Big Island, Hawaii days 8-11: surf, relaxation, kava and coffee in Kona

These last 4 days flew by quicker than the other chapters of our trip, and that’s because we are now on the Kona coast where the climate is sunny and steamy and time is one big blur. 🙂 Relaxation was the theme these last few days but we did sneak in some activities too – let’s dive right in.

Day 8: Beach day + chilling at a kava bar

After we checked out of our farm-stay in Waimea, we drove away from farm country and to Kona. Kona was a nice contrast to the first half of our trip which was more remote, and we were actually glad to be around other tourists and soak in the upbeat vibes.

Our next Airbnb was right across of Kahalu’u Beach, and after checking in, we went straight across the road and opted for a lazy beach day. We drove a lot the past few days and wanted nothing more than to relax on the sand.

Chilling on Kahalu’u Beach
relaxing on Kahalu’u Beach Big Island

After beach time, we cleaned up and headed to downtown Kona for dinner. I loved the vibes downtown as it was full of life in the evening and filled with shops/restaurants along the beach. It reminded me of Mexico (think Puerto Vallarta). I usually don’t prefer downtown parts of cities, but Kona was the perfect balance of being tourist-friendly, filled with upbeat activity, but not overwhelming crowded or a “party spot” like Cancun.

Couple selfie with beach sunset on Big Island

Back in Waimea, we heard there was a kava bar in Kona, and so Joe and I looked it up and found it!! I was beyond thrilled since Kava Lounge in SF (aka my second home) has been closed for over a year during COVID. I so missed the spot and it felt comforting to be in a kava bar again. The vibe of this place felt familiar with its hippie decor and fun, young community. Joe and I sipped on our kava while people watching – it was nice to see the regulars all greet each other as it reminded me of the good times back at Kava Lounge in SF. ❤

Kava bar

Day 9: Captain Cook trail + Kealakekua Bay

After chillaxing yesterday, Joe and I were ready for some action again. We were craving a big hike and went for one of the most popular trails in Kona: Captain Cook trail – a 4 mile (6.4 km) trail which starts at the top of the mountain and brings you down 1300 ft (400m) to a beautiful bay.

The walk down went by quick as there was interesting forestry surrounding us as well as beautiful views of the coast. The trail varied from an overgrown mountain trail to navigating down volcanic rocks.

Hiking Captain Cook trail
Captain Cook trail coastal views

When we made it to the bottom, we were greeted by Kealakekua Bay, a sparkling blue cove filled with people swimming and snorkeling. The only way to access this bay is through the hike or a guided tour, and I felt proud we made it there ourselves. 🙂

Kealakekua Bay

We had a total fail and forgot to bring our swim suits! Nevertheless we still enjoyed dipping our feet in the water and soaking in the views while resting before our ascent up the mountain.

Char on Kealakekua Bay

The way back up was 10x harder than the way down! It was funny because the entire way down, Joe was very practical thinking how difficult the climb up would be, while I was a little too nonchalant about it. In the end Joe rocked the climb up and I ended up suffering – we were so proud when we reached the top!

After our morning of being active, the rest of the day looked like this. We sat by the pool that overlooked Kahalu’u Beach and watched the surfers catching waves. The evening was filled with returning to the kava bar and then watching reruns of The Office in our home. Perfection.

Relaxing by the pool in Hawaii

Day 10: Surfing + Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau Historical Park + sunset on Magic Sands Beach

The next day, I got up early for a much anticipated activity…surfing! Surfing has become a big joy in my life ever since learning in Nicaragua. I’m definitely still a beginner and try to get as much practice as I can, especially in warm water which is much more enjoyable.

I went out on my own while Joe relaxed on the beach. Kahalu’u Bay is a great spot as the vibe was very welcoming for beginners. I’ve definitely been in environments before where the advanced surfers get annoyed at beginners and that was not the case here. It was really nice to dip my toes back into surfing after a 9-month break.

After an active morning, we got lunch at Da Poke Shack, a hole in the wall poke spot that was super bomb. I was getting sick of the restaurants on Big Island which all pretty much served the same stuff, but this place had a unique menu with authentic food. One of my favorite spots so far.

Authentic Hawaii poke

After lunch, we headed down to Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau Historical Park, a park along the coast with artifacts on the history of Hawaii. The park is ~40 minutes from downtown Kona and drive is a beautiful one as you see a more authentic and local part of Kona which contrasts the touristy central/downtown portion.

The park basically felt like an outdoor museum with nicer views. Joe and I walked through it quickly as it felt like a more manicured version of things we’ve already seen on the island. I would say this one is worth skipping on Big Island if you’re not “museum people” like us.

Historic artifacts on Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau Historical Park
Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau Historical Park

In the evening, we went out to watch the sunset on Magic Sands Beach near our airbnb. We realized this was the first white sand beach we’ve seen in Hawaii. Most beaches have dark sand and are filled with large rocks due to the volcanoes which we got accustomed to, so it felt fresh being on white sand again.

Sunset on Magic Sand Beach
Laying on towel in Magic Sands Beach

After brief beach time, we headed downtown and found a restaurant with views of the ocean where we caught the last moments of the sunset. We shared a pizza and fish tacos and went to bed with happy stomachs.

Dinner watching sunset in Hawaii

Day 11: Massage + Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm

The next morning, we had something special booked and that was a couples massage. I thought I loved massages but Joe loves them 10x more and so we treated ourselves once on this trip. 🙂 We found a husband and wife duo who hosted the massage in their home. It felt very intimate and we had a nice time chatting with them afterwards too.

After our massage, we went back to the white sand beach we visited yesterday. It was a different sight during the day as the water was clearer and there were less people than the bustling evening.

Magic Sands beach in day time

Joe and I had been wanting to visit a coffee farm since Hawaii is known for their coffee, so in the afternoon we visited Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm. There were a lot of farms to choose from but this spot had free tours every hour versus other places that charged a fee. The farm itself was medium sized with pretty views of the coast below. It was nice to see different scenery in Kona as we thought it would just be dry beaches. The lush and green fields reminded me of our peaceful time in Waimea or Hilo.

Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm

We had pretty low expectations for the free tour but it ended up being very enjoyable and a highlight of our Kona chapter so far. There was a ton of staff doing work-stays on the farm who chatted with us, and it was interesting learning about the operation.

Tour on Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm

There were coffee samples too which was fun for us as Joe and I are huge coffee fans. Their beans were so tasty and nicely brewed – you didn’t need cream or anything which is a sign of high quality coffee. 🙂

Coffee tasting on Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm

After a full day outside, we headed out of the central Kona area and up to our last and final home of the trip: Waikoloa Village in the northern end of Kona. We picked up Rachel and Rene from the airport as they are joining us for the last part of the trip!! I’m so excited to reunite and have my favorite people together in Hawaii. 🙂

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