UPDATED JUL 14, 2020
Thanks to Oahu's beautiful scenery and surroundings, an everyday run can feel like an all-out adventure. When you're ready to hit the pavement, trail, or beach for a run, look no further than our favorite routes near Honolulu!
Hawai'i's State Capitol building is a far cry from your typical neoclassical structure. A graceful, mid-century creation, this central spot’s calming water features and arching, modern details reminiscent of volcanoes create the ideal backdrop for a leisurely jaunt. Situated right next to the sweeping green space and 19th-century grandeur of the ‘Iolani Palace grounds, it’s the perfect open (and generally uncrowded!) place to pound the pavement.
This expansive park is nestled between towering Diamond Head and a stretch of iconic Ala Moana Beach. And it’s a favorite go-to spot for fitness aficionados of all types, so you’re sure to spot a few outdoor yoga classes or bootcamp sessions taking place when you stop by. When you’re looking to get a solid run in, lace up those sneakers and hit the park’s roughly two-mile loop — it just so happens to be part of the Honolulu Marathon Course.
If you don't want to do the classic summit hike and are looking for something that will really get those muscles burning, a route starting in Kapi'olani Park and ringing around Diamond Head is the move. Hugging the slopes of Diamond Head crater, you’ll travel up the charming Monsarrat Ave. neighborhood (before it becomes Diamond Head Rd.), through a residential area, and up some hills that are nothing to sneer at — it's about 200ft. of elevation over the four-mile loop. The real reward, though, comes when you hit the oceanside part of the route, which offers stunning cliff views of the popular Diamond Head surf break.
This complex of high-end resorts is certainly off the beaten path — all the way on the less-traveled west coast of the island and literally miles away from the craziness of Waikiki and downtown. It’s built for serenity, which means flat terrain for jogging, wide streets, minimal traffic, and paths that lead to four gorgeous, manicured lagoons — perfect stops for catching your breath.
There’s no place else in Oahu quite like Ho‘omaluhia. It’s known as a botanical garden, but spend some time in this sprawling, east side spot and you’ll see it’s much more like a park than anything else. Complete with a mini lake, tons of natural flora, and lots of space to stretch your legs, it’s the perfect nature-filled setting for your weekend run.
Smack in the middle of Honolulu, Magic Island is a wildly popular, preserved little green space that is packed with amenities for runners, walkers, swimmers, and more. Think public restrooms, water fountains, well-maintained jogging trails, and even mile markers. Oh, and did we mention it’s one giant bluff jutting out into the ocean? Yep, you can expect to be oceanside for almost your entire run. Fitt Tip: the outer loop of the peninsula is only about .75 miles, but you can easily add on the paths of the nearby Ala Moana Regional Park for more distance.
Most locals probably aren’t even aware of this off-road trail along the ravine in Oahu’s Mililani Mauka neighborhood. Perfect for long runs, this route winds behind quiet houses and sleepy streets and past a few tucked-away parks. The best part? You’re likely to have the path entirely to yourself. Plus, the generally cooler weather in Mililani (which is at a higher elevation than Waikiki) makes for a (hopefully!) less sweaty run.
It’s hard to miss the massive, glass walls of the Hawai'i Convention Center when you’re driving through town on Kapiolani Blvd. What doesn’t get as much attention, though, is what’s behind the building. Dramatic steps lead down to the tail end of the Ala Wai Canal, and a short, shady, often overlooked promenade stretches between busy Kalakaua Ave. and the Ala Moana Blvd. bridge crossings. When you’re pressed for time but don’t want to skip your workout, this is a solid, go-to running route.
Pu‘u ‘Ualaka‘a is one of the most popular lookouts in Honolulu — and for good reason! The view is incredible, so be prepared for a crowd when you’re up there. However, you’ll lose 'em when you head onto the short but wild Pu’u Ohia trail, which heads down from the lookout through beautiful rainforest scenery and among tangled banyans and vibrant tropical botanicals. Fitt Tip: this route is dog-friendly, just make sure your pup is on a leash if you’re bringing it along.
Despite its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Waimanalo Beach never gets as crowded as the shores in Kailua or Waikiki. That makes it the perfect spot for a brisk, beachy run. The route is flat, but that doesn’t mean easy — the sand creates added resistance for a run that’ll get those quads really working. Luckily, you’ll have views of the remote, southeast Oahu coastline throughout it all.
Get the latest news on Honolulu’s fitness scene.