…it’s a secret. Beyond the bridge is probably the steepest part of the hike but you can see the top not far from reach.
Once you have overcome your fears, taken plenty of breathers, and remembered to look around and soak in the sights, you will have reached the top of Koko Head! Go up a little further and stand on a pillbox for an even better look. With 360 degree views of Honolulu, Hanauma Bay, and Hawaii Kai, you won’t regret a single step.
- Go early in the morning when it’s cooler out. It’s tough to find shade.
- A great place for an early morning sunrise but remember to bring a headlamp.
- Drink plenty of water and rest if you need. It’s strenuous but brings you a sense of accomplishment and a great workout.
- Watch your step coming down. Take your time so you don’t go tumbling.