While we were in Kona in the summer of 2013 my mother and my sister ran the Kona Marathon. OK, so that was the original reason why we were are there - to cheer on my sis and my mom on this important life event. The Kona marathon is large and generally well-organized, with a route which is generally "fair". However, would-be runners should be aware that Kona in late June can be hot - and also the course goes out for many miles on an exposed highway with no shade that is in the middle of a lava field. I heard that it was like running in the middle of an oven.
My mother has run marathons all over the United States, and she told me that the heat and the lava fields made this one of the most challenging she's come across. No so much in terms of hills, but with the heat and the lack of shade it's quite difficult. If you choose to do the marathon, be sure to be well hydrated - and it might be a good idea to have someone to check up with you out on the course, especially at the 23rd miles where there is a very tough extended climb up "heartbreak hill."
Kona Country Club
The Kona Country Club has two courses. One that more or less parallels the ocean, and the other which goes up into the mountains.
Personally, I prefer the mountain course. Its views are better and the temperatures are more comfortable.
The fairways and greens are kept in wonderful condition and the staff are very helpful and friendly. Do be warned that the rough and out of bounds areas are very course lava rock and thick grass, most balls that go out will never be found again.
The website gives prices and contact details. Locals get better rates and can bring family for a discount.
Equipment: Bring or rent your own clubs. Carts are mandatory.
Walua Road Trail
The locals like the Walua Road Trail. Many people come here, whether it be those who live close and walk to it, or those who live far away and drive to it. Starting at dawn, the trail comes alive.
Locals may be creatures of habit, so if you become a regular on the tail, you'll notice the same crowd during the same hours quite frequently.
The "trail" is actually a part road and part path where no cars are allowed. It parallels the main Highway (HW11), but always stays above it.
It is high on the hill, so it is much cooler than being in the lower town, along the waterfront. Its views are great and the people are friendly.
Its total length is 3.2miles one-way, so you can opt to do as much or little of it as you want. It climbs about 500ft so is relatively flat for being in the mountains, again making it a favorite for locals.
Equipment: Bring your walking shoes or bicycle, both are quite popular. Many also walk their dogs. If you come in the late morning or afternoon, it will be hot and sunny, so bring sun protection.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Swimming with the Dolphins with Sunlight on Water
This was so awesome! Native Hawaiian Captain Michael led this beautiful, spiritual tour aboard his boat. We found a pod of dolphins and swam 3 different times with them. There were about 50 of them! Some baby dolphins too. The boat is small so its a small group of about 6 people. which is more intimate. It was a one in a lifetime opportunity and I highly recommend it. We paid $125 per person. Worth every penny!
Michael also performs weddings and leads mystical island tours.
Equipment: Arrive at the boat ramp early. He leaves at 8am, so eat breakfast before you arrive. There is no lunch, but he provides snacks. We brought a few more since we are ona weird diet. Also, bring swimsuit, strong sunscreen, beach towel, snorkel and fins and an underwater camera.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Whale Watching
Kahaluu Beach Park -- This is the most popular beach on the Kona Coast; these reef-protected lagoons attract 1,000 people a day almost year-round. Kahaluu is the best all-around beach on Alii Drive, with coconut trees lining a narrow salt-and-pepper sand shore that gently slopes to turquoise pools. The schools of brilliantly colored tropical fish that weave in and out of the well-established reef make this a great place to snorkel. It's also an ideal spot for children and beginning snorkelers to get their fins wet; the water is so shallow that you can just stand up if you feel uncomfortable. Be careful in winter, though: The placid waters become turbulent, and there's a rip current when high surf rolls in; look for the lifeguard warnings.
Kahaluu isn't the biggest beach on the island, but it's one of the best equipped, with off-road parking, beach-gear rentals, a covered pavilion, and a food concession. It gets crowded, so come early to stake out a spot.
Snorkeling at Kahalu'u Beach Park is the best in all of the state of Hawaii. Over 200 species of sea life are regularly observed and easily accessible.
Equipment: If you don't have your own gear for snorkling. There is gear available at the beach, or see Snorkel Bob on Alii Dr. for gear and special environmentally correct fish food (no frozen peas, please!).