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Koko Head

Have you ever heard of one of the most beautiful hikes that lie on the eastern side of Maunalua Bay, along the southeastern side of the Island of Oahu, Hawaii? We can call this place the point where “sunrise meets sunset,” also known as “Koko Head.” Koko Head for those of you do not know, is an outdoor Stairmaster of about 1000 + steps that leads to one of the most spectacular 360-degree view of Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Hawaii Kai and Waikiki. May I also add that it is accompanied by a beautiful trail, scenic natural landscape, and one hell of a workout! Now ever wonder why you see regular hikers make it to the top and down with ease, and some, even if in seemingly excellent shape, can’t even make it half way up? Well, I don’t want to scare anyone, but for those of you who are interested in hiking this one, there are a few things one should know before starting. First off, this trail is pretty difficult and is not designed for couch potatoes by any means! To start off, get a good night’s rest and wake up early in the morning. No one wants to hike up a trail at 2:00 in the afternoon with the sun beating down in 90-degree weather, now do they? If you want to avoid the intense heat, and horrible tourist suntan, I advise going either early in the morning for the view of the sunrise, or later in the evening for the sunset. Now what to bring? Bring lots and lots of water! Water and sunscreen are a must! Also good hiking tennis shoes are best to wear. I know it is Hawaii, and some girls out there like their pretty little flip flops, but for this one, tennis shoes are the only way to go! Some like to bring big monster book bags full of food and extra clothes, and carry it on their backs as if they were hiking for a week and were participating in survival of the fittest. I would advise doing the opposite. A bottle of water and maybe a snack like fruit and a protein bar are perfect for the way up; carrying too much weight on your shoulders will just weigh you down and make you more tired. Also, bring a camera, you don’t want to get halfway up, take a look around and realize that you can’t take any pictures! At first glance, one might think the trail is a bit tricky to find. When arriving to Koko Head, if you think that the trail will just magically appear before your eyes, think again! You actually have to make your way through a hidden mini trail, behind the left side of the Mustang Pony league baseball field. Also always warm up a bit before hitting the trail. The incline of the trail starts out a little gradual, but don’t be fooled! Many people think that they are in good shape so they start running, but usually last no more than 100 steps before they slow down and end up crawling up the trail like a baby. Steady steps are the best way to start followed by a gradual progression of speed up the mountain. About halfway up you are going to come to a bridge. You have two options; either you can cross it, or take the ground trail to the right, which for those scared of heights will always try to attempt first. But, if you want to save yourself the nerves and bee stings, swallow your fear and cross the damn bridge! A lovely beehive, just waiting for unexpected visitors, accompanies the trail to the right of the main path. Also on the way up it is nice to move to the side to let those people coming down the trail pass by. One may think once they have reached the top that the trail is now going to be easy as pie. Well, actually it is the complete opposite! The top is a nice break to take some pictures and relax a bit, before the second adventure hits! You will realize when coming down that your legs will feel like jello, ready to just crumble to the ground! Don’t give up, this is normal and that is why it is best to pack light and take it easy on the way up. So remember, drink lots of water, go early in the morning or later in the evening, wear hiking shoes, pack light, don’t sprint, (this is not a race to see who is the best), wear sunscreen, bring a camera, leave the children and elders behind unless you want to stop every couple minutes for potty breaks and take time to “Ha,” in Hawaiian which means breathe. Don’t forget to inhale, the most precious gift that we have to share at the top of Koko crater.

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