Running In Hawai’i From Kona To Kaua’i

Running in Hawai'i From Kona To Kaua'i

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (

The Honolulu Marathon is Sunday! I’ve been having an incredible—and I mean incredible—time running in Hawai’i. Over the last eight days I’ve run, hiked, SUPed, sailed, swum, summited, star-gazed, and so much more on Hawai’i, the Big Island, and on Maui.

The Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau at sponsored and helped me plan the trip so I can experience active Hawai’i at its best. Now I’m on O’ahu for the big race and headed to Kaua’i after that.

But this isn’t my first rodeo in Hawai’i. In 2013, I ran the Kaua’i Half Marathon and published a few stories at, in Women’s Running magazine, and Canadian Running magazine about the race, Kaua’i, Hawai’i Island, and points beyond. Thought I’d share them here. Aloha!

Running in Hawai'i From Kona To Kaua'i

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Phil Hospod)

Healthy Travel Guide: Kona, Hawai’i at

Sure, Hawai’i invokes dreams of lazy days on sandy beaches sipping umbrella drinks. But every year, more than 2,300 triathletes trek to Kona on Hawai’i Island to make it big—Big Island big—at the Ironman World Championship.

But you don’t have to be an Ironman to swim, bike, run, or get your sweat on in Kailua-Kona, the triathlon mecca of the world. Hawai’i’s residents are the second most prolific runners in the U.S., with only Massachusetts logging more miles per capita on RunKeeper. The state also has the second lowest obesity levels in the U.S., behind only Colorado, according to Retale.

It’s no wonder. Running is Hawai’i is a dream come true. Just north of Kona, the rugged black lava fields give way to sunny, white sand beaches on the Kohala Coast, where water sports abound. The area came in seventh on our list of the healthiest beach towns in America, while the Kona District ranked 19th. (Find them all in The 35 Best Beaches in America For Fitness Lovers). Inland, Waimea is home to Hawai’i’s tallest mountain, the snowcapped Mauna Kea, which rises 13,796 feet and has hiking and horseback trails galore. And we can’t forget Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, with 150 miles of hiking trails around one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Yep, we said volcanoes.

Inspired to get your Ironman on? Hawai’i Island makes healthy travel easy with year round warm weather, world class sporting events, mountains and more. Say Aloha to Kona!

Find out where to sleep, stay in shape, fuel your trip, splurge, and play in Kona at

Running in Hawai'i From Kona To Kaua'i

Rainbow run in Kaua’i (Phil Hospod)

Kauai Is The Ultimate Vacation For Runners in Women’s Running

The least-visited of Hawaii’s major islands, Kauai is the Aloha State’s best-kept secret. Only 1.1 million of Hawaii’s 8.2 million visitors annually venture to Kauai. But runners in the know head to the Garden Isle for technical mountain trails between lushly green volcanic peaks, flat recreation paths with ocean views and one of America’s most scenic—and challenging—marathons. The island is best explored on foot (in fact, 90 percent of Kauai is inaccessible by vehicle!), so lace up your shoes and get ready to sweat. Running in Hawai’i is where it’s at.

And don’t overlook Kauai’s 50 miles of soft, white-sand beaches—more per mile than any other Hawaiian island—perfect for a barefoot workout or cool-down splash in the Pacific. Throw in a treasure trove of other outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, swimming, sailing, paddling, riding and zip lining, and you’ve got an adventure vacation of epic proportions. With average temps that drift between 70 and 80 degrees, it’s always a great day to head outdoors. Simply, Kauai is a runner’s paradise.

Read the full article—including where to run, sun, have fun, and stay—at

Running in Hawai'i From Kona To Kaua'i

After the Kaua’i Half Marathon. (Photo: Sport Photo)

Hawaii’s Beautiful Kaua’i Marathon in Canadian Running

Kaua’i, the oldest Hawaiian Island, hosts the state’s newest marathon. In its seventh year, the Kaua’i Marathon and Half-Marathon shows off the island’s natural beauty. Tropical rainforests, volcanic mountain peaks and an oceanfront finish await runners who journey to “the Garden Isle.”

“This is the best marathon of all,” says race co-host and celebrity ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes. “It’s the beauty of the landscape and the beauty of the people.”

Like more than 1,000 of the 1,700 finishers, I came from across the continent looking for tropical resuscitation. Running in Hawai’i, I found a race through paradise that rightfully earns rave reviews for its jaw-dropping scenery, flawless organization and friendly, laid-back vibe. “The aloha spirit is alive here,” says Becki Lynn Lassley, the 2010 women’s winner.

The low, bellowing sound of conch shells sends runners off and locals in traditional garb light the way with torches. The race really shines as sunrise lights up the landscape. Hula dancers, Hawaiian drummers, marching bands and cheerleaders dot the course, filling in the otherwise quiet route of grazing horses, meandering chickens and 100-year-old eucalyptus canopy known as the Tunnel of Trees.

Read more—including where to where to stay, where to eat, and what to do—at

Running in Hawai'i From Kona To Kaua'i

Ka’uona Bay on the Kohala Coast of Hawai’i Island (Mauna Kea Beach Hotel)

The 35 Best Beach Towns in America For Fitness Lovers at

From sea to shining sea, the United States offers an abundance of waterfront getaways fit for healthy travelers. But which are the healthiest? We worked with the folks at Foursquare, the personalized city guide app, to identify the most fitness-friendly beach towns in America. Foursquare’s unique algorithm uses the preferences of its 55 million users to identify the activities, sites, and scenes they love in cities around the globe. The Foursquare data scientists crunched the numbers to find the top-rated beaches in the U.S., then customized a search for Shape, pinpointing 150 beaches suited to fitness lovers, specifically those with the top surf and snorkel spots, running and biking trails, volleyball, yoga, and more.

But we didn’t stop there: We cross-checked each of Foursquare’s 150 best beaches and 150 fittest beaches with two health and fitness indexes: the American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index, which rates the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. for factors like walkability, parkland, recreational facilities, healthy eating habits, physical fitness, and resident health scores for asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease; and Retale’s Sportiest States, which rates residents’ running and commuting habits, along with aerobic activity, obesity rates, high school sport participation, and more.

Finally, we dug into the specific local offerings of each town to find what exactly makes it a fab fitness destination. After sifting through hundreds of stretches of sand, we honed in on these top 35 beach burgs in every region around the U.S.—no matter where you live (or where you vacation!), there’s a shore spot for you to get your fitness fix.

See all 35 beach towns—including six spots in Hawai’i on four islands—at

As mentioned above, is sponsoring much of my trip to Hawai’i, though I paid my race registration fee for the Honolulu Marathon myself. As always, all opinions are purely my own. Seriously. For more information, read my disclosure policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

13 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    I loved running through the lava fields and seeing the sandy beaches and ocean when I ran the Kona Marathon – a beautiful place!
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted..18 Mile Run and Race Day Carb TipsMy Profile

  2. 3

    My favorite part about running in Hawaii – besides the views of course – was being able to jump in the ocean after!! I really would love to make to Kona one day to spectate the Ironman Championships, and of course run and swim while I’m there!
    Emily recently posted..2015 Holiday 5KMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Seeing the Ironman World Championships is on my bucket list too! And post-run swims are the best!

  3. 5

    Your post makes me want to go back to Hawaii! I’ve been to Maui and Honolulu, but it’s been years. I’ve never gone for athletic pursuits (I went for two separate writing conferences), but my husband did the Waikiki Rough Water Swim. Which made me nervous just watching the groups set off, a bazillion swimmers practically on top of each other making what I was sure was enough noise to attract sharks. I would love to go back for a race. And more sushi. Oh, man, the sushi!
    Judith recently posted..My coach-ee’s 1st Marathon RecapMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I lived on raw ahi the entire trip. Soooooooooo good! I’ve heard the rough water swim is a blast! There are a TON of races in Hawaii all over the islands. It’s a really fun way to see the landscape!

  4. 7

    I’ve been following your adventures on Twitter – looks like you’ve been having a fabulous time. Very jealous!
    Ewen recently posted..Successfully avoiding the excesses of an American dietMy Profile

  5. 9

    I’m planning a trip to Hawaii in the summer and have been searching the net for places to visit. After reading your post, I included Kauai in my list! I’m so excited to give the trails a go!

  6. 11

    Thanks for your excellent post!!!
    Actually, I’m already decided to visit this awesome place. But when I search on online for more information about Hawaii and I saw your post and after reading your full post I’m too much excited. Now I want to go here anyhow as soon as possible. :)

  7. 12

    Nice place! I always focus on strength training and calisthenic exercises. I’m trying to do running. It’s great.
    James Gross recently posted..How Much Can The Average Man Bench Press?My Profile

  8. 13

    Hawaii has always been one of the places I want to visit and as you mentioned, Kauai seems also a great place that’s worthy of a try. Thanks for sharing!

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