Visitors looking for new places to explore in South Kona have plenty of options for outdoor recreation. Would you like to make your vacation more memorable by taking in a few local highlights? We’ll talk about seven of the best places to explore on the west side of the Big Island now.
Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau
Sitting along Highway 160 is Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historic Park. Open from 7:00 a.m. to sunset every day of the week, visitors can view the Royal Grounds, the historic 1871 Trail, Ki’ilae Village, Hōnaunau Bay, and the lava flows on the coast of Kona. There are over 420 acres of land to traverse. Park management asks guests to stay on the paths and only take photographs of the area. This sacred site has over 400 years of history to explore and learn.
Ho`okena Beach Park
This historic area sits on a bed of gray sand offering unobstructed views of the beach and magnificent Hawaiian sunsets. Guests can book a camping stay too. Residents must show proof of living on the island to get the local camping rate. Barbecue pits are available for grilling. Outdoor showers, a concession stand, beach rentals including kayaks, and picnic tables are open for use. Visitors can paddleboard, snorkel, swim, and rent boogie boards. Reservations for camping require at least 72 hours advance notice.
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
Stand in the spot where Captain Cook chose to visit the island in 1779. Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park sits on the Kona Coast just off from Highway 160. Many guests visit a popular religious location at Hikiau Heiau. There is also a monument to Captain Cook on a scenic outlook. Guests can view native wildlife, hike, snorkel, and take boat tours of the area. The highlight for many people is the chance to swim with dolphins here. Tourists can find the park on Puuhonua Beach Road.
This bay is home to one of the largest beaches on the west side of the island. White and black sandy shores offer exquisite sunset and sunrise photo opportunities along with many chances to catch a big wave and see the island’s stunning wildlife. As guests hike to the beach, they will pass sacred sites and come upon stark lava flows. The coconut palms signal the arrival at the beach. The water is full of tiny lava pebbles, so we recommend wearing a good pair of flip-flops or water shoes when entering. Morning is the best time to see a dolphin pod.
Kona Coffee Living History Farm
Visitors are welcome at the farm from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. General admission is $15 with discounts for students, seniors, and youth. This farm is the only one in existence which is why it is a top spot on many people’s itinerary. Farmworkers put on a show teaching people about Hawaiian handmade crafts and cultivating Kona coffee. There is a gift shop where 100 percent pure Kona coffee is available for purchase along with souvenirs.
St. Benedict’s Painted Church
This church sits atop a hill overlooking the Kona coffee fields. This Honaunau destination is a great place to double up visits on a trip to the coast. The church is a working site dating back to 1899. Father John Velghe painted pictures to teach religion to islanders who could not read. He used the murals at a cathedral in Burgos in Spain to model his paintings after. The columns in the church have inscriptions warding off evil spirits. Original paintings above and next to the altar share Father John’s message decades later. Visitors can attend several early morning masses during the week. There are also weekend sessions in the evening. The church sits on Painted Church Road. Any local Realtor can give visitors a history of the painted church and offer directions to access the site easily. The church is part of the National and Hawaiian Historic Registers.
Another coffee lover’s destination in South Kona is Greenwell Farms. This farm began in 1850 with the arrival of Henry Nicholas Greenwell. There are over 145 acres of working fields in this rich, fertile area in the heart of Kona. In 1873, the farm earned the Recognition Diploma at the World’s Fair for the specialty coffee brand. Today, Greenwell’s grandson runs the operations. Visitors can take a free tour of the farm from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day of the week. The on-site store is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. featuring 100 percent Kona coffee beans and artisan foods.
Whether it is an addiction to Hawaiian coffee, a chance to swim with dolphins, or stunning sunsets, South Kona outdoor spaces offer beautiful places to visit. To create a unique itinerary for sightseeing, you can include some or all these extraordinary places to your list. Get lost and find a new favorite place in Kona today.