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Holiday Activity Guide for the West Side of Hawaiʻi Island

The holidays are right around the corner! We know that parents and families are gift shopping, making holiday plans, cooking ono-licious food, and doing all they can to make this time of the year special and memorable for their children and loved ones. We want to offer a “Local Travel/Activity Guide” for anyone who is looking to plan a fun-filled day with their ʻohana. We like the idea of spending quality time with one another; exploring new landscapes, enjoying the natural beauty of the island, and sharing a good meal together. We decided to offer a couple of itineraries of fun activities to do on the West Side of the Big Island. Enjoy, happy holidays!

Outdoor Exploration

The great thing about living on the Big Island is that swimming in the ocean and hiking in the mountains all on the same day is very much possible.

Option 1:

A.M. Wake up with the sun and head to Kealakekua Bay to swim with the dolphins. Be sure to get there early. The earlier the better. This time of the year you might even spot whales. Don't forget to bring your snorkel gear and underwater camera. I recommend bringing, borrowing, or renting stand-up paddle boards for this activity because it makes it easier to get out in the bay. Remember to always swim with respect for marine animals because we are visitors in their home.

Lunch: Stop at The Coffee Shack for lunch and try one of their delicious deli sandwiches made on homemade bread or a tasty homemade pizza. This restaurant has one of the best views in Kona and overlooks Kealakekua Bay and the fertile landscape, home to some of the best Kona Coffee.

P.M. Holoholo (cruise) to Manukā State Park. This State Park is on the boundary of Kona and Kaʻū. The park has pavilions, restrooms, and a 2-mile loop trail. Throughout the park youʻll see native dryland forest species like the Wiliwili tree. I highly recommend hiking the nature trail. It's a short 2-mile hike that will take you through a lush forest of native species, a crater pit, and many birds!

Dinner: Finish the evening off with ono local grinds from Rebel Kitchen in Kainaliu. They use locally sourced produce and protein for their dishes, and the menu has a Caribbean inspired flare that you won't find elsewhere in Kona.

Option 2:

A.M. Hike to the picturesque Wainanaliʻi Lagoon and have a picnic breakfast by the lagoon. Wainanaliʻi lagoon is sometimes to referred to as the blue lagoon at Kīholo State Park. This culturally significant area was once a thriving fishing village and home of Kīholo fishpond. Wainanaliʻi village and majority of the fishpond was covered by the 1859 flow from Mauna Loa. What remains is the beautiful turquoise lagoon. Park along Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway and hike down to the shore, itʻs a little over 1-mile.

Bring along your favorite homemade breakfast items like a fruit bowl, parfait, or freshly baked muffins and have a picnic by the lagoon. Keep your eyes peeled for Honu (green sea turtle), as they love to hang out at the lagoon, but sometimes they camouflage right into the landscape!

If you'd like to explore a bit more, there is a segment of the Ala Kahakai Trail that takes you North from the lagoon to Keawaiki Bay. The hike is through the lava fields but allows you to traverse an area that has been walked by many before you. Be sure to check a trail map before going. You can also walk South and check out the Queen's bath and Kīholo Bay.

Lunch: Stop at Da Fish House Lunch Wagon in Kawaihae for ono-licious fresh fish and Hawaiian plate lunch. Grab your lunch to go and eat by the beach at Spencer Park. This is a great place to sit by the breezy ocean and take a moment to relax. Be sure to bring your beach chairs and a cold drink.

P.M. Hike through the Koaiʻa Tree Sanctuary in Kohala. This beautiful sanctuary takes you through native Koaiʻa trees and has a splendid view of the Northern Coastline. If it's late in the afternoon, stay up there and watch the sunset.

Dinner: Head to Waimea to eat at Moa Kitchen. This restaurant sources locally grown moa (chicken) for their dishes, but it doesn't stop there. Their Japanese inspired menu has much to chose from like ramen, sushi, bowls and more!

Cultural Immersion:

8 A.M If you're looking to immerse yourself in history & culture, then be sure to head to Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park and imagine walking through a portal that takes you back in time.

This place is well known for being the "City of Refuge". In the ancient days, if someone broke the kapu (laws), they were given the chance to seek refuge at a Puʻuhonua, but only if they weren't captured first. If they did make it to the Puʻuhonua, they'd be forgiven and granted a second chance to reintegrate into society. The park offers a great interpretive trail that will guide you through significant historical sites.

I highly recommend walking south of the park, along the Ala Kahakai Trail. You'll discover a hidden gem of ancient heiau, peculiar lava flows, and sea caves.

12 P.M. Grab lunch in Kona at one of these local restaurants:

  • Barefoot Zone (vegan friendly)

  • Basik

  • Laulima Patch (vegan friendly)

  • Poi Dog Deli 🐶

  • Kayaʻs (vegan friendly)

  • Bangkok House (Thai cuisine)

  • Kanaka Kava (Hawaiian cuisine)

1 P.M. Head to Kaloko-Hōnokohau National Historical Park, home of an ancient fishing village, loko iʻa (fishponds), native flora and fauna, and trails along the coast. Take some time to stroll through the park and walk ancient trails that were once used by the aliʻi (chief).

4 P.M. Continue up North to Puʻu Kohalā National Historic Site for a self guided tour and sunset. Puʻu Kohalā is the biggest heiau in Hawaiʻi and below it is an underwater shark heiau (temple). The moʻolelo behind this heiau is one of the most well known and carries on the legacy of King Kamehameha I. It was built during the reign of Kamehameha I and dedicated to the War god Kūkailimoku. Kamehameha was advised to build it if he wanted to conquer and unify the Hawaiian islands. There is a lot of history and culture to be learned here.

Alternative Option: If you're looking for something off the beaten path visit one of the first and most sacred sites called Moʻokini Heiau, along the Kohala Coast near Upolu Point. Itʻs a short hike along the coast to reach this site.

It is believed that this heiau was built in the 5th century by the high priest Moʻokini and itʻs an impressive structure to say the least. Oral tradition says that the pōhaku (rocks) were sourced from Pololū Valley, 9 miles away, and passed person to person in a halihali line. If you walk a bit further youʻll come across another ancient site referred to as Kamehameha Akahi ʻĀina Hānau or the birthplace of Kamehameha I.

Dinner: Grab dinner at Big Island Brewhaus for occasional live music, local brew, and Mexican inspired cuisine. Or check out one of the other local restaurants in the vicinity.

  • Gill's Lanai, Hawi

  • The Fish and The Hog, Waimea

  • Pau Pizza, Waimea

Below is a list of other places to chose from:

🐶 - dog friendly

Local Restaurants:


  • Barefoot Zone (vegan friendly)

  • Basik Bowls (best acai)

  • Laulima Patch (vegan friendly and local produce)

  • Poi Dog Deli 🐶

  • Kayaʻs (vegan friendly)

  • Kona Coffee & Tea (local Kona Coffee and Tea)

  • Bangkok House (Thai cuisine)

  • Kanaka Kava (locally sourced Hawaiian cuisine)


  • Big Island Brewhaus 🐶

  • Noodle Club (broths from locally sourced produce)

  • Merrimanʻs

  • Waimea Coffee Shop

Nature Places:

  • Two Step for snorkeling, Hōnaunuau

  • Hike to the Captain Cook Monument, Kealakekua

  • Whale Watching along the Kohala Coast

  • Snorkel at Kaiholena or Sapphire Cove, Kohala

  • Walk the Ala Kahakai Trail (many different segments along the coast)

  • Dog Beach at Honokohau Harbor 🐶

  • Kaloko Mauka Nature Trail, Kona

  • Puʻuwaʻawaʻa Cone Trail, North Kona 🐶

  • Pōlolu Valley, Hawi

  • Kīholo Bay, Kona

Cultural Places:

  • Punaluʻu Beach Park, Kaʻū

  • Kalahuipuaʻa (Mauna Lani Fishponds)

  • Walk through the gallery of Herb Kane paintings at the King Kamehameha Hotel

We hope that whatever you chose to do, you have the best holiday season and enjoy spending time with family and friends!


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