Running on Kauai: Where to Put in the Miles

Running on Kauai can test even the fittest of runners, but also caters to those just looking for a beautiful place to jog. From mauka to makai, there are plenty of trails to blaze. Let’s be honest, sometimes pounding the pavement can make us long for feeling the Earth under our feet. As an avid runner myself, I’ve put together a few of my favorite Kauai routes for those ready to put in the miles. 

The Wai Koa Loop Trail

Get ready to cake on the mud on the Wai Koa Loop trail. This cross-country run takes you through the scenic Wai Koa Plantation, providing mountain views and the breathtaking Stone Dam. Located on the North Shore in Kilauea, I love this path for its wide and moderately flat grounds. The entire loop is right about 5 miles, and takes you through the largest mahogany plantation in North America. At about 2.5 miles in, you’ll reach Stone Dam. Cooling off in the fresh water here is a must before your run back. Your trek will begin at the Anaina Hou Community Park, so they ask you to sign a waiver before you go. To make it easy, I’ve attached their online waiver here. Fill it out and you’re ready to hit the trail.

Hanalei Bay

For the full Kauai running experience, nothing beats taking a beach run on the soft sands of Hanalei Bay. Some may say it’s firm enough to run with shoes, but I personally think barefoot is the way to go. Start at the Hanalei Pier and run until the sand stops. To the opposite side of the bay and back is a little more than 3 miles, depending on how far you choose to run. You will encounter a couple of streams to cross, but they are only knee-deep at most. The relative flatness of the Hanalei Bay, paired with incomparable mountain and waterfall views, make it one of the best beaches to run on Kauai.

Running on the East and South Shores

If you’re looking for an East Side run, check back to my previous article on the Kapaa Bike Path. It’s a paved path along the ocean that stretches for almost eight miles, but can be modified to whatever length your heart desires. Start this run early for a captivating sunrise over the sparkling waters of Kealia Beach.

The South Side of Kauai offers less of the lush North Shore jungle vibe, and more opportunities to run the road. This is where the legendary Kauai Marathon takes place. It highlights the best parts of Kauai’s southern end, with gorgeous ocean views and a romp through the Tunnel of Trees. The race is coming up fast on September 3rd, 2017. It’s not too late to register online!

Ditch the “dreadmill” and hop to it, runners. Running on Kauai is a wonderful way to explore the island’s natural treasures. See you on the trails!