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Let me take you on a virtual tour through one of my favorite places in Hawai’i – Kona, located on the majestic Big Island. As a seasoned traveler, I’ve created this guide, ‘Best Things To Do In Kona’, to share with you the hidden gems and must-visit spots that this island offers.
Whether you’re a globe-trotting veteran or embarking on your first big travel adventure, this guide has got you covered. I’ve sifted through countless attractions to separate the cliché tourist traps from the real, authentic Kona experiences.
By the time you finish reading my guide, you’ll have a list brimming with my favorite places to visit and things to do in Kona. You’ll also get a fair idea of how to make the most of your trip. So come along, let’s embark on this exciting journey together as we unravel the unique experiences Kona has to offer.
If you are planning to head to the other side of the Big Island there are dozens of things to do there as well.
Unearth The Allure Of Kailua-Kona Town
The heartbeat of the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, Kailua-Kona town is steeped in history and resplendent with natural beauty. With its sunny weather and tranquil ocean breeze, it’s the perfect place to discover the region’s cultural roots. Spend an unforgettable day wandering its picturesque streets and visiting historic landmarks such as Hulihe’e Palace, a former summer retreat for Hawaiian royalty that now serves as a museum.
Admire the elegant Kona Inn and the first Christian church on the island, Mokuaikaua Church. The vibrant Ali’i Drive, lined with a host of shops and restaurants, is perfect for an evening stroll and a chance to witness a breathtaking sunset over Kailua Bay. Don’t miss out on trying the local cuisine that boasts influences from the various cultures that have called this island home.
Tip: Be sure to try the traditional Hawaiian shaved ice, a perfect treat on a hot day.
For a comfortable stay within walking distance of the town’s highlights, consider the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.
Kickstart Your Day At The Lofty Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation
Begin your morning at the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, a flourishing organic farm tucked away on the slopes of the Mauna Loa Volcano. As the largest organic coffee farm in the country, Mountain Thunder provides you with a rare opportunity to tour the lush coffee fields and processing facilities. As you explore, learn about the coffee cultivation process, from the berry to the bean, and understand why Kona coffee is considered one of the finest in the world.
The experience culminates with a complimentary tasting session where you can savor the rich, complex flavors of their premium brews. Tours are typically an immersive experience lasting about 1-2 hours, offering an eye-opening start to your day. This is truly one of the best things to do in Kona.
Tip: Don’t miss Peaberry coffee for an exceptional flavor experience.
If you’re looking for a nearby place to stay, the Holualoa Inn offers a charming bed-and-breakfast experience amidst a coffee estate.
Dive Into The Deep With Massive Manta Rays
For an extraordinary encounter with marine life, embark on a night dive with the magnificent manta rays in the waters off Kona’s coast. This underwater adventure begins at sunset when you board a boat and journey out to the dive site. As darkness descends, plunge into the warm, clear waters to witness these gentle giants perform mesmerizing acrobatics as they feed on plankton attracted by underwater lights.
Swimming alongside the manta rays in their natural habitat is a humbling experience, one that you will treasure for a lifetime. The dive typically lasts a few hours and is an enchanting evening under the stars and beneath the waves.
Tip: A wetsuit is recommended to keep you comfortable in the water throughout the dive.
For a restful stay after your marine adventure, consider the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.
Kona is one of the best places to snorkel with manta rays and this tour provider gives you a unique and amazing glimpse of these creatures. Book your tickets now.
Traverse The Dense Rainforest On A Zipline
Adventure awaits in the heart of the Big Island’s tropical rainforest, where you can embark on a thrilling zipline journey. Strap in and soar through the verdant canopy, past massive trees, and over deep valleys. Your guide will point out native flora and fauna, including tropical birds and vibrant orchids, as you traverse a series of ziplines ranging in length.
The grand finale is a dramatic crossing over a cascading waterfall, making for a heart-pounding end to your 2.5-3 hour adventure.
Tip: Comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended for this active tour.
If you’re looking to stay in the area, the nearby Volcano Lodge offers cozy rooms amidst a lush landscape.
Visit The Only Kona Salt Farm
At the Kona Salt Farm, you can dive into the fascinating world of traditional Hawaiian sea salt, or pa’akai, production. This immersive tour takes you on a journey through the intricate process of salt cultivation, from the evaporation of seawater to mineral extraction.
Learn about the role salt played in ancient Hawaiian ceremonies and healing practices, and experience the unique flavor profile of this traditional seasoning. The tour typically lasts around 2 hours, and it’s a captivating way to spend your morning or afternoon.
Tip: Don’t forget to purchase some gourmet Hawaiian sea salt to take a piece of Kona home with you.
For convenient lodging, consider staying at the nearby Kona Seaside Hotel.
Visit Kona’s only salt farm on this evening tour and experience the process behind making salt. Book your tickets here.
Sample Diverse Fresh Produce At The Kona Farmers Market
Engage all your senses at the vibrant Kona Farmers Market. This bustling open-air market brings together vendors offering a rich array of local produce, from exotic fruits and vegetables to fresh-caught seafood. Wander among the colorful stalls, taking in the fragrances of fresh flowers and sampling delicious locally-made treats.
Apart from food, you’ll find an eclectic selection of artisan crafts, jewelry, and handmade souvenirs. A visit here, lasting about 2-3 hours, offers a delightful glimpse into local life and culture.
Tip: Carry cash as not all vendors accept credit cards.
For accommodations nearby, consider the Royal Kona Resort, which offers stunning ocean views.
Make A Trip To The Scenic Kealakekua Bay
A jewel on the Kona Coast, Kealakekua Bay is a marine life conservation district that offers an array of aquatic activities. The bay is a haven for snorkelers and kayakers, boasting clear, tranquil waters rich in marine life. Visitors often spot spinner dolphins frolicking in the bay and may encounter tropical fish, sea turtles, and even humpback whales in the winter months.
On land, the bay is home to the Captain Cook Monument, a white obelisk commemorating the spot where the famed explorer was killed in 1779. Plan a half-day trip to fully appreciate this scenic area, which seamlessly combines natural beauty with historical significance.
Tip: Set off early to avoid the afternoon winds that can make kayaking challenging.
For a comfortable stay nearby, the Manago Hotel offers simple, homely rooms.
Snorkel at one of the most popular locations on the island of Hawaii with this award-winning tour.
Refresh Yourself At The Enchanting Magic Sands Beach Park
Known locally as ‘La’aloa,’ Magic Sands Beach Park is famed for its unique disappearing and reappearing sands, depending on ocean conditions. This beach, located near Kailua-Kona, offers excellent conditions for swimming, sunbathing, and bodyboarding. The turquoise waters and powdery sands make for a perfect day of relaxation under the Hawaiian sun.
Divers and snorkelers can explore the vibrant reef just offshore, teeming with colorful fish and sea turtles.
Tip: Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear and sunscreen.
For lodging options nearby, the Kona Coast Resort offers spacious villas amidst beautifully landscaped grounds.
Get Up Close With Marine Life At The Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
Located just south of Kailua-Kona, the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm offers an immersive experience of the world of seahorses. This one-of-a-kind conservation farm is dedicated to breeding and protecting these charming marine creatures. During the interactive tour, you’ll learn about the life cycle of seahorses, their role in marine ecosystems, and the threats they face in the wild.
You’ll also have a chance to feed and even hold a seahorse in your hand – a highlight for many visitors. A tour of the farm is a perfect 2-hour activity for wildlife lovers and families.
Tip: Book your tour in advance as spots fill up quickly.
For nearby accommodations, consider the welcoming King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.
Set Aside A Day For The Historical Kaloko-Honokōhau National Park
Spend a day exploring Kaloko-Honokōhau National Park, a testament to ancient Hawaiian culture and innovation. The park preserves and showcases a traditional Hawaiian fishpond, agricultural terraces, petroglyphs, and heiau (religious sites). As you walk the park’s trails, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how the early Hawaiians thrived in this landscape, utilizing the sea and land resources.
Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including green sea turtles, native birds, and even monk seals.
Tip: Be sure to bring water and sun protection, as there’s limited shade in the park.
For a restful stay after your day of exploration, try the Aston Kona By The Sea, a beachfront resort nearby.
Visit historical sites and popular locations in Kona with this highly-rated tour company, book your tickets now.
Take A Dip With Abundant Marine Life At Two Step
Two Step, named for its natural staircase leading into the water, is a world-class snorkeling spot located near Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park. Its crystalline waters teem with an array of tropical fish, and sea turtles, and on lucky days, you might spot a playful dolphin or a gentle manta ray.
Make sure to allocate a half-day to fully explore this underwater paradise.
Tip: The best snorkeling is often early in the morning when the waters are the calmest. Remember to wear reef-safe sunscreen to protect the delicate coral ecosystems, and don’t forget your underwater camera to capture the vibrant marine life.
For a nearby retreat, check out the Kona Hawaii Guesthouse, a charming bed, and breakfast with breathtaking ocean views.
Experience The Intriguing Kanaloa Octopus Farm
The Kanaloa Octopus Farm provides a rare opportunity to learn about and interact with one of the ocean’s most mysterious creatures, the octopus. The farm is dedicated to the sustainable farming of octopuses and provides educational tours that offer insights into their fascinating behavior and biology.
A visit here is sure to leave you with a newfound appreciation for these intelligent invertebrates. The tour takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Tip: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting a bit wet as you’ll have a chance to touch and even hold an octopus. The experience is both child-friendly and engaging for adults, making it a fun family activity.
After your octopus encounter, relax at the nearby Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, offering modern amenities and comfortable rooms.
Begin A Captain Cook Monument Sailing Adventure
Take a sailing journey along the scenic Kona coast to Kealakekua Bay, the site of the Captain Cook Monument. This sail is a fantastic way to appreciate the Big Island’s dramatic coastline, rich in history and natural beauty. While at the bay, take the opportunity to snorkel in the crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful fish.
Depending on the season, you might even spot dolphins or whales during your sail. Plan for a half-day adventure to savor this unforgettable experience.
Tip: Wear your swimsuit and bring a towel, sunscreen, and a hat for sun protection. The tour usually includes snorkeling equipment, but confirm this with your tour operator.
Consider staying at the Manago Hotel, a family-run establishment offering a taste of old Hawaii and beautiful sunset views over Kealakekua Bay.
I highly recommend this 5-star tour provider as your choice for visiting The Captain Cook Monument.
Reconnect With Nature At The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary
Escape into the tranquil beauty of the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary, a private nature reserve located on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Explore a lush landscape of towering trees, ferns, and orchids on a guided tour, while learning about the unique ecosystem and its diverse species. The sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers, with a chance to spot a variety of endemic and exotic birds.
A guided tour usually lasts about 3 hours.
Tip: Wear sturdy shoes for the hike and bring a light jacket as temperatures can be cooler in the cloud forest. Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning biodiversity.
Nearby, Holualoa Inn provides a tranquil retreat amidst a 30-acre coffee estate.
Embark On A Whirlwind Whale-Watching Voyage
Experience the thrill of seeing the ocean’s most majestic creatures on a whale-watching tour off the Kona Coast. During the winter months, humpback whales migrate to Hawaii’s warm waters to breed and give birth, offering visitors a chance to witness these magnificent animals up close. Board a tour boat and let experienced guides take you to the best spots for whale sightings.
Along with humpbacks, you might spot dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles. This unforgettable experience usually lasts around 2 to 3 hours, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Tip: Bring binoculars and a good camera to catch detailed photos of these magnificent creatures. Dress in layers, as the sea breeze can be cool, especially in the morning.
After your day at sea, you might want to consider unwinding at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, a luxury resort that offers beautifully appointed rooms and top-notch amenities.
Enjoy this 2.5-hour Whale-Watching tour in Kona, book your tickets ahead of time.
Indulge In A Local Beer Tasting Journey
Explore Kona’s thriving craft beer scene with a visit to one of its local breweries. The Kona Brewing Company, known for its eco-friendly brewing practices and island-inspired beers, offers an engaging tour that takes you through the brewing process, ending with a tasting of their finest ales and lagers.
It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon, especially for beer enthusiasts, and the tour typically lasts around an hour.
Tip: Don’t miss the Longboard Island Lager and the Big Wave Golden Ale, two of their most popular brews. Pair your beers with a pizza from the on-site restaurant for a delightful culinary experience.
For accommodation in the vicinity, the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Kailua-Kona offers modern and comfortable rooms in the heart of the town.
Step Into The Past At The Hulihe‘e Palace
Immerse yourself in Hawaiian royalty’s grandeur with a visit to the Hulihe‘e Palace. Located on Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona, this former vacation home for Hawaiian royalty is now a museum showcasing Victorian-era artifacts and personal memorabilia of Hawaii’s monarchs. The beautifully preserved palace offers a glimpse into Hawaii’s past, and the tour usually takes about an hour.
Tip: Check the palace’s event schedule in advance as they often host monthly concerts featuring Hawaiian music and hula performances on the palace’s lawn. Also, the palace is closed on certain public holidays, so it’s wise to plan accordingly.
To continue your royal treatment, consider staying at the Royal Kona Resort, which features stunning sea views and a private beach.
Engage With The Supernatural On A Ghost Tour
Dare to venture into the supernatural with a ghost tour that takes you deep into the mystical world of ancient Hawaiian legends and lore. Led by expert local guides, this tour gives you an intriguing peek into the island’s spiritual past and present, narrating tales of Night Marchers, deities, and ghostly apparitions.
Visit significant cultural sites and learn how their history intertwines with tales of the paranormal. The tour typically lasts around 3-4 hours and is best suited for those with an appetite for mystery and folklore.
Tip: Bring a flashlight, as some parts of the tour can get quite dark. Keep an open mind and respect for local traditions. Remember, Hawaiian spiritual beliefs are deeply rooted in the culture, and some of these tales hold great significance for locals. You might also want to wear comfortable walking shoes as some sites may involve a bit of hiking.
If you’re looking for nearby accommodations, the Kona Seaside Hotel offers comfortable rooms within walking distance of many local attractions.
Experience ghost stories and haunting locations with this tour provider.
Observe Sea Turtles And Rays On A Submarine Adventure
Descend beneath the waves aboard a real submarine for a unique exploration of Hawaii’s vibrant marine life. Atlantis Submarines Kona offers this unique opportunity to experience the ocean’s depths without getting wet. Through your submarine’s large portholes, gaze upon colorful coral reefs, exotic fish, and if you’re lucky, a green sea turtle or a manta ray gliding by.
The tour, including the boat ride to and from the submarine, lasts about 1.5 hours, making it a perfect family-friendly activity.
Tip: Plan to take this tour in the mid-morning or afternoon when the sunlight best illuminates the undersea world. Do carry a light jacket as the air conditioning inside the submarine can be quite cool. For those prone to motion sickness, it may be helpful to take an anti-motion sickness medication before your adventure.
The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, located nearby, offers luxury accommodations and stunning ocean views.
Here is my number one pick for submarine tours in Kona, if you want to experience this then you need to book ahead of time.
Uncover The Mysteries Of The Puuhonua-o-Honaunau National Historical Park
Step back in time at Puuhonua-o-Honaunau National Historical Park, a sacred site that was once a sanctuary for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers. The 180-acre park provides a glimpse into traditional Hawaiian culture with its well-preserved temples, fishponds, and carving displays.
Walking along the interpretive trail, you’ll discover stories of kapu (sacred laws) and the refuge that the pu’uhonua (place of refuge) provided to those who broke them. Allow for about 2-3 hours to fully explore the park.
Tip: Take along sun protection and plenty of water as the area can get quite hot, and shade is minimal. Join a ranger-led tour if available during your visit – it’s a fantastic way to learn more about the history and significance of this site.
For lodging, consider the nearby Hale Hoola B&B, known for its warm hospitality and stunning ocean views.
Visit this amazing historical location with a small group via this tour company.
Trace The Origins Of Chocolate At The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory
Embark on a sweet adventure at the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, located on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano. This is the first company to grow, hand-pick, sun-dry, and process only Hawaiian-grown cocoa beans, making it a truly single-origin, Hawaiian chocolate. The guided tour takes you through the cocoa tree orchard where you’ll learn about the cultivation and harvesting process of cacao pods.
Then, you’ll see how the beans are fermented, dried, and roasted in the factory before being transformed into the final delectable product. At the end of the tour, enjoy a tasting session where you can savor the rich and unique flavors of their premium chocolates.
Tip: Be sure to reserve your tour in advance as spots fill up quickly, and remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. The tour takes place outdoors, so sun protection is essential, and it’s also a good idea to bring an umbrella or rain jacket just in case.
After an indulgent day, relax at the nearby Kona Coast Resort, which offers spacious villas and beautiful ocean views.
Embark On An Underwater Scuba Expedition
Dive into an underwater wonderland with a scuba diving expedition off the Kona Coast. Kona’s clear, calm waters are home to an array of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, dolphins, and during certain times of the year, manta rays. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced diver, there are plenty of dive sites to explore, from shallow reefs to deep-sea walls and underwater lava tubes.
Some diving companies even offer night dives to see the mesmerizing manta ray feeding rituals.
Tip: When choosing a dive company, make sure they have a good safety record and provide all necessary equipment. If you’re a beginner, look for companies that offer introductory dives with complete instruction. Remember, never touch marine life, and always respect the ocean environment.
Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay and experience crystal clear Kona waters with this tour company.
Explore The Artistry At The Kona Hawaiian Quilt Museum And Gallery
Marvel at the intricate patterns and vibrant colors of traditional Hawaiian quilts at the Kona Hawaiian Quilt Museum and Gallery. Here, you can admire a stunning collection of both antique and contemporary quilts, each telling its own unique story. Learn about the history and symbolism behind this cherished Hawaiian art form and the role it has played in the island’s culture.
The museum also hosts quilting classes for those inspired to create their own fabric masterpiece.
Tip: Check the museum’s schedule for any special exhibits or events during your visit. Also, the gift shop sells kits and patterns if you want to try your hand at making your own Hawaiian quilt.
After absorbing the beauty of these remarkable art pieces, rest up at the nearby Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort, a comfortable property offering spacious condos with full kitchens.
Savor The Sun At The Tranquil Keauhou Bay
Spend a peaceful day at Keauhou Bay, a picturesque spot perfect for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, or simply enjoying the beautiful scenery. Known as the birthplace of King Kamehameha III, this historic bay also offers several water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and even manta ray night dives.
If you prefer to stay on land, the palm-fringed shoreline is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing picnic. End your day with a stunning sunset view over the bay.
Tip: The bay is often less crowded in the early morning, making it a lovely spot for a quiet swim or paddleboard session
Swim with manta rays and other ocean wildlife on this night snorkel tour. You need to book your tickets now.
Take Flight On A Helicopter Excursion
Set your sights high with a helicopter tour over the breathtaking island landscapes of the Kona coast. With Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, for example, you’ll be whisked into the air to marvel at a patchwork of coffee farms, the historic Kealakekua Bay, lush rainforests, and the island’s stunning volcanic features. Witness the awe-inspiring Kilauea Volcano, known as one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, and be mesmerized by the lava flows creating new land as they meet the ocean.
On the northern coast, you’ll spot cascading waterfalls and deep, verdant valleys, offering an unparalleled perspective of the island’s natural beauty. A helicopter tour usually lasts between 1-2 hours, depending on the chosen itinerary, making it an ideal way to experience the diversity of Hawaii’s Big Island within a short timeframe.
Tip: For the best views and photo opportunities, try to book a morning flight when the sun’s rays illuminate the island’s landscapes, and visibility is typically better. It can be colder at higher altitudes, so bring a light jacket or sweater. Lastly, don’t forget your camera to capture these memorable views!
Experience Kona with an eagle-eye view on this spectacular helicopter tour, book now.
Refuel With A Visit To The Menehune Coffee Company
Satisfy your caffeine cravings and soak up the laid-back Hawaiian vibes at the Menehune Coffee Company. Located in the heart of Kona, this cozy coffee shop prides itself on sourcing local beans directly from farmers. As you step inside, you’re greeted by the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Choose from a wide variety of beverages, including classics like espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes, as well as unique offerings like their signature Menehune Mocha.
If you’re feeling peckish, they also serve a selection of pastries, sandwiches, and other light bites. With friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a great place to unwind and savor the taste of Hawaiian coffee.
Tip: Their coffee menu changes frequently as they try to showcase different Hawaiian beans, so don’t hesitate to ask the barista for their current recommendations. They also sell coffee beans to take home, making for a wonderful souvenir or gift.
When it’s time to turn in, the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, situated nearby, offers comfortable rooms and an excellent beachfront location.
Delight In Local Cuisine During A Food Tour
Hawaii’s Big Island is a culinary paradise, and a food tour is an excellent way to sample its diverse flavors. Kona Food Tours offers a guided walk around Kailua-Kona, stopping at a selection of local eateries to taste everything from fresh seafood to tropical fruits and local specialties. You’ll learn about the island’s culinary history, its fusion of cultures, and the farm-to-table philosophy that many local chefs embrace.
Over the course of the 3-4 hour tour, you’ll also get to meet some of the chefs and food producers who are passionate about keeping Hawaiian cuisine vibrant and sustainable.
Tip: As you’ll be walking between food stops, wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Make sure to come with an appetite, as the portions can be quite generous! If you find a dish you love, don’t hesitate to ask your guide where you can buy the ingredients locally to recreate the recipe at home.
After a day of indulgence, the nearby Kona Reef Resort provides beachfront accommodations with full kitchens, allowing you to experiment with your new culinary discoveries.
Enjoy creative meals and local flavors with this walking food tour of Kailua Kona, book your tickets now.
Play A Round On The World’s Most Scenic Fairways
Golf enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the opportunity to tee off on some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses. The Kona Country Club, set along the Pacific Ocean, offers stunning coastal views, challenging play, and excellent facilities. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, its two 18-hole courses cater to all skill levels.
The Mountain Course takes you through lush vegetation, and lava fields, and provides panoramic views of the Kona Coast, while the Ocean Course runs along the seafront, challenging you with its water hazards. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day enjoying Hawaii’s natural beauty while engaging in some friendly competition.
Tip: Book your tee time in advance, particularly during peak seasons, to secure your desired slot. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and a hat to protect against the sun, and consider renting a golf cart, especially if you’re playing a full 18-hole round.
After a day on the green, unwind at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, which is close to the golf club and features comfortable rooms with private balconies.
Set Sail On A Dolphin-Spotting Voyage
Encounter the grace and beauty of dolphins in their natural habitat on a dolphin-spotting voyage. Companies like Dolphin Discoveries offer guided boat tours that take you to known dolphin hotspots around the Kona Coast. Here, you may see spinner dolphins, known for their acrobatic displays, and bottlenose dolphins, renowned for their intelligence and playful behavior.
Apart from dolphins, you might also spot other marine creatures such as manta rays, sea turtles, and during the winter months, humpback whales. This experience provides a unique insight into the rich biodiversity of Hawaii’s ocean waters.
Tip: When choosing a dolphin tour, look for operators that follow responsible wildlife viewing practices to minimize disturbance to these amazing creatures. Also, bring a hat, sunscreen, and a water-resistant camera to capture the action.
The Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, located nearby, offers luxury beachfront accommodations, perfect for relaxation after a day on the water.
Test your luck at experiencing these magnificent creatures with this highly-rated tour provider.
Discover the beauty and history of the Big Island on foot by walking a portion of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. This ancient trail, also known as the “King’s Trail,” stretches over 175 miles along the island’s coastline, connecting historic Hawaiian settlements, temple sites, and fishing areas.
A popular segment is a 15-mile stretch between Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site and Anaeho’omalu Bay, which takes you through lava fields, and sandy beaches, and offers spectacular ocean views.
Tip: Be sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection, as the shade can be limited along the trail. Also, wear sturdy walking shoes suitable for uneven terrain. It’s recommended to check the local weather conditions before you set out, as the trail can become difficult to navigate after heavy rainfall.
The Kohala Suites by Hilton Grand Vacations, situated nearby, provide comfortable accommodations and a convenient base for your hiking adventure.
Master The Craft Of Surfing
Kona’s calm and clear waters provide the perfect playground to learn surfing, one of Hawaii’s most cherished pastimes. Kona Surf Company offers lessons for beginners, where skilled instructors teach you basic techniques, from paddling and standing up on the board to catching your first wave. You’ll start your lesson on the beach, practicing on the sand before you head into the water.
As you gradually gain confidence, you’ll move further out to catch bigger waves. Beyond the thrill of riding a wave, surfing also provides a full-body workout and an intimate connection with the ocean. If you’re an experienced surfer, the company also provides board rentals for you to explore Kona’s surf spots at your leisure.
Tip: It’s recommended to take at least a few lessons before trying to surf on your own. Wear a rash guard or sunscreen to protect against the sun and sea salt, and remember to respect the local surf culture and etiquette. For those who find they’ve caught the surf bug, additional classes or private lessons can help you progress more quickly.
After a day in the surf, you can rest your tired muscles at the Kona Seaside Hotel, which offers clean and comfortable accommodations within walking distance of the beach.
Enjoy a small-group surfing lesson for beginners and intermediate with this tour provider.
Engage With Exotic Creatures At The Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary
This 5-acre sanctuary is home to a host of rehabilitated and rescued exotic animals, ranging from flamingos and peacocks to zebras, tortoises, and a bison named Blondie. During a guided tour, you’ll get up close to these fascinating creatures while learning about their habits, diets, and conservation efforts to protect them.
Kids will love the interactive nature of the tour, which may include opportunities to feed certain animals under supervision. The Three Ring Ranch, as a non-profit, offers a fantastic chance to contribute to animal welfare while learning more about the world’s diverse fauna.
Tip: The sanctuary tours are by reservation only, so be sure to book in advance. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as the tour involves some walking, and don’t forget to bring your camera! The tour is both educational and fun, making it a great activity for families with children.
Haul In Your Seafood With A Fishing Charter
Embark on an unforgettable deep-sea fishing adventure with companies like Bite Me Sportfishing. You’ll head out into the fertile Pacific waters, known for their abundance of game fish, including marlin, tuna, and mahi-mahi. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a first-timer, the skilled crew will guide you through the process, from baiting your hook to reeling in your catch.
Some charters even allow you to keep your catch, with options to have it prepared at a local restaurant. It’s a thrilling way to connect with the ocean and the island’s fishing culture.
Tip: Sea fishing can be a waiting game, so remember to bring sun protection, snacks, and drinks. If you’re prone to seasickness, consider taking preventive measures before you set out. As fishing conditions vary, it’s best to check in with the charter company for the optimal time to plan your trip.
After a day at sea, the Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village offers spacious accommodations and relaxing amenities like a sauna and hot tub to unwind.
Looking to catch your own meal for the night? Then you have to check out this company.
Commence A Day Journey To The Stunning Pololu Valley
Journey to the northernmost tip of the Big Island and witness the stunning landscape of Pololu Valley. This lush valley is a paradise of black sand beaches, towering cliffs draped in greenery, and azure waves crashing against the shoreline. Start your day with a scenic drive along the North Kohala coast to reach the Pololu Valley Lookout, where the expansive views will take your breath away.
You can choose to remain on the lookout, but for a closer view, hike down the steep trail leading to the valley floor. Once you reach the bottom, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful black sand beach and the tranquil sound of waves.
Tip: The hike down and up the valley can be strenuous, so make sure you’re in good physical condition and wear sturdy shoes. The path can be slippery, especially after rain, so take your time and enjoy the journey. If you’re planning to spend a few hours exploring, bring a picnic lunch, plenty of water, and sun protection.
If you’ve never done a driving tour before, then you need to check out this tour of all the highlights of the Big Island. Book your tickets now.
Find Unique Trinkets At The Kona Inn Shopping Village
Located in the heart of Kailua-Kona, the Kona Inn Shopping Village offers a delightful shopping experience. Housed in a historic landmark, this bustling marketplace is home to a myriad of shops selling everything from Hawaiian jewelry and art to locally made products and souvenirs.
As you stroll through the village, you can appreciate the beautiful plantation-style architecture while browsing items like Kona coffee, Hawaiian quilts, handcrafted koa wood products, and macadamia nut treats. The village also hosts several restaurants and cafés, perfect for a lunch break or a refreshing tropical drink.
Tip: Most shops in the village are independently owned, so it’s a great place to support local businesses. If you see something you like, don’t hesitate to ask about its history or how it’s made—shop owners are typically more than happy to share their knowledge. Remember that many items are unique or handmade, so if you fall in love with something, grab it while you can!
The Royal Kona Resort, located within walking distance, offers comfortable accommodations with stunning ocean views.
Witness The Power Of Nature In Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
A trip to the Big Island isn’t complete without a visit to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world’s most active volcanoes. At the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, learn about the volcanoes’ geological history, then drive down Crater Rim Drive, where you’ll pass steam vents and the massive Kīlauea Caldera.
You can also hike the park’s many trails, some leading to fresh lava fields or through a rainforest teeming with native flora and fauna. A visit here is a reminder of the raw, transformative power of nature.
Tip: The weather in the park can be unpredictable, so wear layers and bring rain gear. The park is vast, and it’s impossible to see everything in one day, so prioritize what interests you most. Always stay on marked trails and respect all safety signs and barriers.
For accommodations close to the park, consider the Volcano House, which offers rustic rooms and spectacular views of the Kīlauea Caldera.
If you want a full safari tour of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park in a medium to small group, then you need to book your tickets now.
Capture Memories At Pele’s Well
Pele’s Well, also known as the Waiʻānuenue, is a popular destination in Hilo, on the east side of the Big Island. Its name is derived from the Hawaiian goddess Pele, revered as the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes. The well is known for its impressive 80-foot waterfall, which cascades down a lava cave thought to be the home of Hina, an ancient Hawaiian goddess.
On sunny mornings, you’ll be treated to rainbows created by the mist from the waterfall, providing a stunning photo opportunity. While there, consider exploring the surrounding park, which is home to enormous banyan trees, providing a serene atmosphere for a picnic or leisurely walk.
Tip: Arrive early in the morning to catch the rainbows and avoid crowds. The grounds can be slippery due to the mist from the waterfall, so ensure you wear appropriate footwear. Also, consider bringing a waterproof case for your camera or phone to protect it from the mist while taking photographs.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Hilo, the Grand Naniloa Hotel, located nearby, offers elegant rooms and sweeping views of Hilo Bay.
Take In The Island From The Clouds With An Airplane Tour
Soar above the spectacular landscape of the Big Island on an unforgettable airplane tour. Companies like Mokulele Airlines offer scenic flights that give you an unparalleled perspective on the island’s diverse landscapes—from the vibrant green valleys and cascading waterfalls of the north, to the molten lava fields and active volcanoes of the south.
You’ll also fly over some of the island’s most famous landmarks, such as Kealakekua Bay and the Mauna Kea Observatory, providing opportunities for exceptional aerial photography. Beyond the amazing views, these flights also offer an informative narration of the island’s history and geology, making for a thoroughly enriching experience.
Tip: Choose a clear day for your flight to ensure the best views. Remember to charge your camera or phone fully before the flight, as you’ll be snapping pictures constantly! If you’re sensitive to motion, consider taking motion sickness medication before your flight.
After your aerial adventure, consider staying at the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, conveniently located near the Kona International Airport.
Delve Into Local Heritage At The Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark
Also known as King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, this historic landmark is a great place to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture. Kamakahonu served as the residence of King Kamehameha the Great, the first ruler to unite the Hawaiian Islands, during the last years of his life.
Today, you can see the Ahu’ena Heiau, a restored temple dedicated to Lono, the Hawaiian god of peace and prosperity, which stands on the grounds. The hotel itself offers cultural activities such as lei-making, hula dancing, and ukulele lessons. On the property, you’ll also find King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel’s Luau, a traditional Hawaiian feast accompanied by hula and fire-dancing performances.
Tip: Participating in the hotel’s cultural activities gives a deeper understanding and appreciation of Hawaiian traditions. If you’re interested in Hawaiian history, consider hiring a guide to explain the significance of the various sites around Kamakahonu.
The nearby Kona Seaside Hotel offers affordable, comfortable rooms, and is a short walk from Kamakahonu and other attractions in downtown Kailua-Kona.
Peruse The Art At The Charming Kona Oceanfront Gallery
Situated along Ali’i Drive in downtown Kona, this gallery boasts an impressive collection of locally-made art and crafts. The Kona Oceanfront Gallery specializes in showcasing the talents of local artists, making it an excellent venue to immerse yourself in Hawaii’s vibrant art scene.
Among the paintings, sculptures, and jewelry, you will find pieces that capture the unique colors, textures, and themes of the island, from stunning landscapes and seascapes to the diverse flora and fauna. Each visit promises a new find, as the gallery regularly rotates its displays.
Tip: Even if you’re not in the market for art, browsing the gallery offers a relaxing and culturally enriching experience. If a piece captures your interest, ask about the artist and the inspiration behind it – understanding an art piece’s backstory often adds to its appeal.
The Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is a comfortable place to stay in proximity to the gallery, offering convenient access to the rest of Kona’s waterfront attractions.
Journey Back In Time At The H.N. Greenwell Store Museum
Operated by the Kona Historical Society, this living history museum provides a fascinating glimpse into life in the late 19th century. The museum replicates an 1890s country store, where costumed interpreters play the roles of storekeeper and customers. They engage visitors with stories about the goods on the shelves, the barter economy of the era, and the diverse cultures of the people who came to the store.
The museum also hosts “Hands-on History” activities where you can experience traditional crafts, food preparation, and other aspects of daily life.
Tip: Make sure to check the museum’s schedule, as special events and activities change frequently. These events often provide deeper insights into specific aspects of Hawaii’s history.
After your visit, unwind at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, a scenic hotel with a spa and a sea-facing pool, perfect for relaxation.
Discover Ancient Hawaiian Culture At The Puakō Petroglyph Park
On the Kohala Coast, the Puakō Petroglyph Park protects one of the largest fields of petroglyphs in Hawaii. These ancient rock carvings, made by native Hawaiians centuries ago, depict human figures, canoes, turtles, and other symbols. While their exact meanings remain a mystery, they offer important insights into Hawaii’s ancient culture and beliefs.
A short trail leads to a boardwalk where you can view hundreds of these intriguing petroglyphs.
Tip: Bring a hat, sunscreen, and water as the area is exposed and can get hot. Arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the heat and enjoy better light for viewing and photographing the petroglyphs. To further your understanding of this ancient art form, consider hiring a local guide who can share their knowledge and interpretations.
For accommodations, consider the nearby Fairmont Orchid, a luxury resort located on a beautiful white sand beach.
Savor The Flavors At The Vanillerie
Take a fragrant journey into the world of vanilla at this fascinating farm in Kona. At the Vanillerie, you can learn about the process of cultivating vanilla orchids and producing one of the world’s most beloved flavors. You’ll get to walk among the lush rows of orchids, discover the painstaking process of hand pollination, and see how the beans are harvested and cured.
The tour concludes with a tasting of delicious vanilla-infused treats.
Tip: Remember to wear comfortable footwear and bring a hat or umbrella for the walking tour, as the farm is mostly outdoors. Don’t miss the chance to buy some of the farm’s high-quality, locally-grown vanilla products to take home.
After your visit, consider staying at the Kona Coast Resort, conveniently located near other attractions like Keauhou Shopping Center and Kahalu’u Beach Park.
Unwind On The Peaceful Manini’owali Beach
Manini’owali Beach, also known as Kua Bay, is a hidden gem on the Big Island’s west coast. With its pristine white sands, clear turquoise waters, and shady palm trees, this beach is a perfect place to relax, sunbathe, or enjoy a picnic.
Its calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins or sea turtles.
Tip: This beach can get busy during peak times, so try to arrive early or visit during the week. Remember to bring sun protection, as shade can be limited. Also, facilities are minimal, so pack enough water and snacks for your visit.
When it’s time to turn in, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, located a short drive away, offers luxurious beachfront accommodations.
Indulge In A Culinary Odyssey At Kona’s Premier Restaurants
Kona’s dining scene is a delight for foodies, offering everything from local Hawaiian cuisine to international dishes. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, traditional Hawaiian dishes like poke and kalua pig, or innovative fusion cuisine, Kona’s restaurants have you covered. A must-try is the world-famous Kona coffee, best enjoyed at a waterfront café while watching the sunset.
Tip: Don’t shy away from trying new things on the menu, as Hawaii’s fusion of cultures makes for some unique and delicious dishes. Also, ask about locally-sourced ingredients – many restaurants take pride in serving farm-to-table meals.
Consider a stay at the Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort, which provides convenient access to some of Kona’s best dining spots.
Check out the best and most popular restaurants in Kona here.
Ignite Romance On A Sunset Dinner Cruise
A sunset dinner cruise along Kona’s beautiful coastline offers an idyllic setting for romance. As the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant hues, enjoy a gourmet meal while the gentle waves lap against the hull of the boat. Many cruises offer live music, creating a soothing ambiance.
You may even spot playful dolphins or the majestic humpback whales that visit these waters during winter months.
Tip: Bring a light jacket as it can get cool on the water after sunset. Check whether your cruise includes drinks, or if you need to purchase them separately.
The Marriott’s Waikoloa Ocean Club provides comfortable and luxurious rooms, and its central location makes it an ideal base for various activities on the Big Island.
Enjoy a delicious meal and prime service on this sunset cruise to Kealakekua Bay, book now.
Explore Off The Beaten Path At Big Island Abalone
Nestled in the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, this unique aquafarm is a must-visit for seafood enthusiasts. Here, you can learn about the cultivation of abalone, an edible sea snail considered a delicacy. The farm tour takes you through the process, from the initial breeding to the final stages of harvesting. In the end, you’ll get to taste fresh abalone straight from the farm.
Tip: Check out the farm’s onsite store, where you can buy abalone to take home, as well as other abalone-infused products. Wear comfortable shoes and sun protection, as the tour involves some walking outdoors.
After exploring, unwind at the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, conveniently located near many of Kona’s attractions.
Find out where abalone comes from with this remarkably unique experience. Book your tickets now.
Gaze At The Stars From The Mauna Kea Summit
Embark on a stargazing adventure like no other at the summit of Mauna Kea. At nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, this dormant volcano offers some of the best astronomical viewing conditions on Earth. The clear, unpolluted skies reveal a dazzling array of stars, planets, and galaxies.
Visiting the Mauna Kea Observatories and participating in their stargazing programs is an unforgettable experience.
Tip: Dress warmly as temperatures can drop significantly after sunset. Due to the high altitude, spend some time acclimating at the visitor center before proceeding to the summit. Consider booking a guided tour, which includes transportation and powerful telescopes for viewing the stars.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, located on the beautiful Kauna’oa Bay, is an excellent place to stay and is in proximity to Mauna Kea.
Experience Mauna Kea in a small group and gaze upon the plethora of stars with this tour provider.
Join In The Revelry At A Traditional Luau Show
Participating in a luau is a must-do experience when visiting Hawaii. These traditional Hawaiian parties combine music, dance, and food to create an unforgettable celebration. Kona’s luaus offer mesmerizing hula performances, fire knife dances, and live Polynesian music, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
A luau wouldn’t be complete without a feast, and you’ll get to try an array of Hawaiian specialties like kalua pork, poi, lomi salmon, and haupia. Some luaus also include a pre-show arts and crafts display, where you can learn about traditional Hawaiian crafts and even try your hand at making them.
Tip: Luaus often sell out, so it’s recommended to book your tickets in advance. Arrive early to get good seats and take advantage of the pre-show activities. Bring a light jacket or wrap as it can get cool in the evenings.
The Royal Kona Resort is an excellent place to stay as it hosts one of the most popular luaus on the Big Island and provides comfortable accommodations with stunning ocean views.
Looking for a fun and exciting luau for the whole family? Then you need to book your tickets now.
Phew, that is a long list. I hope this helps you find some interesting things to do in Kona during your next visit. Did I miss anything? Let me know if the comments below.