Ho’omlauhia Botanical Gardens: A Runner’s Paradise

I absolutely love to run. No matter the time, distance, pace or terrain, nothing feels better than that you-did-it runner’s high. I feel like a badass going to work and thinking, I already ran 5 miles today. I’m PAU!
Oahu is a runner’s paradise – we’ve got races galore, sunny weather year-round and gorgeous parks, beaches, hikes, mountains and trails to chose from.
Unlike the workout-friendly beaches and flat roads in town, I live on the mountain-riddled windward side in Kaneohe. I absolutely love the panormaic views of Kaneohe bay and the lush, green  surroundings, but the hills here are grueling. Unless I drive 15 minutes towards Kailua, it’s hill day every day.
My favorite place to run on the entire island is Kaneohe’s Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens. The grounds sit at the foot of a Jurassic-Park-like mountain range, and are dotted with duck ponds, campgrounds, and various scenic points with breathtaking views.
I take the back road in from the H3 West entrance, since it’s right behind my house. Even though the garden pretty much sits between the freeway and Kamehameha Highway, the passing cars and general cacophony of modern day life fall silent.
The paved road cuts down and winds among untouched jungle and the gorgeous grounds of the park. It also splits off into countless hidden trail runs, which wind through Ho’omaluhia and cut across meadows, up mountains, and to secret scenic points with indescribable views.
I love running at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens not just because of its beauty, but because it’s so peaceful. There’s few cars driving on the road, and I usually only pass a handful of other runners – all of which smile or throw a quick shaka because they get it. They love to run here too.
It’s an escape that brings me close to nature, or the aina. I can think, relax and let go of all of my stress as I run among unique tropical trees and bright hibiscus flowers.
Since I always end up running more than I’m supposed to whenever I go, I usually take a break to stretch or do a quick yoga sesh at the campgrounds. I have a favorite tree – I have no idea what it’s called – but its branches grow out, over and down to create a kind of tree-dome. The leaves keep the inside cool, quiet, and the perfect place to zen out.
On the downside, the park is almost completely hills. Steep, tortuous, you’re-gonna-feel-that-tomorrow type hills. I get so sore from my beloved runs here that I always have a flatter run day in between. But there are drinking fountains and plenty of shady places to rest, and the beauty of the gardens is absolutely worth it.

View from the top

Small Campgrounds

One of the trails

Where do you like to run?

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