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9 Things to Do in Kona

kailua kona hawaii

 

Kona is one of the most popular towns located on the Big Island’s west side, also known as the Kona side. And although its official name is Kailua-Kona, it’s known simply as “Kona” to locals – not to be confused with Kailua, another popular town on the island of Oahu.

 

Kona started as a sleepy fishing village that tourists often overlooked. But the dry and warm climate quickly became a hotspot for hotels and resorts, such as the world-famous Hilton Waikoloa Village located towards the north of Kona.

 

The tropical climate is perfect for spending your days relaxing and golfing. In fact, there is a unique course that’s built directly through a lava field. This not only brings about intriguing sights but a brand-new kind of challenge to golfers of all skill levels.

 

Besides a delightful climate, Kona is also home to gorgeous white sand beaches that are great for all types of activities, from sunbathing to snorkeling and beyond.

 

Keep reading to find the top nine things to do in Kona!

Snorkeling With Manta Rays

manta ray at night

 

If you read our last post about Hawaiian Vacation Activities That You Can Only Do on the Big Island, then you’d know that snorkeling with manta rays is a huge hit for tourists. It’s one of the most unique activities you can while visiting Hawaii and is certainly something you will remember for ages.

 

To schedule a thrilling (and safe) snorkel session with manta rays, consider booking this activity today. With a lot of Covid-related restrictions easing up all over the islands, we strongly suggest you book early. This is one of the top manta ray snorkel guides, and you’re bound to enjoy your adventure with them!

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

puuhonua o honaunau

 

If you’re looking for examples of ancient, pre-contact Hawaiian living, look no further than the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. Originally, abundant sea life attracted ancient Hawaiians to live in the area where they began to build fish ponds.

 

The same species of sea creatures that attracted Hawaiians a long time ago can still be seen today, making it a major tourist attraction. Here, you will see various sea life, including monk seals baking in the sun along the shoreline.

 

You will also see ancient hand-carved statues, structures, fish ponds, and fish traps you won’t find elsewhere.

Kanaloa Octopus Farm

octopus farm

 

Kanaloa Octopus Farm is a research facility that is great for kids and adults alike. The facility showcases a  better understanding of the octopus life cycle and the challenges presented with protecting this wild livestock and growing them while in captivity.

 

Not only is this a wonderful learning experience, but visitors will enjoy interacting with the sea animals in a controlled environment. You will be amazed at all of the incredible things they can do! Just make sure you make a reservation before heading over.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm

seahorse farm

 

Like the Kanaloa Octopus Farm, the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is another experience out of the ordinary and totally unique. Here, visitors learn all about how seahorses grow in captivity and what efforts are being done to protect wild stocks.

 

You will see plenty of seahorses at the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, including several rare species such as the Sea Dragons. Not only that, but you will get to experience having a seahorse wrap its tail around your fingers!

 

It’s best to make a reservation for this unique and exciting experience.

Kiholo Bay

If you want to see and experience more wild sea creatures, consider heading over the Kiholo Bay. Kiholo Bay contains a  protected series of calm tide pools inside of a picturesque bay. It’s also one of the best places to see sea turtles!

 

Because of the mixture of saltwater and freshwater, Kiholo Bay gets its ever-popular turquoise-colored waters. Its black sand also differs from the typical white sand beaches found along the Kona coastline.

 

Kiholo Bay also offers an enjoyable hiking trail that includes a flooded lava tube, an ancient fishpond, and other exciting sceneries that you won’t find elsewhere.

Ali’i Drive

Ali'i Drive

 

Ali’i Drive is known as the epicenter of social activity in Kona. There are tons of fun things to do here, from shopping at top-notch stores to dining with some marvelous fare. When visiting Ali’i Drive, make sure you don’t miss the farmer’s market!

 

During your visit to Ali’i Drive, you get to experience the best of both worlds: modern-day Big Island local living and history thanks to the historical places including St. Michael the Archangel Church and Hulihe’e Palace.

Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay)

Kua Bay

 

Manini’owali Beach is known for its beautiful white sand beach that is decorated contrastingly with lava rocks. This is a more secluded beach than the others, which means there is less foot traffic and clearer waters. While this is a major plus, keep in mind that Kua Bay is a bit challenging to reach.

 

While visiting Kua Bay, you’re likely to see a sighting of some local wildlife, including turtles and dolphins. If you’re looking for more adventure, consider snorkeling in these clear, calm waters during the summertime.

 

It’s best to visit Kua Bay during the weekdays as this is a local hotspot during the weekend, which may lead to excess crowds.

Hulihe’e Palace

Hulihe'e Palace

 

Hulihe’e Palace is one of the only palaces in the entire United States (alongside ‘Iolani Palace and Queen Emma Summer Palace), making it a must-see for tourists. Built on land where Kamehameha the Great’s residence once stood, it was originally built out of lava rock.

 

Present-day Hulihe’e Palace is an interesting museum that is loaded with fascinating Hawaiian culture and history. It can be easily found along the historic Ali’i Drive. And while self-guiding tours are available, it is still recommended to get a reservation.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm

kona coffee farm

 

Coffee lovers unite! If you have ever wondered about the history of coffee farms, visit the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. This is the only living history coffee farm in the United States. It brings history to life with costumed actors and interpreters that show what it was like to live on a coffee farm in the early 19th century, from traditional crafts to daily crafts.

 

This is a unique show you won’t want to miss, but reservations are strongly recommended.

Final Thoughts

Needless to say, Kona is a hot spot for tourists as there is something for everyone. Enjoy some delightful views at Manini’owali Beach or get a hands-on learning experience at the Kanaloa Octopus Farm or Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. There’s definitely something for the entire family to enjoy.

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