ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Travel Activities & Ideas»
  • Outdoor & Adventure Activities on Vacation

Braving the Trails of Koko Head Crater

Updated on September 10, 2014
Beautiful Koko Head Crater
Beautiful Koko Head Crater

The Steep Climb Up An Ancient Volcano

For the longest time, climbing Koko Head Crater had been on my bucket list and until recently, I've made one excuse after another, successfully dodging the hike altogether on every visit to Oahu. However, when my friend suggested we go on a recent visit to Honolulu, I simply had no excuses left.

I also felt it was time to bite the bullet and just do it. I had just turned 48 and I was definitely not getting any younger. I also felt that my fitness level needed to be tested, just to prove to myself that I wasn't "too old" to do stuff. I've never really like the idea of having to "act my age" and I wasn't about to start now. Was my climb a successful one? Or was I unfortunate enough to get a minor heart attack? Read on to find out!

*All photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

The sign that warns hikers about the risks involved in the hike.
The sign that warns hikers about the risks involved in the hike.

It's Challenging But Doable

It was a Tuesday morning, just three days before my flight back home to Tokyo. The skies were blue with not a could in the sky, making it the perfect weather for a hike. So I took the bus leaving from Waikiki towards my destination.

The 40-minute bus ride was crowded and uneventful and I tried to calm down my nerves, intensified by reading the numerous reviews on TripAdvisor on how grueling the climb was. I promised myself to take it at my own pace and rest when needed, reminding myself to enjoy the experience.

After some difficulty finding the place, my friends and I found ourselves at the base of Koko Head Crater. As we started to approach the start of the hike (honestly, it's more of a climb than a hike), we looked ahead of us to see the hike in its entirety. It's basically one straight trail up to the summit and although it looked rather intimidating, it didn't look too bad.

Signs warned hikers of the risks involved, pointing out how difficult it could be for some individuals. Seeing these signs made me hesitate a bit, and although I felt like turning back a few times, I was here to challenge myself and nothing was going to stop me.

Hiking on Oahu-The Definitive Guide

The Hikers Guide to Oahu: Updated and Expanded (A Latitude 20 Book)
The Hikers Guide to Oahu: Updated and Expanded (A Latitude 20 Book)

If you're an avid hiker going to Honolulu on holiday, this is probably the best source of information for the various hiking trails on the island of Oahu.

More than 50 trails that are suitable for a variety of fitness levels and includes stunning hikes like Manoa Falls, Koko Head and the easy-to-do-but stunning Diamond Head Hike.

Included with each hike are directions, a detailed description of the route and helpful information such as length of hike, difficulty level and trail conditions.

 

Essential Items

Don't forget to take these items with you

  • Proper shoes (hiking,running or sports shoes)
  • Sunscreen
  • A bottle of water
  • Towel (to wipe off sweat)
  • Backpack (to keep you hands free)

Prepare yourself for a major workout!
Prepare yourself for a major workout!

The First 400 Steps

The start of the hike (or any hike for that matter) is always easy and for the first 5 minutes or so, I felt like this was going to be a piece of cake. Sure the steps go straight up at a steep incline, but I felt good.

In fact, I made sure to take it at my own pace and waiting for my friend to catch up with me gave me lots of time to rest. And even though my breathing was getting slightly heavy, it didn't feel like I was going to keel over or anything.

The three of us trudged along, one going straight up almost without rest, while the other had to take a break with every 15 steps or so. My energy level was somewhere in between the two. We cleared the first 400 steps in less than 20 minutes.

Quick Question

Have you ever climbed Koko Head Crater?

See results
Watch out for the big gaps!
Watch out for the big gaps!

The Bridge From Hell

After the 500th step or so, we encounter what I call, The Bridge From Hell. Let me explain. This section of the trail is basically a long road of wooden beams with gaps in between, making it risky to make even one wrong move.

Those without proper shoes should turn back at this point, or take the less treacherous alternate route towards the side. (Although that route looked just as difficult)

The trick to getting across safely is to keep on moving, making sure you don't stop at midpoint. You simply keep your eyes on your feet and concentrate on balancing on the slanted, wooden beams.

If you make the mistake of stopping midpoint and looking up, you may find yourself crawling on both hands and knees like many people did that day.

Fortunately, we all made it across in one piece.

Keep Yourself Hands Free With a Backpack

JanSport Superbreak Classic Backpack Black
JanSport Superbreak Classic Backpack Black

If you're planning on hiking this trail ( or any trail for that matter ), it's best to keep both hands free for maximum safety. A sturdy backpack to hold your water, sunscreen and snacks can be a lifesaver.

This backpack from JanSport is functional and includes a main compartment as well as a front pocket with organizer for smaller items. The padded shoulder straps and padded back panel will keep you comfortable.

 
The last steps before the summit
The last steps before the summit

StairMaster from Hell

After the harrowing experience on the bridge, we continued onwards towards the summit. It had almost been an hour since starting the hike and we wanted to get there as soon as we could, as well as make it in time for our lunch appointment.

As we put one foot in front of the other, our breathing was becoming more labored and with every step, it became difficult to continue without resting for a few seconds.

My very fit friend was already up on the summit waiting for the two of us. I was at the 900th step mark, while my other friend was still at around the 600th step.

I had been waiting for my friend to catch up with me throughout the entire hike, but my adrenaline suddenly kicked in and I wanted to get to the top now! So instead of waiting, I whipped my head around and started climbing, slightly faster then before.

The final steps were ridiculously steep and it felt more like working out on a StairMaster at Level 100! I had to catch my breath a couple of times and as I kept my eyes on my footing, I took the final step to victory!

My Koko Head Experience on Video

Yay! I made it to the top!
Yay! I made it to the top!

Essential Information

Koko Head is located just a 30 minute drive from downtown Honolulu and is easily accessible by car or city bus. The bus ride takes approximately 30-40 minutes depending on traffic. Check the bus schedule for times and get to the bus stop early as the ride is usually crowded with tourists going to nearby Hanauma Bay.

Make sure to wear proper shoes and a backpack helps keep your hands free, which can help minimize accidents on the hike. Also, don't forget to carry with you a bottle of water and wear sunscreen. Early mornings are best to avoid the blistering sun.

Depending on your physical limitations, this may not be the hike for you. However most people, regardless of age or fitness level, seem to enjoy this hike. Just make sure to take it at your own pace and most of all, enjoy the awesome experience!

Helpful Links

Reviews on TripAdvisor

Koko Head Crater Information

Did You Enjoy This Hub? All Comments are Appreciated. Thanks!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      This is definitely something to try. I loved it!

    • javr profile image

      javr 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I missed this experience when I was there back in 1991. I'll have to go back and try it!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      SandyMertens, thanks for reading. I'm glad you liked it.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      David Stone1, thanks so much for reading! It's always an honor.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 2 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      This is an amazing hike and photos.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 2 years ago from New York City

      Once again, a thrilling share that gives a sense of being there.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thanks so much for reading MelCarriere. It can still be done if one takes it at their own pace.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      minoru10 glad you did it too.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Deborah-Diane, thank you for visiting. I hope you get to visit on your next trip to Hawaii.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      ecogranny too bad that video didn't load. I'm so happy you came to read about my hiking adventure. And thank you for the compliment. ;)

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thank you chrislouhow. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Looks like a wonderful climb. I should have done this as a young man, when I was in Honolulu on many occasions. Great hub!

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      It was hard but I'm glad I did it.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      What a beautiful adventure. We have seen some of the volcanoes in Hawaii, but not this crater. Maybe next time!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Goodness, you look so young for 48! I had no idea. That bridge looks more like a very steep and treacherous ladder. What an amazing climb. The video wouldn't load for me, so perhaps one day you will post some of the photographs you took at the summit? I hope so.

      Another beautifully wrought page. Thank you for further enabling my armchair tourism.

    • chrisilouwho profile image

      chrisilouwho 3 years ago

      stunning photos and video!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Adverturetravels, Thanks for coming on the journey with me here at Hubpages.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from London UK

      No way could I cross that bridge -not even with proper shoes!! The views are so beautiful - what a wonderful thing to do. Yes I can imagine how hard coming down is on the knees. Well done to you. Great video!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      beliza thanks so much!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      favored thank you so much. You always have a way of making my day a bit brighter. HUGS!

    • profile image

      beliza 3 years ago

      Beautiful photos!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      It doesn't surprise me that you make this hike. You always "shine" in all you do. The video was great and the view is worth making the trip. You continually bring excitement to your readers. Great job my friend.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      It doesn't surprise me that you make this hike. You always "shine" in all you do. The video was great and the view is worth making the trip. You continually bring excitement to your readers. Great job my friend.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      debW07, thanks so much! They sure were intimidating but the climb is so worth it!

    • profile image

      debW07 3 years ago

      Amazing lens, uh, I mean Hub. :) Those steps look so intimidating, and I applaud anyone who takes the challenge to climb them.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      melRootsNWrites it really wasn't that bad. Just a łittle. :)

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      CherylsArt thanks so much

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      DrBillSmithWriter thank you for commenting. I really appreciate your visit.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Robin Marie, thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed reading it at least. Hehe

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Brite-Ideas this really was a fun hike. Don't be too scared of at bridge though. It's a short one.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Pam Erie it sure does!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @WannaB Writer I totally understand. My sister, who's younger than me refuses to try.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      That was one amazing adventure you took! I know I would have never made it acros the bridge or up that steep ladder.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      That looks like an awesome hike. Congratulations for your effort and for making it. : )

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I can no longer physically do it, but it looks like a great one! Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

    • Robin Marie profile image

      Robin 3 years ago from USA

      This isn't for me but I enjoyed reading about it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      WOW, I would love to do this! (the bridge from hell? not so much) My kids would want to tackle the bridge from hell, I know it, and that alone would keep me from telling them about this! lol - really interesting though!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 3 years ago from Land of Aloha

      YAY you for this accomplishment. Feels good, doesn't it? :)

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I think this hike is out of my league. I prefer flat or a gradual climb. Of course, those views from the top would motivate one to do it, but not enough for me.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Sarah Switalski, thanks so much for watching my videos and reading. I do hope you get to visit one day though.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Merrci it sure was a great hike. Yes, my knees bothered me for a couple of days afterwards, especially the very next day. I could barely walk!

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      mumsgather haha. I did end up crawling when coming down. There I admit it!

    • Sarah Switalski profile image

      Sarah Switalski 3 years ago from Iowa

      Pictures, videos and reading experiences like this might be the closest I ever get to Hawaii. Thank you for sharing your awesome hike!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      That is quite a climb, but what a view and an accomplishment! I'm impressed, Smine27. We always think going downhill will be easier, but the downhill steps are usually the part that leave my legs so sore for days afterward! Did that bother you? Loved the video and the photos too.

    • profile image

      mumsgather 3 years ago

      I think I would probably end up crawling on that bridge of hell. ;)

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thank you so much Rhonda. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Pawpawwrites, thanks for visiting. It sure was!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      You take the most awesome photos. I love getting to see the other side of the world through your eyes. Very cool.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

      Looks like a good workout, and a lot of fun.