While most know Koko Head for its grueling uphill climb, the cinder cone volcano actually holds an important place in Oahu’s history and geography.

First off, it is a headland that best defines the southeastern side of the island. The neighboring counterpart of Koko Head, however, seems to overshadow this ancient tuff cone. The crater is much taller than Koko Head, with a peak rising to over 1,200 feet.

But if it wasn’t for Koko Head, there would never be Hanauma Bay. The headland has three important depressions going downward of its peak – one of which form this world-famous snorkeling arena millions of years ago. From there, the ocean did the rest of the work and filled in the tuff with many wonderful forms of marine life.

Back on land, Koko Head used to also be part of a military tram system. The tram followed the railroad ties that make up the stairs, hauling supplies to the top of the crater during World War II. The headland offered prime views of any ships coming to shore as well.

So much has changed since those historic days. Today, hundreds of hikers brave the steep incline on a daily basis. It is even the dominant backdrop for homes scattered at the base of the headland. Hopefully we also take time, however, to appreciate its presence and role in our island’s history.


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