A lack of dedicated running paths is a big issue. The majority of runners and walkers rely on Alii Drive, the Queen’s Lei Trail Path along Ane Keohokalole Highway, and Walua Road for their daily fix. Pine Trees Beach and Kaloko Trails are great options for running in Kona as well – but both require a car trip. In fact, unless you live directly near any of these Kona running spots, you will likely have to drive to your starting point.
Learn to beat the heat! Plan on early morning and evening runs to avoid Kona’s heat, humidity, and strong UV rays. Forget about your midday run…seriously.
Holy Hills! There is a reason most Kona homes enjoy gorgeous ocean and sunset views, it is called Hualalai Mountain. Almost all of Kona is built on its slope, which is great for most everything – except for your car’s brakes, and if you are a runner – your knees.
Depending on how far you are willing to drive, you will be pleased to know there are many exceptional, and downright epic, areas for all types of running near Kona, including road running, trail running, and running paths.
The Kohala Coast features some good options, particularly Waikoloa Beach Resort, and especially Mauna Lani Resort due to its flat and pedestrian-friendly roads. Waimea is great too, both because of the cooler weather and its beautiful rural roads.
For the ultimate Big Island running experience, there is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – a jackpot for running enthusiasts located 2-hours from Kailua-Kona. For more information on these trails and others, check out the Big Island Hiking section.
When it comes to running events, Kona delivers! There is a host of great Kona running events to take part in – attracting runners from around the Big Island and beyond. There are all sorts of races available, from themed running events, marathons, kids running races, and more. Below, is a handpicked selection of the best Kona running events.
* DISCLAIMER *
PLEASE NOTE: This information is published as an aid to runners, walkers and other users. Penn Henderson in no way warrants the safety or suitability of the routes indicated on this site. Users assume the risk for their own safety at all times when traveling on the indicated routes and trails.
Although reasonable effort to ensure that the information contained in this site is correct as of the date of publication, the actual conditions users encounter may vary, and Penn Henderson in no way warrants its accuracy.
Penn Henderson assumes no liability for personal injuries or property damage suffered by users.
A “must-do” Kona holiday run event, the Jingle Bell Beach Run is the largest 5K run/walk on the Big Island, held annually on the Sunday before Christmas. This fun and festive holiday-themed event encourages participation from all ages and fitness levels. There is also a 1-mile distance and free fun run for kids ages 6 & Under (50-yd, 100-yd, 200-yd distances). Starts and finishes along the oceanfront setting on historic Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona at the Coconut Grove Marketplace.
Featuring the Big Island’s largest marathon, in addition to hosting additional distances (Half Marathon, Quarter Marathon, and 5k), the Kona Marathon is a great family-friendly event held on the beautiful grounds of the Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Kohala Coast. The race kicks off with an early start on a course known to heat up quickly as it passes through historic (and surreal) lava fields. A great “vacation” event, the run attracts a large field of international participants.
A fun, family-friendly 10K and 5K run/walk benefiting PATH programs and initiatives, including Safe Routes to School, Bike Education, and Safe Streets Advocacy. The annual event is typically held in March in conjunction with the Kona Brewers Festival, a festive three-day celebration. The run starts and finishes on the street fronting the BMW of Hawaii dealership featuring a course zig-zagging through Kona’s Old Industrial area – and is known to attract a competitive local field.
The PATH (Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii) 10K and 5K run and Keiki Dash attracts a competitive field from around the world and is typically held the week leading up to the IRONMAN™ World Championships, starting and finishing at Hale Halawai in Kailua-Kona. The PATH Run helps to support the PATH Bike and Safety Education program, which educates more than 1,000 students and adults on bike safety each year.
The Mac-A-Thon is the Big Island’s oldest annual 10K & 5K race, benefiting and organized by the Keoua Canoe Club. The out and back course is held on the undulating single-lane Old Government Road fronting Honaunau Bay and is held annually on Easter Eve. For many, the event is a perpetual tradition spanning several generations and is well-known for its famous post-race Mac-Nut Pancake Breakfast served to all participates.
The 100% Pure Kona Coffee Events features a marathon and half-marathon held in Kona on the scenic Alii Drive along the coastline. The course is mostly flat with a few short hills along the way, most notably the “The Pit” located at the turnaround in Keauhou which can be a real leg-snapper. Starting and finishing at Coconut Grove Marketplace, participants will get enjoy plenty of 100% Kona Coffee to help fuel their day.
Another beautiful Kona trail running event – but just for females, featuring 5K, 10K, and 10-mile distances. This is a great chance to explore the natural wonders of Puuanahulu on foot. Hosted at the Makani Golf Club, proceeds benefit the nearby Puuwaawaa Dry Forest Reserve. This hilly course traverses through exposed ranchlands and parts of the golf course, and on a clear day, runners are treated with sweeping views of the Kohala Coast.
Benefiting cancer research in Hawaii, the Run for Hope at Hualalai Resort is a long-standing Big Island charity event featuring a 10K & 5K run/walk held annually at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. The course has a lot of character and beauty, including sections of the golf course and meandering pathways throughout the resort. The run is part of a weekend of fun with additional options for spectacular dining and golf events as well.
A beautiful and challenging trail running event held at Puuwaawaa, located 20-minutes from Kailua-Kona in the area of Puuanahulu. The Run for the Dry Forest features a 10k & 5k run and/or walk, and a fun ½ mile fun run for kids. Proceeds benefit the conservation of Puuwaawaa’s unique and endangered wildlife, most notably several species of birds and plants found nowhere else in the world. An off-grid Kona running event not to miss!