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Kona - Things to See and Do

Hawaii’s Big Island (Hawaii Island) is both the youngest and biggest of the Hawaiian archipelago. Home to a vast tapestry of environments, the atoll hosts a diverse number of unrivalled natural wonders, such as: lush rain forests, volcanic deserts, snow-capped mountain and black sand beaches.

Located on the Big Island, the sunny district of Kona stretches over 100 kilometres to encompass historic landmarks, lava-lined coasts and celebrated coffee farms. Visitors to the versatile Kona coast find adventure at every turn. The region is famous for deep-sea fishing, hosting the International Billfish Tournament every year. South Kona’s calm and clear waters are ideal for spotting dolphins and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles). Kealakekua Bay is steeped in history, as the place where Captain James Cook first set foot on the island and died. While the Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) bustles with shops, restaurants and nightlife in the heart of the district.

Kona Information

Population: 176000 (Big Island)
Time Zone: GMT -10
Languages: English (primary) and Hawaiian
Currency: American Dollar (USD)
Currency Exchange: Purchase your USD and travellers’ cheques before you leave Australia.

Kona Climate

Kona enjoys a tropical climate with warm year-round temperatures, averaging between 19°C (66.4°F) and 31°C (88.0°F). Humidity generally sits between 50%–80%, and is moderated by balmy breezes. Mornings are clear, while the afternoon tend to bring clouds. Kona is generally dry. Yearly water temperatures range from 24°C (75°F) to 28°C (82°F).

Kona Airport

Name: Kona International Airport
Address: 73-200 Kupipi Street, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740-2645
Distance to city: The airport is located 11km (7mi) from Kailua, and 40km (25mi) from Waikoloa.
Car Rental: Discover the Big Island with a great choice of hire cars, available at Mates’ Rates from our car suppliers.
Transfers: Shuttle Service counters are located in the Baggage Claim area.
Bus: The Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency Hele-On bus operates limited services between the airport and Kailua-Kona town.
Taxi: Taxi services are available kerbside, fronting baggage claim areas A and B. See a Taxi Dispatcher for service.


When it comes to food, Hawaii's Big Island has a huge range of choice. Local comfort dishes can be enjoyed downtown in Hilo; markets brim with island-grown fruit and vegetables, while Hawaii Regional Cuisine dishes feature on menus throughout Waimea and the Kohala Coast.

Hawaii Island’s rich natural resources and cultural diversities are reflected in local food markets. Fresh produce stalls showcase locally-grown and exotic fruit and vegetable varieties – such as mangos, papayas, pineapples, passion fruits, coconuts, and guavas – and stock jarred jams and salsa and homemade Hawaiian treats. Mini food kiosks dish up Hawaii-specific fares, like Portuguese malasadas, Korean kim chee, Filipino lumpia, and poi. The Big Island is home to a number of farmers’ markets, among them the Hilo Farmers Market, Volcano Village Farmers’ Market, Pāhoa Village Farmers’ Market and Hawaiian Homesteaders Association Farmers’ Market particularly stand out.

In the early 90s, a dozen Hawaiian chefs established the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, a variation of Pacific Rim fare, which combines fresh, local ingredients with flavours from around the world. Two of the original chefs behind the movement operate restaurants on the Big Island – Peter Merriman (Merriman’s Restaurant in Waimea) and Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s, Waikoloa Bar & Grill on the Kohala Coast). Other restaurants in resort areas throughout the island also feature the unique flavours of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.

No trip to Hawaii’s Big Island is complete without partaking in an authentic Hawaiian luau. A grand celebration of Polynesian culture, a traditional Hawaiian luau indulges guests with dishes like kalua pig cooked in an imu, haupia and poi, and live music and performances. Luaus are hosted at venues throughout Hawaii Island, most prominently in the resort areas of Historic Kailua Village and Keauhou in Kona and along the Kohala Coast.

For foodies, there’s no better time to visit the Big Island, then in September for Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range. The festival features over 30 of Hawaii’s best chefs and tastings of everything from grass-fed beef to fresh island vegetables.

Coffee lovers are encouraged to visit in November for the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival held in venues throughout Kona.


The Big Island’s shopping scene is rich with first-rate retail opportunities. Shopping malls and stores dot Hilo and Historic Kailua Village and the Kohala Coast, while art galleries and boutiques can be found off the beaten track in small towns like Holualoa and Hawi.

The Big Island’s most exciting collection of shopping, dining and services can be found at Kings' Shops and Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa. Kings' Shops is a one-stop shopping spot that includes everything from high-end boutiques and unique jewellery to art galleries and activity centres. Queens’ MarketPlace is one of Hawaii’s busiest shopping centres; a family-fun shopping experience that hosts boutiques, galleries, shops and services and free Hawaiian cultural activities and entertainment.

Specialities stores are big business on the Big Island. Kona Coffee is world-renowned and can be sourced in Kailua-Kona or Holualoa. Despite not being native to the islands, the macadamia nut has become synonymous with Hawaii and can be enjoy from the famous Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Company or Big Island Candies, which are both located just outside of Hilo.

Also synonymous with Hawaii, Aloha Shirts make for a great Big Island souvenir – the Big Island’s best selection can be found at HiloHattie, located in Kailua-Kona and Hilo towns. Handcrafted Hawaiian handicrafts, such as quilts, artisan jewellery, handmade glass and koa wood bowls, also make for great keepsakes and can be found at stores and malls all over the island.