Run, Don’t Walk to These 7 O‘ahu Running Events with Great Scenery
It’s always a fantastic time of year to go running on O‘ahu.
Winter, spring, summer or fall. All you’ve got to do is briefly leave behind the comforts of your Shoreline Hotel Waikiki room or poolside deck chair, lace up your running shoes, and head to some great nearby running routes. Take a run around the perimeter of Waikīkī’s always lovely Kapi‘olani Park, with its close-up views of Lē‘ahi (aka Diamond Head State Monument), or sprint around the perimeter of Lē‘ahi itself. Or head to Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island for an easygoing sprint with ocean views.
Things get even more interesting if you’re O‘ahu bound and looking to participate in a competitive running event while here. Especially races, fun runs and walks big on routes with sweet scenery you’ll find nowhere else in the world.
The good news if you’re a fan of competitive running? You can pretty much find great annual running events island-wide on O‘ahu throughout the year. Many of the best and most popular of these have even conveniently situated their start and finishing lines in or near Waikīkī, our Shoreline Hotel Waikiki home base.
From running routes passing alongside classic and modern architectural delights of Honolulu — Hawai‘i’s capital city — and through the heart of its urban vibrancy, to running events set in the island’s natural world — through rainforests, valleys and along scenic coastlines — O‘ahu has it all, and more.
So, on your next O‘ahu visit, go ahead and bring your running shoes and gear, competitive spirit and desire to see some of the island’s landscape by foot as you sprint by on the way to a finish line. We guarantee you’ll be greatly rewarded for doing so.
Here are our Shoreline team’s top picks of 7 O‘ahu Running Events with Great Scenery, with their dates for 2023:
When: April 16
Route: Waikīkī, Lē‘ahi, Ala Moana area, metro and downtown Honolulu
Hapa is the ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) word meaning “half,” making it apropos in the moniker of this all-ages half-marathon — one of the best for participants hoping to see a large swath of metro Honolulu on their run. Beginning oceanside in Waikīkī, the route winds around Kapi‘olani Park and the entirety of Lē‘ahi, then loops back through Waikīkī, several Honolulu districts — including downtown Honolulu’s historic Chinatown district — and back to Kapi‘olani Park.
When: June 17
Route: Hale‘iwa town and area beaches
Seeking a triathlon course with awesome North Shore O‘ahu scenery, including a running portion traversing two lengthy white-sand beaches? This strength- and stamina-testing triathlon is your ticket to runner’s bliss. After swimming the calm blue waters of Hale‘iwa’s Ali‘i Beach Park, you’ll take three loops through the charming surf town of Hale‘iwa, then hit asphalt, dirt trails and the deep beach sand of Papa‘iloa and Kawailoa Beach parks for your end run. This triathlon also hosts separate courses for adults and youth.
When: August 19 and 20
Route: Kualoa Ranch and Ka‘a‘awa Valley
Spartan racing — a sport adding challenging obstacles to running courses loaded with stamina-testing ascents and descents — are for runners seeking bigger challenges than, uh, simply running. The highlight then of this three-day series of five Spartan races — ranging from a Sprint 5K with 20 obstacles to a uber-grueling Ultra 50K with 60(!!) obstacles — is its breathtaking course scenery winding through the emerald wilderness, rainforests, streams, pastures, fields and hillsides of Windward O‘ahu’s lush Ka‘a‘awa Valley at Kualoa Ranch.
When: October 14
Route: Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island Recreation Area
Welcoming runners (and walkers) of all ages, the annual Honolulu Pride Run/Walk 5K brings together Hawai‘i’s LGBTQ+ community and its community supporters for a morning of fitness and fun at Honolulu’s sunny south shore Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island Recreation Area. The course is an easy one, with zero elevation gains and the bonus of combining city views and long stretches of running alongside the park’s ample shoreline.
When: November 19
Route: Sandy Beach Park, Kaiwi Coast, Maunalua Bay
O‘ahu’s southeast Kaiwi Coast is one of the island’s most ruggedly scenic, with a clifftop two-lane highway threading views of crashing waves and swirling ocean on one side and towering Koko Crater on the other. You can run it, but we much prefer walking this four-mile contest’s stunning course to pause and take in all the views, starting from sea-level Sandy Beach and rising to ocean-admiring stops along the Kaiwi Coast — including Hālona Blowhole and Hanauma Bay lookouts —then back to sea level at Maunalua Bay.
When: December 10
Route: Honolulu, Waikīkī, Kapi‘olani Park, Lē‘ahi, Kāhala, Maunalua Bay
Organizers of this grandaddy of O‘ahu running events tout its course as “26.2 Miles of Paradise.” It’s an apt description. Ranked the fourth-largest marathon in the U.S., the Honolulu Marathon traces a course from Ala Moana Beach Park and downtown Honolulu, past historic ‘Iolani Palace and through Waikīkī, before climbing around the ocean-facing side of Lē‘ahi and tracing O‘ahu’s south shore to picturesque Maunalua Bay. The route then heads back into town and around Lē‘ahi again to a finish line at Kapi‘olani Park. Whew! Finish and you’ll have bragging rights of running a marathon in Hawai‘i!
When: March 2024, date to be determined
Route: Kapi‘olani Park, Lē‘ahi, Kāhala
Hawai‘i’s only annual all-female sanctioned running contest welcomes women of all ages to choose from two routes — a 10K and 5K — beginning at Waikīkī’s Kapi‘olani Park and heading up, then down, the lovely ocean-facing slope of Lē‘ahi and back to the park, passing Diamond Head Lighthouse and the visual splendor of Diamond Head Lookout along the way. The longer 10K additionally loops through the wide streets and past the well-to-do homes of Honolulu’s Kāhala neighborhood.