Best What to do in Kona HI Day 1
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Best What to do in Kona HI Day

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane and welcome to a perfect what to do in Kona HI day. Kona, aka Kailua-Kona isn’t the biggest city in Hawaii. Heck, it isn’t even the biggest city on the Big Island of Hawaii. (That honor belongs to Hilo, which we will be visiting in a different blog post.)

However, what Kona lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. Kona has great beaches, great shopping, and great food. Plus, it’s actually a very important city in Hawaiian history, thanks to its connection to King Kamehameha I and the Hawaiian royal family in general.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: What to Do in Kona HI

#1 TOP PICK

Best What to do in Kona HI Day 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BIG ISLAND TOUR
✔️ Black sand beaches
✔️ Visit a volcano

#2 PICK

Best What to do in Kona HI Day 3

KONA FOOD TOUR
✔️ Delicious Hawaiian treats
✔️ Expert local guide

#3 PICK

Best What to do in Kona HI Day 4

ALL OTHER KONA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

So join me for a beautiful and delicious what to do in Kona HI day! Trust me that you won’t be disappointed!

what to do in Kona HI day

Best what to do in Kona HI day

Morning: Explore Kona

We’ve got an excellent food tour coming up this afternoon, so we get to spend the morning exploring the charming town of Kona. (Of course, we won’t really want to do any eating, since there’s a ton of food on the tour, and we have to save room for dinner this evening as well.)

However, don’t worry! There’s plenty to do in Kona that has nothing to do with food. We’ve got shopping galore, as well as one of the most special historic homes in America. If all else fails, this is Hawaii, and we’ve always got the beach! Follow me!

Approximately Top 5: what to do in Kona HI day

what to do in Kona HI day
1) Mokuaikaua Church

One of the most historically important buildings in Kona is this church, which you can see in my photo above. Now, I’ve done a lot of traveling in Europe, where there are historically important churches every five feet. However, I was not expecting to find a particularly historically important church in Hawaii.

Well, one thing that makes Mokuaikaua Church special is that it was the first Christian church in the entire state of Hawaii. I couldn’t go inside during my what to do in Kona HI day, but there was a friendly greeter who explained the history of the church to me and gave me a copy of The Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian. What a unique souvenir!

The church was founded in the 19th century by the Thurston family, who were some of the first missionaries to come to Hawaii. The Thurston family is quite controversial in Hawaii because of the large role they played in Hawaii’s annexation, but the church greeter didn’t mention that.

Anyway, the Thurstons who founded the church weren’t the same Thurstons who were involved with the annexation.

what to do in Kona HI day
2) Bubba and Finn’s Soft Serve

So, I didn’t eat breakfast on this what to do in Kona HI day because I was saving room for the food tour. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a morning snack! If it’s hot in Hawaii, which it almost surely will be, head on over to Bubba and Finn’s Soft Serve for some refreshing ice cream.

This ice cream comes in all sorts of unique flavors that are local to Hawaii. I selected the ube, which is a purple yam from the Philippines. It’s quite common to use it in desserts, just like sweet potato is common in desserts in certain parts of the United States.

I think ube has a creamy and decadent flavor, so I’d never guess I was eating a vegetable. I assume that means that the ube soft serve has the same number of calories as broccoli, and I can eat as much as I want.

what to do in Kona HI day
3) Village Farmer’s Market

If you’re enjoying your what to do in Kona HI day from between Wednesday and Sunday, be sure to head down to the Village Farmer’s Market. It’s not what I usually think of a Farmer’s Market being like because there wasn’t so much produce and local beekeepers selling crazy expensive and delicious honey.

Don’t get me wrong, there is fresh produce here, but you’re just as likely to find jewelry and local crafts as you are to find heirloom tomatoes. (I actually didn’t see anyone selling heirloom tomatoes here specifically. But you get the picture.)

what to do in Kona HI day
4) Hulihe’e Palace

And here we have the most exciting attraction you’ll find in your what to do in Kona HI day: Hulihe’e Palace. Of course, it’s in the American Constitution that we can’t have royalty or nobility of any kind.

Sadly, this has led to a shortage of palaces in the US of A. So if you’re looking for a proper royal palace, you have to head to Hawaii, where there was a royal family before Hawaii was annexed by the United States.

If you want to go on a tour of Hulihe’e Palace, I strongly suggest doing so. However, you need to reserve a slot on the house tours in advance here. (They say they take walk-ins, but the tours fill up quickly, especially when a cruise ship is in town, so I don’t think you should take the risk.)

what to do in Kona HI day

In fact, when I arrived at the palace, I learned that the tour of the house had already been booked up, but I was allowed to go on a self-guided tour of the palace for less money. Even though the tour was going on at the same time I was there, I was a good girl and didn’t spy on the tour because I hadn’t paid for it.

Be aware that you will have to take your shoes off before entering the house. Also, there’s no photo taking allowed inside, but you can take photos of the exterior of the house.

Because of the no picture taking rule, I can’t show you a photo of the giant cupboard in the palace, which is one of the prettiest pieces of furniture I have ever seen. It even won a furniture prize in France, where they’re very particular about that sort of things. You’ll just have to go to the Hulihe’e Palace to see it for yourself.

Also, don’t miss the photos of the Hawaiian royal family in full Victorian glamour clothes. I think someone should create a miniseries based on the Hawaiian royal family, if for no other reason than the costumes would be insane.

what to do in Kona HI day
5) Shop Til You Drop!

We have just a little time left on our what to do in Kona HI day before the food tour begins, so let’s spend it supporting the local economy. First, I went to the Kona Oceanfront Gallery to look at their pieces of koa wood art. Koa wood is a gorgeous, dark wood that’s also quite expensive.

That means that koa wood art is generally out of this travel blogger’s price range. But lucky for me, the gallery did have a small bowl that I could afford! If you see koa wood that you can afford, get you some!

I also like to get a pair of earrings in every place I visit, so I picked up a pair of earrings made entirely out of whale bone, meaning there’s no metal at all. I’d never seen a pair like this before, so I had to have them. If you want something similar, head over to Pueo Boutique and try to hunt down a pair!

what to do in Kona HI day

Best what to do in Kona HI day

Afternoon: Food Tour

Before I decided to spend my what to do in Kona HI day, I had no idea that it was a place where you could take a food tour. Much to my surprise and delight, there is an excellent food tour that runs a couple of times a week in Kona’s fair city.

Our delightful guide, whom I shall call Kala, led us on a merry romp through downtown Kona’s best restaurants and hidden gems. You’ll be able to try lots of amazing treats that you would never be able to find back home.

Check rates and availability by clicking here.

Then get ready to join me for a delicious

Approximately Top 5: Kona Food Tour

what to do in Kona HI day
1) Clam Soup

OK, so New England clam chowder was not the first thing I was expecting to try on a Hawaiian food tour. However, seafood is obviously a big deal in Hawaii, and Kona has a very chill, seaside town vibe, kind of like coastal towns in New England, only with a lot less snow and a lot more mac nuts. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising to find some creamy and delicious clam chowder here.

BTW, I was on the tour with a few other families from the mainland United States, and I was shocked to see that many of them had never seen clam chowder before. I

mean, I know that I’m from the east coast, and these people were from the mid-west and the south, but is clam chowder really that unusual in the rest of the country? Anyway, even the clam chowder virgins enjoyed this stuff.

what to do in Kona HI day
2) Local Snacks!

Our next stop was at a lovely shop that only sells locally made Hawaiian goods. They have art, jewelry, and bath products, but we’re not here for any of those shenanigans. We’re here for the food! This is definitely the smallest stop on the food tour, but it’s still interesting to sample the goods that the food shop has on display that day.

When we were there, the treats we got to try were hibiscus mint tea, a piece of macadamia nut tart, and a macadamia nut cookie. I actually bought the full-sized tart and the tea leaves to take home with me because they were so tasty, and I drank some of the tea while writing this post.

You get a discount at the store for being on the tour, but there was no hard sell to buy or anything.

what to do in Kona HI day
3) Mai Tai Time

At our next stop, we just had a drink, but what a drink it was. When you enjoy a what to do in Kona HI day, or a day anywhere else in Hawaii for that matter, you have to drink at least one mai tai.

Mai tais are made with rum, Curacao, orgeat syrup, which is what gives its nutty flavor, and lime juice. It seems too complicated to make at home, which is why they’re so fun to drink on vacation in Hawaii.

Apparently Hunter S. Thompson liked to drink here, so I hope that his ghost was enjoying the mai tais with us. I mean, I’d guess Hunter likes something stronger than mai tais, but his ghost probably appreciates the invitation anyway.

what to do in Kona HI day
4) Poke? OK!

Poke, which as far as I can tell means diced raw fish mixed with various yumminess, has become a craze that is sweeping the nation.

Why, I even had a delicious bowl of poke when I was in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston! My southern great-grandparents are having the vapors in their graves at the thought.

Well, poke is popular because it’s delicious, especially when the fish is fresh, so I was glad that Kala took us to a place that only serves fish that they catch fresh each morning. When they run out of fresh fish, they close up for the day.

This poke was served with the traditional sides of rice and mac and cheese, which is apparently an extremely popular side dish in Hawaii.

what to do in Kona HI day

As we enjoyed our poke, Kala gave us some tropical fruit juice to drink, as well as fresh tropical fruits like lychee…

what to do in Kona HI day

And mango…

what to do in Kona HI day

All the health in the fresh fruit cancels out the calories in the mac and cheese. That’s just science.

what to do in Kona HI day
5) Gourmet Bar Food

At our next stop, we got to feast on one of the most popular cocktails and one of the most popular bar snacks in all of Kona. The purple cocktail, known as the Ube Be (say it aloud to get the joke), is made with ube, which we already enjoyed in our breakfast ice cream.

what to do in Kona HI day

And the bar snack were these amazing fried avocado. I know that sounds gross, but somehow they manage to preserve the texture of the avocado and keep it crispy and delicious on the outside as well. The members of my tour group couldn’t stop eating them.

what to do in Kona HI day
6) More Fish!

OK, you can probably tell that my photo above isn’t a picture of fish. This is the second booze tasting of the tour, but this time you get to choose between beer and hard seltzer.

I selected the hard seltzer because I had never tried one before, and it was quite refreshing. And compared to the mai tai, it tasted like it didn’t have any booze at all.

what to do in Kona HI day

Ahhh! Now this is fish! The restaurant owners are from the southern part of the mainland USA, and they specialize in creations like authentic fried catfish. You know it’s good when the fish and the crust are equally delicious.

what to do in Kona HI day
7) Gelato

Feel like you’ve had enough food, Internet Stranger? Well, you haven’t. I’ll tell you when you’ve had enough. For the last stop on the food tour, we’re heading for gelato. At this stop you get to choose your flavor, and I picked the Mauka Trail, which is their most popular flavor. (It’s a play on Mocha trail; the Mauka Trail is a real trail in Hawaii.)

This Mauka Trail is made with coffee, chocolate, and macadamia nuts because literally everything in the state of Hawaii is made with mac nuts, by state law. If you eat something that doesn’t have mac nuts in it in Hawaii, they throw you in prison. But that doesn’t make this gelato any less delicious.

24 Hour Tip

Those are all the secrets of the tour I can share with you for now. You’ll have to book the food tour for yourself to see them all!

Check rates and availability by going here!

what to do in Kona HI day

Best what to do in Kona HI day

Evening: Dinner at Magics Beach Grill

I obviously don’t think you should go to dinner on your what to do in Kona HI day right after the food tour. That would be insane.

Instead, you should make a late reservation at Magics Beach Grill and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach until sunset. Doesn’t that sound perfectly relaxing?

what to do in Kona HI day

Start with one of their delicious cocktails, like the spicy Wild Wahine.

what to do in Kona HI day

I went for a lighter appetizer, the Caesar salad, because of all the heavy food on the tour. Also because they use furikake, a popular Japanese seasoning, in the Caesar, and I wanted to see what the furikake added to the salad. (It was pleasantly salty, and it gave a touch of the taste of the sea.)

what to do in Kona HI day

And speaking of the sea, tuck into the house specialty, which is the fish and chips. This is made with a local fish called ono, and it’s delicious. I guarantee you haven’t had fish and chips like this before. It’s the perfect end to a fantastic day in Kona.

what to do in Kona HI day

Best what to do in Kona HI day

Where to Stay?

For your what to do in Kona HI day, of course you’re going to want to stay in a hotel in Kona. Unfortunately, these hotels can get to be crazy expensive, especially if you visit during spring vacation, like I did.

That’s why I recommend staying at the Aeolian Ranch. It’s on a gorgeous property with beautiful horses and gardens that you can stroll at your leisure. There’s free coffee and wifi in the morning, so it’s quite convenient. More importantly, it’s actually affordable, so you can save your vacation money for fun stuff like food tours and Hawaiian royal residences.

If you want a great deal on this hotel, click here.

And if you’re looking for other hotel options in Kona, check out these fantastic prices on many other hotels in Kona.

You can explore the best deals on many hotels in Kona here.

This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay as the base for your day in Kona. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

what to do in Kona HI day

That’s A Perfect what to do in Kona HI day

If you thought this article was funny, check out my hilarious travel guide Get Lost.

What would you do with a day in Kona? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Kona now? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: What to Do in Kona HI

#1 TOP PICK

Best What to do in Kona HI Day 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BIG ISLAND TOUR
✔️ Black sand beaches
✔️ Visit a volcano

#2 PICK

Best What to do in Kona HI Day 3

KONA FOOD TOUR
✔️ Delicious Hawaiian treats
✔️ Expert local guide

#3 PICK

Best What to do in Kona HI Day 4

ALL OTHER KONA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in one place, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours in Kona

You can also add 24 hours in Honolulu. You can go on a circle tour of Oahu. Why not add a Big Island Kona things to do tour? There’s what to see on Kauai. You can experience a snorkel tour in Maui. Add on the best things to do in Lahaina HI. Check out what to do in Wailea Maui. Finally, try the best things to do at Hilo Hawaii. Go for the best tours in Kona Hawaii.

Best What to do in Kona HI Day 8

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