Honokohau Beach, Hawaii

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park on Hawaii’s Kona coast offers a unique blend of nature and history along its scenic coastal trails. Spend a day immersed in native Hawaiian culture while exploring this rugged lava landscape from various trailhead options.

Three Trailheads Lead to Discovery

The first trailhead starts at the Ho’okipa Welcome Center, the park’s main visitor center. From here, connect to the shoreline trail that winds along the coast, leading you past fishponds and Honokōhau Harbor. Scan the winter horizon for humpback whales!

Another trailhead is located off Kaloko Road, allowing you to explore the large Kaloko fishpond and view remnants of an ancient Hawaiian settlement. Follow the uneven path, visualizing life for the early Hawaiians.

The third trailhead option begins the adventure at Honokōhau Harbor. Take a short walk to the coastal trail that opens up to secluded coves and wide views of Kealakekua Bay. Time the tides to discover small beaches for swimming and picnicking below the cliffs.

Discover Hawaii’s Past and Present

No matter where your journey begins, you’ll encounter vestiges of both old and new Hawaii. Massive fishponds built by Hawaiians hundreds of years ago remain intact, demonstrating advanced engineering capabilities. Spot remnants of sluice gates used to control water flow.

The trails also connect fishing communities past and present, from the quaint village of Miloli’i to the modern Honokōhau Harbor. Compare grass shacks to houseboats and throw nets to pole fishing while listening to tales from today’s fishermen.

Rugged Lava Contrasts with Beach Oases

Hawaii’s natural diversity shines along the trails, shifting from rough lava flows to smooth kiawe forests to picturesque beaches. Watch your step on uneven terrain while enjoying sweeping coastal views. Remember sun protection as you traverse exposed lava!

The beach, like many Big Island beaches, can be rocky and rugged.  This makes entering the water tricky in most spots. Along the south end, there is a sandier area that is a little softer on the feet. The water doesn’t get very deep within the area between the beach and the fishponds.

Linger at Sunset

Time your hike so you end at Honokōhau Harbor in time to watch the sunset over the Kona coastline. As you walk north along the coast you will lose count of the number of sea turtles that are snacking on in the waves. Relax as you watch them peacefully making their way to shore for the night.

Honokohau beach honu

Return Again and Again

One day is not enough to soak up all that Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park has to share. Come back at different times of day and seasons of the year to experience the contrasts. Wander different trail combinations to uncover new gems hidden along this special coastline steeped in Hawaiian cultural heritage.

The Adventure Continues at Honokōhau

As you wander along the Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park coast, you’ll walk past beaches, boat harbors, fishponds, lava fields, and scenic lookouts. If you love history and hiking as much as we do, you’ll want to plan a walk back in time along the unique 4-mile trail found within this park.

Immerse yourself in Hawaiian history while also enjoying the island’s perfect weather and picturesque setting. 

So what are you waiting for? Lace up your hiking shoes, pack a big picnic, and head out to create your own adventure through history and nature at Honokōhau!

Looking for accommodations in the area? Check availability here

Eco-Adventures in Kona and the Big Island beckon with the allure of volcanic landscapes, lush rainforests, and vibrant coral reefs. Beyond the postcard beauty, the region is increasingly embracing ecotourism, a transformative shift towards responsible exploration and the conservation of the islands’ natural splendor. This movement represents a recognition of the delicate balance between catering to the growing tourism industry and preserving the unique ecosystems that define the region. Travelers are drawn to Eco-Adventures in Kona and the Big Island, seeking to explore responsibly and contribute to the sustainability of these captivating environments.


Fourspot Butterflyfish

Ecotourism Activities:

  • KapohoKine Adventures:
    • This adventure company offers guided hikes, kayak tours, and cultural experiences led by native guides.
    • Actively involved in conservation efforts, KapohoKine Adventures educates visitors on protecting the island’s ecosystems.
    • Travelers can engage in activities that foster a deeper connection with the local environment.
  • Hawaii Forest & Trail:
    • Explore diverse landscapes with knowledgeable guides who prioritize responsible tourism practices.
    • The company offers waterfall hikes, volcano tours, and snorkeling adventures, all designed to minimize environmental impact.
    • Participants gain insights into the island’s ecology and conservation efforts.
  • Kona Coffee Tours:
    • Visit small, sustainable coffee farms that prioritize organic practices and fair trade.
    • Learn about the island’s rich coffee culture while supporting local farmers.
    • Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed Kona coffee, experiencing the sustainable side of agriculture.


Malama Ka Aina painted on a lava rock wall

Responsible Tourist Tips:

  • Choose Reef-Safe Sunscreen:
    • When exploring the vibrant coral reefs surrounding the Big Island, it’s crucial to consider the impact of sunscreen on marine life. 
    • Opt for reef-safe sunscreen formulations to protect your skin without introducing harmful chemicals into the ocean. This small choice contributes to the well-being of the underwater ecosystems, ensuring that your visit leaves no trace and supports the ongoing efforts to maintain the health of the coral reefs.
    • Our Great Spots for Snorkeling in Hawai’i article has a link to great reef-safe sunscreens.
  • Minimize Waste:
    • Encourages travelers to use reusable water bottles, bags, and utensils to reduce single-use plastics.
    • Support businesses with recycling programs to contribute to waste reduction efforts.
  • Respect Cultural Sites:
    • Advises dressing modestly when visiting sacred places and seeking permission before taking photos.
    • Encourages learning basic Hawaiian phrases to show respect for the local culture.
  • Support Local Businesses:
    • Recommends opting for locally owned restaurants, shops, and tour operators to contribute directly to the community and preserve cultural traditions.
  • Leave No Trace:
    • Emphasizes the importance of packing out what you bring in and avoiding littering.
    • Encourages mindfulness towards wildlife and marine life, advocating against touching or removing coral.

Additional Tips:

  • Choose Direct Flights:
    • Suggests selecting direct flights to reduce carbon footprint compared to connecting flights.
  • Offset Carbon Emissions:
    • Recommends supporting renewable energy projects to offset travel emissions through various organizations.
  • Travel Slowly:
    • Encourages immersive exploration in each destination rather than rushing through multiple places.
    • This approach allows for a deeper appreciation of the local culture and environment.

Mālama ‘Āina

By following these ecotourism principles and embracing sustainable choices, travelers can enjoy an unforgettable and responsible vacation in Kona and the Big Island. The provided tips not only enhance the travel experience but also contribute to the preservation of the islands’ precious ecosystems. The Big Island’s shift towards ecotourism signifies a harmonious blend of exploration and conservation, where responsible tourism becomes a catalyst for the enduring beauty of this magical destination. 

Mahalo (thank you) for choosing responsible travel and helping to uphold the spirit of Aloha.

Whale watching in Kona, Hawaii is an absolutely magical experience! Kona, located on the Big Island, is known for its stunning coastline and warm waters, making it an ideal spot to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures.

Humpback Whales

Humpback whales are the stars of the show, and you can often see them breaching, tail-slapping, and even singing their underwater tunes. The peak season for whale watching in Hawaii is generally from December to April when these gentle giants migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters for mating and calving.

Whale Watching Tours

Several tour operators in Kona offer whale-watching excursions, taking you out on the sparkling blue waters for an up-close encounter with these majestic marine mammals. Imagine the thrill of seeing a massive humpback leaping out of the water or witnessing a playful pod of dolphins dancing alongside the boat.

Body Glove Hawaii not only has a great reputation but is fully committed to sustainability and nurturing the environment.

We also like Wahine Charters who do Manta Ray dives as well as whale-watching tours. Past guests rave about the amazing experience!

Humpback Whale Air Spout

Dolphin Watching


Hawaii is also a fantastic destination for dolphin enthusiasts, and there are several opportunities to witness these playful creatures in their natural habitat. Hawaii is home to spinner dolphins, known for their acrobatic spins and jumps. You can often find them swimming and breaching along the shore in the early morning hours. Watch for dolphins in the bay during your breakfast or your early morning walk for a delicious coffee at Kona Haven. Or relax on a bench at Pahoehoe Beach Park and just wait for them. 

If you are lucky enough to encounter dolphins while you are in the water, remember they are protected. Stay in one place, don’t chase them, and try to remember every beautiful moment of it!

If you’re just not ready to take a tour bring your binoculars! During the season you will almost certainly see whales from the shore. Keep your eyes open. Often the first thing you’ll see is a water spout when they come up to breathe.

Remember to bring your camera to capture these incredible moments, and keep an eye out for the breathtaking sunset views on your way back to the shore. It’s a memory-making experience you won’t soon forget! Enjoy the wonders of Kona and happy whale watching!

If you are hoping to spot whales or dolphins from your lanai check out this oceanfront vacation rentalA view of the ocean from the Lanai

The Big Island of Hawaii is the perfect place to take kids of all ages. What started off as a “Top Ten” list turned into a Top 14 because there is just so many family-friendly activities!

Dolphins Swimming

Here are 14 of the best things to do with kids.

Dolphins and Whale watching:

There is nothing like seeing a whale or dolphin in its own beautiful home. November through March take a boat tour to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. Body Glove Hawaii not only has a great reputation but has fully committed to sustainability and nurturing the environment.

Whale Breaching

Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour:

Explore the underwater world without getting wet by taking a glass-bottom boat tour. Kids can marvel at the colorful marine life and coral formations. Saltwater Soul Kona is right across from the Pier

Snorkel at Kahalu’u Beach Park:

Kahaluu Beach is known for its calm, clear waters, making it an ideal spot for kids to snorkel and observe colorful marine life. See more Great Spots for Snorkeling here.

Experience the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden:

Wander through lush gardens filled with exotic plants, flowers, and waterfalls at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, providing a peaceful and educational environment for families.

Try Ziplining:

For a thrilling adventure, consider a ziplining tour. There are several zipline courses on the island that cater to families, allowing kids to soar through the treetops. Remember to check the age and height restrictions for this to ensure they are suitable for your children. You don’t want to arrive only to find out Jr can’t do it!

Visit Volcanoes National Park:

Explore the fascinating volcanic landscape, walk through lava tubes, and witness the power of nature at Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Whether or not the lava is visible this is an amazing place.

Hike Akaka Falls State Park:AKAKA FALLS STATE PARK

Take an easy hike through the lush rainforest to see the stunning Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a gorge.

Stargazing at Mauna Kea Visitor Center:

Head to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station for a family-friendly stargazing experience. Arrive before the sun sets to watch from above the clouds and stay to see more stars than you’ve ever seen before. The high elevation and clear skies offer excellent views of the night sky. Bring warm clothes. 

Explore Waipio Valley:

Take a guided tour to Waipio Valley, where you can enjoy the stunning views, learn about Hawaiian history, and maybe even ride horses along the valley floor. These are a couple of the local tour companies operating in Waipio Valley. Hawaii Tours and Waipio Valley Shuttle. Non-residents are only allowed into the valley with a local tour.

Discover Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park:

Learn about Hawaiian culture and history at this sacred site. Kids will love exploring the temples and walking through the reconstructed village.

Attend a Luau:

Experience Hawaiian culture through a family-friendly luau, where kids can enjoy traditional music, dance, and a delicious feast. Legends of Hawai’i at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort is a great show as is Voyageurs of the Pacific at the Royal Kona Resort.

Visit Panaewa Rainforest Zoo:

Explore the only rainforest zoo in the United States, home to a variety of animals, including monkeys, parrots, and a white Bengal tiger.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm: 

Learn about coffee cultivation and processing at this educational farm, where kids can take a tour and see coffee plants up close. Also Free Samples! 

Or just pick a beach and relax:

Spend a day at Hapuna Beach, one of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches, with its white sands and clear waters. It’s a great place for family picnics, sandcastle building, and swimming.

Check out more picks for the Best Beaches in West Hawai’i

There are several gardens to visit on the Big Island but a personal favorite for so many reasons is the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden. It took me a few years to get this onto my schedule and now I look forward to going back for more.

Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints, Then Take More Pictures

Make sure you have your camera ready because there’s a picture worthy snap around every corner! Around every bend there is a new amazing scene, a new orchid, an incredible fern, or an ocean view.

This is a 40-acre botanical garden and nature preserve located in the Onomea Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is home to over 2,000 species of tropical plants from around the world, including palms, orchids, bromeliads, and heliconias. The garden also features a variety of trails, waterfalls, and streams.

Green Gecko on Red Flower

The garden was founded in 1977 by Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse, who were inspired by the beauty and diversity of the Onomea Valley. They began by clearing invasive plants and trees from the land, and then they started planting a collection of tropical plants from all over the world. The garden opened to the public in 1984.

Today, the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden is a popular tourist destination and a valuable educational resource. It is also home to several research projects, and it plays an important role in the conservation of tropical plants.


Things To Do at the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden

Here are some of the things you can do at the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden:

  • Hike on the garden’s trails and admire the waterfalls and streams.
  • Visit the orchid garden and learn about the different types of orchids.
  • Explore the native plant garden and learn about the plants that are indigenous to Hawaii.
  • Take a guided tour of the garden and learn about its history and its plants.
  • Visit the garden’s gift shop and purchase souvenirs.
  • Have a picnic lunch in the garden’s picnic area.
  • Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden trails

The Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for children ages 3 to 12. Children under 3 are admitted free.

Although this is my favorite there are several other beautiful gardens to visit on the Big Island. LoveBigIsland.com has a nice overview of some of the other gardens worth visiting.


Travel Tips for the Big Island

Are you ready for the most exciting and prestigious pickleball tournament in the United States? Get ready for the 2024 Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships, happening from January 24-27 at the Holua Racquet & Paddle Club in Kona, Hawaii. This tournament attracts players from all over the country and the world, and it’s an event you don’t want to miss. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional player, there’s a place for you in this thrilling competition.

The Venue: Holua Racquet & Paddle Club

Nestled in the beautiful city of Kona, Hawaii, the Holua Racquet & Paddle Club is the perfect setting for the Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships. Known for its stunning views and top-notch facilities, this club offers everything players need to showcase their skills and enjoy the game. With well-maintained courts and a vibrant atmosphere, it’s no wonder why this venue is a favorite among pickleball enthusiasts.

Tournament Format and Events

The Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships caters to players of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner looking to gain experience or a seasoned pro aiming for the top spot, there’s an event for you. The tournament features singles, doubles, and mixed doubles brackets, giving participants plenty of opportunities to compete and learn from each other. It’s a chance to push your limits and take your pickleball game to new heights.

Skill Levels and Competition

One of the unique aspects of the Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships is the diverse range of skill levels represented. From beginners to professional players, everyone has a chance to showcase their abilities and compete against players of similar skill levels. This creates a dynamic and inclusive environment where players can learn and grow, regardless of their experience. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself and see how you measure up against the best.

Registration Details

If you’re eager to join the excitement and be part of this incredible tournament, make sure to mark your calendar for October 15, 2023. That’s when registration opens for the Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships. Spots fill up quickly, especially for the professional brackets, so it’s essential to register early. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this prestigious event and make lasting memories on the pickleball court.

To register for the tournament, visit the official website of the Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships: Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships

Looking for a Place to Stay?

Here are just a couple great properties near the tournament venue:

Makolea 11 near Kahalu'u Bay

Additional Information

Enjoy Kona’s Delights

While you’re in Kona for the tournament, take some time to explore the area and make the most of your visit. Kona offers a range of activities and attractions that will make your trip unforgettable. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Kahalu’u Bay: Known for its pristine waters, Kahalu’u Bay is the perfect spot for snorkeling, surfing, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and discover the vibrant marine life or catch some waves on your board. If you need surfing lessons we recommend Kahalu’u Surf and Sea.
  2. Magic Sands Beach: Just a short drive from the tournament venue, Magic Sands Beach is a popular destination for relaxation and boogie boarding. Take a break from the intense pickleball action and soak up the sun on this picturesque beach. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in some local treats, like shave ice from Kat’s Kau Kau or a delicious waterfront dinner at Magic’s Beach Grill.
  3. Keauhou Shopping Center: If you need to stock up on supplies or want to do some shopping, head to the Keauhou Shopping Center. This bustling complex offers a wide range of shops and services, ensuring you have everything you need during your stay in Kona. And when it’s time to unwind and enjoy a nice dinner, make sure to try the mouthwatering pizza at Bianelli’s Kona.

E Komo Mai

Keahou at Night

The 2024 Hawaii Open Pickleball Championships is not just a tournament; it’s an experience. From the thrill of the competition to the stunning backdrop of Kona, this event has it all. Whether you’re a pickleball enthusiast or a casual player looking for an unforgettable vacation, this tournament offers something for everyone. Mark your calendar, register early, and get ready to showcase your skills in paradise. We’ll see you on the courts for the most aloha-filled pickleball tournament of the year!


Contact Kona Vacation Rentals for more vacation rental options.