We may be biased, but we think that Kailua-Kona on the west side of the Big Island has everything you could want! Surrounded by amazing beaches under sunny skies, Kona is a tourism hub and a great home base for day trips around the Big Island. We are lucky to not only have plenty of fantastic outdoor recreation right outside our back door, but restaurants and cultural activities as well! Whether you are looking for Kona’s best breakfast, place to stay, or things to do, we have you covered. To help you experience your trip like a local, we’ve put together a list of must-see activities and places to eat during your Kona vacation.
Best Things to Do in Kona
Best Restaurant / Best Breakfast in Kona
1. ATV Tour and Carving Tour at Aloha Adventure Farms
Aloha Adventure Farms offers the only adventure of its kind in Hawaii! Here you get to immerse yourself in the culture of Hawaii and Polynesia! There are two different tours. Our Big Island ATV Tour (ages 5 and up) travels through the jungle with majestic ocean views visiting different villages that represent Hawaii, Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa. At each spot, you get to play games, taste local foods, and learn about the culture in a fun hands-on approach. The tours are small and crowd-free! The best part is probably the fire knife show at the end in the village of Samoa!
Our Polynesian Wood Carving Tour is next. You sit with a master carver from Tonga to make your very own Tiki souvenir to take home. Hawaii has some gorgeous wood to choose from. The wood is all locally sourced, usually from the farm. Not only do you get to carve a memorable souvenir but you get to talk, laugh, and learn with the carver. Everyone loves him!
Lastly, there is even the option to bundle the two tours together for our combination ATV and Carving Hawaiian Adventure Tour to save some money while getting the best of both worlds!
2. Night Manta Ray Snorkel
We consider this activity a must when visiting the Big Island. This is the only Hawaiian island where you can do this. There are a few ways you can enjoy the mantas. The first is from the viewing deck at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. Located at their restaurant Rays on the Bay lights shine out onto the water that attracts the plankton manta rays eat. If you are patient and hang out on the viewing deck you’re sure to see at least one manta glide up and through the water. You can also book an excursion to snorkel or dive with the mantas. We have snorkeled with the Mantas many times out of Keauhou Bay (where the Sheraton is) and have always seen rays. We love to take visitors to do this awesome experience. It’s a little strange getting into the ocean when it’s 10:00 at night. We encourage you to be brave and trust your guides. It’s an unforgettable experience!
3. Kayak and snorkel at Kealakekua Bay
Kona’s waters are absolutely spectacular – warm, clear, blue. They are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, sport fishing, and more. Kealakekua, also known as “Captain Cook”, is an underwater marine sanctuary with dolphins and sea turtles. To get to the best spot, you need to take a long hike or rent a kayak. If you are not into kayaking yourself, you can find many snorkeling boat tours in Kona to visit this secluded sanctuary. We love to kayak here and almost always see dolphins!
4. Kona Coffee Farm Tour
There is a reason Kona Coffee is world-renowned. Kona’s unique soil and growing conditions lend to its signature flavor. Also consider its southern cousin Kaʻu Coffee — just as good and often overlooked. There are many, many coffee farms to visit and even a coffee festival if you’re visiting in the fall. Holualoa Kona Coffee Company is a fabulous place to visit. A gorgeous award-winning organic coffee farm, a quaint gift shop, and an amazing coffee sample. This tour is free!
Best Restaurants / Best Breakfasts in Kona
Due to COVID-19 there have been quite a few changes to the restaurant scene here in Kona. Last we checked these places are all open.
2. The Coffee Shack
Another honorable mention best breakfast spot near Kona is The Coffee Shack. If you have some time to drive a little south to the Captain Cook, The Coffee Shack is the perfect place to eat. Enjoy a perfect view of Kealakekua Bay and 26 miles of the beautiful Kona Coast. They have a special Brunch menu on Sundays and Adriana’s Comida Mexicana on Saturdays. Even if you can’t make it for breakfast everything they have is wonderful.
3. Da Poke Shack
Looking for some fresh and amazing seafood? Hit up Da Poke Shack for some mouthwatering poke bowls and plates, featuring a variety of poke made with locally caught ahi (yellowfin tuna). Not a fan of ahi? Not a problem. They also serve shrimp, tako, and taegu. If some people in your group don’t eat fish they also serve traditional lau lau and kalua pulled pork. They even do a vegetarian poke bowl and offer gluten-free options! This is a walk-up window, so take it with you to the beach, your place, or on the road for your next adventure.
4. Broke Da Mouth Grindz
Broke Da Mouth Grindz was featured on the Food Network! Hit up this place for some of their famous furikake chicken, garlic shrimp, or other mouthwatering island favorites.