42 Awesome Things to do in Kona, Hawaii

Kona is on The Big Island’s sunny West Coast. Compared to the rainier, tropical East Coast, it has more sunny days and swimmable/snorkel-able beaches.

You’ll also find some of the most popular historical sites and access to ocean sports and marine life.

Ali’i Drive

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. 

Historical Sites

Hulile’e Palace 

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. 

Mokuaikaua Church

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. 

Farmers Market

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.

Luau

Engage in an unmissable Hawaiian experience at an authentic luau. Eat traditional Hawaiian dishes from the buffet and watch stories told through dance. 

Kona luaus: 

Coffee Tour

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

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.

Whale Watching

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

Fish

Create a new fishing tale on a deep sea fishing or spear fishing trip. Fish for ahi, ono, mahi mahi or blue marlin.

Scuba Diving

Dive into the depths off the Kona coast at one of 40 local dive sites. Explore advanced dives like caves and lava tubes or join a manta ray night swim or night dive

Kayak and SUP

Kayak by Kona’s rocky coast or rent a stand up paddle board and explore its peaceful bays. 

Surf

Learn to surf or rent a board and ride the Kona waves. 

Seahorse Farm

Interact with the illusive seahorse at the seahorse farm

Snorkel

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. 

Kealakekua Bay 

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.

Two Step 

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. 

Makalawena Beach

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.

Beach

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.

Sunset

Stop and watch the sunset every night. Sit on the beach or rock walls along Ali’i Drive, watch from oceanside restaurants like Papa Kona, Huggo’s or Don’s Mai Tai Bar.

Gardens

Stroll through colorful tropical flowers and cacti at Kona’s curated and botanical gardens: 

 

Hike

Makuala O’oma

Hike through lush forest at Makuala O’oma and spot colorful birds along the way. 

1871 Trail

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

Great Views

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. 

Casual

Umeke’s

Get into the Hawaiian vibe with excellent poke and fresh fish in casual digs. 

Island Ono Loa

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. 

Kona Brewing

Sip liquid aloha at Kona Brewing or stop by their growler station to stock up.

The Ultimate Guide to Oahu Breweries

The Ultimate Guide to Oahu Breweries

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.

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