Things to do in Kailua-Kona

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

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. Feast on a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet with traditional Hawaiian dishes made with local ingredients. Savor authentic island entrees such as teriyaki beef and freshly-caught fish. Be treated to Big Island flavors with sides like, coconut rolls, sweet potato-macaroni salad, and Waipio Valley Poi. Enjoy stir fry vegetables, 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, Hawaii: Night Manta Ray Snorkel Experience

2. Big Island, Hawaii: Night Manta Ray Snorkel Experience

Snorkeling with manta rays is a must-do while in Hawaii! Enjoy this amazing opportunity to see manta rays up close. Feed and interact with other ocean creatures on this cruise trip. After a safety briefing, gear up with the snorkeling equipment and wet suits provided. Relax and enjoy the cruise with drinks and snacks on board. Bring your underwater camera for photos and capture memories that will last a lifetime.

Big Island: Kona 2-Hour Small Group Surf Lesson

3. 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: Night Swim with Manta Ray with Hot Chocolate

4. Big Island: Night Swim with Manta Ray with Hot Chocolate

Experience a nighttime snorkeling expedition on a cruise from Big Island. 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

Mauna Kea: Summit Sunset & Stargazing Trip with Photo

5. Mauna Kea: Summit Sunset & Stargazing Trip with Photo

Get your photos taken by the stars during this sunset and stargazing adventure on the summit of Mauna Kea. Learn about the area from your guide as you sip on hot chocolate and eat snacks. Choose from pickup and drop-off options at several locations.  Delight in the awe-inspiring sunset at the top of Mauna Kea, the highest point in the Pacific. Get cozy with a parka, gloves, and hot drink as you learn historic accounts of Hawaii, the Big Island, from your guide. Stand amidst the world’s largest collection of research telescopes and see two of the eight telescopes which took the first photo of a black hole. Enjoy your very own private star show with a Celestron telescope. Capture your experience forever with photos taken by your guide on a DSLR camera. Get emailed these photos after your experience. After your unforgettable evening with the stars, depart back to your pickup location for drop-off.

Kona: Dolphin Watch and Double Snorkel Boat Tour with BBQ

6. Kona: Dolphin Watch and Double Snorkel Boat Tour with BBQ

Discover the beautiful coastline aboard the Kibou zodiac vessel. Search for playful dolphins in the gorgeous blue Hawaiian waters, snorkel with exotic underwater species, and enjoy a hearty Hawaiian-style BBQ lunch. After meeting your crew and boarding the boat, begin by searching for majestic dolphins in the shimmering ocean surrounding Kona. Learn a bit about marine biology, Hawaiian history, and local traditions. Stop in a spectacular bay with a vibrant reef and enjoy plenty of time for snorkeling. Swim with wild turtles and exotic tropical fish as you explore the underwater world. After snorkeling, the crew will bring out the barbecue and cook up a delectable meal. Once finished snorkeling and with lunch, travel to a second snorkel spot to try and see more wildlife and potentially some manta rays, before heading back to the meeting point.

Big Island: South Kona Snorkeling and Coastline Exploration

7. 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.

From Hawaii: Historical Dinner Cruise Tour to Kealakekua Bay

8. From Hawaii: Historical Dinner Cruise Tour to Kealakekua Bay

Step aboard and step back in time. Hop aboard a sunset dinner cruise in Kona for an enchanting Hawaiian history lesson from the experts. This family adventure departs from the Kailua Pier and 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 while you admire 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 an appetizer of Mauna Loa Big Island Macadamia Nuts (Vegan/GF). Then, 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 Onion vinaigrette dressing (Vegan/GF). For your main course, choose the Thai coconut curry with Hamakua sweet potatoes, Hawaiian breadfruit, carrots, and bell peppers (Vegan/GF). Or, opt for steamed jasmine rice (Vegan/GF) with Kiawe mango barbecue pork short ribs served with 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: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

9. Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

The morning is filled with guided visits to some of the most majestic waterfalls on the Big Island. The views stop you in your tracks at the Waipio Valley lookout, where a dramatic backdrop of lush cliffs drops into the sparkling blue ocean. Continue riding along the Hamakua coast as more postcard-worthy views pass by your window before visiting Akaka Falls and the famous Rainbow Falls. Take a short walk through the rainforest for an up-close view and plenty of photo opportunities. In the afternoon, explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including steam vents, the Halema’uma’u, and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts, and take a short hike along the crater rim trail.  From here, relax and take it all in at Punalu’u Beach, a great place to spot marine life from the black-sand shore. On the leisurely drive back around sunset, you’ll see views of South Point, the southernmost point of the United States, and Kealakekua Bay.  Finally, enjoy a visit to Kona Coffee Farm. Stroll through the orchards with your guide and learn about the harvesting and milling process while sampling a warm cup of Kona-grown coffee.

From Keauhou Bay: Snorkel Cruise to Captain Cook's Monument

10. From Keauhou Bay: Snorkel Cruise to Captain Cook's Monument

Embark on an unforgettable day at sea from Keauhou Bay to Captain Cook's Monument on a guided Yacht trip. Enjoy scenic views of the Kona coast as you sail and indulge in tasty light snacks and tropical fruit juice. Meet your guide at the Keauhou Bay Pier. Hop aboard, relax and enjoy the ride. Cruise past rock formations, stop at beautiful coves, and soak in the views. Set sail along the beautiful Kona coast on a trip from Keauhou Bay, marvel at the ancient Kealakekua Bay, and see the Captain Cook Monument. Splash into the clear waters to swim, snorkel, or sunbathe onboard. Spot the colorful fish underneath the water, and take photos with your marine camera of the dolphins and other marine life. Enjoy site briefings and snorkeling tips from the crew members. Life jackets, floatation noodles, viewfinder boards, masks, fins, and snorkels are provided. Energize yourself with fruits and tropical juice. 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.

Available activities

  • Pacific sealife gems
  • Volcanos, waterfalls, & more
  • Hawaiian luaus, tikis, & more
  • Hawaii from above
  • Island surfing
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Frequently asked questions about Kailua-Kona

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What are the best day trips and excursions from Kailua-Kona?

The best day trips and excursions from Kailua-Kona are:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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Other Sightseeing Options in Kailua-Kona

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What people are saying about Kailua-Kona

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 1,938 reviews

It was an awesome experience. The team was thorough professional. Very helpful and funny too. My husband and me did it together and my husband is a non swimmer and had a gr8 time getting to see the ray fishes !

This was an incredible experience. Our tour guide, Shawn, was informative of the island's history and landscape and could not have been more accommodating. I highly recommend this trip

Well put together, very organized and amazing people. Was one of the favorite things that my wife and I had done on our trip.

Excellent. Went above and beyond our expectations. Great personality.

The food was amazing and crew on board was outstanding!