We are fortunate to have a lagoon directly in front of the Seaside Zen Cottage. This is considered a luxury among vacation rentals in Hawai‘i, as the island is volcanic and white sand is rare. This lagoon was used by ancient Hawaiian chiefs for “ola hou” – restoration or healing by bathing. Today, up to five turtles call the lagoon home. They eat algae off of the rocks and may bump in to you as they drift in the current.
Unless the surf is really up, there are usually very few waves in the lagoon. Many children have learned to swim here, and the lagoon is a great place for kids to play in the ocean. Often, the turtles will hang around the calm lagoon and swim right up next to you.
The sand extends to about waist deep water, then it gives way to lava. Though it can be shallow in spots, people have snorkeled around the lagoon at high tide.
If swimming isn’t your thing, you can also walk around the tidepools and see the small fish, sea urchins, and crabs that make their home in the tidepools.
We keep a selection of bamboo fishing poles for kids who want to try their hand at catching some of the small fish that make the lagoon their home. (We strongly believe in catch and release. Even though the fish that live in the lagoon are pretty, they don’t taste great.)
Plantation Manager’s Beach
Another beach is in front of the Plantation Manager’s Beach House. Due to the rough lava rocks here, swimming is not recommended. The Hawaiians once launched their fishing canoes from this beach. There is a small eel pond in the rocks on the south side of the beach, and it’s fun to lure the eels out of their hiding place with bits of chicken.
Ōlae is the Hawaiian word for a small cape or promontory. Our ōlae, surrounded by the ocean, is where many weddings and vow renewal ceremonies have been celebrated. It is an ideal spot where you can watch the surf, bring out chairs and sit and read, take a leisurely nap and/or enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sunsets. The ōlae beach, along the southern edge of the ōlae, is midway between the two white sand beaches bordering the property. It is a sheltered area where you can explore the tide pools, collect unique shells or just sit and relax in the water or at the water’s edge.
The Big Island of Hawai‘i is still being actively created. Because of this, all of its beaches are still (geologically speaking) quite young. Hawai‘i has not had time to develop the coral sand beaches that encircle the other older islands. With the exception of the Kona Kohala Coast, most of the beaches are black lava that has been ground into sand by the ocean.
Please click through to our Beaches page for a list of the 41 beaches on the island.
Kona’s deep blue waters and calm seas offer some of the best world class fishing in the world. Kona, one of the few locations where Blue Marlin can be found on any day of the year, has landed over 50 “Granders,” or 1,000 pound Marlin.
From Ahi (yellow fin tuna) Mahi Mahi (Dorado), and Ono (Wahoo), we have caught just about every sportfish living in the waters off of Kona.
When you book your charter, be sure to specify what type of fishing you want to do. The technique called tag and release has rapidly been gaining recognition as an important part of billfish conservation.
What is it like diving along the Kona Coast? The ocean is typically calm, the weather is usually sunny, and visibility almost always hovers around 100 feet. Most of the dive companies in Kona are very professional. No matter how many times we go, they always provide us with a breathtaking diving experience we remember long after we have returned home.
Whale Watching – December through April
Submarines & Glass-bottom Boats
Blue Hawaiian Heli-hiking with Hawaii Forest and Trail
Much of the Island is privately owned. Tour companies have arrangements with landowners giving them access to venues that are off limits to the public. In addition, tour companies have unique knowledge of the fauna, flora and geologic history of the Island. In addition, some of these companies combine this knowledge of present day Hawai‘i with the rich background of Hawaiian history and legend. We highly recommend that you consider a tour.
- Hawaii Forest and Trail offers a full range of excellent tours including volcano, waterfall, bird watching and forests
- KapohoKine offers a wide range of tours including volcano, Waipio Valley, and zip lines. The tours are often strenuous, involving extensive hiking. They work to maintain a carbon-neutral footprint and run tours and partner with TerraPass.
Helicopter tours – a great way to observe the active lava flows
Kona Beach House is well-placed for you to take amazing day trips to explore beautiful Hawai‘i. Here are some of our favorites:
Waipio Valley Day Trip
Waipio, which means, “curved water,” is known as the “Valley of the Kings.” It was once home to many early Hawaiian rulers and is the place where King Kamehameha the Great received his training. Ancient burial caves are located in the walls of the cliffs.
Waipio, the largest of the seven valleys on the windward side of the Kohala Mountains, is a mile wide at the coast and almost six miles deep. Cliffs 2,000 feet tall stretch up on either side of the valley.
The entry road is very steep and can only be accessed by walking or four wheel drive vehicle. You can hike down to an exquisite black sand beach, or up to cascading waterfalls. Most of the valley is private land, so please be respectful by packing up all trash before leaving. There are no public facilities in the valley.
You can explore Waipio by hiking, ATV, on horseback, or by mule wagon.
Waipio Valley Shuttle
Waipio Valley Wagon Tours
Waimea & Hilo Day Trip
Part shopping excursion, part nature tour, this journey has something for everyone. Driving to Waimea feels as though you are travelling back to the old west. The rugged lava gives way to the gentle rolling hills populated by Hawaiian Cowboys. Rusted fences dot the green pastureland where cattle still graze. We stop in Waimea for two reasons, hot malasadas and antique shopping. Malasadas are Portuguese donuts which have become a Hawai‘i favorite, and they are definitely worth having. Continue on to Honoka‘a for some more antique shopping and Akaka Falls for a little walk up to a breathtaking waterfall.
Tex Drive In Malasadas
Manuela Malasada Company
Gallery of Great Things – a collection of local and Pacific Islander artists
Isaacs Art Center Gallery and museum
Akaka Falls State Park
When we arrive at Hilo, we enjoy a nice lunch at one of the many fine Japanese restaurants. Hilo is what all of Hawaii used to look like, a quaint western town somehow magically scooped up from Colorado and transplanted onto the tropical shores of Hawaii. In fact, if it didn’t rain so often, it would be paradise. After lunch, check out the town and then head home via the saddle road dividing the two volcanoes.
Moon and Turtle Locally sourced seafood
Miyo’s Homestyle Japanese cooking
Tropical Dreams Ice Cream Super-premium ice cream made on-site from local ingredients
So much of the island is still unspoiled wild country, best experienced up close and in person. Hikes range from easy afternoon walks to highly challenging adventures. Use these resources to find the best ones for you:
- Na Ala Hele Hawaii’s official trail and access website
- Big Island Hikes is a comprehensive collection of all the best hiking on the island
Dining options in Kona range from the elegant to the extremely casual. Often, the best restaurants in the area are also the ones that don’t jump out and scream for attention. The cooks are too busy cooking great food to try and spice up the restaurant decor for the locals.
We keep notebooks at the houses with our recommendations for restaurants, and guests add notes of their experiences. You are sure to find something for every palate – here are some of the consistent favorites:
- Teshima’s, a local Japanese restaurant close to the house, serves excellent traditional Japanese food.
- The Manago Hotel for the best Pork Chops in town. Enjoy a well-cooked meal in one of the early landmarks of the Kona Coast.
- Da Poke Shack is the most popular dining spot among all our guests. Poke bowls with the freshest ahi tuna imaginable are not to be missed.
- Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant If you travel to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, make sure to stop here for delicious continental cuisine with local flair.
- Cafe Pesto Gourmet burgers, pizzas, and salads. Voted one of Hawai‘i’s best restaurants by Zagat, and awarded “Best Kids Menu in America” by Restaurant News.
- Tropical Dreams Custom Ice Cream Locally made super-premium ice cream and gelato. Eat there and buy some to bring home.
Da Poke Shack
While you are here, be sure to visit at least one of the may local Farmers’ Markets – the perfect place to get fresh food as well as locally made gifts and souvenirs.
Kailua-Kona Farmers Market
Wednesday through Sunday, 7am to 4pm; in the parking lot at the corner of Ali‘i Drive and Hualalai Road in Kailua
Local food, flowers, and crafts.
Keauhou Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8am-noon; at Keauhou Shopping Center near Longs Drugs.
All products are grown in Hawai‘i; many are organic. Fruits, vegetables, flowers, coffee, macadamia nuts, eggs, charcuterie, baked goods, and more. Live music!
South Kona Fruit Stand
Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 10am-4pm; 84-4770 Mamalahoa Hwy in Captain Cook, near the old Higashi store.
Tropical fruits and plants.
Ho‘oulu Community Farmers Market
Wednesdays 9am-2pm; Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay.
Local produce, fruit, bread, charcuterie, and estate coffees. Local artists and original, handcrafted products from the Big Island.
Kona Pacific Farmers’ Coop
Monday-Thursday 9am-4:30pm; 82-5810 Napo‘opo‘o Road.
Macadamia nut and coffee plantation, and fruit garden. Coffee, baked goods, fruits, sandwiches, local made ice cream. Free tours of the plant and garden.
South Kona Green Market
Sunday and Friday, 9am-2pm; at the Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook, 82-6160 Mamalahoa Hwy.
All local, all handmade. Art, gifts, produce, baked goods, prepared foods, live music, and massage!
The Hawaiian Islands are living laboratories of evolutionary processes that existed in isolation for almost 70,000,000 years. The first plants and animals that came to Hawai‘i on their own adapted to their new environment in unique ways. Over 90 % of the native flora and fauna is endemic. This is the highest rate on Earth.
Unfortunately, Hawai‘i is also “The Extinction Capital of The World”. Over 75% of the United States’ extinctions have occurred here. We are also known as “The Endangered Species Capital of The World”, as over 25% of the United States’ endangered species are located in Hawai‘i.
Hawai‘i’s isolation and geological activity together with the altitude of its mountains create unique climates and ecosystems. Because of its many ecosystems and its sparse population, Hawai‘i is graced with a wide variety of forests. Each of the Five Mountains is home to unique plants, some found nowhere else in the world. In addition, there are vast differences in precipitation depending on elevation and orientation. The windward side of Hawai‘i is very wet (when Ian Robertson was growing up in Pa‘auilo on the Hamakua Coast, he remembers Pa‘auilo receiving 48 inches of rain in 24 hours) – the leeward side is usually very dry.
Jack Jeffrey Photos – Nature photographer who offers personal wildlife tours
Hakelau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Because of a plant disease called Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, self-guided tours of the wildlife refuge are currently prohibited. Visits with tours observing quarantine protocols are available; the website lists the officially approved tour guides.