LEG LUBE: Kailua-Kona, the longtime host of the IRONMAN World Championship, has it all: local coffee, waterfalls, volcanoes, a real-life aquarium for swimming, farmers markets and relaxing beaches. Traveling to our sport’s biggest event of the year should excite you, not stress you out. Take it from someone who’s been there. Traveling to the Big Island requires smart planning and a savvy spending strategy. Whether you are spectating, volunteering or competing, here are a few tips for the trip of your life.
Traveling to Kona isn’t cheap (especially if booked last-minute, as the more recent qualifiers can attest). Compare prices on travel sites like Priceline and primary airline websites. You may want to consider island hopping after the race, since most flights require a stopover in Maui or Honolulu anyway.
Top tip: To avoid feeling rushed and be able to enjoy race week and acclimate to the heat, consider arriving before Tuesday.
Rental car and bike transport
Historic Kailua Village is a 20-minute drive from the airport. Book a rental car as soon as possible. Without one it’s difficult to get around town, acquire groceries and see the island. With very few direct flights to Kona, expect your bike case to move from plane to plane—cross your fingers it gets to Kona’s small airport at the same time as your luggage. Tri Bike Transport is a triathlete’s dream and in my opinion, worth the cost.
Top Tip: You can get by with a compact car if traveling with one bike case, two passengers and light luggage. Consider the Hawaii sales tax and return your car with a full tank of gas. There’s no need to pay when reserving your rental; instead pay at the counter. Look for a rental car company that offers discount codes for airline programs/AAA, or look for codes online.
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