Tour Honolulu via the Marathon course

The Honolulu Marathon is being held this morning here on Oahu — and it’s a beautiful day in paradise. Taking a tour of the Honolulu Marathon course basically gives you a comprehensive idea of Honolulu’s best sights.

The marathon begins on Ala Moana Boulevard, which in Hawaiian means “path by the ocean.” The actual starting line is located in beautiful Ala Moana Beach Park, a peaceful recreation area with over 100 acres of green park, sandy beach, swimming and surfing spots.

The second mile of the course runs through downtown along Honolulu Harbor and the historic Aloha Tower, which was once the tallest building when it was erected back in 1926 and is now the main port for Honolulu’s cruise ships. The course turns directions in Chinatown and then passes Iolani Palace, which is the only royal palace in the United States.

At the fourth mile, runners pass by Ala Moana Center, a huge, open-air mall with more than 250 stores and restaurants, and then racers make their way along Kalakaua Avenue through lively Waikiki. Kalakaua Avenue is full of historic sights and sounds, such as the Sheraton Moana Surfrider (Waikiki’s oldest hotel, built in 1901), Waikiki Beach (marked by the iconic statue of Duke Kahanamoku), and the International Marketplace.

Runners pass the Honolulu Zoo, the Waikiki Shell (an outdoor stage area), and Diamond Head (the gorgeous volcanic crater popular with hikers). Near the halfway point, marathoners will run along the Kalanianaole Highway, one of the island’s most scenic byways, heading east toward Koko Head, another volcanic crater. Runners near the popular snorkel spot, Hanauma Bay before heading back along the highway, running along Kahala Avenue (the famed road with oceanfront homes owned by the island’s and nation’s elite) toward the Diamond Head and the finish line. The race finishes in Kapiolani Park, next to the Waikiki Aquarium.

The Honolulu Marathon course is a great introduction to this tropical city of delights. Maybe instead of running it, you can take your time and enjoy the sights at a slower tourist’s pace. Enjoy!