Why the Kona Coast is Hawaii’s Gem

by Jonathan Berg
Why the Kona Coast is Hawaii’s Gem

The Hawaiian islands have long delighted visitors with their culture, scenic beauty, and outdoor pursuits. But when designing a Hawaiian itinerary, there are so many islands to choose from that it can be overwhelming. How does one decide where to visit? Maui has amazing activities for families; Oahu is the cultural hub. For outdoor enthusiasts, though, look no further than the Big Island of Hawaii, and it’s Kona Coast.

This article is a guest post by Jonathan Berg from The Royal Tour BlogHe’s absolutely right about the Big Island being an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.  Jonathan hosts Traveler’s Tell All with me and offered to do a guest post for LiveTravelTeach.  I’ve also been to the big island so you’ll find lots of my photos below along with a few of Jonathans.  Since I’ve been swamped with teaching for the last few months I gladly took him up on the offer and will let you read the rest!

The Big Island is made up of two distinct climates. The eastern side, focused around the city of Hilo, is mainly lush rainforest. Kona, on the western coast, is dry by comparison. This means that while the weather will always be a factor in Hawaii, it is less likely to interrupt your outdoor Kona activities. (Plus its ideal land to grow its famous coffee and chocolate, with plantations open to visitors!)


You will need a car on the Big Island. While Kona itself has a free shuttle going down the main road, most of the places you’ll want to see involve a drive. Make sure you get one with a rack, as the Kona Coast has some of Hawaii’s best kayaking.

Kona Activities for Everyone to Enjoy

Kealakekua Bay, also called Dolphin Bay, is a great place to spend some time out on the calm waters. The bay itself is beautiful, but if you’re lucky you will get to interact with the dolphins who call it home! You will need a permit, however, so be sure to arrange that before you arrive.

Pin this waterfall on Pinterest to save this Hawaiian guide for later!

If you are looking for the quintessential Hawaii experience, drive south to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. While parts of the Park may be closed due to flowing lava – this is the most active volcanic region of the world and has been continually erupting for decades – there are “dead” craters you will be able to walk through. If it is open, hike through the Kilauea Iki Crater, a two-three hour easy hike through a former erupting crater.

The landscapes inside the crater are unique and amazing, making you feel like you’re on another planet! Be sure to stay at the Park past sunset to watch the glow of the lava from the crater’s rim, and ask rangers about other places to see it flow.

Planning an adventure to Hawaii?  Did you know that World Nomad’s covers a whole lot more than just medical expenses?

Some of the best Hawaiian hiking is on the Kohala Coast, north of Kona. Take highway 270 until it ends, literally!  You’ll find yourself at the top of the Pololu Valley. Short but steep, the trail leads down to a black sand beach, with spurs that lead up the other side of the valley for a full day of hiking. If you’re up for an even bigger adventure there are seven total valleys in Pololu, each one with incredible views and jungles creeping up to the beach.

If you like sands of different colors, an easy day trip from Kona will lead you to Mahana Beach, more commonly known as Green Sand Beach. Olivine, a mineral found inside some volcanic rock, formed the sand here, at one of only three green sand beaches in the world! There are two ways to access the beach, which is far off a paved road: be driven or hike. Photo by Jonathan Berg from The Royal Travel Blog

The hike will take you about two hours each way along open terrain, dusty and windy. Being driven in a local terrain-appropriate vehicle costs about $20 per person round trip, and is much faster. While you can drive the “road” yourself, it is both dangerous and specifically against all rental car rules.

My ride was in the open bed of a pickup truck, bouncing along. Those people who opted to hike were still on their way as we were driving back. I found the water itself at Mahana to be a bit cold and not really suitable for swimming, but plenty of people swim there, especially if you just spent two hours hiking!

Snorkeling abounds all over Hawaii, but Kona is where the manta rays come out to play. These huge gentle creatures feed on phytoplankton in Kona’s cool waters, and companies will set up nighttime swims with them. The boat tour takes you out at night with a huge bright light that attracts the rays so you can jump in the water and snorkel or scuba dive alongside these majestic sea creatures.  It is surreal and a bit scary, but certainly a special memory that I’ll treasure forever.

Mike says don’t forget to check out Akaka Falls!  Its a quick stop for a photo and great for any waterfall lovers or Instagrammers.  The State Park has a few nearby trails you can follow and is easily accessible via Google Maps.  

All of Hawaii is wonderful. The Kona Coast of the Big Island, however, it truly an outdoor lover’s paradise, with incredible hiking and opportunities to experience some of the wild that makes the islands one of the world’s top destinations. Don’t miss this amazing corner of the planet!

Where to stay in Kona


Kona Magic Honu Room $125 & Up –A beachfront property with all the ammenities you could ask for and just 8 miles from Kaloko- Honokohau National Historic Park.  Its no wonder this place is often booked MONTHS in advance.  Reserve it today with free cancellation!

Holiday Inn Express & Suites – $160& up – This seaside resort is perfect for a couple or a family and gives free breakfast!  They might have a room or two available despite impeccable online reviews so book a room today.

The Four Seasons Hualalai $950 and up – The only 5 star resort in Kona and #1 on tripadvisor.  The Four Seasons is the pinacle of luxury and where I would stay if I didn’t have to worry about the bill!

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Disclaimer:  This is the internet and It is safe to assume that links and content contained on this webpage provide compensation to the website’s owner.  The opinions here are my own and the information here is accurate as of November 2018.  Unless otherwise labeled, all photos and video were taken by Mike Still.

Jonathan Berg
Jonathan Berg is a freelance writer and blogger. His blog, The Royal Tour, focuses on the “deeper” side of travel, exploring issues of politics, religion, history, and culture through the lens of unique travel experiences.

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