It has definitely been such a great week being able to spend it in Kona, Hawaii full of rain, sun, ocean, volcanoes, and horses.
Now, if you didn’t already know (but I hope you do), Hawaii is made up of several different islands. The island that people usually hear about the most is Maui. But you know what? I say, you should take a go at the Big Island. It’s absolutely amazing because you get a little bit of everything: the serene life, the night life, the country life, the ocean life, and the forest life.
If you are planning on going to the Big Island, here are the tours/activities that I did, and maybe that will give you some direction. 🙂
1. Surfing w/ Kona Mike’s
Speaking as a person who has never really swam in the ocean for long periods of time…YOU NEED TO TRY SURFING, especially in Hawaii! The waters are beautiful, warm, and crystal clear. Kona Mike’s is an awesome surf school. Their team of instructors have been surfing for at least 10-15 years so they know what they’re doing! You will feel safe no matter what. Basically, the lesson consists of them timing the waves right and giving you a push for a jump start (because paddling fast is hard for a first timer!). They will give you pointers along the way. SUPER fun! They also have a professional photographer out there to take pictures of you that you can purchase afterwards (prices are not outrageous). My little cousin and I decided that we wanted it to be just us so we signed up for a semi-private lesson.
2. Kayaking and Snorkling with the Kona Boys (in the Kealekua Bay)
This is a MUST DO. The Kealekua Bay is one of the best spots to go snorkeling with tons of colorful fish and coral. There are a lot of tours out there that will take you out there via a cruise boat, but why do that when you can go KAYAKING?!! Kayaking is hands down the best way (besides hiking) to get there.
I suggest going with the Kona Boys. I did a lot of research and these guys got awesome reviews. They are all well knowledgeable of the history of Hawaii and are super fun and chill. The tour I decided to do was the Morning Magic Kealekua Bay Kayak and Snorkel Tour.
My uncle and I were lucky enough to be the only ones going out that day and so we had a private tour! Our guide, Jared, was awesome! You could tell that he was passionate about what he does and he loved talking about the unique history of Hawaii. As we paddled out there we were lucky enough to be surrounded by several pods of spinner dolphins playing in the bay. I wish I had my camera to take a picture of it! (My uncle has most of the pictures, so hopefully I will be able to post some soon). We took our time to paddle across the bay (so for those worried about not having the strength, don’t worry!). We got a tour of Captian Cook’s monument, snorkeled for about 2 hours, had lunch, then paddle back. Such a memorable adventure! I would say to ask for Jared, but he’s leaving in May for Australia! 😦
Tour guide: Jared
1. Hilo – Farmer’s Market / Big Island Candies
If you’re into fresh fruits, there’s a great farmer’s market (certified locally grown, not Costco lol) in the city of Hilo (It’s a small city, so you’ll be able to find it) that you should check out. Also, the factory of Big Island Candies is located in Hilo as well! BIC has the most amazing shortbread cookies around! And if you get the dipped ones, you can be reassured that they are hand dipped to perfection! Once you walk through the doors, they give you a free sample and you can find a bunch of other samples hidden in the shelves too! And here’s a tip: If you want to try a specific flavor, feel free to ask the front desk for some. They would be happy to let you try any flavor you’d like!
2. Volcano National Park
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Usually when you picture beauty in nature, you think of lush green trees or colorful flowers, but the Volcano National Park will definitely change your mind on that. We only had 2 hours there so we just saw one of the craters, the lava tube, and the crazy landscape. We wanted to see where the lava was going into the ocean, but it was dark and it was quite a hike over lava rock. With a 9-year-old, we didn’t want to risk it.
My use of words won’t do justice to the beauty of this place, so let me just show you.
3. Horseback Riding w/ Waipio Ridge Stables
When my uncle said we should go horseback riding in Waipio, my first reaction was “Why would we go horseback riding in Hawaii?” Well, let me tell you, it’s a must as well. I only took the 2.5 hour tour which only led us to the cliff overlooking the waterfall and valley, but if you take the 5 hour tour, you would be able to go to the waterfall and swim (which is what I’m going to do when I return). It’s absolutely gorgeous! You will ride through lush green trees and you can just hear the peacefulness in the air.
Sorry, no pictures yet.
4. Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation
Kona is known for it’s amazing coffee, so you must stop by a plantation! We chose Mountain Thunder and decided to take advantage of their free tour. They took us through what it takes to make a quality bean as well as the different types of plants on the island. A great informative tour about quality coffee making. And it’s absolutely gorgeous up there as well.
I hope that gives you a jumpstart to your Hawaii trip!