Visit The Kona Coffee Living History Farm
The Kona Coffee Living History Farm is the nation’s only living history museum dedicated to the heritage of traditional coffee farming. Operated by the Kona Historical Society, this working farm shows visitors what life was like for coffee growers in the 1920s and 30s. Costumed interpreters happily converse with tourists while they go about their daily tasks, from planting and harvesting to cooking and crafting.
You can explore the grounds freely, observing the Kona Nightingale and learning about old methods of roasting and grinding. The farm also invites visitors to sample, and of course purchase, some of their amazing coffee. Nearby in Kailua-Kona, tourists can also take a pre-arranged tour of the commercial Hula Daddy coffee plantation, or tour the roasting facility at Mountain Thunder Plantation.
Address: 82-6199 Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook, Hawaii
Treat Yourself To A Dinner Cruise Around Kealakekua Bay
This memorable historical dinner cruise will see you set sail down the Kona Coast to the Captain Cook Monument and Kealakekua Bay. As soon as you board, youll be treated to a complimentary Hawaiian cocktail, snacks like local appetizers , and live entertainment.
During the sail, youll be alerted to a range of notable and historic sites and will be able to enjoy a delicious Hawaiian-style buffet dinner. You can also do this cruise during lunchtime instead if you’d like.
Go On A Glass Bottom Reef Tour
If diving or snorkeling isnt your thing, but you want to view Konas marine life, then a glass-bottom reef tour is the perfect activity.
Kona Glassbottom Boat offers eco-friendly tours in its unique see-through bottom boats. Hop on board, and youll be amazed by the array of marine life you can see below.
Guests will view coral reefs, tropical fish, manta rays, and dolphins. You may even see whales and sharks, both under the water and from the boats upper deck.
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Back In Time And Into Hulihee Palace
The Hawaiin monarchy dates back a long way, and when you visit the Hulihee Palace, you can see how this royalty lived in the 1800s. It was originally a summer vacation home for the Hawaiian king, though now this gorgeous, Victorian-style home has turned into a museum where visitors can marvel at the array of ornamental furniture and relics. Tours are twice throughout the day, and on Sundays they have a free concert!
Plate Lunch In Kailua
Keep it simple, filling, and onolicious by grabbing a plate lunch in town. If youre not familiar, this is local comfort foods that are well regarded in Hawaii.
Kailua has its share of classic plate lunch spots including L& L Barbeque, Zippys, Kim Chee Restaurant, Kokos, and Fatboys Kailua Town. There nothing more stratifying than picking up some Hawaiian comfort food barbecue and taking it to the beach for a picnic.
We personally like the Ohana Bar-B-Q for the quality and generous portions. A mixed plate lunch here can feed the whole family!
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Spend Time In Kailua Kona
Kailua Kona is home to one of the world’s most famous Ironman Triathlons. Each October, the town is home to 2,000 of the fittest people on the planet as they swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and cap it all off with a full marathon distance run of 26.2 miles.
The rest of the year, the main town on the Kona Coast is a good base for visitors who want to explore this stretch of the Big Island. This is the main shopping center and where many of the snorkeling and boating trips depart from.
The town is a fun place to spend an afternoon wandering through shops and along the waterfront. In the evening, fairy lights twinkle under palm trees, while diners enjoy a meal on the patios along the waterfront.
Horseback Ride At Hoomau Ranch
You might be surprised to learn that the Big Island has a rich cowboy tradition. It started more than 200 years ago, when explorer George Vancouver gifted Hawaiis King Kamehameha a group of cattle. The king allowed them to roam, the island was soon overrun, and Mexican cowboys or vaqueros were called in to help rustle up and manage them. Those cowboys, now called paniolo, remain on the island.
To get a real-life glimpse of paniolo life, book a private horseback ride at Hoomau Ranch, a family-owned working cattle ranch about an hour south of Kailua-Kona. Youll ride through Hawaiian forests, see the cattle, and be greeted by other friendly ranch guests. If a few hours on horseback sounds a bit extreme, the ranch also offers ATV tours.
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Captain Zodiac Raft Expeditions Kona Hawaii
Joining an adventure with Captain Zodiac Raft Expeditions is a truly memorable add-on to your Hawaii vacation. Captain Zodiac has been taking visitors on thrilling zodiac adventures for over 40 years and has the expertise to ensure you have a wonderful time exploring the rugged coastline of the Big Island while meeting some of the amazing marine wildlife. You can choose from several scheduled tours or arrange a private charter. Scheduled tours last from 3 to 5 hours and include snorkeling excursions, swimming with wild dolphins, and seasonal whale watching, and the highly maneuverable zodiacs can get you really close to some amazing lava tubes, sea caves, and blow holes.
Captain Zodiac Raft Expeditions, 74-425 Kealakehe Pkwy, #16, Kailua Kona, HI 96740, Phone: 808-329-3199
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Stroll Down Alii Drive
The beating heart of Kailua-Kona is Alii Drive. The main thoroughfare stretches for several miles right along the coast, and its packed with shops, boutiques, cafes, and galleries. Its the perfect place to explore, take in the ocean views, get your steps in, and pick up souvenirs as well as gifts for family and friends back home. Depending on how long you wander, youll pass beaches and gorgeous homes and maybe even take in one of the prettiest sunsets youve ever seen. Of course, you can opt to cruise Alii Drive by car, but to soak up the most local scene, plan to take time to stroll it.
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Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark
This isnt so much a place to visit, but to know what youre looking at when you see it.
Because youre sure to see this when youre around Kailua Bay and Kailua Pier.
These structures signify the historical and cultural importance of the area.
Its said that this area is the Plymouth Rock of Hawaii, basically the spot where the first white people landed on the Hawaiian islands.
See more national park sites in Hawaii.
The Weather In Kailua
The Kona district is located on the leeward side of the Big Island, which means that weather here is in general excellent: sunny and dry. You can find pleasant temperatures year round, with sunny mornings, overcast afternoons and an occasional afternoon shower.
If you want to know more about the weather in Kona have a look at our monthly average weather guide for Kona from which we have taken the illustration below. At that page you can find in-depth information about the average temperature, the number of hours of sunshine, the amount of cloudy days, and the amount of rain in Kona and the surroundings.
The weather here is in general warm and dry with sunny mornings and afternoon clouds. Read more about the yearly weather in Kailua-Kona.
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Best Things To Do In Kailua Town
Once a sleepy neighborhood with not much happening on the Windward side of Oahu, is now full of lots of things to do in Kailua.
Over the past decade this pleasant quaint town has been experiencing a renaissance of new shops and restaurants.
But its the outdoor activities and easiness of getting around thats driving tourist over the Pali Highway and spending more time here.
And unlike the north shore that takes a good hour to get to, you can arrive in Kailua Town from Waikiki in under a half hour.
Whether you decide to climb to the peak of the Lanikai Pillbox Hike for a spectacular view, go for a morning swim in aqua blue waters at Kailua Beach, kayak to the Mokulua Island, rent a bike and ride along the coast, or spend a lazy afternoon in town enjoying a shave ice and looking for a perfect souvenir, Kailua has something to offer everyone.
Hilo Or Kona: Location On The Big Island
First, lets get our bearings. Hawaii is big, but how big.
I could throw out stats like it is 4,028 square miles, 63% of the State of Hawaiis landmass, bigger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined, and bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. But who really cares.
It takes 1-hour and 40-minutes to drive from Kona to Hilo. That is the shortest route, taking you between the massive shield volcanoes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, on the aptly named Saddle Road.
The northern route taking you through Parker Ranchs cowboy country is 2-hours and 10-minutes. The southern route taking you through the southernmost point in the United States is 3-hours.
Kailua-Kona to Hawaiis Volcanoes National Park is a 2-hour drive. From Hilo, the drive is 50-minutes .
Therefore, Hawaii is big but also a manageable drive. You can go to Volcanoes National Park from Kona on a day-trip. A lot of driving but one can still see all the sights and get back to their resort or vacation rental.
With our toddler and dog, during our trip in January, we stayed in Kona but did one-night outside of Volcanoes National Park. We were able to see everything on the windward or east side of the Big Island plus the park during this 1-night, 2-day trip.
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Kona Or Hilo For Vacation
The Big Island might be your whole Hawaii vacation, 10 amazing days to see the island. Or, it is one of three islands you are touring so you can only allocate 3-days to seeing the sights.
Either way, Kona is the side of the Big Island you need to stay for your vacation.
The Big Island is my favorite island, after my home on Maui. I love the chill vibe, the many climates, and the coffee. The coffee brings me back. If Kilauea volcano erupts again then that will bring me back.
Im sure your interests in visiting the island will be different from mine. Therefore, we need to consider the following seven items when deciding between Hilo or Kona to stay.
Number of Days on the Big Island
Swim With The Dolphins
Did you even go to Hawaii if you didnt swim with the dolphins? Theres nothing quite like slipping on a snorkel mask and hopping into the clear, blue waters of Kealakekua Bay to get a closer look at some of the islands most beautiful sea creatures.
Dolphin Discoveries offers one of the best ways to explore the area. Plus, they have a 98% success rate at finding dolphins and whales in the area, so youre sure to see some! Book your tour here!
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Umekes Fishmarket Bar And Grill
Address: 74-5563 Kaiwi St, Kailua, HI 96740Website:
Its no surprise that Umekes has made it to the list of the best restaurants to try some Hawaiian-style food.
Umekes Fishmarket Bar and Grill extensively uses local ingredients that are of the highest quality. They deeply encourage the endorsement of local fishermen, farmers, and ranchers.
One of the most distinctive dishes they serve is the renowned poke bowl, created with the freshest fish from Hawaiian waters.
Adventure To A Waterfall
A list of things to do in Kona would not be complete without an adventure to a waterfall! If youre up for a serious excursion, the Kohala Waterfalls Adventure is an eight-hour tour that goes to some of the most scenic parts of the big island.
Youll get to do everything from a relaxing hike through a private natural reserve to a high-energy off-roading experience in a six-wheeler. The guides are awesome and youll be sure to learn a lot about the history and culture of Hawaii.
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Visit Puuhonua O Hanaunau Historic Park
Puuhonua o Honaunau in South Kona was once the grounds of Hawaiian royalty and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers. Today the park offers self-guided tours as well as daily ranger talks about this intriguing historical territory. Entrance at the time of this writing is $10 per pedestrian, or $20 per car .
Take A Walking Tour Of Historic Kona
Kona is steeped in history and Hawaiian culture, and taking a walking tour of the town is a free and fascinating way to spend a few hours. Starting at Coconut Grove Marketplace, you can work your way south and experience Ahuena Heiau, which was King Kamehameha the Greats personal temple, Mokuaikaua Church, Hulihee Palace, the historic Kona Inn, and more. For more interesting tours and elite amenities, check out our Waikoloa Village rentals!
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Things To Do In Kona Hawaii
They dont call it the Big Island for nothing. While its not the main island , the Big Island isnot surprisinglythe largest Hawaiian island. And that means that theres absolutely no shortage of amazing things to see and do. Keep reading for my favorite things to do in Kona, Hawaii
The Kona side of the island is dry, sunny, and where 99% of the beaches are. So if youre looking for traditional Hawaii vacation activities this is where youll find them.
This post may contain some affiliate links, which means Ill make a little money on anything you choose to purchase. But of course, I only recommend my absolute favorites to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Hulaland possible.
For the purposes of this post, Im defining Kona as everything in Kona town and including the area north up through the Kohala Coast and south to Kealakekua Bay and the Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. Thats a big area!
From downtown Kona, thats up to an hour in either direction so just because Ive grouped all of these activities into the Kona section, youll still want to make good use of a Google map when planning out your days to make sure youre not backtracking or spending too much time in the car.
So now that youve got a point of reference, here are 25 things to do in Kona :
The Hn Greenwell Store Museum
Not too far from the Hulihee Palace, youll find the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum, which was built in 1870 to supply goods to the Euro-American immigrant community. The owner, H.N. Greenwell, was pivotal in establishing the ranching industry that dominated Kona in the late 1800s.
This store has been fully restored to its former state and offers an excellent glimpse into Hawaiian life as it existed over a century ago.
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Best Things To Do In Kona Big Island
Looking for the best things to do in Kona, Hawaii? Kailua Kona, often referred to as Kona by the locals, is one of the best places to visit on all of the Big Island.
Its the main town that most visitors will pass through as its home to the islands International airport. Kona is also known for having amazing weather with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. It has a cute town with plenty of boutique shops and restaurants to eat at. Lets jump into the best things to do in Kona!
Enjoy Some Island Burgers
Annies Fresh Island Burgers is a must-stop Hawaiian destination. They are one of the best burger joints on the island, known for their grass-fed beef burgers. Here you can dine on locally-sourced and organic produce, farm-to-table entrees, and wild-caught fish. There are so many burgers to choose from too, so even picky eaters wont get left behind.
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Kanaloa Octopus Farm Kona Hawaii
You can learn all about cephalopods at the unique Kanaloa Octopus Farm, where octopus and squid are sustainably raised for aquariums, research, and saltwater aquarium hobbyists. The facility is located right on the beach, where fresh seawater can be easily pumped into the breeding tanks. You can learn all about the process by booking one of the guided tours, which are offered every day at 10.00am and 2.00pm. You will have some time to interact with the octopuses and even feed them. Bookings are only done online, and each tour is restricted to 35 visitors, so you are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.
Kanaloa Octopus Farm, 73-4460 Queen Kaahumanu Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, Phone: 808-747-6895
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