Known for coffee, adventure, and true Hawaiian vibes, Kona is a town in Big Island. Things to do and see here are aplenty, and here’s what we think you should do during your trip to Kona for a holiday that’s adventurous, fun, and memorable!
Visit Hulihe‘e Palace
Once the vacation home for the Hawaiian royalty, Hulihe‘e Palace is a museum with a celebrated collection of artefacts that dates back to the reign of Queen Kapiolani and King Kalakaua.
The collection includes portraits, furniture, and many other items that belonged to the royal family.
With six beautifully designed rooms, the palace has stunning grounds. And there’s a monthly cultural event called Afternoon at Hulihe‘e Palace, one of the must-do in Hawaii as it allows you to experience Hawaiian culture in its rawest form.
Kona sits in the middle of coffee country with the backdrop of Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes where coffee grows. Coffee produced in Kona is called Kona Coffee, one of the best coffees you will find anywhere in the world.
To sample the taste of Kona Coffee, you can pop into a restaurant or a roadside shack, but the best thing to do is to go on a coffee farm tour.
Several coffee farms offer guided tours for tourists. Here are some of them:
- Thunder Mountain Coffee Plantation: Open every day from 9 AM to 4 PM. Tours are scheduled every half an hour, with coffee tastings and discussions.
- Kona Coffee Living History Farm: 30-minute field trip, Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM.
- Rooster Farms: Tours range from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. Lessons on offer include coffee roasting and coffee cupping lessons.
- Sunshower Coffee Farm: Private coffee tours, tastings, and roasting lessons.
- Kuaiwi Farm:Tours are usually 2 hours long and need to be scheduled in advance.
- Heavenly Hawaiian coffee farms: Open Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
- Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee: Open every day and offers free tours and VIP tours.
- Hala Tree Coffee: Offers one-hour tours every weekday.
Visit Kona Hawaiian Quilt Museum and Gallery
To discover old traditions of quilt making and get a feel of Aloha culture, you should visit Kona Hawaiian Quilt Museum and Gallery. The collection is quite extensive, with contemporary and vintage items. You’ll find some of the most extraordinary works done by locals and also witness the making of a Hawaiian flag quilt.
Shop At Farmers Markets
To shop like a local, visit the farmers markets. Here are some of the must-visits:
- Kona Village Farmer’s Market: Wednesday to Sunday from 7 AM to 4 PM.
- Alii Garden Market Place: Wednesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
- The Pure Kona Green Market: Every Sunday from 9 AM to 2 PM
- Keauhou Farmers Market: Every Saturday from 8 AM to 12 PM
- Ho’oulu Community Farmers Market: Every Wednesday, 9 AM to 2 PM
- South Kona Fruit Stand: Closed on Tuesdays. Open on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. On Saturday and Sunday, the market is open from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Seahorse Farm Tours
Kona has a seahorse farm located along the route to the airport. It offers tours ranging from one hour to one and a half hours. Pregnant male sea horses, baby sea horses, and sea dragons are some of the highlights.
In addition to the seahorse farm, Kona features an octopus farm, which also offers tours.
Craft beers are an integral part of Hawaiian culture. To get a glimpse of the process and to sample the taste of Hawaiian beers, there are two breweries you should visit.
Kona Brewing Co.
With a history dating back to 1994, Kona Brewing Co. is endearingly nicknamed Liquid Aloha. The collection of beers here is diverse, all delivering citrusy and spicy flavours.
Koko Brown, Fire Rock, Long Board, Pipeline Porter, and Wailua Ale are some of the most popular beers.
Ola Brew Co.
The main focus of the brewery is to support local farmers by creating a market for local crops. This is a great place to hang out, and there are several beverages on offer, including beers, seltzers, and ciders.
The Big Island is the golfing capital of Hawaii. Kona Country Club, Hokulia Golf Club, and Makalei Golf Course are some of the golf courses located off the Kona Coast.
The Island of Hawaii has some of the best-hidden secrets in all of Hawaii. They cannot be discovered unless you sign up for a helicopter tour. A helicopter tour isn’t exactly a budget-friendly activity, but they are among the best experiences. Prices start from $350, and the tours range from 40-minute tours to full-day tours.
There are several categories of helicopter tours:
- Sunset helicopter tours
- Lava and volcanoes helicopter tours
- Circle the island helicopter tours
- Waterfall and cliffs helicopter tours
Join a guided hiking tour to explore the lush coastal tract, the verdant volcanic slopes, and the tropical vegetation of Kona. There’s a range of tours available; you can choose one, depending on your budget.
Hiking Safety Tips
Get yourself a pair of hiking shoes.
Hiking by yourself isn’t recommended, but if you do, make sure you have your mobile and a map.
Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug repellent; water and snacks are a must as well.
For stunning views and a unique experience in Kona, sign up for horseback riding. A guided tour will take you through the green pastures of the peaks and the coastline.
The area around Captain Cook encompasses the heart of coffee country, and Hoʻomau Ranch offers several tours to explore the region.
This is one of the most thrilling and adventurous activities you can enjoy in Kona.
You will be attached to a rope that’s strung between two points above stunning geographical features such as meadows and ravines. You’ll travel the whole length of the rope with the help of your harness.
Kohala Zipline Canopy Tours offers several canopy and ziplining tours in Kona.
Join A Sightseeing Tour
To make the most of your time in Kona, you can join a guided sightseeing tour. You will be taken to the most popular tourist attractions in the area.
Your itinerary won’t be limited to Kona; you’ll get the chance to discover other popular tourist regions on the Big Island as well.
Explore History On A Historical Tour
Interested in Kona’s history? Join an organised history tour. Tours come in many categories; there are both guided and customised private tours.
Wildlife, Nature And Water Sports Tours
On a wildlife, nature, and water sports tour, you will explore volcanoes and waterfalls and enjoy water sports such as diving and snorkelling. Night snorkelling is a popular activity, and helicopter tours are included in this category as well.
Tip: you should join a guided tour that includes every aspect of exploring Kona. You might have to stretch your budget a little, but it will be worth it.