Things to do in
Kailua-Kona

Charm and character abound in this city where watersports, lively markets, and ancient Hawaiian sites are found.

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Our most recommended things to do in Kailua-Kona

Big Island: Voyagers of the Pacific Luau with Buffet

1. Big Island: Voyagers of the Pacific Luau with Buffet

Visit the Royal Kona Resort to experience an interactive luau show celebrating the rich cultural history of Hawaii with seating on the glimmering shores of Kailua Bay. Start the evening with an aloha shell lei greeting, and craft demonstrations. Soon after, feast on a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet with traditional Hawaiian dishes made with local ingredients. Savor authentic island entrees such as honey soy braised beef, and fresh-catch fish. Be treated to Big Island flavors with sides like Hawaiian sweet potatoes, coconut rolls, macaroni, and Lomi Lomi salmon salad. Enjoy stir friend vegetables and kalua style pork and cabbage. Finish off your culinary experiences with tasty favorites like Hawaiian haupia pudding and coconut cake. Sip Mai Tais, wine, beer, and soft drinks as you embrace the local culture and radiant sunset. Then, as drumbeats build, the sensational Voyagers of the Pacific Luau show unfolds on stage. Be captivated by a dramatic show inspired by Polynesian stories told through live music, song, and dance, culminating in the exciting Samoan fire knife dance finale.

Big Island: Captain Cook Historical Dinner Cruise

2. Big Island: Captain Cook Historical Dinner Cruise

Step aboard and step back in time… Join for an enchanting Hawaiian history lesson from the experts on Kona’s one and only Historical Sunset Dinner Cruise. This 3-hour family adventure departing from the Kailua Pier is narrated by a local historian tour guide, who will reveal secrets, tell stories, and share legends related to the numerous landmarks along the 12 miles of magnificent Kona coastline. Unwind to Captain Cook’s Monument at Historical Kealakekua Bay (only accessible by boat or hiking) with a complimentary cocktail from a fully stocked, premium bar. Begin your delicious dinner starting with Mauna Loa Big Island Macadamia Nuts (Vegan/GF) appetizer. Enjoy a salad starter of Kealaola Farm mixed salad greens, Waimea grape tomatoes, Japanese cucumber, and red onion (Vegan/GF), served with house-made Maui Onionvinaigrette dressing (Vegan/GF). Choose your main course from a selection of Thai coconut curry with Hamakua sweet potatoes, Hawaiian breadfruit, carrots, and bell peppers (Vegan/GF), or steamed jasmine rice (Vegan/GF) with Kiawe mango barbecue pork short ribs served with a papaya salsa (GF) and island baked coconut dinner rolls served with butter (Vegetarian). Your dessert is a cheesecake with a local Lilikoi glaze (Vegetarian). Keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and seasonal humpback whales throughout the evening. Enjoy live music from some of the Big Island's best entertainers performing slack key Hawaiian Style music. Catch the sunset on the water and make sure to look for the famous Green Flash, a fleeting glimmer of intense emerald light that appears on the horizon just after sunset. Other highlights include the Ahu’ena Heiau, the Holua Slide, and the famous Kuamo’o Battlefield, just to name a few.

Big Island: Eco-Friendly Twilight Manta Ray Adventure

3. Big Island: Eco-Friendly Twilight Manta Ray Adventure

Experience an exciting 75-minute nighttime snorkeling expedition. Get up close and personal with stunning manta rays as they gracefully soar through the water. Your underwater adventure will take place in clear warm waters near protected reefs abundant with marine life.   After the sun sets, head off into the nighttime waters to see a fascinating "manta ray ballet" along the Kona coast near the mouth of Keauhou Bay. This point of departure is one of the island’s most successful and consistent manta ray viewing locations. Your snorkeling guide will outfit you with all the necessary gear needed to embark on your experience including snorkel gear, wetsuits, and flotation devices. After a quick safety briefing, plunge into the dark waters and be captivated by these graceful creatures as they feast on plankton. Grip onto the flotation swim ring with high-illumination blue water lights that attract the plankton on which the mantas feed. Soon afterward, rays will glide through the water almost at arm's length opening their enormous mouths to feast. After your remarkable underwater adventure, return to your boat and warm up with a nighttime snack of hot chocolate and cookies

Big Island: Eco-Friendly Snorkeling Expereince and BBQ

4. Big Island: Eco-Friendly Snorkeling Expereince and BBQ

You will need to arrive at 7:30 AM for your 8 AM departure and cruise through protected marine sanctuaries. Cruise ten miles down the Kona Coast to the snorkel destination, a protected marine sanctuary. Relax, you will have over two hours of water time to enjoy the marine life, underwater topography, and coral reef. Cruise in comfort! The boat’s main lower deck features a large shaded cabin with cushioned seating, tables, a premium bar, three restrooms, and freshwater showers. You won’t go hungry. Enjoy a light breakfast of tropical fruits, assorted pastries, bagels, juices, teas, and Kona coffee. While you're taking in the fun, the crew prepares lunch. After snorkeling, belly up to a full-service premium cash bar, featuring a large selection of liquors, mixes, and local brews. This boat hosts one of the only blenders on the Kona Coast. Your mask, fins, snorkel, and prescription masks will be provided to you. For beginners, a friendly “Snorkel 101 Class” is available from the lifeguard-trained crew. A host of flotation toys, including noodles, vests, inner tubes, and even “Sea View Boards” for those who don’t want to get their face wet. They even include the use of stand-up paddleboards and an array of other flotation devices at no additional cost. Kids of all ages love the 20’ waterslide and high dive platform. If you want to kick back and do nothing, check out the floating “relaxation station”, the crew will swim you out refreshments. More adventurous guests can rent a GoPro or wetsuit.

Hawaii: Afternoon Snorkeling Sail to Captain Cook's Monument

5. Hawaii: Afternoon Snorkeling Sail to Captain Cook's Monument

Set sail along the beautiful Kona coast on a 3-hour snorkeling trip. At historic Kealakekua Bay, you’ll see the Captain Cook Monument. Snorkel in pristine waters along the reef in the marine sanctuary. With your marine camera, take photos of the colorful fish, pods of spinner dolphins, and the landscaped ledges of ancient lava flows. Enjoy site briefings and snorkeling tips from the crew members. Life jackets, floatation noodles, viewfinder boards, masks, fins, and snorkels are all provided. The crew will help you enter and exit the water if needed and will provide fish identification cards. They will even take you on a guided snorkeling tour.

From Kona: Big Island Underwater Submarine Adventure

6. From Kona: Big Island Underwater Submarine Adventure

Take the ride of a lifetime beneath the waves in this adventure aboard a comfortable submarine. Explore a 25-acre magical world of marine life and colorful coral reefs. Get up close and personal with some of Hawaii's most exotic inhabitants. Descend more than 100 feet and see the sights from a fish-eye view. Board the famous submarine via a special ladder and get ready for a journey to the center of Hawaiian sea life. Marvel at the flora and fauna in their natural habitat. Enjoy free public parking in downtown Kona or at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel for a discounted rate for 4 hours. The excursion is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, weather permitting. Actual underwater time is 45 minutes.

Big Island: Kona 2-Hour Small Group Surf Lesson

7. Big Island: Kona 2-Hour Small Group Surf Lesson

There is a saying in Hawaii that "you never forget your first wave," and this surf lesson in Kahaluu Bay brings that saying to life, providing quality surf instruction to people of all ages and skill levels. The 2-hour surf lessons are designed to teach people how to surf safely and effectively from the best surfing and snorkeling beach in Kona, Hawaii. Upon arrival at the surf shop, you will be outfitted with reef booties and rashguards. Then, before entering the water, learn how to paddle and pop up on land, as well as important surfing etiquette and how to wipe out properly. Once you are comfortable, it’s off to the water to practice your skills on the long rolling waves of Kahaluu Bay. Your surf instructor will help you catch the waves, letting you know where you need to be, when to paddle, and when to pop up. They will even give you a little push to ensure that you catch every wave you paddle for. For more advanced surfers, instructors offer advice on how to turn and catch larger waves. Instructors work in small groups, with no more that 3 participants per teacher to ensure maximum attention and a highly personalized experience.

Big Island: South Kona Snorkeling and Coastline Exploration

8. Big Island: South Kona Snorkeling and Coastline Exploration

Prepare for a thrilling day exploring 3 unique snorkeling locations in South Kona with time to take a break from swimming for lunch with breathtaking views. Begin your snorkeling adventure by heading to the turquoise waters and vibrant reef of the 315-acre marine sanctuary of Kealakekua Bay, with your crew members highlighting interesting sights along the way. Once there, experience a vibrant reef filled with coral and schools of tropical fish. On occasion, even catch glimpses of spinner dolphins swimming nearby. After snorkeling, savor a gourmet deli lunch in the shade of the canopy with the monument to Captain Cook as a backdrop and the cliffs of the bay soaring above you. Next, jet off to a new location with visually spectacular snorkeling opportunities and cultural significance, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, the “Place of Refuge.” Beautiful Honaunau Bay is fronted by large, smooth, and lava rock flats and fascinating gardens of coral.  For your third snorkeling stop, let your expert captain transport you a location that even island locals have yet to see. At this remote location, snorkel at a remote black sand beach, marvel at a stone arch, or maybe admire a spectacular lava rock formation created thousands of years ago. Explore sea caves and lava tubes in a safe, exciting, and maneuverable vessel designed to get you up close and personal with the coast. Rest assured that the local operator is proudly part of the Hawaii Ecotourism Association and seeks to create a culture protecting and promoting healthy oceans through many sustainability efforts.

Kona: Afternoon Catamaran Cruise with Snorkel and Snacks

9. Kona: Afternoon Catamaran Cruise with Snorkel and Snacks

Embark on a snorkeling adventure on a catamaran cruise out of Kona, Hawai'i. Marvel at the brilliant underwater world surrounding the coastline as you swim and snorkel in blue waters. Sit back and relax on the cruise, feeling the salty breeze and the sun on your skin. Head out from downtown Kailua Kona Pier on Hawai'i's west coast. Marvel at the coastline's diverse landscape, from black lava flows to lush mountain scenes. See pristine white sand beaches from the water and enjoy the vastness of the Pacific Ocean going on for miles. Once the catamaran has stopped, embark on your underwater snorkeling adventure. Use the wide steps to enter the water calmly, jump from the 15' high platform, or glide down the 20' waterslide for a more thrilling entry to the ocean. Once you've enjoyed snorkeling, try out a stand up paddle board or simply lounge onboard under the sun or in the shade, sipping on cool drinks and tucking into light snacks. Then head back to your starting point.

Honokohau: Kona Snorkel and Sail with Drinks and Snacks

10. Honokohau: Kona Snorkel and Sail with Drinks and Snacks

Head to the meeting point and step aboard a stunning 53-foot catamaran. Be greeted by the friendly captain and crew, then set off along the scenic Kona coastline.  Soak up stunning views of the shore and the ocean, and look out for dolphins, green sea turtles, and seasonal whales (December to April). Enjoy a stop to cool off in the crystal clear water, and go snorkeling in search of colorful fish and fascinating coral reef. Back onboard, enjoy a refreshing alcoholic drink and some tasty snacks. 

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What people are saying about Kailua-Kona

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 1,176 reviews

Be sure to follow the directions for downloading the audio to go with your trip. Otherwise, customer service was very helpful in helping us find our errors. Excellent narrative as you go along the given route.

Welcoming and friendly staff. Very knowledgeable about the local sealife. Not handicap accessible as it is a submarine. I did get to see two sharks. Really great experience.

From the food to the bottomless Mai Tais to the elaborate performances, my husband and I really enjoyed this experience. It was the perfect start to our honeymoon!

They had plenty of food and drinks. The entertainment was spot on. It was a very beautiful experience.

Guide was incredible and given ample time to experience all stops.