The Marathon Course
Turn By Turn Course Description
The Honolulu Marathon starts on Ala Moana Boulevard, which in Hawaiian means “path by the ocean.” This phrase is an appropriate description for the entire race course. At the Starting Line is Ala Moana Beach Park, a local recreation area encompassing over 100 acres of park, beaches, swimming and surfing spots.
The second mile of the course runs through downtown along Honolulu Harbor and the historic Aloha Tower, a ten- story clock tower which was the tallest building in Hawaii when it was erected in 1926. Runners turn right into Chinatown and proceed through Downtown Honolulu on South King Street. This historic stretch of the course passes Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on American soil; the gilded statue of King Kamehameha; Kawaiahao Church, built with coral blocks from nearby reefs; Honolulu Hale, city hall; and Mission Houses Museum.
The race forks right onto Kapiolani Boulevard through urban Honolulu and in the fourth mile turns right down Piikoi Street. The course returns to Ala Moana Boulevard, this time passing Ala Moana Center, a huge, open-air mall with more than 250 stores. The bridge spanning the Ala Wai Canal marks the entrance to Waikiki. The Ala Wai Canal is a favorite training area for outrigger canoe paddlers and the Ala Wai Harbor hosts international yachting competitions.
Mile five races through the concrete jungle of Waikiki high-rise hotels and condominiums, by the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the U.S. Army’s Fort DeRussy. The course turns right onto Kalakaua Avenue lined with shops offering everything from tacky souvenirs and t-shirts to high- priced designer merchandise. Just past the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, Waikiki’s oldest hotel built in 1901, is a spectacular ocean view: world-famous Waikiki Beach. Tourists, beach boys, sunbathers, and surfers flock to this stretch of white sand, often crowding around the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a renowned surfer and Olympic gold medalist.
Near the sixth mile, the course forks to the left onto Monsarrat Avenue, around the Honolulu Zoo and past the Waikiki Shell. Runners turn right onto Paki Avenue which threads around Kapiolani Park, Hawaii’s first public park. As the course nears Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic crater 760-feet high, there are some short, uphill grades and breathtaking views of Oahu’s east coastline. The route circles the crater to the left on Diamond Head Road, then turns right onto 18th Avenue.
The race turns right onto Kilauea Avenue in the tenth mile, passing through residential and commercial areas of Kahala then merges into Kalanianaole Highway. The coastal route continues for four miles through the bedroom communities of Waialae Iki, Aina Haina, and Niu Valley. This suburban area of Honolulu is comprised of hillside communities with side roads that curve steeply up the mountains. The expensive homes, often perched precariously on cliffs, provide panoramic views of the ocean far below.
In the sixteenth mile, runners turn left onto Hawaii Kai Drive into a valley community created by and named for billionaire industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. The course through residential Hawaii Kai loops around an inland waterway. Looming ahead is Koko Head, a volcanic crater eroded on one side by the ocean into the popular snorkel spot, Hanauma Bay. The course turns right back onto Kalanianiole Highway at Maunalua Bay Beach Park, a popular spot for parasailing and outrigger canoes.
For the next four miles, runners double back along Kalanianaole Highway passing Kawaikui and Wailupe beach parks. At mile 22, the course turns left onto Kealaolu Avenue along the Waialae Country Club where the Hawaiian Open PGA Golf Tournament is held. At the road’s end, the route turns right onto Kahala Avenue, a neighborhood of luxury homes fronting Kahala Beach and Black Point. Kahala Avenue merges into Diamond Head Road at mile 24, circling back around Diamond Head crater.
As the last mile of the course curves around Diamond Head toward the finish in Waikiki, the route passes Cliffs, a popular surfing spot, and the Diamond Head Lighthouse. At the tip of Kapiolani Park, runners fork onto Kalakaua Avenue. The last stretch of the race runs along the park past Sans Souci Beach and the Waikiki Aquarium to the Finish Line near the Kapiolani Park Bandstand.