Kona Sea Views - Affordable Vacation Rental

Vintage MapTHE BIG ISLAND

So much to do...

The Island of Hawaii or "The Big Island", aptly named, is the largest of the eight Hawaiian Islands. It's also the youngest, and will eventually sink back into the ocean like all the islands.

Its climate ranges from the sunsoaked summer-all-year beaches, to the frigid snow and ice of the peak of Mauna Kea, from the dry moon-scapes near Kona airport to lush rain forest to open cattle pasture.

The Big Island of Hawaii has oodles and oodles of things to do - far too much to explain on one web page, but we've done our best here to list some of our favorite attractions and we're continually updating it with new experiences and suggestions from some of our guests.

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE NEARBY ACTIVITIES

Snorkeling
Ask a local, and each one will tell you a different spot for the best snorkeling - which tells you there's lots of it! Our favorite is Kahaluu Beach Park, where you''re bound to see sea turtles. And here's how to get there. Conveniently, its one of the closests spots. Some other great spots include Captain Cook & Kealakekua Bay.
For more snorkeling sites go to http://www.letsgo-hawaii.com/snorkeling/kona.html

City of Refuge
or Honaunau Nat'l Historical Park 16.9 Miles 30 mins.  The snorkeling area is outside the park to the north.  You can park along the road for free. You don’t have to go into the City of Refuge although it is an interesting visit.  Here you will see more colorful coral and frequently turtles. Exit south on HI-11 right on Napoopoo Rd, Turn left at Beadh RD/Puuhonua Rd, Continue to City of Refuge Rd/Keala O Keawe Rd.

Manta Dive or Snorkel
Mantas are rare, graceful, cow-sized, winged-sea-creatures that feed on plankton that can only be witnessed at night. Whether you’re scuba certified or only snorkel this can be the most amazing thing you’ve ever experienced.  We like to go with www.KonaHonuDivers.com. They have good equipment and a larger clean boat. Before dusk you go on a preliminary swim for snorkelers and a dive for divers to check out where the night experience will be.  Then after sunset you go in with lights and almost always experience these gentle giants come and enjoy their plankton salad, sometimes swimming within inches of your goggles!

Dolphins
Doplhins can be spotted, and sometimes swam with, in any of the Island's bays. If you keep your ears to the grindstone, or ask the right local, they can tell you where they've been hanging out. In the past few years, officials have been discouraging tourists from interacting with the island's spinner dolphins, as it upsets their sleep pattern (they "sleep" during the day in the Island's large bays with half their brains shut off). We say, use common sense. If you have a dolphin experience, be respectful, keep a healthy distance, look but don't touch, and definitetly don't harrass them. You'll find in many cases they're as interested in you as you are in them. If you want a sure-fire dolphin experience done right, check out dolphinjourneys.com. Captain Nancy runs the boat, and has a special bond with the dolphins. It might be one of the most expensive things you do on your trip, but well worth it. Everyone who does it, raves about it!

DINING

There are many choices along Alii drive downtown Kona. Bubba Gumps has a great location The Fish Hopper is on the pricier end, but has amazing seafood and a great bay view. We enjoy sitting bay side at the Royal Kona Hotel across from the Kona-Billfisher on the south end of the downtown part of Alii drive. They have good prime rib and having the waves splash below you while you watch the Kona sunset makes for an enjoyable evening.  You can also enjoy the sunset just from the bar area.

One of our favorites for breakfast or lunch is the Coffee Shack – it is almost like eating in a tree house. Located on Hwy. 11 south of Kona, between the 108 & 109 mile markers. Open 7 days a week, 7:30am to 3pm, 328-9555. The view is fabulously fabulous, very casual & affordable. There is just a little strip of a parking place on the ocean side of this mountain road. We love watching the bright green geckos come and eat out of empty jelly containers.

We recently discovered Kona Brewery. They have a large selection of food, including some really delicious and unique pizzas (try the Puna Pie), not to mention some great brews. Waimea Wheat is brewed with lilikoi (Passion Fruit) - refreshing - and available at the grocery store too, if you tak a liking to it.

Near the airport is a wonderful, healthy vegetarian-friendly Asian joint called Lotus Cafe. Try their ginger juice or their lilikoi juice. Or both!

If you're stopping by Bob's Snorkel to pick up or drop off gear, go upstairs to and share an Acai bowl at Basik for a really healthy start to your day.

Lastly, a little wonder popped up across from the free municipal parking lot in downtown Kona. It's a pretzel shack attached to the back of a building called Metal Mike's. Worth a try. See if he's got any of his peanut butter cup pretzels.

MORE STUFF WORTH THE TREK

The East Side of the Island
Use our home as your homebase and hop in the car for all kinds of worthwhile daytrips to the other side of the island. Here's a map of some our favorite sight-seeing.

Volcano National Park
The name says it all. But you might not know that you can hike through the crater of a dormant volcano or walk down a tube cut through the earth by flowing lava.

Waipeo Valley
We know you rented a 4x4 right? Have you noticed how many there are on the island? And for good reason - you'll need one to venture into this hardly touched lush valley. If you don't have a Jeep, you could hike down by foot, or just take in the MAGNIFICENT view from the top.

Hilo
The Big Island has a wet side and a dry side. Hilo's on the wet side. It rains like clockwork nearly every morning there, but it makes for lush hikes through rainforest with leaves as big as your torso. If you go, you'll probably want to spend the night. Maureen's is a great bed and breakfast. While you're there, you can enjoy the cricket-like croaks of the tiny but mighty Coqui frog by night, and wake up to waffles. If you stay there, walk almost directly across the street and follow the short hike through thick rainforest to an array of tidepools.

Akaka Falls
This is a short or longer hike through Banyan trees and rainforest to a very tall waterfall. The town you drove through to get there has some nice shops to poke you head in - including Mr. Ed's Bakery - try the Lilikoi Mustard.

South Point (and Green Sands Beach)
South point is the southernmost tip of the United States. Stand at the edge of these cliffs and stare at the endless horizon of blue. Or if you're inclined, find the where the ladder's bolted into the cliff face, get a running start and jump off into oblivion. Consult the blue book for exact details, but Green Sands beach is approximately 3 miles East beyond a gate that says not to drive through. You'll need to hike it on foot or go in a 4x4. Its a bumpy, dusty ride, but the sand is actually green. Don't ask us why.

For more information about a great place to stay on the Big Island go to www.airbnb.com/rooms/3668366

© 2012 Clyde Sebastian

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