Koko Crater is where locals head when they’re in need of a really good workout, and it’s also a popular visitor attraction thanks to the stunning views from the top. In order to reach the summit, however, you’ll first need to conquer the 1,048 steps that run in a straight line up the mountain. The steps themselves are actually railroad ties left over from WWII, and while the first half of the steps are moderately steep, it’s the final push to the 1,100-foot summit that make your legs really start to burn.
The reward for reaching the top, however, is unobstructed, 360-degree of the southeastern section of O‘ahu. Gaze down towards Hanauma Bay and the turquoise waters of the crater, and watch as waves break along Sandy Beach and form foamy ribbons of white. Neighboring Diamond Head looms in the west and is backed by Honolulu, and the island of Moloka‘i—and sometimes Lana‘i—float on the eastern horizon. To explore Koko Crater’s dry interior instead of hiking to the top, the Koko Crater Botanical Garden offers self-guided tours of the 60-acre basin and its colorful dryland landscape.
The trailhead for Koko Crater is located on Koko Head Park Rd. off of Kalanianaole Hwy. There is no fee to hike the trail or hours of operation, the cooler hours of morning and evening are the most popular since there isn’t any shade. Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the panoramic view, and the Botanical Garden is open during daylight hours on every day except Christmas.