Kona (Kailua-Kona) Tours

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Kailua-Kona, the largest town on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the epicenter of activities and tours on the Kona Coast—part of the island’s western (leeward) side. The antithesis to the lush, often rainy jungles of Hilo on the island’s eastern (windward) side, dry and sunny Kona’s activities put a huge emphasis on long days in the outdoors. Kailua-Kona is the jumping-off point for the Big Island’s best coffee-farm tours, superb reef snorkeling, all levels of hiking, and experiencing ancient Hawaiian culture, while downtown’s seaside shops and dining come with spectacular sunset views.
 
The Basics
Many Big Island sightseeing tours originating in Kona include stops to take in roadside lava tubes, the former royal summer residence at Hulihee Palace, the Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay, ancient Hawaiian heiau (temples) at the Place of Refuge National Historical Park, and coffee-tasting excursions. Some also visit points north and south of town—for example, to stargaze atop Mauna Kea or stroll along striking black- and green-sand beaches. Popular activities include submarine tours of local reefs, night snorkeling with manta rays, fishing charters, luaus, helicopter tours, and surfing and stand-up paddleboarding lessons.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Kailua-Kona serves as an ideal starting point for first-time visitors to the Big Island.
  • Hawaii does not recognize daylight saving time like the rest of the US (nor does the majority of the state of Arizona).
  • Dozens of hotels line the water in Kona, with a match for every budget.
  • Kona typically serves as a home base for couples and families with kids looking for a beach vacation, but is also a convenient starting point for outdoor adventurers and culture buffs looking to explore the rest of the Big Island.
 
How to Get There
Downtown Kailua-Kona, opposite Kailua Bay, is eight miles south of Kona International Airport. A coastal road, Route 19 (Queen Kaahumanu Highway), connects the town to points north, while Route 11 (Mamalahoa Highway) connects it to points south. Highway 190 runs up through the mountains and links the town via Saddle Road to Hilo and the island’s windward side.
 
When to Get There
Though Kona enjoys balmy beach weather year-round, winter (November through March) does bring slight temperature dips and occasional afternoon rains. These months, however, also coincide with some popular annual visitors: migrating humpback whales, visible on boat tours departing from the downtown pier and harbor. The annual Ironman World Championship triathlon draws huge crowds and fills hotels throughout the region for weeks leading up to the October event.
 
Visiting Volcanoes from Kona
The Big Island is home to five volcanoes, and you’d be remiss not to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes to see the active lava flows. Though closer to Hilo on the island’s eastern side, a number of land-based and helicopter tours depart from Kona daily. If driving, plan to spend at least two hours getting to the national park. There are two routes: the high, central Saddle Road and the slow and winding southern coastal roads. Closer to Kona, Mauna Kea offers visitors 13 telescopes and incredible stargazing with nightly programs illustrating constellations.
Location
Address: Kuakini Highway, Kailua Kona 96740, USA
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Admission: Free
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9 Tours & Activities to Experience

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Atlantis Kona Submarine Adventure

On this exciting Kona submarine tour, dive deep below the cobalt waters just off the Kona coast, where an entire world of fish and marine creatures is waiting just below the surface. As the submarine descends towards the colorful reef, peer through the portholes at fish that swim to within inches of the submarine windows, and experience the sense of peace and calm in this world beneath the waves. This is a great way to explore underwater without even getting your hair wet, and, if you’re very lucky, there’s even the chance you could see a passing shark.
  • Duration: 1 hour
From
US$127.52
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  • Duration: 1 hour
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US$127.52

Zodiac Raft Whale Watching Adventure

Winter is the most exciting time to be out on the water in Hawaii, as it’s the time of year when thousands of migrating humpback whales visit the islands. On this exciting Big Island whale watching tour, experience the thrill of traveling aboard a high-speed raft, and then seeing a whale swimming just in front of the boat. Though the boat will obey the federal laws and not approach within 100 feet (30 meters), it isn’t uncommon for the whale to decide to swim up under the boat!
  • Duration: 3 hours
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US$99.00
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  • Duration: 3 hours
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US$99.00

Zodiac Raft and Snorkel Adventure

Splash into the crystal-clear waters of Kealakekua Bay on this Big Island snorkeling adventure! Dart in and out of sea caves and explore the gorgeous Kona coastline in an agile Zodiac raft. Snorkel among colorful tropical fish, and keep an eye out for other marine life like whales, dolphins and sea turtles. Along the way, learn about the island’s geologic history and local legends from your expert guide, and see the spot where Captain Cook first landed in Hawaii.
  • Duration: 5 hours
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US$115.00
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  • Duration: 5 hours
From
US$115.00

Hidden Craters Hike

Discover two things Hawaii's Big Island is famous for—java and volcanoes—on an off-road Kona Coffee and Craters Tour. Hop aboard a 4 Wheel Drive van for a breaktaking ride up the side of Hualalai volcano. You'll pass giant craters and among both rainforest and lunar landscapes climbing 6,000 feet to explore an incredible lava tube on foot. Afterward, spend some time at one of Kona's renowned mountain coffee plantations where you'll have an opportunity to sample the local product.
  • Duration: 7 hours
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US$185.00
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  • Duration: 7 hours
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US$185.00

Stand-Up Paddleboard Lesson on the Big Island

During this stand up paddleboarding lesson in Kona, successfully learn how to balance and paddle your very own stand up, or 'SUP' board, and see for yourself why stand up paddling is one of the most popular activities in Hawaii. Along with your expert, local instructor, you’ll learn the best spot to place your feet and how to maneuver the board, as well as what to look for on the water and tips for efficient paddling. Since this Kona lesson is capped at 4 people, you can ensure a highly personalized experience while learning to walk on the waves. 
  • Duration: 2 hours
From
US$103.13
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  • Duration: 2 hours
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US$103.13

Lava Legends and Legacies Luau on the Big Island

Explore the beauty of the South Pacific on this popular Big Island luau, where you’ll feast on traditional Polynesian cuisine and experience a fiery show. As the sun sinks low off the Kona coast, enjoy an evening of Polynesian culture through food, chanting, and dance, where legends, stories, history, and legacy are dramatically presented each night.
  • Duration: 3 hours
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US$95.00
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  • Duration: 3 hours
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US$95.00

Kona Submarine Adventure and Royal Kona Resort Luau

Enjoy two Big Island experiences with this combo tour that includes a submarine ride and luau. Get a look at Hawaii’s underwater world as you venture below the surface of the sea to observe the fish and other marine life that live around the coral reef. Then soak up a bit of Hawaiian culture at the Royal Kona Resort Luau, where you’ll enjoy food and musical entertainment.
  • Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
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US$213.26
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  • Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
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US$213.26

Kona Submarine Adventure and Island Breeze Luau

Discover the Big Island's coral reefs and Polynesian cultures on with a Kona submarine adventure and a sunset luau at Island Breeze, a 5-hour combination tour. Slip beneath the surface in an Atlantis submarine, and get an up-close look at Hawaii’s thriving marine life at depths up to 100 feet (30 meters). Return to shore for a luau on the shore; experience a traditional lei greeting and imu ceremony, sip drinks from an open bar as you watch dances from across Polynesia, and sample island delicacies at a sumptuous buffet.
  • Duration: 5 hours
From
US$213.26
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  • Duration: 5 hours
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US$213.26

Kona Submarine Adventure and Snorkel Dolphin Cruise

On this Big Island submarine and snorkel cruise, combine two of Hawaii’s best adventures into a single trip! Begin with a Kona submarine tour that explores up to 100 feet (30 meters) underwater, before hopping on a boat to cruise above the waves and search for pods of dolphins. You’ll later have the chance to scour the reefs while snorkeling in a protected cove, for a full day of Big Island adventure and fun, just off of the Kona coast.  
  • Duration: 5 hours
From
US$250.76
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  • Duration: 5 hours
From
US$250.76


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