We will meet at the bottom of the mountain at around 150ft elevation in the neighborhood of Makikiat Makiki District Park, just minutes away from Waikiki. There is water, restrooms and free parking here. We’ll start our journey up Makiki Heights road where the city will reveal itself as we trek up the very scenic roadway. Tantalus Drive is the only National Historic Road on Oahu, and one of only two in the State of Hawaii.
Home of the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve, Tantalus Drive started off as a carriage road for horse and buggies in 1892 to see the City of Honolulu from high above. As it made its way through four governments, the road was incrementally improved by prison labor using cinder that was quarried from the dormant volcano that lies just beneath your feet. The streams from the mountain are the primary water source for the city.
Being on Tantalus, especially in the morning, is a magical experience, with the sun gleaming through the trees as you slowly wind up and back down the mountain. Through the rainforest you’ll see wild mongooses and chickens hanging out by the road. But with no predators and no snakes, you can feel safe being so close to nature. On the sides of the road you’re likely to see wild ginger, guava, avoacado, and passion fruit.
The highest point of the loop is 1,685 feet above sea level and marks our descent down the other side. On our way down, we will stop at the community swing (that I installed!) and have some fun swinging and taking pictures! Then we’ll stop at the Puu Ualakaa State Park, home of Hawaii’s first Macadamia Nut farm with awesome views of Diamond Head. As we pass Manoa Valley, we’ll be on the lookout for rainbows as they are quite common in the first few hours of the day. Tantalus is my favorite place on the island, so much that I made the official map of the mountain trails for the State of Hawaii. It’s a completely different world from the traffic of town and the hot concrete. It’s not for the faint of heart, though, as it is definitely a challenge. There is no other road like it on the island.