Hiking Hawaii: 1,048 steps up the old tramway of Koko Head, Oahu
If you drive down Kalanianaʻole Highway on the South East side of the Island, near Hanauma Bay, your attention will most likely be directed to a steep mountain with a narrow path and a bunch of people climbing it in the distance. You will most likely start to wonder what this mysterious mountain is, ask some people about it, and before you realize you will be climbing the steep tramway yourself. This is pretty much what happened to Vlad, Gabi, and I when we first visited Oahu in 2011. In total, this was our second time this year and fifth time ever doing this hike. We were joined by our friend Rocky who lived on Oahu for almost three years before returning to his native Canada.
I know what you're thinking; what's the deal with the tramway up the mountain? Who built it there and why?
The tracks, which so many locals and tourist love to climb today, date back to 1942 when they were installed by the US Army. They were used as part of a tramway to transport army personnel and supplies to the top where a radar station was located. It was inactivated in 1966. Currently, 1,048 steps that scale the steep mountains serve as an outdoor stair-master to many.
Vlad and Rocky approaching the trail. It's really cool to climb up a track which was built over 60 years ago to get supplies to the military bunkers at the top. Fun fact: Koko Crater is also known as Kohelepelepe, which means “labia minor” in the Hawaiian language. Hmmm.... First water break. At around half way there is a bridge that goes above a small valley.
For those scared of hight, this bridge can be a bit of a nerve wrecker.
Looking down at the trail behind us. Stopping to catch your breath allows you to look at the view of the beautiful Hanauma Bay State Park. Finally at the top! After the stairs ended, we walked up a bit to see 360 degree views of the island. Could these views be any better? This short but demanding hike left us feeling accomplished and happy. Walking up a bit further we got to some metal structures. View of Hawaii Kai residential neighborhood and the southern part of the island. Happy to be on the top. Some lone girl taking pics. Time to descend. At the beginning of the stairs. Going down. Don't forget to bring all your trash with you. This trail is not maintained by the city but rather but other hikers.
Going down some more while sharing words of encouragement with people going up :-)
Here's what Koko Head used to look like (source link here).
After the hike we drove to a nearby Cockroach beach aka Halona Beach Cove which is next to a famous lookout spot. To access the beach we hiked down some rocks. This little beach was a cool spot for snorkeling (no coral reef, just fish). This is where we saw Hawaii state fish humuhumunukunukuapua'a aka reef tiggerfish. After snorkeling we napped. Another day well spent. And the only work we did was on our tans and our fitness. Can live be like this forever???? (hint: not really, no, don't kid yourself girl) lol.
So would you add this hike to your list of things to do when visiting Oahu?