Top 8 Things to Do in Kona

The port town of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is an ideal base for pursuing all the activities and sightseeing excursions you might desire during a Hawaii cruise. The town itself brims with historic Hawaiian charm, while its offshore waters boast pristine coral reefs and an abundance of amazing marine life. What’s more, the lush volcanic slopes overlooking Kona yield culinary treasures ranging from tropical fruits to some of the finest coffee in the world. Still wondering what to do in Kona during your Hawaiian cruise vacation? Here are 8 of the top things to do during your cruise to Kona.

woman having fun snorkeling off the shore of kona hawaii

Ocean Adventures

The Pacific waters off Kona couldn’t be more inviting – they’re warm, calm and home to incredible marine creatures from schools of tropical reef fish to enormous humpback whales. It’s no wonder that adventures in and on the water (such as the following excursions) are among the most popular things to do in Kona.

1. Snorkel Kealakekua Bay

Locals and frequent visitors to Kona all agree that Kealakekua Bay (a.k.a. Captain Cook) is the area’s top snorkel site. See for yourself on the Captain Zodiac Snorkel Adventure, which takes you there on a 24-foot raft that’s ideal for admiring coastal lava tubes and sea caves up close. Plunge into the pristine marine sanctuary for a snorkel adventure and you’ll immediately see what all the fuss is about – an ever-changing kaleidoscope of parrot fish, eels, puffer fish and more, plus the occasional visiting sea turtle.

woman giving a thumbs up as she snorkels along a school of orange fish in kona hawaii

2. Swim with wild dolphins

On a cruise vacation to Kona, you have the opportunity of a lifetime – to swim with pods of dolphins in their natural oceanic environment. Opt for the Wild Dolphin Swim excursion and you’ll travel by Zodiac along the Kona coast, where countless pods of spinner dolphins make their home. Spot the friendly creatures swimming and jumping, and slip into the water with a snorkel to share in their peaceful, playful underwater world.

wild dolphin approaching a sea turtle in the pacific ocean, near kona hawaii

3. See coral reefs by submarine

In Kona, you can explore coral reefs and observe incredible marine creatures without ever getting wet. Take a ride on the Atlantis Submarine, which carries you over 100 feet down to see the world beneath the waves through large windows. The state-of-the-art submarine is air-conditioned and piloted by expert guides who share their vast knowledge throughout the adventure.

little girl gazing out the window of a submarine, admiring the underwater sea life

Sightseeing Trips

A beautiful and historic port town sandwiched between the ocean and Hualalai volcano, Kona boasts a wide array of sights to see. A guided tour is a great way to explore the town and the wider region, as it comes with transportation along with the expertise of a professional guide. Consider seeing the sights by land, sea or even air.

4. Fly over the Kohala Coast

For an unmatched perspective over the Big Island’s awe-inspiring landscape, as well as a truly unforgettable adventure, take to the skies on the Kona Coast Helicopter Tour. You’ll fly northward from Kona, soaring up and over the Kohala Mountains where rain forest-covered slopes, majestic waterfalls and dramatic sea cliffs make for a spectacular scene.

blue helicopter flying towards the lush big island of hawaii

5. See the sights by land and sea

You don’t have to choose between a sightseeing tour on land and a boat cruise – select the Kona by Land and Sea excursion and do both. Island highlights featured during the land portion include a coffee plantation, a historic painted church and the ancient Hawaiian Puuhonua-O-Honaunau, or “place of refuge.” During the 3-hour catamaran cruise that follows, see the monument to Captain Cook at his final resting place in Kealakekua Bay, hear tales of local lore and look out for dolphins and seasonal whale sightings.

2 hawaiian totem poles looking out towards the pacific ocean

History and Culture Tours

Vacationers who are interested in the rich history and culture of Hawaii will find plenty of intriguing things to see and do in Kona. A guided tour highlighting the island’s heritage is an ideal excursion.

6. Take a historical tour of Kona

A sacred temple surrounded by sea, a 19th-century church and the birthplace of King Kamehameha III are all featured on the fascinating Kona Historical Tour. An expert guide details the colorful history of every site as you get to admire the memorable scenery of every destination.

7. Experience Hawaiian home cooking

Enjoy a taste of Hawaii, home-style. The Hawaiian Culinary Home Tour showcases the Big Island’s remarkable “farm to fork” food culture at three private homes with beautiful gardens. You’ll enjoy a gourmet three-course brunch prepared using the freshest local ingredients, such as juicy papaya, just-cracked macadamia nuts and the finest Kona coffee.

traditional home made hawaiian cuisine made with salad, chips, and papaya fruit

8. See and sample Kona’s world-famous coffee crop

The Kona Coffee Living History Farm tour takes you back in time to the earliest days of coffee growing in Hawaii. See exhibits inside a nostalgic plantation store-turned-museum and visit one of the oldest coffee farms on the island, where in addition to coffee, you will see how macadamia nuts and bananas are grown on volcanic soil. Expect plenty of delicious samples.

jute coffee bag filled with fresh kona coffee beans from hawaii

Ready to Cruise to Kona?

Whether it’s a family cruise, romantic getaway or fun times with friends, you’re sure to have an amazing experience while in Kona. In fact, these top activities found in Kona are among the best in all of Hawaii. It’s not hard to see why the port is a firm favorite among travelers from all over the world, and one that will have you yearn.