In Kona, the spectrum of activities stretches as far as the eye can see, from the sun-soaked beaches to the towering mountains. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking thrilling adventures or a soul in search of serene landscapes, Kona ensures an unforgettable experience in every corner of its tropical embrace.

Nestled on the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, Kona stands as a captivating haven for adventure enthusiasts and relaxation seekers alike. Renowned as one of the top travel destinations in the United States, this tropical paradise boasts an abundance of activities that cater to diverse interests.

Whether you love basking in the sun on a beach, snorkeling, surfing, whale watching, hiking, exploring local festivals or just enjoying a delicious cup of Kona coffee we will let you know all there is to enjoy on our beautiful island.

Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is an amazing destination known for its dynamic volcanic landscapes, lush rainforests, and stunning views. Whether you are an avid hiker seeking challenging trails or a casual explorer looking for a leisurely walk, the park offers a variety of hikes to suit all levels of fitness and experience. Even if you’re staying in Kona, a day trip to Volcanoes National Park is a must. With its dramatic scenery and unique geological features, a trip to this park is a highlight of any Hawaiian adventure. Here are some of the best hikes in Volcanoes National Park, categorized by difficulty.

Easy Hikes

1. Kilauea Iki Trail

Kilauea Iki Trail offers a relatively easy and highly rewarding hiking experience. The trail is approximately 4 miles round trip and typically takes around 2-3 hours to complete. Starting at the Kilauea Iki Overlook, the trail descends through a lush rainforest before reaching the crater floor. Here, you can walk across a solidified lava lake that was once a boiling cauldron of molten lava during the 1959 eruption. Steam vents and fascinating rock formations make this hike both educational and visually stunning.

2. Sulphur Banks Trail (Ha‘akulamanu)

For a gentle and informative hike, the Sulphur Banks Trail is ideal. This 1.2-mile round trip hike offers an easy walk with a fascinating look at the park’s volcanic activity. The trail includes a boardwalk section that is wheelchair accessible through a forest where you can observe steaming vents and colorful mineral deposits. Interpretive signs along the way provide insight into the geothermal processes and the unique ecology of the area. The combination of vibrant colors and geothermal phenomena makes this a must-see for any visitor.

Moderate Hikes

3. Devastation Trail

Devastation Trail offers a moderate hike through an otherworldly landscape shaped by volcanic activity. This 1-mile round trip trail is relatively short but provides a profound experience as you walk through an area that was buried by cinders during the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Iki. The stark contrast between the barren landscape and the regenerating forest is striking. Along the trail, you’ll find interpretive signs that explain the eruption’s impact and the area’s gradual recovery. This trail is fully accessible and features a paved path suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

4. Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku)

The Thurston Lava Tube trail combines a moderate hike with a fascinating geological wonder. The trail is about 1.5 miles round trip and takes you through a lush rainforest to the entrance of a large, naturally formed lava tube. Walking through this tunnel, you’ll get a sense of the power of volcanic activity that shaped the island. The lava tube is illuminated for easy navigation, making it a family-friendly hike with a unique twist.

Challenging Hikes

5. Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Trail

For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Trail is a fantastic option. This trail is approximately 8 miles round trip and traverses varied kīpuka, areas of old-growth forest spared between lava flows, including forested areas, open lava fields, and volcanic craters. The trail leads to the site of the 1983 eruption, where you can see the effects of the lava flows and enjoy panoramic views of the volcanic landscape. The hike is strenuous due to the uneven terrain and exposure to the elements, but the breathtaking scenery and the sense of walking on recently formed land make it a truly rewarding experience. The trailhead is not technically in the park. 

View of Mauna Kea from Pu'u O'o Trail

Coming from either direction on the Saddle Road, Hwy. 200, find yellow traffic signs marked with “Puu Oo Trail” (in both directions) between the 22 and 23 mile markers. Pull off the road and park in the small gravel lot. (Big Island Hikes)

6. Mauna Ulu

Another challenging hike that offers an unparalleled volcanic experience is the Mauna Ulu trail. This 8-mile round trip hike leads to the summit of Mauna Ulu, an active volcanic vent. The trail passes through lava fields, with views of fissures, craters, and old lava flows. The landscape is surreal, with hardened lava formations and sparse vegetation. The climb to the summit is strenuous, but the reward is a spectacular view of the surrounding area, including Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō and the East Rift Zone. This hike provides a profound sense of the raw power and beauty of Hawaii’s volcanic landscape.

Tips for Hiking in Volcanoes National Park

  1. Prepare for Changing Weather: The weather in Volcanoes National Park can be unpredictable. Be prepared for rain, sun, and cooler temperatures, especially at higher elevations.
  2. Wear Appropriate Footwear: Trails can be rocky and uneven. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots are recommended.
  3. Bring Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated and energized, especially on longer hikes.
  4. Stay on Marked Trails: For your safety and to protect the fragile environment, always stay on marked trails.
  5. Respect Wildlife and Plants: The park is home to unique flora and fauna. Observe wildlife from a distance and do not pick plants or disturb the natural landscape.

Volcanoes National Park offers an extraordinary opportunity to explore Hawaii’s volcanic heritage. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll, a moderate hike, or a challenging adventure, the park’s trails provide unforgettable experiences. Even from Kona, a day trip to Volcanoes National Park is well worth the journey, offering some of the best hiking opportunities in the world.

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This June, the Big Island of Hawai’i is bustling with popular events that attract both locals and tourists. Here are some highlights:

The King Kamehameha Day Celebration on June 11 honors King Kamehameha, the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The celebration includes a floral parade in Kailua-Kona, featuring pa’u riders on horseback, hula performances, and a ho’olaule’a (festival) at Hulihe’e Palace. Another parade takes place in North Kohala​. Learn more

The Ironman 70.3 Hawaii on June 1 is a major athletic event where participants compete in a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run along the Kohala Coast. This triathlon tests the endurance and stamina of athletes from around the world​ (Ironman)​.

The Hawai’i Kuauli Pacific & Asia Cultural Festival, held from June 7-9 at the Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, celebrates the cultural diversity of the Pacific and Asia. It features food, fashion, cultural performances, hula, and a fireknife competition​ (Hikuauli)​.

The Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FestPAC) runs from June 6-16 and is a grand celebration of indigenous Pacific Islander culture. The festival includes performances, workshops, and exhibitions aimed at preserving and sharing traditional arts and practices​ (Pacific Arts Fest HI​).

The Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival takes place on June 13, at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. It brings Grammy Award-winning artists in jazz, blues, and rock to the island, providing a vibrant musical experience. Check here for tickets.

Lastly, the Hawaii Island LGBTQ+ Pride Parade & Festival in Hilo celebrates LGBTQ+ communities with a parade followed by a festival featuring food, entertainment, and activities. The date for 2024 is to be announced​ (Hawaii Island LGBTQ Pride​)

These events showcase the cultural richness and diversity of the Big Island, offering a variety of experiences for everyone to enjoy.

Ongoing Kailua-Kona Events

Kokua Kailua Village Stroll: June 9

Once a month, on Alii Drive near the Pier, the street is closed for the Kokua Kailua Village Stroll. From 1-6 pm, the street transforms into a bustling market with local vendors and artists’ booths. Explore the vibrant stalls, shop for unique crafts and souvenirs, and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Leashed dogs are also welcome, so feel free to bring your furry friends along for the stroll. This event is a perfect opportunity to support local businesses and artists while immersing yourself in the lively spirit of Kailua-Kona.

Free Hawaiian Music and Hula Show

Every Friday at Keauhou Shopping Center, you can enjoy a free Hawaiian music and hula show in the center courtyard from 6-7pm. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Hawai’i as talented musicians and graceful hula dancers take the stage. This weekly event is a fantastic opportunity to experience the beauty and artistry of traditional Hawaiian music and dance.

First Friday After Dark in Holualoa

On the first Friday of every month, the quaint village of Holualoa comes alive with a block party. From 5:30-8:30pm, locals and visitors gather to explore the town’s art galleries and boutiques, listen to live music, and indulge in gourmet “grab and go” food. This festive event is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local art and culture scene while enjoying the warm hospitality of the community.

Food Truck Fridays

Every Friday 4-8pm you’ll find a mini food truck festival with tastes to satisfy every palate. In the Target Kona parking lot you can feed the whole family with choices of BBQ, Mexican food, Thai food, desserts, and, of course, great coffee! Check here for more information about Food Truck Fridays

Deli Sandwich and Chips

 

More to come in July!

4 of July Fireworks

From Kona to Waimea to Hilo, stay tuned for information about all the events and fireworks on July 4th!

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Every year the North Kohala Kamehameha Day Celebration stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of aloha and the reverence for Hawaiian monarch Kamehameha I, commemorated annually on his birthday, June 11.

Nestled in the very birthplace of Kamehameha I, this celebration draws thousands of attendees from across the Hawaiian Islands and beyond, creating a vibrant tapestry of culture, tradition, and community. As the sun rises over the tranquil landscape, the festivities unfurl, weaving together a full day of activities that pay homage to the revered king and his enduring legacy.

A Visionary Leader

At the heart of the celebration lies a deep sense of respect for Kamehameha I, the visionary leader who united the Hawaiian Islands under a single rule in the late 18th century. The day begins with a regal procession, a majestic display of Hawaiian culture and heritage, as participants adorned in traditional attire traverse the streets, accompanied by the rhythmic beat of drums and the melodious chants of oli. This solemn yet joyous march sets the tone for the day ahead, symbolizing unity, strength, and the indomitable spirit of the Hawaiian people.

Annual Parade

Following the procession, the town of Kapa‘au comes alive with the vibrant colors and sounds of the annual parade. Floats adorned with fragrant flowers and intricate designs glide through the streets, each one a testament to the rich tapestry of Hawaiian history and culture. From traditional hula dancers swaying gracefully to the beat of drums to lively performances showcasing the art of poi pounding and lauhala weaving, the parade encapsulates the essence of Hawaiian identity, inviting spectators to immerse themselves in the beauty and rhythm of the islands.

Central to the festivities is the lei-draping ceremony held at the foot of Kapa‘au town’s Kamehameha I statue. Here, amidst a sea of fragrant blossoms and lei adorned with vibrant hues, attendees gather to pay their respects to the great king. With reverence and solemnity, each lei is delicately placed upon the statue, a symbol of love, honor, and remembrance for Kamehameha I and his profound contributions to Hawaiian society. This poignant ceremony serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring legacy of the monarch, whose vision and leadership continue to inspire generations.

Educational Exhibits

In addition to the ceremonial proceedings, the celebration offers an array of interactive educational exhibits, providing attendees with the opportunity to delve deeper into Hawaiian history, culture, and traditions. From demonstrations of traditional crafts such as kapa making and fishnet weaving to informative displays highlighting the significance of ancient Hawaiian landmarks, these exhibits offer a window into the rich tapestry of Hawaiian heritage, fostering a deeper appreciation for the land and its people.

Fun for Keiki

Beyond its cultural significance, the North Kohala Kamehameha Day Celebration serves as a beacon of community spirit and unity, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate a shared heritage and legacy. From the spirited chants of keiki to the wisdom of kupuna, the celebration embodies the spirit of aloha, fostering connections and forging bonds that transcend time and space.

As the sun sets on another day of celebration, the echoes of chants and laughter linger in the air, a testament to the enduring legacy of Kamehameha I and the vibrant spirit of the Hawaiian people. In the heart of North Kohala, amidst the lush beauty of the land, the annual Kamehameha Day Celebration stands as a living tribute to a king whose legacy continues to inspire and unite generations, ensuring that his memory remains forever etched in the fabric of Hawaiian culture and history.
For additional festival information click here.

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In the warm embrace of June, join us for the 63rd Annual Hawaiian Cultural Festival at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. This two-day celebration stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the island’s native Hawaiian community, beckoning both locals and visitors alike to partake in a journey through time, honoring tradition, and perpetuating the rich tapestry of Hawaiian heritage.

Nestled on the western coast of Hawai’i Island, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau, also known as the Place of Refuge, holds profound significance in Hawaiian history and culture. It served as a sanctuary for those seeking absolution and forgiveness for their transgressions under ancient Hawaiian law. Today, this sacred site serves as a beacon of cultural preservation, offering a glimpse into the traditions and customs of the past.

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau

At the heart of the Annual Hawaiian Cultural Festival lies a deep reverence for the values and traditions that have shaped Hawaiian society for generations. From the melodious chants of the hula to the intricate artistry of traditional crafts, every aspect of the festival reflects a commitment to honoring and preserving the essence of Hawaiian culture.

One of the festival’s highlights is the captivating display of hula, the quintessential dance form of Hawai’i. With graceful movements and evocative storytelling, hula dancers pay homage to the land, sea, and sky, weaving together elements of myth, history, and spirituality. Through their performances, they offer a glimpse into the soul of Hawai’i, where the natural world is revered as a source of inspiration and wisdom.

In addition to the hula performances, the festival offers hands-on workshops and demonstrations that allow attendees to engage directly with Hawaiian traditions. Enjoy canoe rides, a hukilau (fishnet pulling), lei-making, weaving, ʻohe kāpala (bamboo stamping), food tastings and more. These activities provide a unique opportunity to learn from skilled artisans and practitioners, gaining insight into the intricate craftsmanship that defines Hawaiian culture.

Central to the festival’s mission is the concept of aloha ʻāina, or love for the land. Hawaiians have long maintained a deep connection to the natural world, recognizing it as a source of sustenance, spirituality, and identity. Through educational programs and environmental initiatives, the festival seeks to instill a sense of stewardship for Hawai’i’s fragile ecosystems, inspiring future generations to safeguard the island’s precious resources.

At its core, the Annual Hawaiian Cultural Festival serves as a bridge between the past and the present, uniting communities in a shared celebration of heritage and identity. For native Hawaiians, it offers an opportunity to reconnect with their roots, fostering a sense of pride and belonging in an ever-changing world. For visitors, it provides a window into a world steeped in tradition, inviting them to immerse themselves in the beauty and diversity of Hawaiian culture.

The festival also serves as a catalyst for social and economic empowerment within the local community. By showcasing the talents of Hawaiian artisans, musicians, and performers, it creates opportunities for economic growth and cultural exchange, strengthening the bonds that unite Hawai’i’s diverse population. In the face of modernity and change, events like the Annual Hawaiian Cultural Festival remind us of the importance of honoring the past while embracing the future.

Look for more information on the National Park Service Website. The Annual Hawaiian Cultural Festival at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is more than just a gathering; it is a celebration of identity, resilience, and community. Through its vibrant displays of dance, music, and craftsmanship, it honors the traditions of the past while inspiring future generations to carry the torch of Hawaiian culture forward.

 

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Relax with an unforgettable day at Anaehoomalu Bay Beach Park, or A-Bay, a captivating destination on the Big Island of Hawai’i. A-Bay is a beautiful oasis with a rich history, a long stretch of salt and pepper sand, and an array of activities that will leave an enduring imprint on your memory.

Unveiling the Allure of A-Bay Beach Park

Take a leisurely stroll along A-Bay’s crescent-shaped beach, where the turquoise waters glisten and invite you to reconnect with nature’s tranquility. Gaze out to the horizon and spot sea turtles gracefully basking on the shore, their ancient presence adding a touch of wonder to your surroundings. Walk along the Kalahuipua’a Fishponds to learn about their function and historical significance in Hawaiian history. As the sun sets, casting a golden glow over the bay, enjoy your dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club. Indulge in oceanfront dining with a laid-back vibe, creating an unforgettable culinary experience against the backdrop of A-Bay’s beautiful sunset.

Sea Turtle Resting on a Beach

 

Exploring the Depths of A-Bay’s Waters

Embrace the spirit of adventure by renting a stand-up paddleboard or kayak and venturing into the bay’s tranquil waters. Glide effortlessly across the surface, marveling at the underwater world teeming with vibrant marine life. The gentle currents and calm conditions make this activity suitable for all skill levels, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of A-Bay.

The calm waters and clear visibility make it a great spot for snorkeling. You can see a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins.

Here are some tips for snorkeling at A-bay beach park:

  • The best time to snorkel is during the summer months when the water is warmest.
  • The north end of the beach is usually the best area for snorkeling.
  • The water can be choppy at times which can reduce visibility, so be sure to check the conditions before you go.
  • There are no lifeguards on duty, so be sure to swim with a buddy.
  • Be respectful of marine life and do not touch or harass the animals.

Hawai’i Ocean Sports offers all the rentals you’ll need for a bay at the beach as well as snorkeling and whale watching tours. 

Unraveling the Secrets of Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve

Venture beyond A-Bay Beach Park to the nearby Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve. This sacred site boasts over 3,000 ancient petroglyphs intricately carved into lava rock. Step back in time as you explore these enigmatic symbols, offering a glimpse into the rich history and cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people.

Discovering the Legacy of Kalahuipua’a Fishponds

Enrich your understanding of Hawaiian aquaculture by visiting the Fishponds of Kalahuipua’a. These historic fishponds, once an integral part of the ancient Hawaiian sustenance system, served as a sustainable food source for Hawaiian royalty and communities. Learn about the ingenious design and traditional practices associated with these ponds, gaining insights into the cultural significance of aquaculture in Hawaiian history. Today, ongoing restoration efforts aim to preserve these fishponds as cultural and educational landmarks.

A Day Trip to Remember

Whether you choose to relax on the shore, explore the waters, or delve into the past, A-Bay offers a unique and unforgettable experience. As you watch the sunset, carry with you the memories of a day well spent, filled with moments that will continue to inspire and enrich you.

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Keep up on Kailua-Kona events

May Day is Lei Day in Hawai’i – May 1

May Day at Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa celebrates Lei Day, a significant cultural holiday in Hawaii honoring the tradition of lei-making and the spirit of aloha. Lei Day is a time when locals and visitors come together to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of Hawaiian lei.

At Queens’ MarketPlace, the Lei Day Entertainment includes a range of activities and performances. This may feature live music and hula performances, showcasing traditional Hawaiian songs and dances. Visitors can expect to see local artisans demonstrating lei-making techniques, creating beautiful floral and cultural lei designs.

Waikoloa Community Market – May 4

The Waikoloa Village now boasts its very own Community Market, a vibrant monthly event held on the first Saturday of each month from 8am to 12pm. With over 40 vendors participating year-round, this market offers a delightful array of goods including fresh produce, plants, eggs, fish, bakery items, artisan foods, artwork, jewelry, crafts, and live music. Residents and visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the sunny atmosphere of Waikoloa Village, supporting local businesses and connecting with the creative spirit of the community. This market promises a delightful opportunity to explore and engage with a diverse range of local offerings in a picturesque setting.

Kona Orchid Society Mother’s Day Show & Sale – May 11

The Kona Orchid Society Mother’s Day Show & Sale is the society’s most popular event. From 9am to 2pm at the Makaeo County Pavilion in the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area visitors can enjoy a showcase of blooming orchids displayed by club members and can purchase healthy plants from local growers. The sale extends beyond orchids to include cactus, succulents, air plants, bonsai, protea, fruit trees, exotic tropicals, water plants, herbs, vegetable starts, and bedding plants.

More Local vendors

Moreover, attendees can explore a range of additional offerings including jams, jellies, arts and crafts, and high-fire functional stoneware. Interact with growers and master gardeners on-site, for valuable growing tips and insights. An ideal event for Mother’s Day weekend. https://www.konaorchidsociety.org/

20th Annual Celebration of Life – May 26

This is the Big Island’s largest lantern floating event, Celebration of Life. It is free and open to the public at Reeds Bay in Hilo. Join us to be part of the uplifting, heart-moving event where we will honor our loved ones who have passed in remembrance and reflection of love. There will be live music, Bon Dance and Hula Halau performances, local food trucks and vendors, baked goods sales, and much more. 


Ongoing Kailua-Kona Events

Kokua Kailua Village Stroll: May 19

Once a month, on Alii Drive near the Pier, the street is closed for the Kokua Kailua Village Stroll. From 1-6 pm, the street transforms into a bustling market with local vendors and artists’ booths. Explore the vibrant stalls, shop for unique crafts and souvenirs, and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Leashed dogs are also welcome, so feel free to bring your furry friends along for the stroll. This event is a perfect opportunity to support local businesses and artists while immersing yourself in the lively spirit of Kailua-Kona.

Free Hawaiian Music and Hula Show

Every Friday at Keauhou Shopping Center, you can enjoy a free Hawaiian music and hula show in the center courtyard from 6-7pm. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Hawai’i as talented musicians and graceful hula dancers take the stage. This weekly event is a fantastic opportunity to experience the beauty and artistry of traditional Hawaiian music and dance.

First Friday After Dark in Holualoa

On the first Friday of every month, the quaint village of Holualoa comes alive with a block party. From 5:30-8:30pm, locals and visitors gather to explore the town’s art galleries and boutiques, listen to live music, and indulge in gourmet “grab and go” food. This festive event is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local art and culture scene while enjoying the warm hospitality of the community.

Food Truck Fridays

Every Friday 4-8pm you’ll find a mini food truck festival with tastes to satisfy every palate. In the Target Kona parking lot you can feed the whole family with choices of BBQ, Mexican food, Thai food, desserts, and, of course, great coffee! Check here for more information about Food Truck Fridays

Deli Sandwich and Chips

Visit Queen’s Marketplace for more ongoing events 

Join ukulele lessons, Wednesday hula shows, and outdoor movies every month in the Coronation Pavilion.

Kanikapila Monthly Concert Series

Discover Hawai‘i Island’s best musical talents at Queens’ Marketplace’s Kanikapila Monthly Concert Series sponsored by KWXX, every third Saturday of the month. 

Every Third Saturday of the Month | 6 PM | Coronation Pavilion

 

More to come in June!

June 11: King Kamehameha Day, Island-Wide

State-wide celebrations honoring King Kamehameha the Great, the monarch who first established the unified Kingdom of Hawaii. Celebrations include floral parades and performances. In Kona the Floral Parade goes from 9 am to 11:30 am, followed by a celebration at Huliheʻe Palace from 11:30 am to 3 pm.

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Calling all foodies! If you’re looking for a fun and delicious way to eat your way through Kona, look no further than Food Truck Fridays! This popular event is held in the mauka side of the Target parking lot, and features a wide variety of food trucks serving up everything from barbecue and pizza to Thai and Mexican food. There’s also local coffee, to-die-for desserts, seafood, and local grinds. Plus, there are vendors for more shopping to enjoy.

 

Food Truck Fridays is the perfect place to bring the whole family for a fun night out. With so many different food options to choose from, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Food Options Galore

One of the best things is the wide variety of food options available. Whether you’re in the mood for something savory or sweet, there’s sure to be a food truck that has what you’re craving.

Some of the regular vendors at include:

  • Jillian’s Caribbean Fusion
  • Wilson’s Snack Shack
  • Sugar’s Hawaii BBQ & Desserts (Ube Cheesecake because I love anything ube!)
  • Big Island Provisions
  • Aloha de Nada Empanadas
  • Califas Mexican Food (Their fish tacos!!!)

These are just a few of the many food trucks that participate in Food Truck Fridays. With so many different options to choose from, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds.

Fun for the Whole Family

Food Truck Fridays isn’t just about the food. It’s also a great place to bring the whole family for a fun night out. In addition to all the great food, there are local  vendors selling a variety of goods. And with plenty of space to run around, kids are sure to have a blast.

So, what are you waiting for? Mark your calendars and come hungry!

Food Truck Fridays Logo

Don’t Miss Food Truck Fridays!

Food Truck Fridays is a weekly event that you don’t want to miss. With so many different food options to choose from, and local  vendors for shopping, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, come on down to the mauka side of the Target parking lot, 4-8pm every Friday  and experience it for yourself!

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Finding The Big Island’s Top Attractions

Kailua-Kona beckons travelers with its captivating natural beauty, rich history, and diverse cultural offerings. This quick guide will help you find Kona’s top attractions, ensuring an unforgettable and enriching experience for every visitor.

Kona’s Natural Wonders

  • Hapuna Beach beckons travelers with its pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters. This iconic beach is a haven for swimmers, snorkelers, and sunbathers alike. Bask in the warm Hawaiian sun, immerse yourself in the refreshing ocean, and marvel at the vibrant marine life that inhabits the nearby coral reefs. Hapuna Beach offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Kona’s top attractions.
  • Make your way to Kahalu’u Bay, a picturesque haven for snorkeling and surfing enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in the vibrant underwater world, teeming with colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, and the occasional eel. Snorkelers of all levels will delight in exploring the shallow reefs, while experienced and beginner surfers can tackle the challenging waves that break along the bay’s outer edge. Kahalu’u Bay offers a perfect blend of tranquility and adventure, making it a top destination for water sports enthusiasts visiting Kona.
  • Kua Bay, a secluded gem, is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the breathtaking Hawaiian sunsets. Wade in the crystal-clear waters or join the body surfers and boogie boarders catching a wave. As the sun begins its descent, Kua Bay transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors, casting a golden glow over the surrounding landscape. Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, Kua Bay offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle, allowing you to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories.
  • Keauhou Bay: Bask in the tranquility of this stunning bay, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Marvel at the vibrant marine life, including colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, and playful dolphins.

View of Palm trees

Cultural Immersion in Kona

  • Huliheʻe Palace: Step back in time at this historic palace, once the summer residence of Hawaiian royalty. Admire its elegant architecture, explore its fascinating exhibits, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the past.
  • Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park: Discover the sacred refuge where ancient Hawaiians sought sanctuary. Explore ancient temples, learn about the kapu system, and witness the power of Hawaiian traditions.
  • Kona Historical Society Museum: Delve into Kona’s rich past at this captivating museum. Peruse historical artifacts, uncover intriguing stories, and gain a deeper understanding of the region’s cultural heritage.
  • Moku’aikaua Church: Admire the architectural beauty of this historic church, a testament to Kona’s missionary history. Immerse yourself in its serene atmosphere and learn about its role in shaping the community.

Outdoor Adventures in Kona

  • Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park: Journey through this coastal park, offering breathtaking views of the ocean, ancient Hawaiian fishponds, and diverse wildlife. Hike along scenic trails, explore archaeological sites, and uncover the secrets of Kona’s natural and cultural history.
  • Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary: Embark on a hike through this lush sanctuary, home to a diverse array of native plants and animals. Discover hidden waterfalls, navigate through dense vegetation, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Hawaiʻi’s unique ecosystem.
  • Mauna Kea: Venture to the summit of this majestic mountain, the tallest in the world when measured from its base on the ocean floor. Experience breathtaking views, witness a dazzling array of stars at night, and learn about the cultural significance of this sacred site.

Culinary Delights of Kona

  • Huggo’s on the Rocks: Savor exquisite seafood and Pacific Rim cuisine while enjoying breathtaking oceanfront views. Indulge in culinary creations that showcase the flavors of Hawaiʻi, paired with an extensive wine list.
  • Da Poke Shack: Embark on a culinary adventure at this renowned poke shack, offering a wide variety of fresh and flavorful poke bowls. Customize your bowl with a choice of bases, proteins, toppings, and sauces to create a dish that tantalizes your taste buds.
  • Pine Tree Cafe: Begin your day with a hearty breakfast at this local favorite, serving up classic dishes with a touch of Aloha spirit. Enjoy fluffy pancakes, savory omelets, and aromatic Kona coffee to fuel your Kona explorations.
  • Kona Coffee Living History Farm: Embark on a journey through the history of Kona’s renowned coffee industry. Stroll through lush coffee fields, witness traditional farming techniques, and savor the aroma of freshly roasted beans.

Plan Your Kona Adventure

Exploring the Big Island is a journey filled with natural wonders, cultural immersion, and culinary delights. From ancient Hawaiian history to breathtaking outdoor adventures, Kona offers a kaleidoscope of experiences that will leave a lasting impression.

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Learn about Hawaii’s royal past with a visit to the enchanting Hulihe’e Palace in Kailua-Kona! Situated along the picturesque Ali’i Drive, this hidden gem offers a delightful journey through Hawaiian history and culture. Originally constructed in 1838 by John Adams Kuakini, governor of the Island of Hawaii, Hulihe’e Palace served as a beloved retreat for Hawaiian royalty, welcoming esteemed members such as King Kamehameha III and Queen Liliʻuokalani.

Exploring the Palace: Rooms and Exhibits

Despite its modest size, Hulihe’e Palace boasts six graciously appointed rooms, including a charming parlor, dining room, and two oceanfront lanais offering breathtaking views of the Pacific. Inside, Victorian furniture, exquisite koa wood furnishings, and a treasure trove of artifacts from Hawaii’s royal past transport visitors to a bygone era.

The Role of the Daughters of Hawaii

Managed by the dedicated Daughters of Hawaii, Hulihe’e Palace was rescued from ruin in the 1920s and transformed into a museum, preserving its rich heritage for future generations. From ancient tools to royal garments, the museum showcases a fascinating collection that tells the story of Hawaii’s royal legacy.

Hulihe'e Palace Entrance

History of Hulihe’e Palace

Built during the Kingdom of Hawaii on land known as Kalāke’e, the palace served as a vacation home for High Chief John Adams Kuakini, brother of Ka‘ahumanu, the favorite wife of King Kamehameha I. Over the years, Hulihe’e Palace witnessed numerous pivotal moments in Hawaiian history, providing a sanctuary where royalty could escape the pressures of governance.

Queen Emma’s Music Room: A Royal Retreat

One of the highlights of any visit is Queen Emma’s Music Room, where the queen entertained guests with her musical talents. Adorned with period furnishings and portraits of Hawaiian royalty, the room exudes refinement and sophistication, transporting visitors back in time.

Preservation and Cultural Significance

Beyond its role as a museum, Hulihe’e Palace is vital in preserving traditional Hawaiian arts and crafts. Visitors can admire exquisite examples of featherwork, kapa, and Hawaiian quilts, each showcasing the skill and artistry of the island’s indigenous people.

A Journey into Hawaiian Culture

A visit to Hulihe’e Palace is more than just a trip through history – it’s a journey into the heart and soul of Hawaii itself. From its humble beginnings as a royal retreat to its present-day role as a cultural treasure, the palace embodies the spirit of aloha, welcoming visitors to experience the beauty and majesty of the Hawaiian Islands. So come, step back in time, and discover the magic of Hulihe’e Palace – you won’t be disappointed!

Plan Your Visit

Self-guided tours and docent-led tours are available Wed-Sat. For ticket information click here.

 

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Daytripping from Kona or Hilo

Along the southeastern coast of the Big Island, Punalu’u Beach and Papakōlea Beach attract travelers with their distinctive charm, each offering a beautiful experience worthy of the scenic drive required to reach them.

Postcard of Punalu'u Beach in 1965

Black Sand Beach / Punalu’u Beach

At Punalu’u Beach, the striking contrast of black sands against the blue waters of the ocean and the green canopy is magical. Snorkeling enthusiasts love the variety of marine life in these clear waters. Schools of vibrant fish dart among the coral reefs, while graceful sea turtles glide effortlessly, their movements a testament to the serene rhythm of island life. This is a very popular beach for sea turtles and they are easy to spot basking on the warm black sand. 

Green Sand Beach / Papakōlea Beach

About 24 miles further along the coast, the rugged views give way to the hidden gem of Papakōlea Beach, also known as the Green Sand Beach. This is one of only four green sand beaches in the world. The scenic hike is under 3 miles each way through windswept cliffs and coastal scrub. The gorgeous hike is worth taking but if 5+ miles of hiking seems like too much there are local drivers who will take you either or both ways for a small fee. The beach is beautiful but be cautious in the water as there can be a very strong current. More information about the hike here!

A word of caution: Do not drive your own vehicle and, more specifically, do not take your rental car past the parking lot! 

View of Papakolea BeachImage by BigIslandHikes.com

Eating Along the Way

Onward to food! The well-known Punulu’u Bakeshop has delicious malasadas, sandwiches, and plate lunches. The garden is a peaceful spot for a coffee and mango malasada. Another great option is the Aloha Mix food truck just across the street. They are known for steak and shrimp plates and acai bowls.   

One more little side trip a few miles further! Although I am not this type of thrill seeker, watching the cliff jumpers at Southpoint is pretty exciting and a little nerve-wracking. Sure go ahead and jump if that’s your thing but just watching will be enough for most of us! Walk another 100ft south to the Southernmost point in the US.

On Image – include link to https://bigislandnow.com/2017/05/11/crusin-ka-lae-south-point-with-tita-nui/

“The actual Southernmost tip of the United States is just past the metal light beacon to the left and toward the coast. Follow the low rock wall, actually an ancient Hawaiian ruin called Kalalea Heiau, to the edge where the frenzied ocean punishes the rugged coastline with its power. Please do not touch or sit on the rock wall as it is a sacred site.” (Hawaii Guide

Enjoy your day trip to Punalu’u and Papakōlea beaches, the rugged beauty of the volcanic landscape, and the great local food choices.

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