Runcation planning – Maui 2020 edition

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. When we go on vacation, more often than not, we make running plans at the same time – turning our trip into a “runcation”. Run Oregon is headed to Maui in April and is already making plans. This go around, we are taking some of our kids, so it will be an entirely different experience!

First the running:

The first place to start may be checking in with the Valley Isle Road Runners. VIRR was founded in 1970 and has grown to over 700 members. They sponsor 7 island events and have Wednesday evening group runs at 515pm in Kihei.

Obviously, there are a variety of beaches across the island that offer challenging and memorable runs. Last year, we ran on the Mokulele Path, on the Lahaina Paia Trail, and both around Kihei and Wailea, in addition to a fun group run with VIRR on Global Running Day. We typically don’t spend a ton of time on the west side of the island – aside from a restaurant or two. There also aren’t a ton of designated running routes aside the Kaanapaali Beach Walk and local roads. Maui Running also has some great information if you are looking to explore some more remote trails.


Trail running in Wailea

Where to race:

I would recommend going here when planning your racing calendar in Maui. The Maui Oceanfront Marathon in January and the Maui Marathon in October are probably the most well-known on the island, but there are other cool races as well such as March’s Valley to the Sea Marathon/Half/10k/5k, June’s Kahakuloa Half Marathon and Relay, and September’s Hana Relay.

Where to stay:


There are tons of spots to stay in Maui – from vacation rental to resorts. The majority of the big resorts are found in the Kaanapaali, Lahaina, and Kihei areas and you can spend anywhere from about $100 night up to a four figure dollar amount. It can be a financial commitment to even get to the island, but I highly recommend that you check out the Fairmont Kea Lani as a spot to splurge.  There are 450 rooms, ranging from basic studios to larger multi-bedroom villas (if you are venturing over with a family or a running crew), and it’s absolutely stunning.

We stayed here for a few nights last year and fell in love. I described it as “the right mix of being luxurious without being pretentious”. As we are travelling with kids this go around, we appreciate many things about the property, from kid-friendly meals to activities to a 140 foot water slide and pool.

Kea Lani also has a fitness center on site which just finished a $2.8 million makeover. Last time we went there was just a lot of construction, but the pictures we have seen of it are quite breathtaking. The views are amazing and there is everything from TechnoGym treadmills to Peloton bikes to free weights to plyo boxes – I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to workout on vacation.

Fairmont’s Inspire Your Energy package is a great consideration if you are looking for a more all-encompassing wellness trip. This package includes everything you may need to stay healthy and well – the first of which being the lodging which is in a specialty suite complete with specialty showers, aromatherapy, and “sleep enhancing linens”. Also included is daily breakfast, fitness classes (like barre, yoga, pilates, etc), a consultation with a fitness instructor, 2 hour-long body treatments in the spa (and daily access to it’s facilities for 12 hours/day), and a wellness massage and stretching kit (among other things)! IOur fitness-forward readers would love this option.


Kea Lani has a lot of great restaurants on site and they are committed to the vast majority of their produce coming from the island. Kids can eat free (under 5) or for 50% off (under 12), so this will be a win-win for us. We also love that they have a private beach. The last thing we want to do when travelling to relax and unwind is to constantly be on the lookout for parking, fumbling with beach chairs, and trying to find the prime spot on a beach. This cuts all that stuff out of the trip, which is really perfect for unwinding.

What to do:

We have been on a handful of Maui trips without kids, but this is the first time we are taking our older two daughters – 10 and 8. While we usually just spend most of the time reading books on the beach, going for runs, and drinking margaritas, this time will be different – we actually have to put some more thought into “activities”. We will likely try to take them to a sunrise at Haleakala National Park and maybe a half day on the iconic Road to Hana, but we have some other things in mind as well.

Pride of Maui


Some of our fondest experiences from previous trips has been taking a snorkel tour. We can’t wait to return after last year’s experience on the Pride of Maui. Here’s a little snippet:

We had been on a snorkel tour once in the past, and were looking forward to refamiliarizing ourselves with it. There are a variety of companies who offer tours in the pristine Hawaiian waters and we decided to partner with the Pride of Maui and their Molokini & Turtle Town Snorkel Tour. As we mentioned in our previous runcation planning postin addition to their snorkeling tours, the Pride of Maui also has whale-watching (depending on the season) and sunset dinner luau options. They provide the gear, lunch, AND an open bar.

Even though some may balk at the cost of a snorkel cruise, when you factor in everything involved, it’s actually quite the deal. Maui is expensive in general, and even after factoring in the 5-6 hour excursion, you have to understand that you are getting both breakfast and lunch included with your ticket as well. Heck, you essentially just saved yourself money by doing the tour, as I know we easily spent over the total cost of a cruise at a single meal later in our trip! If you are in Maui on an upcoming runcation, and wanting to take in a snorkel cruise or some other water-based activity, make sure you check in with the Pride of Maui.

NorthShore Zipline

We know that Maui has some great ziplining excursions, but taking kids will make this experience all the more epic. We are gonna check out NorthShore Zipline in the eucalyptus-heavy hills above Haiku. There are seven different zipline runs which are sure to exhilarate with a combination of speed and views of the ocean and north shore of Maui. It’s also on the site of a historic World War II landmark site and will teach us a little bit about WWII history in addition to being fun!

Maui Ocean Center

We have been to the Oregon Coast Aquarium on a runcation before, but are excited to check out the Maui Ocean Center this year. We have walked past the aquarium probably a half dozen times during our trips, and each time we think, “we should check it out”, but never have. Our two kids are pumped to check it out with us, so it will absolutely be worth it this go around. They have turtle feedings twice a day which are sure to be a hit, and their Open Ocean exhibit features a Q&A with a diver too. They also have a new Humpbacks of Hawai’i Exhibit & Sphere that is open every day.


Aha’aina Wailea, A Grand Wailea Lū’au

Lastly, but certainly not least, is a Maui luau. My wife and I did one on our very first trip to the island, but haven’t really felt the need to go to one. They are pretty awesome, complete with amazing food and a magical story telling, but they are also a little pricey (though worth it). We feel our daughters’ first trip to Maui necessitates their first luau and we have opted for Aha’aina Wailea, A Grand Wailea Lū’au. Here’s a descriptor of the show:

The evening takes us back to a time when the mighty seafaring Polynesians discovered these islands of Hawai‘i, thereafter calling themselves Hawaiian. It touches upon the documented voyages of La‘amaikahiki and Mo‘ikeha who first came to this sacred island Maui, and named this place Honua‘ula. It speaks of gods and goddesses that watched over these courageous people and how they were able to co-exist and live in harmony. Lilinoe, the goddess of the mist was said to linger above sending cool rains to nourish the uplands of Maui. The ancient Hula evolves and in the 30s, swingtime hula emerges and takes the stage. The love story legend of Naulu, the goddess of the clouds, could only visit her lover Kanaloa upon the clouds.

These stories combined create an exciting evening of traditional chant and hula bringing the history of our island home Maui to life.

Courtesy of @mikeyball9 on Instagram


Stay tuned to Instagram in April & May for images from our trip!

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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