Running in Kauai and Oahu Hawaii

If you follow my blog, you probably know I’m running a half marathon in all 50 states and am up to 46 half marathons in 44 states. Hawaii was actually the second state I ran a race in, Kona Marathon and Half Marathon, Hawaii-2nd state, so no, I didn’t run a half marathon in Hawaii this time. I have now run on four different Hawaiian islands, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed running on every one of them.

I often run when I’m on vacation, especially if I’m training for a race. Since I have a half marathon coming up in May and am thus in training mode, I knew I would be running while on vacation in Hawaii the end of February and first part of March. Sometimes I’ll look online beforehand to try to figure out the best running route but since I knew I’d be in Kauai for a week, I decided to just see what my choices were when I got there. I should have known better.

The first day I ran in Kauai things didn’t go so well. I just started off from my hotel and started running along a walking trail between the hotel and beach but ended up hitting dead-end after dead-end and ultimately ended up running along a busy 2-lane road on the way back to my hotel. I looked up Google maps to find a running trail and found one less than a mile from where I was staying (near Kapaa). This was the Ke Ala Hele Makalae multiuse trail and it turned out to be absolutely perfect.

The Path that Goes by the Coast

Ke Ala Hele Makalae is Hawaiian for “The Path that Goes by the Coast,” and it hugs the eastern shoreline for about 7 miles in two segments that will eventually be connected and the path will ultimately go for 17 miles when completed. This is an asphalt/concrete rail-trail that partially follows a former railroad line once used to haul the island’s sugarcane. One section connects Lydgate Park to Wailua Beach Park, and the rest links Kapa’a to Ahihi Point. There is a 2-mile gap between the two segments (between Wailua Beach Park and Kapa’a), which you can bridge via road although the road is busy and the shoulder is narrow.

I ended up running the Ke Ala Hele Makalae trail on four mornings while I was in Kauai and I have to say after the first day, I looked forward to running there on later days. I’ve always loved running along a coastline where I have views of the ocean as well as rocky formations and sandy beaches and this trail had all that and more (like feral cats and chickens!). It was a bit crowded at times but not enough to bother or hinder me in any way. There isn’t any shade either so be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat and bring some hydration with you.

I saw dozens of feral cats and chickens when running in Kauai!

Logistics:  for the southern segment, parking and restrooms are available at the north end of Lydgate Park off Nalu Road. For the northern segment, parking and restrooms are available at Waipouli Beach Park at the Lihi Boat Ramp on Kaloloku Road, as well as at Kapaa Beach Park at the end of Niu Street.

Ocean views like this made it easy to run in Kauai!

After spending a week running in Kauai it was time to fly to Oahu. I have to admit, I was a bit sad to lose my beautiful running route in Kauai but I looked forward to finding one just as good in Oahu. However, history repeated itself and my first run in Oahu didn’t go very well. I tried multiple ways to find a good running path near my Airbnb before I was supposed to run but despite all that, I once again ended up running along a busy 2-lane road. This time at least there were mountains all around to admire and keep me distracted. Still, I knew there had to be a better place to run.

I went back to my room and tried researching running trails in Oahu but all I could come up with were places near Waikiki or Honolulu. Since my plan all along was to spend as little time in Waikiki as possible, that wasn’t going to work. I needed to find a place to run either on the east side or northern part of the island. I didn’t want to have to drive 45 minutes each way just to reach a good running path either.

Part of the North Shore Bike Trail in Oahu

Finally after much debate and attempts at researching trails suitable for running online, I stumbled upon the North Shore Bike Trail, which is about 2.6 miles long. I added this to Waimea Bay Beach Park and made it work although there were parts in-between where I ran along the road. The bike trail is shaded in parts and has views of beautiful Pupukea Beach and Shark’s Cove. My daughter and I ran here and we rarely saw other people on the trail so it certainly wasn’t crowded and I can’t imagine it ever really being crowded.

After doing more research, I found the Kawai Nui Hiking Trail that’s on the southeastern side of Oahu but read that it can get muddy and since it had been raining a lot recently I didn’t attempt it, but that’s another option. Close to Pearl Harbor is the Neal S. Blaisdell Park that has biking and running paths. Just be aware that there are many homeless people in the area so you wouldn’t want to run there by yourself or when it’s not daylight. I personally didn’t feel unsafe during the day, but I wasn’t by myself and it was during the day.

Running by Shark’s Cove in Pupukea in Oahu

Although I enjoyed running in Hawaii, I know it’s not for everyone. To some people, it would be too hot but I seem to do better in warmer temperatures than most people (and worse in colder temperatures). Also, not everyone would want to run while on vacation, but I truly enjoy running and look forward to it rather than dread it. Besides, the scenery certainly helped get me motivated to get out the door!

How about you guys- do you think you’d like running in Hawaii or do you tend to not run while on vacation? Would it be too hot for you to run comfortably? If you do run on vacation, how do you find your running routes?

Happy running!



Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

17 thoughts on “Running in Kauai and Oahu Hawaii”

  1. Kudos for running on vacation! I don’t usually run or workout when I travel (unless I’m traveling for a race), but I would like to start. And since I don’t run when I travel, I didn’t run while I was in Hawaii. It definitely would have been a little on the hot side for me. Haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Honestly, I like to run when most people would think it’s too hot, so for me it was great but my daughter kept complaining how hot it was when she ran with me. The constant breezes there do help keep it at least a bit cooler, too!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for a great post! I really like running on vacation but honestly don’t like doing the research to find places haha so this is perfect! I’m definitely meant to live in New England though so I would probably have to take it extra easy while running in Hawaii!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Yeah, it does take some time to research where to run in a new place, and sometimes it can take what seems like way too long, which is why I ended up just heading out the door and running on my first days in Kauai and Oahu. It’s almost always worth the effort of researching a good running route.


  3. Your first runs in Kauai and Oahu remind me of my first runs in Cambridge. It does take a while to find a suitable trail. But the ones you found (especially the one on the coast!) look amazing. I think I would have had no problem with the heat (though I would have complained for the sake of it) 😉 It’s so cool that you got to run during your trip! I also always try to run , especially when it’s a new area to explore. Some of my best site-seeing in cities were from running 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, it does take some time to figure out the area and lay of the land and all that in a new place. I agree with you that some of my best sightseeing in new places came from running. You definitely get a different perspective when you’re running than when you’re just driving by in a car.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice post! We always run on vacation, unless there’s some other built-in form of serious exercise on a given day (such as hiking in the mountains or cycling). Most of our travels last 2-3 weeks. I can’t imagine not exercising for 2-3 weeks!! I’m OK giving myself that time off from weight training (a break like that once or twice a year is actually recommended, from my understanding), but not cardio! Plus I need something to combat all the extra calories I take in during travel.

    As for finding routes, I usually let the husband figure it out (he’s more invested in running than I am). Sometimes when we arrive someplace he goes for an afternoon run (I’m “morning or bust”) and scouts the area (including finding great spots for morning coffee). Other times we ask a local, but as you know from my recent post about travel running run-ins, that doesn’t always work out so well! 🙂

    Since 50 degrees F is my ideal running temp, I’d probably find Hawaii somewhat uncomfortable, but I’d do it anyway, especially early in the morning, our favorite time to run. This past summer we ran in the desert southwest in temps that were in the high 90s. It was awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I completely agree with you about weight training while on vacation and always take a break from that as well. We also tend to eat more on vacation and certainly have more desserts than we normally would at home so we have to get some exercise in, otherwise we’d go home weighing more than when we left after every vacation!
      I’ll also scout out the area like your husband does and have found some great things to do just by running by them. I’ve gotten very mixed results when asking locals where to run, so I’m usually skeptical about doing that. I tried it in Oahu but all of the places she mentioned were either too far away or just not what I was looking for.
      Running in the high 90s is definitely not fun. Where I live, the highs in the summer are usually in the 90s, with high humidity on top of it, so it’s something I guess I’ve gotten used to, or at least as much as one can get used to conditions like that. It’s not something I enjoy, though. 50 degrees is much more ideal.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re so much fun, aren’t they? Hawaii has a lot of great races to choose from, depending on what island you want to go to. That might make it hard to decide which one to do, but honestly I think any of them would be great choices!


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