People ask: "What could I do in a couple of days, in a week, in two weeks during my
stay?" Take a look at some suggestions we have collected and put here to try and help out ...
What follows are some ingredients for TRIP RECIPES! We tend to give suggestions in "daily
segments". So you could pick the number of segments that you think would work for the time
you have. Perhaps blend with some of your own ideas. Perhaps "mix and match" or repeat
some segments. Blend with spotaneous and unexpected yields "One Perfect Trip!"
People are very different so it is difficult to propose a plan that everyone would stick to. I suggest getting a
guidebook, letting each of the party go thru it, highlight what most appeals, then in a group whittle that down to
any arbitrary number say “the top 10” or “the top 12”. For more in depth coverage, about guide books: <<Press
Kailua Kona literally has something to do every block or two. You can’t be bored if you have a heartbeat. That said,
there is “the tourist area” and “the not so tourist area”. Similar to how you might spot a good restaurant or business
in your own town, look for locals. They will not be wearing fancy clothes, probably a t-shirt and sandals. If the locals
are there the place is probably not “dear” in expense and is probably a good value (portions, service, cleanliness).
This will apply to shops, food places, local hangouts, etc
I am all for local businesses and the small guy, but most of the trinkets and souvenirs are just mass produced and
you might as well look at Costco and Wal-Mart and then fill in with local crafts if they can be found. That’s how we
always approached it, get the bulk stuff for the multiples then try to source out better nicer “real” stuff as we
traveled. The real Hawaiian stuff is going to be from vendors operating where & when they like, sometimes
from the back ends of their cars or at local markets. They are not likely to be able to afford the luxury of air
conditioned stores in malls.
Hawaii is a different place to vacation in that unlike many places you would go in a metropolitan area where the
vacation is geared to shopping and thrills and events, here many people would prefer to set aside a significant
chunk of time to actually be quiet and lay around, nap, relax. Our beaches provide a haven for that and the
location of the house and our attention to details facilitates this approach well.
We have many different types of guests, and it is interesting to see guests when they come back the next year.
Usually that first year they go home needing a vacation from their vacation — trying to stuff everything they can
into every day. The next year they come back and are much more geared to enjoying the breezes, the air, the
house, the beaches “we’ve seen it all” they say — we smile and say “sure” and of course they have not you would
need six months to see the attractions all around us.
On your end you need shorts, casual clothes, flip flops. If you pack — bring suntan oil unless you want to buy
here. If you have suntan oil from a previous trip realize that it does age and the efficiency of the chemicals
deteriorate — you don’t want impotent suntan oil when you are out on a boat or already are at the beach so if it is
very old, discard.
You can dress up here but for the most part you would be like the Howell’s on Gilligan’s Island. There are
fancy restaurants if that is your cup of tea, there are fancy places North, you might want to go to a play (and feel
you want to dress but it is not required here) so if you intend to partake bring one nice set of clothes. But more
important is the casual stuff that many neglect.
If you have time before your arrival I advise to get a guidebook. If you do they SHOULD be available at your local
Borders or whatever you favorite local bookstore is. Hawaii The Big Island Revealed The Ultimate GuideBook by
Andrew Doughty is one of the best in my opinion.
That said, we also provide a downloadable pamphlet that might give you some ideas: It is 3.1MB to
download but many people rave about it so we provide it to our clients...
The following is what I think might work, somewhat in a time order.
Basically, pick up groceries and start slow at arrival. At the end of your trip keep time to pack, clean up the place,
arrive early enough to drop off your rental car and be at the airport without being late.
**A R R I V A L**
Arrive at airport, many people will pick up their rental car at the airport.
On the way from the airport you will pass Costco (your second traffic signal left turn (on Queen K. Highway) from
the highway past the airport as you go up the hill on Hina Lani will take you right to Costco — we discuss turning
up the Hina Lani hill from the airport in our driving directions to the house — getting a bit ahead of ourselves, but
nevertheless it is a great way to start if you get your groceries on the way up to the house.)
Costco has excellent bargains on suntan oil, beach blankets, snorkel mask sets. You can pick up a giant pizza
and bake it at the house. Other foods worth considering are some of the local foods you will see in the fresh foods
sections. Otherwise, typical fare you would find most places. You can pick up milk, juice, soda, cereal, bread,
lettuce, salad dressing, bacon, eggs, wine, beer. Wine and beer and soda probably actually cheaper at Wal-Mart
73-5600 Maiau St Kailua Kona, HI
Go to the house and stock your refrigerator/freezer and unpack.
Assuming you came in about 3PM it might be now 5PM, a good time to get into shorts and very casual wear to hit
the downtown. You do NOT need to be dressed up in Kona you do NOT need a big impressive wardrobe this is a
beach town you’ll just be wearing fancy clothes for no practical reason.
If you planned on staying in — there are nice big salads in the fresh food section and also big pizzas you can cook
fresh later or you can buy the pre-cooked pizza (and wonderful chicken salads) in the food court at Costco as you
exit — both are good for new arrivals who want something quick and easy to take home with. However — even
better in my opinion -- if you like nice dining and want to go out the first night, one of the best as far as reasonable
prices and on-the ocean sunsets is Kona Inn. It is on Alli Drive, right on the main drag. Simple from the house, go
to exit of driveway, turn right to top of hill, that is Palani Road. Turn right (you would have come from the left from
Costco & airport if you followed arrival instructions), take that all the way down to main stoplight. Continue forward
you will go past small shopping center on right, banks and grocery stores on left. You will notice the big hotels on
left and right as you go toward the seawall, pier, main heart of the town. As you pass the seawall and pier on the
right will come the Kona Inn Shopping Plaza, Kona Inn is right in the middle.
Kona Inn Restaurant
75-5744 Alii Dr Ste 21 Kailua Kona, HI
If you see parking take a spot, otherwise when you come to the next intersection with a stop light, turn left (Hualalai
Rd). The first lot on right is a pay lot, avoid it and go to the second on the right which is free. If that is full, there is a
lot directly to the left across that is free (behind Uncle Billy’s). Park, and get to Kona Inn before the sunset and
enjoy a wonderful introductory experience. If you see the assistant manager (who stands out, he is very
energetic and helpful, a bit Asian looking with black hair) say hello, his name is Van and he lives right next to our
house at Hao Kuni.
After dinner, perhaps swing by Wal-Mart and pick up any little things you need. Small condiments, small
toothpastes, soaps, shampoos etc., they have excellent inexpensive variety of things to take back to give as gifts.
They also sell basic foods, a well stocked frozen food section, beer and liquor if you did not go to Costco.
75-1015 Henry St Kailua Kona, HI
If you want a regular supermarket, the Sack N Save kitty cornered from the main post office is about the best price
wise. Since when you turn from the house you are on Palani Rd, this is easy to find you just stay on that road going
down toward town!
Sack N Save Foods
75-5595 Palani Rd
Kailua Kona, HI
You can sign up for a Kaaimiana card and get “local prices” -- you go to the service center, get your card on the
spot, then shop and show the card and it can make some difference.
Other market choices -- There is KTA (across from Starbucks and Quizno’s) and Safeway (across from Borders,
next to Denny’s), with Safeway probably the most expensive followed by KTA then by Sack 'N Save.
KTA Super Stores
74-5588 Palani Rd
Kailua Kona, HI
75-1027 Henry St Kailua Kona, HI
You may want to roam around a bit — Kailua at night is very beautiful. If you are not familiar things do look
different at night and perhaps best to stay in this general area to back trace back up the hill to home. But if you do
get lost just ask how to get back to Palani Road. Or while driving, look for Wal-Mart, Borders (Henry Street)— turn
toward them. All those roads eventually will hit Palani, then turn up the mountain rather than down toward town
and you are on your way back home.
When you are ready for home, its up Palani Road and you go up it. Look for the street names on the bottom of
the signs — they announce which streets are coming up next. Up Palani Road we are right past mile marker
36, then the intersection is Hao Kuni, turn left. Then we are right past the 2nd fire hydrant (or look for the blue
reflectors in the middle of the road which mark the hydrants), then you will see the rock wall and the large palm
trees on the left of the street — turn in you are back home. Relax and recharge for tomorrow.
Next morning, if you bought your eggs, bacon, cereal, (& condiments from Wal-Mart if you need those) have a nice
quiet breakfast at home. Don’t want to cook at home? We have a very popular Denny’s (across from the tempting
but overpriced Safeway Supermarket). Want a local style breakfast — you won’t be unhappy with Splasher's, at
75-5662 Palani Road, upper level. This is close to the overpriced and not as good Fish Hopper right across from
the seawall down on the main drag of town on Alli Drive. The address for Splasher's says Palani Rd — well yes
Palani Road goes way down but turns into Alli Drive so take your choice — right on the seawall, look on the side
opposite of the seawall and you will see Splasher’s and Forget the Fish Hopper it may look neat but you are
overpaying for flash and less food, I have yet to meet a local that recommends the Fish Hopper.
75-1027 Henry St Kailua Kona, HI
78-5663 Palani Rd Kailua Kona, HI
Further down on Alli many people rave about the breakfast at Bongo Ben's ...
75-5819 Alii Drive Kailua Kona, HI
Big Island Grill (local style and traditional fare as well; go hungry get the 2 combo plate like hamburger and roast
75-5702 Kuakini Hwy Kailua Kona, HI
Don's Chinese Kitchen (plate lunches and mini serving pre-cooked selections)
74-5588 Palani RD #10 Kailua Kona, HI
Right up from the house (turn left at top of road at Palani Rd instead of right to go down town), about 3 miles is a
small market (Matsuyama Food Mart), gas station and local plate lunch (Kay’s Kitchen)...They aren’t frequented
by locals for no reason! If you want a novel breakfast, go early (they run out of fried rice if you go late) and order a
loco moco with fried rice (rather than with white rice). This is fried rice, hamburger patty, easy over egg and gravy.
They also have more traditional breakfasts as well and full line of other things to eat if you get home and just want
a short trek to have some hot food... The listing says Mamalahoa Highway — yes Palani Road is also known as
Matsuyama Food Mart - more info »
73-4354 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kailua Kona, HI - (808) 325-5411
Things to do.
After you have breakfast, why not see what is right around you? Go up and down the main drag and hit shops in
the Kona Inn Shopping Center. There are some unique places. You can go across to the Farmer’s Market for
some unusual finds as well and if you like fresh produce to take back home there you go.
Further down Alli Drive is another outdoor market (Alli Gardens Marketplace) which is also fun to shop.
Alii Gardens Marketplace
75-6129 Alii Dr Kailua Kona, HI
Stay away from the glass bottom boat. Unless you have very young kids you will be bored to tears.
The submarine (Atlantis Submarine) is well liked, although you have to realize that most fish come out at night
not during the day when the tours run — still that is fun for most people.
The various snorkel cruises — early might be better than later. It can rain more often in the afternoons. Take water
and suntan oil. You don’t realize how hot the sun can be.
Our favorite is Body Glove.
Body Glove Cruises
75-5629 Kuakini Hwy Kailua Kona, HI
The sky diving lift where you parasail, we have had excellent feedback most people would do it again.
Ufo Parasailing of Kailua Kona
75-5669 Alii Dr Ste 1106 Kailua Kona, HI
Beaches — there are dozens of beaches. Right down at "the harbor" (Honokohau Harbor -- see the FAQs for
more details) are some. If you go to the harbor and go to the right parking lot and take the trail there are some
very relaxing sandy beaches you can spend the day at. It will require some walking in. Take a nice cooler and
suntan oil and beach towels. If you go in afternoon — you can enjoy the beach and then often a fantastic sunset.
If you go to harbor and go forward to where the cars park and “look out”, to the left over some rocks people walk to
a small beach and that is also well enjoyed. Recommend you stay inward as sometimes the water can get
undercurrents. If you do get into an undercurrent allow it to pull you out and a boat will help you rather than fight
and get cut on the rocks.
There are beaches all over — one very nice beach is right across from Costco. On this one I could spend several
hours so guidebooks, asking others you meet, just driving up and down and doing something spontaneous...
White Sands (“Magic Sands”) on Alii Drive is very popular, about 7 miles from the house (see our FAQ page on
“Two Steps” across from City of Refuge is very popular, this is supposedly one of the best places to snorkel and
see lots of fish.
Then there are coffee farms — if you go up Old Mamalahoa Highway which the turnoff is right up from the house
— you will take a very nice drive thru some of “old Hawaii”. That highway used to be THE MAIN road in years past.
There are a half dozen coffee farms up there you can stop at and tour. Otherwise, I think one of the best choices is
to travel a bit further South and go to Greenwell farms.
Greenwell farms is old school. They are not like some of the new blood that comes in with money and flash and
tour buses they are the real thing. There is a historical museum and some days they even bake bread in an
outdoor oven. Well worth the time.
Greenwell Farms Incorporated
Captain Cook, HI
What should you otherwise not miss?
In my opinion the house is so nice and then it is centrally located that when we used to travel back and forth we
would use it as a landing base to visit other parts of the Island. Most “remote” areas are nice day trips. Say a day
to Waimea. A day to Hilo. A day to Volcano. I mean really there is not much to “stay for” but they are nice to see
and visit. Remember that locations south toward Puna, Oceanview, Volcano may have more vog.
But that aside with the time you have -- work in a couple of day trips. You could go left as you leave the house
onto Palani Road and go all the way to Waimea. Tour, come back. Recharge, take a day at the house and beach
to relax or if you are up for it .. Plug in another day trip...
Another day leave early, go South toward Captain Cook and do the Greenwell coffee farm. Then go to City of
refuge (should not take too long, it is historical but not too much to really see) and then to Hookena Beach and
spend the afternoon there (beautiful water, nice swimming, nice beach, usually not crowded) some days you will
You will need to buy a National Park Pass to get into City of Refuge. If you intend to go to Volcano, there is also a
National Park there and if you buy the “annual” pass you can use it both places — might want to consider that
instead of buy a one day one place then another one day the other place.
Kayaking, you can do that at Hookena Beach, rent a kayak before you get there. One of the most well respected
kayak rental places is Kona Boys in Captain Cook/Kealakekua. You could combine an afternoon with Kayaking at
79-7539 Mamalahoa Hwy Kealakekua, HI
Otherwise, kayaks are available in the area right at and you can launch at Kealakekua Bay. You should check out
the Painted Church if you go down there as well. Very nice area, take a bento lunch and make a day of it. What is
a bento lunch — they are small compact lunches the locals like to eat similar to a picnic. Usually rice with chicken
or spam, etc. and some spicy seeds and garnishes. You can buy these from most local supermarkets more likely
available earlier in the day than wait as they make them just to keep and for that day. If you forget, you can stop
and get one made at Sandy’s Restaurant in Captain Cook. Or you can stop at Teshima’s and have an excellent
Japanese lunch and forget the bento.
Sandy's Drive In
78-6818 Kuhinanui St
79-7251 Mamalahoa Hwy Kealakekua, HI
Another day leave very early -- go further South to Oceanview (perhaps just to stop for a soda at the local grocery
-- Malama Market) then on toward Volcano. Forget the L&L Cafe -- it is lousy -- but if you get that far there is a
nice grocery store and a thrift store that's fun to visit right next.
Really recommend you stop while going thru Naalehu and eat at Shaka's Restaurant. We have never had a bad
meal here. They don't take credit cards but they do have an ATM in the cafe if you don't have cash in your wallet.
You may also see Hana Hou Restaurant -- well it is cute but overpriced and about 50% of the time the food is not
fit to eat -- also some of the worst coffee I've had in my life, some days the staff are friendly some days not. But
across the street is an interesting thrift store and also a large grocery store.
In the same immediate area is Punaluu Bakery. This is worth seeing, they have nice grounds and some decent if
pricey food. The pastries are usually a let down, but their baked goods are worth picking up a sack or two or three!
95-5673 Mamalahoa Hwy
Naalehu, HI 96772
95-5642 Mamalahoa Hwy
Naalehu, HI 96772
At Volcano .. there is vog and you might not want to stay too long but you can go to the Visitors Center, watch a
movie about the eruptions, see the displays, go see the Sulpher pits, etc. -- most people do appreciate this day
trip. Hint, if you stay after dark it is wonderful to actually intentionally go to a sulphur pit and allow the vapors to
surround you like a sauna bath. We do that sometimes — just take your beach towel to dry with (and it can be
actually cold air away from the steam). You will find it is very good for the skin and is an experience most people
do not think of.
If you have time, you can go Northward to the more “ritzy section” of the Island. It is well worth paying the parking
fee and going to the old Hilton Hotel just to ride the boats (free), ride the tram into the sections of the hotel (free)
and then to walk the miles of art on display (free). You may also want to venture to the dolphin pools where kids
sometimes are escorted into the water to meet dolphins!
Hilton Waikoloa Village
69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr Waikoloa, HI
If you are in good health (as the air gets thin) and you have a vehicle that has some horsepower and 4 wheel
drive, a mid afternoon trip to Mauna Kea should be a MUST. Prepare ahead. Take some water, take some pants,
a blanket, a coat or sweater -- it gets very cold up there and moreso when the sun goes down. Leave the house
about 2:30 or 3PM. You will be going on Saddle Road for some of this trip -- and this area is very different. You
will want to take your time it is usually very beautiful. Once you start the assent you will reach a Visitors' Center
where you should park, let the car rest, go inside. There are rangers there to answer questions, usually a video
about the mountain playing, hot cocoa to drink. Try to leave a good hour or hour and a half before sunset -- there
are things to see before it gets dark. Once you arrive up top and you get pictures, try to find the parking area next
to the bathrooms and where the tour busses park. This is a perfect place to watch the sunset and it allows you to
get back into your car to warm up. Enjoy the sunset!
A MidWeek Day At The Beach!
Another fantastic day trip you should consider is to Maniniowali Beach (Kua Bay).
This is located just past the 88 mile marker off Highway 19, north of Kona Airport.
This is well covered at several sites...
This area is relatively new to the public, but is easy to get to, has a nice sandy beach, and beautiful views and
Probably best in midweek, it can get crowded now that it is open to the public, and when it is crowded it's not the
Take your suntan oil, a picnic, lots of fluids to drink, a nice beach towel. It is well suited to things like looking for
shells, metal detecting, reading a book.
There is so much to do, now perhaps you understand why I try to get people to do the guide book because before
you know it I have written a mini guide book myself.
Some of this material is covered in more detail on our FAQ page http://www.KonaComfortRental.com/FAQ
I will add more sections on walking trails, and some more subjects in the near future.
We have a section in progress about unique places to stay and restaurants not to miss -- that is NOW in progress
so check it out: << Click to Check Out "Places We'd Send You!" >>