10 Mind-Blowing Kona Activities You Need To Try

July 24, 2018

For a life-changing Hawaiian vacation, experience these Kona activities. No matter which activity you choose to explore, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable time.

Situated on the west coast, Kona is the lively epicenter of the Big Island of Hawaii. Boasting a landscape perfect for growing coffee, crystal clear beaches for snorkeling, and endless outdoor adventures, the sheer amount of Kona activities available on the island is mind-boggling.

Plus, with gorgeous weather year round (with the occasional afternoon rainshower), there’s no need to wonder why Kailua-Kona is a top destination for travelers.

Embark on a snorkeling adventure in Kona!

1. Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay

Known for having the best snorkeling and diving opportunities on the Big Island and Hawaii as a whole, swimming around Kealakekua Bay is life changing. Home to sea turtles, vibrant coral reefs, and schools upon schools of colorful tropical fish, Kealakekua Bay is an underwater paradise.

Hop aboard the Kealakekua Bay Snorkel & Coastal Adventure operated by Kona Ocean Experience for an afternoon of snorkeling and sightseeing in the bay. The 2.5-hour boat tour combines coastal sights with snorkeling for an unbelievable experience. Be on the lookout for marine life including manta rays, turtles, dolphins, and whales from above and below the water.

Would you watch the sunrise from on top of a volcano?

2. Watch the Sunrise from Mauna Kea

There’s nothing quite as mesmerizing and simultaneously mind-blowing as watching the sunrise from the top of a volcano. Actually, let’s raise the bar a little.

There’s nothing quite as mind-blowing as watching the sunrise from atop the world’s tallest volcano!

Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano standing over 33,000 ft tall and is one of the Big Island’s five volcanoes. Naturally, this volcano has a stellar view of the sunrise each morning. As such, one of the top Kona activities to do is embark on the Mauna Kea Sunrise Adventure. Operated by Hawaii Forest & Trail, this 7-hour excursion begins bright and early at the Onizuka Visitors Center. Along the way, you’ll learn about Kona and the Big Island’s history, culture, and landscape all while journeying to the top of a volcano via transportation.

Dress warmly, grab a cup of coffee, and bring a camera to capture the awe-inspiring sunrise. Trust us, it’s jaw-dropping.

silhouette of golfer on course at sunset

Imagine golfing by the ocean. You can in Kona!

3. Play a Round of Golf

I get it. You’re thinking, “Anne, it’s golf. How mind-blowing is that?

However, the minute you see the pristine courses with ocean backdrops, you’ll see why golfing is among the Kona activities you need to try.

Thanks to Kona’s natural landscape, the area golf courses are a popular destination for golfers and travelers alike. Grab your clubs (or rent them) and head out for 18 holes at courses including:

If you are interested in golfing, I recommend reserving your tee time as far in advance as possible.

Tour a coffee farm in Kona to learn more about your morning cup of Joe.

4. Tour a Coffee Farm

If you’ve ever gawked at the price of Kona coffee, touring a Kona coffee farm will change your mind. On top of being caffeinated for the rest of your Hawaii vacation, Kona coffee farm tours educate visitors about the industry, history, culture, and processes that go into creating your favorite cup of Joe.

Once your eyes are opened to all that goes into growing, roasting, and brewing coffee, you’ll never look at your morning cup the same way again. You’ll have a newfound appreciation for the drink, along with several bags of Kona coffee beans you picked up at the farms!

If you’re interested in discovering how coffee is grown and produced, sign up for a tour of these Kona coffee farms:

submarine crew standing on top of a white submarine at Atlantis Adventures Submarine Tours in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA5. Dive Under the Sea with Atlantis Adventures Submarine Tours

Understandably, snorkeling and scuba diving aren’t for everyone. If you’d rather explore Hawaii’s underwater worlds via a secure vessel, the submarine tours from Atlantis Adventures are for you.

From the Kailua-Kona Pier, you’ll board your submarine for a 100 feet deep ocean adventure. Along the way, you’ll learn about Hawaii’s coral reefs, marine life, and conservation efforts (like wearing reef safe sunscreen!)

Keep an eye out for aquatic animals and plants such as stingrays, tropical fish, and even sharks. But don’t worry, they can’t get you from inside a submarine!

If you’re searching for kid-friendly Kona activities, you can’t go wrong with an underwater submarine ride. Kids love watching the fish swim by and the excitement of diving underwater in a real-life submarine.

close up of a Puakō Petroglyph on Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA

By Nan Palmero from San Antonio, TX, USA (Hawaii) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

6. View the Petroglyphs

Found right outside of Kona, the Puakō Petroglyph and Waikoloa Petroglyph Fields are home to ancient petroglyphs. As defined by the National Park Service, petroglyphs are rock carvings made via stone chisel and hammerstone. When visiting both of these fields, you’ll notice the petroglyphs scattered around, similar to graffiti. The abundance of historic rock carvings will leave you speechless.

The rock carvings are centuries old, with many dating back to the 16th century. With this in mind, it is imperative that all visitors respect the land and petroglyphs. Do not touch the rock carvings and do not veer off the provided pathways. You can take pictures of the ancient artwork, but always be respectful of the natural area.

close up of seahorse at seahorse farms and tours on the big island in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA

Did you know Kona has a seahorse farm?

7. Visit a Seahorse Farm

Yes, you read that correctly. One of the most mind-blowing Kona activities is at a seahorse farm!

At Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, you’ll be in awe as you tour their facilities dedicated to taking care of and raising seahorses. The interactive tours also include opportunities to touch and feed seahorses while learning about the fascinating creatures. Additionally, Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is dedicated to teaching visitors about ocean awareness through their programs and tours.

The 3-acre farm is home to the world’s only living gene bank of live, breeding seahorses and sea dragons. The farm houses over 30 species of seahorses and sea dragons, too!


four women dancers at Royal Kona Luau and Hula, Fire Dancing, Hawaiian Feast in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA8. See Voyagers of the Pacific Luau

Of course, what would a list of Kona activities be without a luau? Voyagers of the Pacific Luau is a breathtaking show with fire dancing, an Imu presentation, lei greeting, and more. Presented at the Royal Kona Resort, this luau also features an oceanfront landscape for an unforgettable experience.

In addition to a mouthwatering, all-you-can-eat Hawaiian buffet, the luau demonstrates traditions and dances from the South Pacific Islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, Raratonga, New Zealand and Samoa. This cultural performance will leave you awe-struck, especially after you witness the Samoan "fire knife" dance!

Whale Tail Coming Out of Ocean9. Spot Humpback Whales on a Whale Watching Cruise

Each year between December and April, something incredible happens in Hawaii. More than 8,000 humpback whales swim 3,500+ miles to the oceans of Hawaii. Here, they congregate to breed, calf, and nurse their newborns.

Visitors are able to safely see this natural occurrence on a whale watching cruise. These exclusive cruises bring guests out into the open waters where you’ll spot one or more humpback whales out in the wild. If possible, bring a camera and binoculars, as whales typically do not come close to the boats. Most ships also offer hydrophones which allow passengers to listen to male humpback whale calls.

Remember, these cruises are seasonal, so plan your trip accordingly if this is one of the Kona activities you’d like to experience.

Visit Kiholo Bay for tide pool exploration and swimming.

10. Lounge on the Beach

It’s no secret that the beaches of Kailua-Kona are astonishing. With swaying palm trees, white sand, and endless tide pools, Kona’s beaches are a paradise for every type of traveler. Whether you want to kick back and relax while the kids splash around or catch a wave on your surfboard, there’s a beach for you in Kona.

Some of the top Kona beaches include:

Kekaha Kai State Park
Mahaiʻula Beach, Makalawena Beach, and Kua Bay are found at this Big Island state park. All three white sand beaches are just a short day-trip from Kona. Kua Bay Beach offers a high surf for those who want to hang ten. Mahaiʻula Beach is the perfect destination for hanging out and relaxing oceanside, as the lava shelf makes it a difficult place to swim. Lastly, Makalawena Beach is great for those ready to hoof it up a strenuous 1-mile hike beyond Mahai’ula Beach Park. This is the only way to reach the beach!

Kiholo Bay
This beach is ideal for swimming and tide pool exploration. Make sure you go to the public access beach and not on private property.

Kika’ua Point Beach
Snorkeling is not permitted here, but it is a wonderful beach for families with small children.

Kuki’o Beach
If you want to spot a sea turtle, here’s where to go! However, with the abundance of lava rocks, swimming is not possible at this beach.

Kamakahonu (King Kam) Beach
Nicknamed after the King Kamehameha hotel it resides in front of, King Kam is a tiny beach with calm waters and great snorkeling conditions. Families prefer this beach for the tranquil waters and oceanfront activities.

10 Kona Activities You Have to Try

For a Hawaiian vacation you remember for a lifetime, add any of these mind-blowing Kona activities to your plans. After all, you can’t tour a coffee farm, see a humpback whale, or snorkel with a sea turtle in your own backyard!

Get a head start on your Hawaiian vacation by booking your Kona activities and tours today.

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