While the skyscrapers of Waikiki and golf courses on Maui garner much love and interest, D and I happened to fall in love with Kona. The sleepy little town is filled with off-the-beaten-path charisma coupled with gorgeous public beaches and delectable open-air restaurants. Kona is on the Big Island of Hawaii and directly across the mountains from Hilo.
Our first trip to Kona happened on accident. We were on a cruise (go figure) sailing the Hawaiian Islands and bound for Nawiliwili, Kauai. After a fantastic day in Hilo, D and I were enjoying a glass of champagne on the Princess Cruise balcony, waiting to set sail.
Then another 30 minutes passed. One hour passed. Four hours passed. I’m still staring at the Matson shipping containers?? Seriously, what’s the hold-up? Suddenly, we see a group of continently soused crew members saunter up to the gangplank. I’ve been waiting on the CREW?? Shortly thereafter, our overly happy cruise director comes over the loud speaker to tell us of the “mechanical issues” the boat experienced. Umm. No. There was nothing wrong with the ship except for a bunch of late drunkards. “As of now, the issues have been fixed, however the regularly scheduled port in Kauai is being replaced with Kona,” the cruise director bellows. I guess considering we didn’t know anything about Kauai at the time, we weren’t too disappointed.
Thankfully it worked out great. Kona is a beautiful little town of about 12,000 people (my favorite inhabitant being Leland from Dog the Bounty Hunter!!), and also home to the Iron Man Triathlon. If you’re not up for the open water swim course right from the dock, I would suggest checking out one of the many open-air establishments serving local favorites, like Banana Macadamia Nut Pancakes. And don’t forget to pack your beach bag. There is an easily accessible local bus that will drop you off at a public Caribbean-esque beach, complete with bright blue water and white sand. Don’t forget the Hawaiian style waves… D is still laughing about me getting taken out by one when I was only in 2 feet of water. They’re no joke!
I would definitely recommend Kona as an alternative to the resort clad islands of Oahu and Maui. While Kona has the fabulous golf courses and impeccable resorts, the town has been able to hold onto their true “Hawaiian” style roots.
Feel free to send me any questions/comments you may have. I’m happy to help with any recommendations and of course, trip planning!