Planning a trip to the Big Island and want to know the best Kona activities, attractions, tours, and more? Scroll to find the coolest things to do in Kona, Hawaii for your entire family.
This things to do in Kona, Hawaii post was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
There are endless options for Kona activities for all tourists and vacationers.
The Big Island Capital boasts proudly of a landscape that is just the ideal spot for growing luscious coffee, crystal clear beaches that are an absolute delight for all snorkeling lovers, and offers endless adventurous outdoor activities.
In addition to all the Kona attractions and sightseeing, one’s mind is bound to spin with all the activity options this Big Island of Hawaii offers.
An added benefit is the wonderful weather that Kona enjoys all throughout the year. Of course, there are the occasional afternoon spells of rain, so pleasant that they do nothing to dampen the constant high spirits of all those in Kona.
It is really not hard to believe why Kailua-Kona is one of the topmost holiday destinations.
If you truly want the experience of a lifetime, you can’t miss the top things to do in Kona. No matter what you choose to do in Kona, you are sure to have the most memorable time of your life.
Here is what to do in Kona Hawaii to have a wonderful trip to the Kona Coast!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting the Big Island.
Popular Big Island Tours/Activities
- Manta Ray Snorkeling Tour (you can ONLY do this on the Big Island)
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Tour (this is the BEST way to see lava if you aren’t renting a car)
- Mauna Kea Stargazing Tour (this is a cool adventure for teens and adults)
- Swim with Dolphins (this is a unique experience for kids of all ages and adults)
- Kona ATV Tour (we love this one because they also do cultural activities)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
Favorite Big Island Resorts/Hotels
- Hilton Waikoloa Village (this is a mega resort where you can swim with dolphins or just enjoy their massive pool area)
- Courtyard by Marriott’s King Kamehameha Beach Hotel (this is a moderately-priced Kona hotel right on a little lagoon)
- Fairmont Orchid (this is a swanky resort with an awesome pool area and beach)
Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Big Island Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
The Best Things to Do in Kona Hawaii
Here are the top Kona Hawaii activities to enjoy with your family if you are wondering what to do in Kona!
1. Go Snorkeling
If you are lucky enough to be vacationing in Kona Hawaii, you have to visit the Kealakekua Bay and avail the world’s best diving and snorkeling opportunities here. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Kealakekua Bay is one of the best snorkeling spots and houses some of the most stunning coral reefs, sea turtles, and endless schools of colorful tropical fish. It would be safe to say that the Bay is without a shadow of a doubt, an underwater paradise.
You can also visit the Captain Cook Monument for another one of the awesome snorkeling spots.
Snorkeling is one of the best Kona Coast activities!
Book your discounted Kealakekua Bay snorkeling cruise
2. Enjoy a Mauna Kea’s Sunset
No one would argue against the fact that there is perhaps nothing truly more mesmerizing and awe-inspiring than watching a sunset or sunrise, from the top of a volcano.
If one gets to experience this even once in life, the feeling will last for life. Imagine if you got the opportunity to experience the same magic but from the top of the world’s tallest volcano. Sounds absolutely breathtaking, doesn’t it?
This dormant, tallest volcano in the world, is known as Mauna Kea, which is one of the six volcanoes of the Big Island.
As one would naturally expect, the tallest volcano allows an incredible view for a sunset and star gazing. This is perhaps the only place in the world where you would get to see the sunset from this dimension.
If you plan to embark on the Mauna Kea Summit Sunset & Stargazing Tour, you should be prepared for a seven to nine-hour excursion, which starts with pick-ups in Kona at selection locations. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Along with this excursion, you get to eat dinner at the Onizuka Visitor Center and learn more about Hawaiian history and culture while enjoying the wonderful journey to the volcanic peak.
3. Visit a Chocolate Farm
Have you ever visited a chocolate farm? There are a few awesome chocolate farms in Kailua Kona Town that are awesome to check out.
Puna Chocolate Co has a Cocoa Orchard Tour in Kona every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. This tour lasts about an hour and a half and goes over the farm and how chocolate is grown and made. Plus, you get to taste some delicious samples!
The Old Hawaiian Chocolate Factory is also located in the historic Kailua Kona town and they also offer guided tours of their chocolate factory and farm. It also includes free samples too.
These tours are offered on Wednesday and Friday.
Tasting 100% made Hawaiian chocolate is an experience and must do in Kona you will love to try.
4. Coffee Farm Tour
Have you ever wondered why coffee in Kona comes at such exorbitant prices?
If you have, then you most certainly need to tour a coffee farm in Kona to discover the extravagance of all the elements that make up the delectable coffee of Kona.
In addition to happily being caffeinated for your entire stay in Kona Hawaii, you will also receive education about the coffee industry, its culture, history, and processes that play an integral role in creating your favorite cup of java.
The Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation is located right in Hawaii Kona and offers free self guided tours and guided tours. You can explore the farm, coffee shop, lava tube, and more with this coffee farm!
You can also go on a Kona coffee tour! With these tours, you can go with a small group to see not only a coffee farm, but also a bee farm, see some Hawaiian sacred temples, look at green sea turtles at Honokohau Beach, and so much more!
Tasting the famous Kona coffee is one of the things to do Kona offers you can’t forget to do!
Book your Kona coffee farm tour
5. Go in a Submarine
Now we understand that not everybody knows how to swim like a fish. Apart from swimming, even sports like scuba diving and snorkeling are not everybody’s piece of cake.
So, for safe underwater exploring, you can enjoy a submarine tour!
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If you opt for this form of underwater fun, you will board a submarine from the Kailua- Kona Pier for an adventure running 100 feet deep beneath the ocean.
While you go cruising under the ocean, you will get to learn a lot about the coral reefs of Hawaii, the marine life, and the efforts being made to conserve all these treasures of Kona.
Oh, and also keep an eye out for sharks, stingrays, and other tropical fish. You are safe from them in a submarine, but there’s nothing to stop you from admiring them up close. You can read my full Kona Atlantis Submarine tour review HERE.
An underwater submarine ride is one of the best kid-friendly Kailua Kona things to do. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Your kids will be thrilled by watching schools of fish swim by and real underwater diving experience.
Get your discount Atlantis Submarine tickets here
6. Visit a Seahorse Farm
One of the most mind-blowing things to do near Kona is to visit the Big Island Seahorse Farm.
You have the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm in Kona that will leave you awestruck with their tour of the facilities they have dedicated to raising and nurturing seahorses.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience as this interactive tour also allows you to feed and touch the seahorses. Wouldn’t you just love that? The fascinating creatures have so much to learn about them, and you will just have a grand time doing so.
The seahorse farm is 3 acres big and houses the only living gene bank in the world of breeding, live seahorses and sea dragons.
It is definitely one of the cool things to do in Kona Hawaii!
7. Go to the Beach
You will love visiting all the beaches along the Kohala Coast during your vacation.
The following are the best beaches of the Big Island. You will find uniquely colored black, white, and green sand beaches here, which are quite intriguing, to say the least.
Here are some of the best beaches in Kona!
1. Black Sand Beach
These are the beaches in Hawaii, which have black sand made from tiny fragments of lava.
Contrary to the white and green sand, much of the black sand was created instantaneously. This process takes place when the hot lave enters the water and immediately cools down and solidifies. It almost immediately shatters into large amounts of black sand.
The only black sand beach around Kona is Makole’a Beach. It is a small hike to get to the beach, and there isn’t great swimming here, but if you want to see one of the black sand beaches, this is the closest to Kona.
2. Green Sand Beach
The Green Sand Beach receives its name from the olivine, glassy crystals you can find, making up most of the sand on the beach.
There is a 49,000-year-old cinder cone that washes out the olivines. The cinder cone is used to spew olivine-concentrated lava, which you can still see on the east side of the bay.
Olivine tends to cluster around the beach, and the usual volcanic sand gets swept out to sea, which is why only the green sand remains prominent here.
Papakolea Beach is where you can experience the green sand beauty, but it is a long way from Kona. It is about a 1.5 to 2-hour drive.
3. White Sand Beaches
There are plenty of white sand beaches in Kona. During high surf, the sand completely washes away and you are left with black lava rock, which is quite magical!
Magic Sands Beach Park is the best beach in Kona as it is centrally located to food and other fun Kona things to do.
If you are looking for some kid-friendly activities in Kona Hawaii, head to Kikaua Point Beach Park. It is about 22 minutes away from Kona and is one of the amazing white sand beaches on Hawaii’s Big Island.
It is the best beach near Kona, especially for kids! Here you will find a cove with tons of tropical fish and even some sea turtles! The waters are calm for little ones and there are even some cool tide pools too!
For a white sand beach in Kona, check out Manini’owali Beach. It offers good swimming, soft sand to relax on, and is one of the best beaches in Kona!
8. Go to Some Kona Luaus
I recommend attending a luau in Kona, which is a show that all kids love. There are also large buffets to give your kids a chance to sample some local food.
So while in Kona Hawaii with your kids, head to a luau!
Voyagers of the Pacific Luau is located along the Kailua Bay at the Royal Kona Resort. Enjoy a delicious island-style buffet and an incredible Polynesian show.
You can also enjoy the Island Breeze Luau located in the Kona region. This luau is put on by the King Kamehameha Hotel and is another great option to learn more about Hawaiian culture and get some delicious food.
9. Enjoy Snorkeling with Manta Rays
The manta ray night dive is highly recommended, and snorkelers of all ages get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime view with this one.
During this night dive, you will get to head out on the Pacific Ocean and swim with these amazing creatures. Afterward, enjoy some hot chocolate as you head back to land.
Children 7 years and older can enjoy this manta ray snorkeling tour. It is definitely the best thing to do in Kona!
Read our full Big Island Manta Ray snorkel tour review.
Get your discounted Snorkeling with Manta Rays tickets
10. Kona Helicopter Ride
If you are looking for unique stuff to do in Kona, why not try a helicopter tour?
Although it may be a little pricey, the happiness it will give your older kids is totally worth the cost.
You will be able to see surreal views of the island you couldn’t see from anywhere else. You will see Kua Bay, Kona Town, the Captain Cook Monument, and so much more.
It is quite an adventure you will love to do!
Get discounted Kona Helicopter Ride tickets
11. Head to Kona Farmers Market
One of the cheap things to do in Kona Hawaii is to head to the Kona Farmers Market.
The Kona Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 8 AM to 12 PM.
12. Kona Hawaiian Quilt Museum
If you love quilts, head to the Kona Hawaiian Quilt Museum. It only costs $5 and is quite fun to see these incredible quilts that were made tons of years ago.
I’ve always loved Hawaiian quilts. They have so much detail on them and are simply stunning. Take a couple of minutes to walk through, see these amazing quilts, talk story with the volunteers, and take in this peaceful Kona Hawaii Quilt Museum.
It is another one of the Kailua-Kona things to do to learn more about Hawaiian history.
13. Puʻuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
This national historical park is about 40 minutes from South Kona but is quite fun to see and experience with your kids.
Here you can go on a nature walk, take some pictures with a few tiki statues, explore some Hawaiian shelters, and do a few other cool things. It’s a great way to learn more about the Hawaiian culture.
14. Go Whale Watching
One of the best things to do in Kona Hawaii in December is to go whale watching! Whale season is usually from November to March, so it is a nice winter activity.
With a whale watching tour, you will enjoy a boat ride out on the Pacific Ocean to spot some humpback whales.
It is quite a fun experience and is good for all ages! Children five and under are free.
Get your whale watching tour tickets
15. Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary
The only tropical cloud forest is located in Kona and is quite fun to visit and explore this private nature reserve.
You can go on a guided tour to walk around the sanctuary and learn more about why it is so important. They also have meditation events, workshops, sound baths, and more at the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary.
You must have a reservation to see the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary.
16. Kona Brewing Company
If you want to try some Hawaiian beer, stop by the Kona Brewing Company.
Enjoy a nice drink or two or go on a tour of the brewery! You can enjoy some samples and learn more about how they make their Kona beer.
17. Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park
The Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park is one of the parks right in Kailua Kona HI.
At this national historical park, you can enjoy ancient fishing pools, see an ancient Hawaiian settlement and canoe house, see some sea turtles, and more.
You can go on a self guided tour of the area and there is even a junior ranger program for kids!
Read our complete guide on the Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park
18. Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark
You might want to stop by and see the Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark in Kailua as well. It is located by the King Kamehameha Hotel.
You can learn more about Hawaiian royalty here as you see the ancient Hawaiian settlement at this landmark.
It was destroyed at one point but has been rebuilt to preserve the history and culture associated with it.
Spend a few minutes here to honor the culture here.
19. Kona Sunset Dinner Cruise
Need a romantic night out with your spouse? Try going on a sunset dinner cruise! With this cruise, you can enjoy watching the beautiful sunset while eating dinner. There is even live entertainment too!
You’ll enjoy this boat ride on a 65-foot double-deck catamaran. You’ll cruise down to the Captain Cook Monument and back up the bay.
Get your sunset dinner cruise tickets
Things to do in Kona Hawaii FAQs
The Kona district is on the West Side of the Big Island.
Kona definitely has more options for hotels and resorts and it’s close to a lot of tourist attractions. Some of the best places to stay on the Big Island for families are in Kailua Kona. Hilo is more laid back and it’s close to lots of majestic waterfalls. Learn more about where to stay: Kona or Hilo
Lots of stuff! Kona has some great hiking, beaches, boutique shopping, and Hawaiian historical sites.
Worldwide, Kona is known for its amazing coffee beans and you can visit a Kona coffee plantation to try it for yourself. Kona is also a popular place for deep-sea fishing in Hawaii.
Kona is absolutely worth it! There are plenty of places to stay on the Kona Coast and tons of fun things to do in Kona Hawaii that make a trip here incredibly worth it.
It is nice to split up your Big Island stay for a few days in Kona to explore and a few days in Hilo to visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and other things around the area.
Depending on where you stay, you can walk around parts of Kailua Kona HI, but you will more than likely want to rent a car.
Things to do on Kona Hawaii Wrap-Up
Now you know Kona what to do during your trip. Out of all the Hawaiian islands, Kona on the Big Island is one of the top places to enjoy a Hawaiian vacation.
These are just some of the top Kona Hawaii things to do that your entire family will love.
Whether you stay in a vacation home or at a Kona resort, you will be able to enjoy all the natural beauty and fun things to do in Kona Hawaii.