Located on the south shore of Oahu is a district park area called Koko Head. This is a great place for hikers to explore the area. There’s also a botanical garden located inside for those interested in the plant life.
Koko Head is actually composed of three different craters, one of which is the nearby Hanauma Bay. Its highest point rises to just over 1200 feet, offering amazing views along the south shore from Sandys Beach to Makapuu.
Koko Head stairs are one of Oahu’s most popular hiking trails. It begins at Koko Head District Park parking lot and takes you up the steepest part of the crater, using railroad ties as steps to help you along.
The United States military used the area back during World War II as observation posts. Pillbox bunkers were built at the crater rim. And the railway was used to haul supplies and cargo to the top where the bunkers were.
The bunkers and railway have since been abandoned. But the old railway ties were left in place giving hikers a chance to make their way to the top. The steps are very wide. And the further you get along the trail, they start becoming very steep too.
At one point along the trail, you will come to a railway bridge. This can be intimidating for some people as it is above ground with drops anywhere from 5 to 20 feet. Some like to take the alternate route around the bridge.
Some of the steps are numbered giving you an indication of how much longer it is to the top. The exact number of steps is 1,048.
Once you make that last step you come to some incredible views including the city, Diamond Head, Hanuama Bay, and lots of ocean. You can explore the pillbox bunker if you wish. And just over the edge of the crater you’ll see the botanical garden down below. There’s also some ridge trails along the top if you care to explore some more.
Koko Crater Botanical Garden is actually one of the many Honolulu Botatical Gardens located throughout the island. The Koko Crater one has 60 acres of plants that are native to Hawaii as well as other parts of the world including Madagascar, Africa, and America. There’s all different types of plantlife here: aloes, euphorbias, adeniums, wiliwili trees, cacti, plumerias, and much more.
There’s no entrance to the garden from the top of the crater. So if you just hiked the stairs, you’ll need to come back down and make your way to the other side of the crater. The entrance is at the end of Kokonani Street. You’ll need to either take the bus or drive, because the crater is huge and it’s a very long walk to the other side.
- When hiking the crater, try to go early in the morning when the sun is at its lowest. There’s no shade on this trail.
- Take plenty of water, sunscreen, and maybe even a hat. And take your time too.
- There’s no entrance fee for either the hiking trail or the botanical gardens. Both are free.
- If you’re going by bus, take the #22 from Waikiki and get off at the Hanauma Bay stop. Go across the road and you’ll see a service road that leads up to the trailhead.
- Most importantly, enjoy and have fun!
Image by: hawaiiphotographytours.com