Kailua - KOna
Basik Acai - Quick bite after a morning swim at the pier. Get the large. You won't regret it.
Lava Java - Delicious eggs benedict and baked goods with an ocean view? Yes, please.
Daylight Mind Coffee Company - Freshly baked scones, kambucha on tap, Kona coffee, incredible brunch, happy hour fish tacos, clam chowder, and Pina Colada - all on a deck that stretches over the ocean? Daylight Mind is a rare place that does it all and does it all 100%.
Hysashi's - Best affordable sushi. Get there early, you never know when they will randomly decide to close for the day.
Umeki's - Freshest ahi in Kona town. Get the poke bowl (spicy avo + spicy crab) and their lilikoi lemonade.
Scandinavian Shaved Ice - Another great treat post afternoon swim at the pier. Refreshing shaved ice as big as your face.
Kaya's - Favorite hippie coffee shop on the way to Captain Cook. All the organic hemp milk lattes and gluten free baked treats.
Annie's Island Fresh Burgers - Local, organic, seasonal fare with cool vibes. We go for the burgers and the gelato spot next door for dessert, after.
The Coffee Shack - Kona is a morning island, meaning, it's people rise with the sun. That leaves us no shortage of breakfast spots. Iconic ocean views while you eat your banana pancakes on the edge of a cliff. You share your table with island geckos and worth the drive south on your way to snorkel at Captain Cook, for sure.
Big Island Brewhaus - Local brewery with island flavors and mexican food that hits the spot after a long day of hiking along lush, mountain ravines and in Waimea's cooler climate. The fish burrito with a lilikoi margherita or their beer flight is where it's at, just saying.
Manuelas Malasadas Co - Tiny little food truck that offers piping hot sugar coated dough pastries filled with jellies and cremes.
Hawaiian Style Cafe - Incredibly local, incredibly glutenous, but a must eat at Hawaiian diner. Whether its the loco moco or fresh pancakes, every portions is massive - be prepared to feel wonderfully full after.
Holuakoa Cafe - Rustic local spot to get coffee up the mountain. Go for cooler temps, their lilikoi bar, to get a way from the Kailua-Kona crowds and to see what local life on the island can look like. Also, their restaurant is a must for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Local, organic, pricy, and delicious.
I drive to the Bay Area every few months to visit my family and take a break from the So-Cal pace. Have you ever been to San Francisco in the Summer? There is a quote that says, "The coldest winter I ever felt was a summer in San Francisco." That is basically 100% truth, however, doesn't ever stop me from enjoying my favorite city. I grew up right outside SF, so anytime I'm back home, I always have to revisit my local coffee shops, get a scoop of the best ice cream, and pick up my favorite burrito. While there are definitely my "go-to's" when I am in the Bay Area, it is still fun to check out some new things that have popped up and experience San Francisco in different ways.
We spent 3 years living in Kona and it was a dream. Now, every time we visit, it's like going back home. We visit the less populated beaches, grab coffee at the best coffee shops, go on secret hikes, and hit up our favorite restaurants. How lucky that we used to live in a place that some people saved for years just to go on vacation?
Kona is the biggest of the Hawaiian Islands and is home of 11 of the 13 climates. You can go from tropical rain forests to black sand beaches and snow capped mountains, all within 2 hours. A saying of the island is "Keep Kona Country" and after visiting some of the other islands, it's a value we grew to appreciate. There is lots of undeveloped land, smaller amounts of tourists, and does not have that big city feel like Maui or Honolulu. We always stay near Kailua-Kona. It is more dry than the Hilo side, less isolated than Captain Cook, and more accessible than Waikoloa. Renting a car is important if you want to see the whole island, but renting mopeds for a day or two is an absolute must!
A lot of people from the mainland plan their Hawaiian vacation during the winter months, but truthfully, the winter season in Kona is probably the worst time to visit. The temps are a lot cooler than fall and summer, the winter swells come in causing some beaches to completely disappear, making snorkeling waters cloudy, and the waves are so strong, it can be dangerous to even get in the ocean. Obviously, a trip to a Hawaii at any time of the year is a gift, but if you get to choose, my advice for anyone thinking about going on a Hawaiian vacation is to plan a spring or fall trip. This way, you avoid the summer rainy season, but still get to experience the of pleasant climate Kona offers.