Tantalus Drive Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

2.7
FIETS
4.6 mi
DISTANCE
1,480 ft
GAINED
6.1 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS
TOUR DETAILS & STATS
2021 Tour de France

INTRO

Cycling Tantalus - along with Round Top Drive which starts at the same point, this is the best climb in Honolulu. While Round Top has the top view of Honolulu, Tantalus is a bit more tropical and the banyan trees with their tree tunnels and hanging vines are a fantastic tropical bike climbing experience.
Average grade is 6.1%.  23% of the climb is at 0-5% and 77% at 5-10%.  The steepest quarter mile is 9%.  

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button above.
Roadway:  2 lane road with double yellow center stripe and no shoulder in good condition.  The first half of the climb is on city streets giving way to rural residential and the second half of the climb is in rain forest surroundings.

Traffic:  Mild.

Parking:  If school is no in session, park at the Hanahauoli School on Makiki Heights Drive to the left as you start the climb.  Otherwise, there are parking spots along Makiki Street near the start of the climb - Map; Street View
Provisions:  None on the climb but plenty nearby. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
This climb can be done as a loop or out-and-back with Round Top Drive - Map - Out and back is 19.6 miles gaining 3,035'.  Note that for the out-and-back you really are doing 1 loop back to the start then reversing your loop which takes you back to the start again.  In other words, both climbs start at the same location. 

Use the “Routes in Area” button on the menu bar above to see other bike climbs in this area.  And see our Hawaii climb page for all top bike climbs in the Hawaiian Islands. 

ROUTE MAP

MEMBER RATING

Difficulty: Strenuous
2
Road
4
Traffic
5
Scenery

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Apr 21, 2021
difficulty: Strenuous
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 2
Apr 21, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 2
Long on my bucket-list, Tantalus has been conquered! Starting from Ala Moana Blvd, the climb really starts at Ward. The first 1/3 is gut-busting through the initial neighborhoods of Makiki Heights to Tantalus. Then it gives way to a less strenuous incline as you traverse the switchbacks heading up. But closing in on the top, the hill laughs at you and say "oh no, I'm not done with you yet", and the incline increases yet again! But mercifully that's just a sadistic tease. For you come through that and find your way transitioning onto Round Top Drive for the descent. One bit of caution. The roads are horrible. Akin to a third world country. Actually, that's insulting to third world countries. The roads (Tantalus and Round Top) are in terrible condition. Beware descending at any speed. Potholes that will throw you from your mount at 35mph, lie in wait in every shadow. Enjoy the scenery. Some of the most breath-taking views on Oahu!
ROUTE MAP
PROFILE TOOL

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Tantalus Drive bike climb - Diamond Head through trees

Cycling Tantalus Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii

Ride 4.6 miles to elevation 1,607’ gaining 1,480’ at 6.1%

View west to Diamond Head from mile 4.

This wonderful bike climb begins at the eastern edge of Honolulu and shares its start with its sister Climb, Round Top Drive. The Tantalus and Round Top Drive cycling climbs are the most scenic climbs by bike in the Honolulu area.  

The first 1.3 miles of the Tantalus Drive climb are on Makiki Heights Drive.  You will not have to guess about the start - prominent in the Arche Baker Mini Park tucked between the start of the Tantalus and Round Top bike climbs is a spectacular earpod tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) that is included on Hawaii’s Exceptional Tree Map[1]

Cycling Tantalus Drive - earpod tree at the start

Start - historically noted earpod tree.

Bicycle ride Tantalus Drive - earpod tree plaque at start of climb

We merge onto Tantalus from Makiki Heights Drive and ride past large estate homes for a quarter mile until we are out of the Honolulu suburbs and into a fairly rural setting featuring tree tunnels and banyan trees.

Bicycle climb Tantalus Drive - roadway and tree tunnel

Climbing Tantalus Drive by bike - banyan trees with vines over roadway 

The final 3 miles of the climb are through a winding roadway with many hairpin turns through a tropical Hawaiian rainforest setting.  

Climbing by bike Tantalus Drive - hairpin

~21 hairpins along the climb.

Biking up Tantalus Drive - full rainbow through lush trees

We were blessed with an exceptional full rainbow near the top of the climb.

The climb ends at Kalawahine Trail which is a 5.7 mile out-back hike through lush tropical trees and foliage.

Biking up Tantalus Drive -  Kalawahine Trail sign at the end

Caution if you hike here - reportedly very muddy.

Roadway surface and traffic:  There is light traffic along the climb, but all cars we encountered were respectful and moving at the speed limit - 25-30 mph.  The road is generally in good condition with just a couple rough spots to be wary of on the descent.


[1] “For the past two years, The Outdoor Circle has traveled across the State collecting information about the Exceptional Trees of Hawai‘i. By obtaining a tree's: GPS coordinates, diameter, height, condition and photo, we have been able to compile an extensive database for these important specimens. In using this data, we have been able to generate the estimated environmental and economic benefits of these trees, in the hopes of educating the public of the immense benefits that all trees have not only on the environment, but also our daily lives.”  Exceptional Tree Map Home Page.