What To Do In Kona, Hawaii
If you follow me on Instagram you all know that a hot-minute ago Bear and I got to take an adults-only trip to Kona, Hawaii. Yes I know it took me forever to get this post up, but lets be honest. If I got it up at all it’s a win! You guys, I have a new favorite place in the world. I have been to Hawaii a few times in my life, my first trip was when I was around 10, and it was a family trip to Kauai, my next trip wasn’t until September 2017, when we went with my in-laws to Maui, on this most recent trip we also visited Oahu for a wedding so I’ve been to all the major touristy ones. But I absolutely fell in love with Kona. It is a small town with a slow pace and a laid back feel. The houses along Ali’i Drive all stole my heart, and the Island of Hawai’i (the big island) is the most interesting place I have ever seen.
The island itself boasts 10 of the world’s 14 climate types. You’ll find everything from tropical rain forest to beaches, dry desert, and snow-capped mountains. It is the largest island in the chain and while we were there we learned that Mauna Kea, their mountain, although only standing at 13,796 feet above sea level, extends 19,700 feet below the pacific ocean. Which makes it the largest mountain in the world, yes even larger than Mt. Everest. I cannot wait until we go back. I also told Bear that we are buying a home there one day.
While Kona is filled with wonderful things to do I have compiled a Must-Do list for you. All the things I think everyone should do when visiting the Island of Hawai’i.
Visit Mauka Meadows Coffee Farm
Ever heard of Kona Coffee? Well welcome to the epicenter! Kona is filled to the brim with coffee farms and we didn’t even scratch the surface of them, but we did find one we absolutely adored. On our first day we spent the morning at the beach and as the clouds rolled in we decided that we should wander up the hill a bit and visit some of the coffee farms that Kona is famous for. We looked into a few different ones and they all had different things to offer, but something drew us to Mauka Meadows. As you pull up you’re going to think it is closed but we promise it’s not. Pay the $5 per person to the box in the parking lot and follow the trail into the most magical garden you’ve ever seen. Filled with beautiful flowers, hundreds of trees, fountains and gazebos, you’ll never want to leave. At least we didn’t. Once you get to the end of the path you’ll be welcomed with a fresh taste of their coffee, which you can only buy at this farm or on their website. I usually take my coffee with cream and sugar, but this I drank black because it was so good. Did I mention that you get to enjoy this coffee by an infinity pool overlooking the ocean? Yeah, really. After you’ve taken it all in you can either walk back up (which we did) or they will take you back up to the parking lot by shuttle. Seriously, even if you don’t like coffee, go take a stroll and see this amazing place.
Ready for some breathtaking jungle hiking and waterfalls? Because that’s what you’re in for with Akaka Falls. If you’re staying in Kona you’ll have to drive to the Hilo (or east) side of the island, once you get there, there is a small parking lot next to a trail loop. You have two options for the hike. One is a longer loop that takes you through the jungle and that will bring you back to the main event: Akaka Falls. Your other option is to go straight the the waterfall. We chose to do the longer hike, even though it was raining and we were soaking wet by the time we finished I’m so glad we chose the longer one. Being from dry Colorado we never get the opportunity to see lush greenery quite like this. I should also mention that the whole hike is paved. So you’re walking on concrete with guard rails on either side of you. It’s a quick hike, the full loop took us about 20-30 minutes but we were going a tiny bit faster than we might have if it hadn’t been raining!
Kayak with Dolphins and Captain Cook Monument
Let me start this by saying there are A LOT of options when it comes to renting kayaks or going on tours to see wild dolphins, and the likelihood of seeing them is best in the early morning. Spinner dolphins are seen almost every day in the shallow waters, they show off their skills to eager viewers. We witnessed them three times, even from the shore while eating breakfast. But my absolute favorite, and a memory I’ll never forget was seeing them from our kayaks, not 5 feet away. We chose to go with a much smaller company for our kayak rental. Ehu and Kai was amazing, they’re located in a small little neighborhood in Captain Cook, and they are family-owned. You do have to park on the main road and walk down to the shore to get to them. When you get there they’ll give you their wet bag, your life vest (if you want it), your paddles and your kayak then off you go! Seriously it’s that easy. You push off from a beautiful cove with water so clear it looks like glass. From there you paddle out to a larger bay which is where we hit the jackpot. What the locals called a “smaller” pod, but what to us seemed huge, was swimming in the bay, jumping, spinning, and literally floating right next to our kayak. From the bay you can paddle over to Captain Cook Monument where there is some of the best snorkeling on the island. One of our favorite things about the rental company for the kayaks was there was no time limit on them, so we were not constantly watching the clock to get them back on time.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
One of the highlights of the Island of Hawaii is Volcanoes National Park with over 500 miles of terrain that will take your breath away. The park itself boasts many different attractions ranging from hikes to bike trails, lava tubes, and drives along the volcano crater. You can easily spend days in this park so I highly recommend planning your trip before you go, or at least picking your top choices. We added our trip to the park when we went to see Akaka Falls since we were on that side of the Island.
Thurston Lava Tube
One of the first things I saw that I wanted to do was the Thurston Lava Tube. This is a naturally occuring tube running ⅓ mile under ground that is 5-6 feet tall throughout. It was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston and it is something to behold. If you’re claustrophobic or don’t like wet dark caves I would avoid this little trip. The entire walk through the tube was 10 minutes and the cave is lighted but still a bit dark so there weren't many pictures I could get. On a rainy day you can feel the rain dripping through form the forest floor above and you’ll feel like you’re in prehistoric times.
After the Lava Tube we chose to take a drive through the park and head down to the cliffs. This is a drive through the whole park, with lots of possible stops along the way at craters, historic spots, and epic lava fields. As you come to the end of the drive you’ll come upon a gorgeous drop off that will take you down to the lava cliffs with endless views of the ocean and fields covered in lava. You’ll feel like you are in Jurassic Park. Once you get down to the cliffs you can stop off anywhere and walk out to (almost) the edge. BE CAREFUL though because there are very violent waves and other dangers around the cliffs. It’s a breathtaking view and looks almost untouched, which gives you a real feel for the history of the park.
Visit The Beaches
Oh what would a trip to Hawaii be without some beach time? During our trip we went to several beaches, one of the best was Magic Sands Beach. This is probably the most popular beach on the island, so get there early to get a spot. It’s nestled right in town so it’s very close to everything. We prefered some of the beaches that were farther away and a little less crowded. Our favorite was Manini’owali Beach in Koa Bay. We got here really early one morning and there was one other couple on the beach. With gorgeous white sand, lava rocks, and turquoise water it was absolutely perfect. Just be careful not to bump into the sea turtles in the water! Our second favorite was Hapuna Beach State Park which was the largest beach we went to. The sheer size of it allowed us to spread out from people a bit to still enjoy some quiet beach time.
o matter what you end up doing in Kona, I guarantee you will have the most magical and relaxing time there! Be sure to come back and tell me all your favorite spots you’ve found so I can visit them when we go back as soon as possible! Wink Wink.