42 Awesome Things to do in Kona, Hawaii
You’ll also find some of the most popular historical sites and access to ocean sports and marine life.
Walk along this coastal road through the heart of historical Kailua-Kona. Stop along the seaside wall to watch the crashing waves, catch the sunset or look for turtles over volcanic tidepools.
Marvel at towering banyan trees and Kona’s historical landmarks. Stop at ocean view restaurants for freshly caught seafood or shop for local crafts and coffee along your way.
See how Hawaiian royals lived at Hulile’e Palace. The former vacation home features koa wood furniture, feather work, and Hawaiian quilts and artifacts. The museum even hosts hulas on their monthly cultural days.
Visit the birthplace of Christianity in Hawaii at Mokuaikaua Church. This site is the culmination of both Hawaiian prophecy and the introduction of Christianity to Hawaii.
Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
Visit the wooden Ki’i of this sacred Hawaiian site and walk by the temple that once housed the bones of Hawaiian kings. Learn about ancient Hawaiian kapu (code of conduct) as you walk through Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park
Get a glimpse into how Hawaiians used to live, fish, and find fresh water at Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park.
Shop colorful produce and artisan crafts at Kona’s farmers markets. A few of Kona’s six farmer’s markets are temporarily closed but Kona Farmers Market hosts vendors Wednesday through Sunday every week starting at 7am. Buy your groceries, find hand crafted souvenirs or pick up a quick baked treat in downtown Kona.
Engage in an unmissable Hawaiian experience at an authentic luau. Eat traditional Hawaiian dishes from the buffet and watch stories told through dance.
Witness bean become brew in Kona’s famous coffee fields. Kona’s coffee plantations offer experiences from free farm tours to roasting experiences and cupping/coffee flights. There are hundreds of Kona coffee farms and many offer tours, here are some great ones (but far from a comprehensive list).
Farm Tours and Experiences
- Greenwell Farms – free
- Rooster Farms – free, by appointment
- Heavenly Hawaiian – free, tip strongly suggested
- Mountain Thunder – free tour and tasting, also offers paid roastmaster experience
- Sunshower Coffee – $25 tour, also offers cupping and roasting experiences
- Buddha’s Cup – from $25 with flight tasting option
- Kuaiwi Farm – $25 with tasting, by appointment
- Kona Coffee Living History Farm – $85 per tour (up to 4 ppl/tour)
Circle Island Tour
Visit waterfalls, walk through coffee farms, and hike through volcano fields in a single day on a circle island tour. Operators offer different combinations of attractions (like this one, this one, or this one). You can even take a tour from above with a circle island helicopter tour.
Manta Ray Night Snorkel
Take a boat from Kona to manta ray point and snorkel by lighted raft with giant manta rays on a guided manta ray night snorkel.
Search for whale spouts from the Kona coast. You can see them from the shore every winter or get a closer look on a whale watching tour.
Kayak and SUP
Kayak by Kona’s rocky coast or rent a stand up paddle board and explore its peaceful bays.
Learn to surf or rent a board and ride the Kona waves.
Interact with the illusive seahorse at the seahorse farm.
Kahalu’u Beach Park
Snorkel near black sand beach at Kahalu’u Beach Park. A 15 minute drive from downtown Kona, this is an easy-to-access spot with colorful fish, (occasional) turtles, and tide pools.
Swim with an abundance of fish in clear, Kealakekua Bay. This is also the site of the Captain Cook monument and home to spinner dolphins. Visit in the early morning for a chance to spot them.
Enjoy the calm bay and (likely) turtles at Two Step, near Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park. Stop by the Coffee Shack on your way back to Kona for incredible views of the mountainside and coast.
Sit on a white sand beach and dip in fish-filled water at Makalawena Beach. Warning! The final few minutes of the drive are over a roughly paved lava field and are very bumpy.
Magic Sands Beach
Sit on white sands near downtown Kona at Magic Sands Beach Park. This sandy beach is typically busy but only a few miles from downtown Kona.
Kahalu’u Beach Park
Get your black sand experience close to Kona at Kahalu’u Beach Park. The calm bay makes for great snorkeling, swimming and wading.
Kekaha Kai State Park
Visit Mahai’ula Beach for a stretch of perfect white sand and teal blue water or hike around Kua Bay.
Stroll through colorful tropical flowers and cacti at Kona’s curated and botanical gardens:
- Maka’eo Walking Path
- Sadie Seymour Botanical Gardens
- Pelaku Peace Sanctuary
- Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden
Hike through lush forest at Makuala O’oma and spot colorful birds along the way.
Take a coastline walk on the 1871 Trail near Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Cinder Cone Trail
Walk through wildflower paths and catch a glimpse of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a Cinder Cone Trail.
Eats and Drinks
Huggo’s on the Rocks
Find stunning bay views and creative cocktails at Huggo’s on the Rocks.
Don’s Mai Tai Bar
Watch the sunset at Don’s Mai Tai Bar with a mai tai flight.
The Coffee Shack
Snack on pizza and coconut pie with valley and coastal views at The Coffee Shack. Between Captain Cook and Kailua-Kona, this roadside stop is one of the best views you’ll find.
Get into the Hawaiian vibe with excellent poke and fresh fish in casual digs.
Try the best burgers on the island at Island Ono Loa. Ask for the special of the day.
Sushi Cocoro & Udon Noodle
Get your sushi fix and Sushi Cocoro. They have fabulous, reasonably priced sushi.
Da Poke Shack
Make a roadside stop between Captain Cook and Kailua-Kona at Da Poke Shack and choose from a wall of fresh poke options.
Gecko Girls Shave Ice
Indulge in a decadent Hawaiian favorite at Gecko Girls. Choose from full menu of sweet syrups and toppings to create the perfect shave ice.
Kona Coffee Cafe
Find local Kona coffee at the Kona Coffee Cafe inside the open air Kona Inn Shopping Village. Check out the lawn behind the coffee shop for excellent ocean views while you drink.
Sip liquid aloha at Kona Brewing or stop by their growler station to stock up.
100+ popular and off-the-beaten-path things to do in Hawaii’s Big Island.
Thirteen awesome things to do in Honolulu, Oahu.
Nine can’t miss things to do in Waikiki Oahu.
100+ popular and off-the-beaten-path things to do in Oahu, Hawaii.
Oahu breweries are concentrated in Kaka’ako. The area was once home to production of Hawaii’s Primo beer, launched in 1901 and popular for decades after.
It doesn’t take special skills to spot whales in Hawaii, you just need to know where to look…and a little luck.