Summary: For as long as I have been running up and down from Nuuanu Pali State Wayside, aka the Pali lookout, I’ve had my eye on a run from the beach in Kailua to the Nuuanu Pali and back. From my best guesstimation, I figured it’d be about 13 miles to do it. Starting at the Kailua Beach Park in Kailua seemed like a perfect fit; I’d used it as a base of operations for a number of runs up to the pillboxes, and to the area around Kailua and Bellows Air Station. The run from there up to Nuuanu Pali is a mix of nice, flat road running, with a moderate climb up the old road to the lookout itself. One key appeal of this route is the shade, while the other is in running roads — old and new. All told, it worked out to be just about 13 miles on the nose, and it’s as good a run in the rain as it is on a sunny day.
The Good: Right distance, right difficulty. I’ll be honest — 13-15 miles is where I’m happiest. And really, I’m not a gazelle, so a good climb works just fine for me, too. I think I was no more than 20 minutes off my normal time for a half marathon, a lot of which was due to the shade and the road. The roads are a real plus — the old Pali Highway is a great escape for running, a chance to run an abandoned road that is still in very good shape (and that features some great scenery). And the park in Kailua is a great place to start and finish — plenty of parking, plenty of water, nice showers, clean bathrooms, and nice changing rooms.
The Bad: I don’t know if there’s such a thing as rush hour in Kailua, but if there is, running along Auloa Road might be tricky — no sidewalk, and the shoulder drops off quickly. But we are talking about Maunawili, after all — if three cars pass, I think that’d be the rush. There’s the one stretch on the old Pali Highway, where the trail goes under the new highway and careful footing is required; I can’t see it being fatal to anyone, though. Also, there’s no water along the way, nothing at Nuuanu Pali that I’ve ever found. So, you’ll need to bring whatever you may need (and with all the shade along the way, 2 liters should be enough for most days).
The Ugly: None, that I know of. Nice route, nice climb, nice quiet.
Type of route: Road
Good to run in the rain? Excellent place to run in the rain.
Length: 13.1 roundtrip
Options for the route: Yep – the Waimanalo trail instead of along the roads. makes the run about 22 miles total, instead of the 13.1 miles.
Elevation change on the run: ~1100 feet up to Nuuanu Pali.
Water used: 2.5 liters.
Where to start: Kailua Beach Park
Where to park: Kailua Beach Park
Point your car’s GPS towards: 526 Kawailoa Road at Alala Road, Kailua, Hawaii 96734
Water? Yes, at the start / finish point
Toilets? Yes, at the start / finish point
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes, at the start / finish point
A place to change afterward? Yes
Rewards in the area: Step into the ocean. That works for me every time. If that’s not enough, swing my Moke’s Bread and Breakfast for some grinds; me, I’ll stick to the dip.
You’d run this route when…. you’re in the mood for a nice climb. Or you’re nursing an ankle and want to stay off the trails. Or there’s a full moon out, and not a cloud in the sky.
My rating: 8
Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)