Tantalus Peak and Diamond Hill Crater - Oahu, Hawaii
I’ve been fortunate to get to run on all of the major Hawaiian Islands; Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii (the Big Island). The stay on Oahu was the least remote of the 4 since Honolulu is a major US city, but I was still able to find some nice runs close to where we stayed. Our hotel, a large Hilton, was right on Waikiki Beach located on the south side of Oahu. My family enjoyed the hotel because of the many pools and activities. However, the area it is located is incredibly busy, at 6am it’s almost like New York City traffic levels. Despite that, I was still able to find some great running opportunities close by.
For some family adventure and to get beyond the built up coastal area we rented an open air buggy for the day. It was a fun way to visit the North Shore, Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens, and eat shrimp from a famous road side stand, Giovannis. We also got to see some cool rock features along the ocean at the Lāʻie Point State Wayside. The Waimea Valley is a special place to experience the nature of Hawaii up close and get the Jurassic Park vibe (the movies were filed in many areas across Hawaii). In addition to the nice nature walk, you can swim in a pool formed by a waterfall, even swimming right up under it so that the water streams down right on you.
Much closer to the hotel, there are a couple runs I recommend to keep up with your training and also see some great views of the island.
The first run is a reminder that Hawaii was on the front lines of the battle in World War II being a point of defense against Japan. The main destination of the run is Battery 407, a World War II gun emplacement on the edge of Diamond Head Crater. While just about everyone knows of Pearl Harbor, which is also a great reason to visit Oahu to experience history first hand, few realize that bunkers were built around the island. One of these bunkers still remains and makes a great destination for some exercise and a history lesson. Along the way to the bunker you run along the Ala Wai Canal used for canoeing. It's pretty cool to see people getting in their exercise with these unique Hawaiian outrigger canoes, there is even a club for it. The Diamond Hill Crater is a popular destination on the island, so it helps to go early to avoid all the people on the stairs (175 steps total!) and landings, but even with that its cool to explore the area. Most of this run is on pavement but it does cross through some park areas where you can keep to the grass.
The second run is more remote so I used an Uber to get me started so I could do the run as a point-to-point and circle Tantalus cinder cone completely. One beauty of this run is that there are two roads to the peak, so you don’t have to retrace your steps My run goal was to get to the top and check out the views. I started on the south side and wound my way up to the top. Most of the way up is along a road, but it has very little traffic. At the very top, there are some steep cliff areas, a maintenance road for the telecommunications equipment, and trails that cut through dense bamboo forest . I took my time exploring the top and taking in the views. The road down the other side is mostly under cover from the forest the entire way down, so might also be good for a run later in the day since would still be mostly in the shade. In the early morning, I saw a few bikers who looked to be having fun on the fast and curving descent (but I also saw a sign for the Tantalus Time Trial, and uphill only bike event).
For a vacation spot, Oahu has the advantages of a big city with many restaurants and things to do, but also enough remote places to experience nature. While I didn’t have a chance to get in a full ultrarun, there are plenty of unique trails to keep up your training. For an ultrarunning destination, one can also explore the mountains where the Hurt 100 is held. You can explore the trails looking through the State of Hawaii, DLNR, Division of Forestry & Wildlife trail site.
Start and Finish : Waikiki Beach
Distance : 13.4 miles / 22k
Elevation Gain : 1,081 feet / 330m
Start : Base of Tantalus peak (Uber to here)
Finish : Waikiki Beach
Distance : 13.6 miles / 22k
Elevation Gain : 1,975 feet / 602m