Instagram addicts already know about the Koko Head Stairs (Instagram #kokohead) - it’s one of the favorite spots on Oahu where would-be yogis and super-fitness freaks love to post pictures of themselves seemingly jumping into the void. The platform at the top of Koko Head makes for perfect selfies and posed shots.
Instagram, however is not the only reason to climb Koko Head. It’s an amazing view, a challenging hike, and a great way to work off some of the delicious Hawaiian treats you may be indulging in while on the island of Oahu (You know, like Matsumoto Shave Ice or Ted’s Haupia Pie!)
Koko Head is an extinct tuff cone volcano that last erupted 35,000 years ago. The Koko Head Botanical Garden is located inside the crater and from the top of the crater, visitors are rewarded with perfect views of East Honolulu, Hanauma Bay, and the South Shore of Oahu. There are no entrance fees and on clear days you can make out the neighbor islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai across the Pacific Ocean.
Koko Head was a military lookout point and the 1042 stairs you climb to reach the top are actually the remains of a steam powered funicular railroad that used to bring troops and equipment to the top. The peak elevation is at 1208 feet. Koko Head's elevation is not that tall, but the stairs will wear you out. Because the steps are tall - so it’s like doing lunges all the way up. For those scared of heights there is a degraded railway bridge that will get your blood pumping as you go across it!
If you are going to climb Koko Head, wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and it’s a good idea to bring a hat, water, and snacks. It’s not a race to the top - and expect to get passed multiple times by fitness experts as they try to break their own records for time and number of trips up in a single workout.