6 great runs to enjoy in the Hawaiian Islands

If you’re a semi-casual runner like me, you’ll enjoy running in Hawaii. Not only is the scenery soothing to the soul, the warm weather is good for breaking a sweat and flushing out your bloodstream. And you can run barefoot on the beach!

There are a few simple rules to follow when running in Hawaii:

  • Avoid running in the middle of the day — it can be unbearably hot
  • Wear sweat-proof sunscreen
  • Stay hydrated (coconut water is great for this)
  • Dress as little as possible

As for good runs, here are 6 I’ve done many times over the years:

#1 Diamond Head – Kapiolani Park (5 mile loop)

View of Diamond Head Beach as you run by it from above

View of Diamond Head Beach as you run by it from above

Diamond Head is Hawaii’s most iconic symbol, and it’s also one of Hawaii’s most rewarding runs. The 5 mile route loops around the bottom of the crater, taking you past eclectic Montserrat Avenue, the beautiful campus of Kapiolani Community College, the coveted Black Point neighborhood, Diamond Head and some Waikiki beaches and the wonderful Kapiolani Park.

Like most Hawaii runs that heat up midday, the best time run Diamond Head is in the morning or late afternoon.

Other perks: park foliage, panoramic ocean views, some respectable hills, ocean breezes, safe wide shoulders, bathrooms and water fountains, and tons of fellow runners. It’s also the finish line of the Honolulu Marathon in December.

#2 North Shore – Sunset Beach Bike Path (6 miles out and back)

North Shore Oahu aerial photo

This is where you will be running on the North Shore

The North Shore of Oahu is referred to the “7-mile miracle” by surfers, but only about half of those miracle miles are suitable for running. A paved and well-maintained bike path starts at the top of Waimea Bay near Three Tables Beach and takes you past some of the world’s best surf spots including Off The Wall, Backdoor, Pipeline, Rocky Point and Sunset Beach, ending at Backyards.

The run is flat and mostly shaded, with water and bathrooms along the way. Be sure to always stay right, as you’ll be sharing the path with people on beach cruisers and — during the winter — surfers with boards in search of more surf miracles.

Tip: duck off the path near Ehukai Beach park to witness some serious surfing talent at Pipeline.

#3 Wailea, Maui – (as far as you want)

Wailea Maui

That Wailea view!

Beautiful sun-kissed people. Gorgeous views. Luxurious. Posh. Upscale. Welcome to Wailea.

The run along the pathway fronting Maui’s world-class oceanfront coastline brings you face to face with some of the finest views in all the Hawaiian Islands, including Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokini and the endless crystal blue Pacific Ocean. Don’t forget to admire the immaculately landscaped hotel and condo properties too.

Where the path ends on the south, you can keep running on the road all the way to Makena Beach and beyond. Bonus: there are bathrooms and water fountains along the way.

#4 Ali’i Drive – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island – (13 miles roundtrip)

The view of Magic Sands Beach Park, which is on Ali'i Drive

The view of Magic Sands Beach Park, which is on Ali’i Drive

Kona town wouldn’t be Kona town if it weren’t for Ali’i Drive. This famous 6-1/2-mile long road is the start and finish line for the Ironman World Championship, and it can be your start and finish line as well.

Start at either end and enjoy the scenery: Ali’i Drive hugs the Kona coastline, offering views of the ocean, beaches, shops, restaurants, and resorts. The run itself is flat, with plenty of fellow athletes on hand. Be advised — Kona is known for intense heat, so start early or late in the day.

End with a fresh beer at Kona Brewing Company, which is just up the street from the north end of the start of Ali’i Drive.

#5 Mana Road – Waimea, Big Island (40+ miles one way!)

Mana Road and view of Mauna Kea Mountain

Mana Road is perfect for solitary distance runners

If you’re looking for a run to feel deeply connected with raw Hawaiian energy, head to Mana Road in upcountry Waimea (“Kamuela”) on the Big Island. Unlike other runs described here, Mana Road sits at 2,600′ elevation, which makes for cooler air temps (downright chilly in the winter months), rolling green pastures, mist, cows, horses, and absolutely stunning views of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s most sacred mountain.

If you’re a serious distance runner, you can run until you drop — Mana Road is about 40 miles long and gradually winds its way up the slopes of Mauna Kea.

Tip: Mana road is a red dirt road, so be prepared to get your feet dirty.

#6 Haena, Kauai (distance unknown)

Haena Beach, Kauai

Haena Beach — barefoot required

Tucked away on the north shore of Kauai — past Hanalei and over the curvy road and one-lane bridge — is a small enclave of homes, beaches and close-knit locals.

If you’re lucky enough to stay there, you’ll be spoiled with what can only be described as “running alone on a dreamy remote tropical beach.” Barefoot is a must, as you’ll inevitably step into the gentle ocean water that laps onto the shore.

Keep your eyes peeled, too — beautiful seashells often wash up onto the sand for easy picking. When you’re done, jump in the ocean and cool off.


Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at info@sunnymauivacations.com or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui (chat with our in-house Concierge at extension 71).

Image credits: Thomas Hawk,  Roméo A, geeosh, 85558083@N04, Hari Nandakumar, 呂場阿津 翔音,

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