17 Cool Things to See & Do in Kona On Your Big Island Adventure

Who wouldn’t want to spend some time in a Hawaiian paradise? Whether you want to laze about on the beach or get your sweat on in the sunshine, you’ll find plenty of amazing things to do in Kona, Hawaii.

Known for its crystal clear waters, vibrant watersports scene, and lush, delicious coffee farms, Kona is a Big Island town that has a spot for every kind of traveler. Located in the majestic shadow of the Hualalai Volcano, Kona is fast becoming the destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Not sure what to do on your Big Island adventure? Plan your ultimate itinerary with this guide to all the best places to visit in Kona!

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Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park

You can’t visit Hawaii and not go to the beach. But if you prefer history and culture to relaxing on beaches, pencil in a visit to the Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park. This wildlife refuge sits right on the beach and combines all the best parts of Hawaii.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

With world-class snorkeling, petroglyphs, and ruins of early fish ponds, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is a melting pot of history, archeology, conservation, and adventure. Learn all about the area’s history while taking to the water yourself.

If you do want to relax, you can do so. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is shark-protected so it’s a great spot to go for a swim and chill out on the soft sands.

Hulihe‘e Palace

It’s no secret that Hawaii has a proud royal history stretching back centuries. Learn all about the fascinating royal family at their former vacation home, Hulihe‘e Palace. Now a museum, Hulihe‘e Palace is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and sharing Hawaiian culture with the world.

Hulihe‘e Palace

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Hulihe‘e Palace is filled to the brim with artifacts, portraits, and stories of the Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses who once used this property as a summer vacation home.

Now run by the Daughters of Hawai’i, who look to preserve Hawaiian culture and traditions, Hulihe‘e Palace also hosts a wide range of events and workshops, including ukulele classes, tea parties, and more.

Kona Farmers Market

With so much delicious fresh produce on the Big Island, it’s no wonder that Kona Farmers Market is a must-see for your itinerary. Featuring producers from across Hawaii, this market is the perfect spot for a browse or to pick up lunch. There are over 40 vendors to choose from here, so take your time and bring your appetite.

Kona Farmers Market

Open from Wednesday to Sunday inclusive from 7 am until 4 pm—or when the vendors run out of stock—Kona Farmers Market is popular with locals and tourists alike. From fresh fruit and veggies to Kona’s very own coffee to handmade gifts and souvenirs, this popular farmers market offers a lot of variety.

If you’re not staying local, there’s plenty of free parking available in & around Kona Farmers Market for day-trippers.

Magic Sands Beach Park

Looking for a quintessential Hawaii experience during your trip to Kona? Grab your sunscreen, hat, and beach towel and journey down to Magic Sands Beach Park. As one of the most popular beaches on the Big Island, you’ll need to get there early!

With gorgeous white, soft sands and a rocky outcrop that’s perfect for exploring, Magic Sands Beach Park is the ideal spot for a full day at the ocean. Lay out your blanket, get out your book, and relax.

Want to do so something more uptempo? You can also take surf lessons here and participate in Hawaii’s favorite pastime.

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Interested in the rich history of Hawaii? You’re in luck. Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is located in South Kona and spans a whopping 180 acres. This United States National Historical Park is a testament to Hawaiian culture & history and is a must-visit while you’re in Kona.

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

This sacred place features the ancient burial grounds of Hawaiian ancestors. The Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park invites visitors to learn more about the customs and community values that were held in years gone by.

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With a fully reconstructed village depicting how life used to be, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park really brings history and culture to life.

Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation

Let’s be honest: For many of us, our days can’t stop until we’ve had our first cup of coffee. The good news is that the Kona area is home to plenty of coffee plantations. One of the best? Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation.

Take a tour of the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation to learn all about the coffee process, from the growing to the processing and roasting, all the way to your daily cup of Joe. Tours take place every half hour. If you arrive and one is full, you’ll never have to wait long.

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Don’t forget to taste a few different blends before buying all your souvenirs in Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation’s famous gift shop!

Makalawena Beach

Many of Hawaii’s finest beaches are off the beaten path—and Makalawena Beach is no different. Inaccessible by road, this beach is a quiet and secluded patch of paradise.

Makalawena Beach

Featuring two lava pools, Makalawena Beach is a gorgeous beach with pristine white sands and a high amount of geological interest. Wander around and have a look at the swirling, gnarly lava rock, or dip your toe in the crystal clear waters.

As Makalawena Beach is a cove, the waters tend to be calmer here than some of the other surf and activity-driven beaches nearby.

Kahalu’u Beach Park

Curious about what’s under the calm Kona waters? Grab your snorkel and start exploring the glorious reefs of Kahalu’u Beach Park. Although it’s busy at times, the tranquil waters here make it an ideal Big Island snorkeling spot.

Kahaluu Beach Park

Sit and relax on the soft white sands, swim with peace of mind thanks to the local lifeguards, or get a bite to eat at one of the many eateries in the area or at the barbecue zone. Kahalu’u Beach Park is a family-friendly zone where you can learn to surf, go for a swim or snorkel, or just relax.

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With plenty of parking, bathrooms, and outdoor showers for you to rinse off all the sand and salt, Kahalu’u Beach Park has the ideal setup for a beach day.

Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary

Hawaii isn’t all beach and waves. In Kona, the Hualalai Volcano is a dominant force bringing clouds and mist down over the nearby high ground. That’s where we find the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary.

As the only tropical cloud forest in the United States, the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary invites you to wander among treetops and peek above the clouds. Learn more about the wildlife and flora that lives, grows, and thrives throughout this intriguing habitat.

Family-owned and operated since 1984, the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary is a staple of the Kona community and a Big Island must-visit for any budding animal or botanical expert.

Voyagers of the Pacific Lū‘au

One of the most iconic images of Hawaiian culture is the Lū‘au. As a gathering of traditional song, dance, food, and rituals, it’s a great place to experience Hawaiian culture. One of the most highly rated tourist Lū‘aus is actually in Kona, called the Voyagers of the Pacific Lū‘au.

Located at the Royal Kona Resort, this evening dinner show is a testament to island culture. It features a traditional dinner and an open bar serving delicious and fresh Mai Tais. The Voyagers of the Pacific Lū‘au culminates in a Samoan fire knife ritual—something that’s been labeled as Polynesia’s most dangerous dance!

Make sure to book as far in advance as possible. Voyagers of the Pacific Lū‘au is a popular show, and there are limited spaces, so get in quick!

Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area

If you need a tranquil space with a bit of a twist, visit the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area. Built on an old landing strip, this park is a favorite among tourists and locals alike. As it’s located right on the shoreline, a morning walk here is the best way to start your day in Kona.

Whether you prefer to explore in or out of the water, the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area can scratch your outdoorsy itch. Ideal for surfing and swimming in the water, the area also features designated jogging paths and picnic tables on dry land.

Looking for a tasty dinner? Spearfishing is also a popular pastime at the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area.

Kikaua Point Park

Searching for a sheltered spot to swim? Or maybe you love your beaches with a slice of geological interest attached? Either way, pack a beach back and roll out your towel and Kikaua Point Park.

Kikaua Point Park

Home to a volcanic rock sea arch, this beachy park is more than just its sublime sands and calming lapping waters. As Kikaua Point Park is a protected cove, you can rest easy letting your kiddos go out for a paddle. Let them delight as the little fish swirl around their legs!

There’s limited parking here, but then again, it’s a small beach park—and that’s a large part of its charm!

Kekaha Kai State Beach

Hiking in Hawaii just hits a little bit differently. Jawdropping views of the ocean and the mountains dominate any hike in Kona. If you only hike along one place, make it Kekaha Kai State Beach.

Kekaha Kai State Park

Formerly known as Kona Coast State Park, Kekaha Kai State Beach is a sweeping strip of sand that’s joined by a 4.5-mile trail along the coastline. It’s particularly stunning first thing in the morning or just before sunset.

If you’re not wanting to hike in, there are plenty of parking spots and bathroom facilities at Kekaha Kai State Beach to clean up before you travel back home.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm

Take a step back in time to a more rural time. Let the intoxicating aromas of coffee envelop you as you learn more about the history of coffee production. Round up the family and get educated at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm.

A 1920s-era coffee farm, Kona Coffee Living History Farm invites visitors to experience life in years past. See the different processes, largely done by hand, as explained by costumed experts.

The tour is self-guided, so you and your family or friends can go at your own pace. Don’t forget to taste some delicious local coffee before you go!

Ali’i Gardens Marketplace

In need of some serious retail therapy? When you’re in Hawaii with its beautiful weather, you don’t want to be stuck browsing inside. So, bring your wallet over to Ali’i Gardens Marketplace, an open-air shopping marketplace just outside Kona.

With over 20 places to browse and explore, all with local crafts and artisanal wares, Ali’i Gardens Marketplace is a paradise for any shopaholic. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, settle in and grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

Ali’i Gardens Marketplace is more touristy than the Kona Farmers Market and is frequently visited by cruise ship trips. If that’s not your kind of vibe, you may want to give it a miss.

Kona Brewing Co.

All this exploring has to have you feeling thirsty. Well, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Quench your thirst by heading over to the Kona Brewing Co.

Take an informal tour around their microbrewery, and learn about the different brews and the process from hops and grains to delicious cans in your fridge. At the microbrewery, you can also kick back with a beer and a freshly made pizza. (Perfect, right?)

If you’re visiting Kona Brewing Co. on a Sunday, let your hair down with their weekly live music set. What better way to end the weekend?

Huggo’s On the Rocks

Being on an island means one thing: delicious seafood. Sitting overlooking the ocean with a plate of fresh seafood is a pleasure like no other. And you can do just that at Huggo’s On the Rocks!

Huggo's On the Rocks

This beachside restaurant is a Kona institution serving up traditional Hawaiian food and drinks to tourists and locals alike. Enjoy the panoramic views of the water and watch the people pass by. Huggo’s On the Rocks is a beautiful spot to while away the hours.

Drop by and secure an oceanview table just before sunset to get the full show. Order the fish tacos while you wait—you can thank us later!


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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