The 10 most exotic islands in the world to run laps on
With National Fitness Day on Wednesday 28th September fast approaching, and the use of the #runitfast hashtag hitting 1.2 million posts on Instagram, fitness expert Erny Peibst has picked 10 stunning Island destinations and mapped out running routes for all levels on some roads less travelled – perfect for those who want to keep fit and enjoy some pretty dramatic scenery and culture on the way around. Don’t forget to stop to admire the views and take an obligatory selfie on the way – after all, we’re doin’ it for the ‘gram.
1 – Kauai, Hawaii
Called the ‘Garden Island’ for its lush vegetation and steady rainfall but also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii – Kauai has everything you could ever want on a running holiday.
The route mapped out above is one of the most scenic runs on the island. It spans 4 miles of coastal track from Wailua to Kealia – this part of the Island is known as the ‘Coconut Coast,’ aptly named for the scores of coconut trees that cover the landscape.
The flat, red clay path stretches along coastal cliffs giving you stunning views of the Pacific on one side and of the island’s vegetation on the other. As you take a leisurely run along the track, you may even catch a glimpse of dolphins or whales in the waters below.
2 – Réunion, near Madagascar
Réunion is an island for adventurers. Home to a true untouched wilderness; mountains, craters, canyons and even an active volcano – there are a ton of exciting trails you can explore across the Island.
The route mapped out above starts in Piton Sainte-Rose, a small island village with stunning views of the Indian ocean. The run is 6.8 miles from which you will experience breathtaking coastal views and then loop into the dense island vegetation. About three-quarters of the way around you will also come across an unexpected treasure in the form of Anse Waterfalls.
You can hear the sound of water spraying from the trail and take a short jog up the signposted track to take in this natural wonder. 15m high, with a crystal clear pool at the bottom, this is the perfect place to take a rest on your run and enjoy the spectacular island location you have chosen for your holiday.
3 – Easter Island, Chile
For most visitors to Easter Island, The Moai, 288 iconic stone statues that punctuate the shore are the main draw.
The first statues are said to have been built 900 years ago in honour of the first arrivals to the island. Some of them weigh up to 82 tons and stand at 30 feet tall, and there are various theories of how they were moved into place.
The trail mapped out above will ensure you get to see the stunning views of both the main Moai site and the Ahu Tongariki (15 of Easter Island’s legendary Moai lined up further up the coast).
If you are an early riser, the Ahu Tongariki boast one of the most beautiful sunrise views in the world so you could start there to catch the early morning sunrise and run the trail backwards as the sun is coming up.
4 – Barbados, Caribbean
With an expanse of powder soft white sand beaches, Barbados is a paradise getaway for many holidaymakers.
Take a run starting down in Enterprise Beach and follow the coast along until you reach Bridgetown. As you run, you can make a choice to try your luck on the sand or stick to the sidewalk that stretches the duration of the route.
You will pass by 5 miles of pristine beaches, running through elite resorts where you might even catch sight of the odd celebrity taking a beach stroll.
If you make your way to Barbados in the offseason you’re far more likely to come across some quiet or deserted beaches, but if you head over in peak season be aware that you may want to get up early to avoid the crowds of tourists.
5 – Harbour Island, The Bahamas
You’ve probably glared enviously at images of pink sand beaches on your Insta feed at some point. Well, Harbour Island has some of the best pink sand beaches in the world and is the perfect destination for your next running holiday.
You can complete the entire length of the Island, which spans just 3 miles, taking in the beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean as you run along the pale pink sand.
The pink is more prominent at the water’s edge where the sand is wet, and unlike other pink beaches in the world, the sand here is always a cool temperature so if you’re up for it you can even take your shoes off and run barefoot.
6 – Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is one of the most exquisite islands in the Caribbean. Home to some of the clearest waters and softest white sand beaches you’re ever likely to find – and Grace Bay is its crown jewel.
With protected reefs, just a mile offshore and the beach is always pristine (no rocks, seaweed or pollution in sight) Grace Bay beach has earned its title as one of the most breathtaking destinations in the globe.
Follow the route from the golf club along 2 miles of seafront where you can take in stunning ocean views. The Island is still relatively unknown and quite remote so it won’t be crowded with tourists as you run along the beach – especially if you opt for an early morning session.
7 – Palaui, Philippines
With over 7,000 islands making up the Philippines some of the more remote islands can take days of boat rides to reach. But not Palaui, located on the northeast tip of Luzon, the Island that is home to the nation’s capital, there are regular buses and trains to reach this scenic island.
The island is small but is home to an almost 6-mile trail called The Lagunza Trail. This is a moderately difficult trail with steep climbs up and down mountain peaks but the views make it well worth the burn you will feel at the end of it.
The trail has so much to offer – white sand beaches, hidden waterfalls, lush vegetation, cliff top views of the Philippine Sea, what more could you want?
8 – Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia
Lake Toba is one of the most breathtaking locations in all of Indonesia, and it’s well off the tourist track, so if you’re looking for a remote location, this is the place for you.
At 23 miles this is no easy run to undertake, and at certain points, there are dramatic climbs up the coastal hills. Depending on how experienced a runner you are this could take you from anywhere between 3 – 4 hours – but not to worry, there are plenty of spectacular viewpoints for you to stop and rest at along the way.
The enormous crater lake has an island in the centre that is almost the size of Singapore. The route we’ve mapped out above takes you along the north edge of this island, giving you the perfect path to absorb your pristine surroundings.
At 900 m above sea level, the climate around the lake is much more accommodating to runners than other parts of Indonesia. You will be grateful for the break from the humidity and the ability to breathe in the fresh lake air as you progress through the volcanic peaks on this almost mythical island.
9 – Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
At 17 miles, with some tricky ground and steep uphill and downhill climbs, this is a difficult route to take for even the most experienced runner – but it’s also the perfect place to test your running ability.
Located in the mountains just outside of Taichung, in the centre of the Island of Taiwan, and a popular tourist attraction, the route is easy to reach by car or train from the capital of Taipei.
As you run around the lake you can absorb the stunning views of its crystal clear waters, set against a picturesque mountain backdrop.
On the shores of the lake, there are some stunning locations where you can stop to rest such as Wenwu Temple – an enormous Buddhist temple on the North Shore, or Ita Thao – a village of Thao aboriginals.
10. Santorini, Greece
This tiny volcanic Island located in the Aegean sea offers a number of epic runs with some spectacular coastal views.
One of the longer trails on the island goes from Oia to Fira, it’s a gradual climb the whole way there but should not take more than an hour to complete. If you’re looking for a longer run, you can always enjoy the same stunning views on your way back.
The route runs along a volcanic ridge that is one of the defining characteristics of the island, with a steep drop, looking out to the bright blue ocean on one side. The track is easy enough to find, mainly cobblestone paths and dirt roads the whole way along, so simple enough for even the most novice runner to give it a shot.