10 Best Non-Touristy Things To Do In Kona, Hawaii - Updated 2024

| 5 min read

Home to the world’s most active volcanoes, the only royal palace in the US, and the welcoming aloha spirit—Hawaii is like no place on earth. Discover the glimmering ocean, emerald valleys and golden sands; get lost in the spiritual beauty of the hula and when you do visit Hawaii, you may then find out how the warmth of Hawaii’s people wonderfully complements the islands’ perfect temperatures. Home to a rich history, culture, culinary, eco-tourism, sightseeing, adventures and golf, Hawaii is not like any other place on earth and will not let you down. From family experiences to couple experiences, Hawaii has a plan for every single person that you do not want to miss out on. If you don’t know where to stay during your trip here, there are a number of great vacation rentals worth checking out. In the meantime, keep reading to find out about the top non-touristy things to do in Kona, Hawaii that don’t exclude the fun factor.

1. Kona's Magic Coffee Beans

Historic coffee mill, Kona Coffee Living History Farm
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Frank Schulenburg used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A self-guided experience, Kona Coffee Living History Farm is a must see Hawaii attraction and the only living history coffee farm in the nation. Stroll through this Smithsonian-affiliated, outdoor museum that tells the story of Kona’s Japanese immigrants that became Kona’s coffee pioneers during the early 20th century. You can walk among the coffee trees, meet a “Kona Nightingale”, or watch how farmers use the kuriba and hoshidana to mill and dry their world-famous coffee. It is an amazing place to slow down and take in the past and present agricultural life of the island.

Kona Coffee Living History

Address: 82-6199 Mamalahoa Hwy Captain Cook, HI 96704

Website: Kona Coffee Living History

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 2pm; Closed Sat & Sun

Price: Most exhibits are free with General Admission of 15 USD* *unless otherwise detailed

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2. Up, up and away with Big Island Gravity

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Not for the faint hearted nor for the ill, Big Island Gravity offers skydiving services across the island. Not only will you get a spectacular skydiving experience, you also get an incredible 25-minute aerial view of the Big Island which is worth the money itself. Coupled with a solid, trustworthy and professional staff, this is an experience you will never regret.

Big Island Gravity

Address: Serving Hawi Area

Website: Big Island Gravity

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 6am - 6pm

Price: starting from 289 USD per pax

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3. What's brewing?

Kona Brewing Hawaii Kai
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jayson Nutt used under CC0

Kona Brewing Company is the oldest currently operating brewery in Hawaii, having opened in 1994. This place is busy for a reason, and that reason is beer. Great menu, great beer, and the facility is gorgeous; it feels like a beach bungalow with palm trees and greens everywhere. The bar area is open seating, so if you can get a stool, grab it! This area is open to the kitchen, so you’ll be greeted with the smells of all the food cooking nearby.

Kona Brewing Company

Address: 74-5612 Pawai Pl, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Website: Kona Brewing Company

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 11am - 10pm

Price: 11-30 USD

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4. Try rafting at Nu‘alolo Kai (from USD 185.0)

On this five-and-a-half-hour water rafting journey, you will get a chance to splash through sea caves, spot spinner dolphins, sea turtles and perhaps if you’re lucky, migrating humpback whales. Learn about Kauai’s marine life from a skilled captain and crew and snorkel over the pristine reef over at Nu‘alolo Kai. Deli lunch and beverages are included!

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RAFT ADVENTURE - Na Pali 1/2 Day Snorkel

Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes

1216 reviews

5. The Fantastic Race

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Fantastic Race Kona cheers for Jamie Graff #2421

Posted by Fantastic Race Kona on Friday, October 7, 2016

Fantastic Race Kona is a competition that lasts two-three hours where teams of two or more start off at a common location, receive the first of a series of cool clues which leads them to a second location where they’ll receive a second clue and so on. However, the treasure hunt is a tricky game, and so hints will be provided. But, hints will cost a team 5 minutes, and outright solutions cost teams 15 minutes. So you get the picture now! The race is one of the best things to do in Kona to sample local culture, sightseeing and maybe even a local brew.

Fantastic Race Kona

Address: Serving Kailua-Kona Area, Ali'i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Website: Fantastic Race Kona

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 8am - 8pm

Price: Adults: 88 USD; Children ages 8-12: 68 USD; Children below 8 years old may be accompanied by a paying adult

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6. Enjoy a good cup of coffee at Kona Joe's

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

At Kona Joe’s Coffee, they grow, process, and roast the world’s finest Kona Coffee. At Kona Joe’s they grow their coffee on a trellis using the same techniques as the world’s best winemakers. With tours available daily, your coffee break is never too far away and when you pay for a cup of Kona Joe’s Coffee, you are paying for a view of the beautiful Kona coast as well. So head down to Kona Joe’s Coffee today and come see and taste what makes it so special.

Kona Joe’s Coffee Farm

Address: 79-7346 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua, HI 96750

Website: Kona Joe’s Coffee Farm

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 10am - 5pm

Price: 2.50 - 6 USD

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7. Be an islander for a day (from USD 149.0)

Take part in this flight tour over the entire Kauai Islands. During the journey, you will be able to witness different waterfalls, coastlines and beaches narrated by an experienced Professional Kauai tour pilot. On this tour, you will be able to encompass the entire Garden Island, enjoy views of the Menehune Fish Pond, the Eucalyptus Tunnel of Trees, Waita Reservoir (the largest reservoir on Kauai), Captain Cook’s Landing in Waimea Town, the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, the majestic Napali Coastline, beautiful cascading waterfalls, Kilauea Lighthouse, and miles of stunning coastline and beaches as well as the jurassic and Opaekaa Falls.

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Entire Kauai Island Air Tour

Duration: 1 hour

1257 reviews

8. Head down to Kona Henna Studio

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Kona Henna on Thursday, April 2, 2020

From small single henna designs to full body adornment, Kona Henna delivers any type of art you could imagine or ask for. Kona Henna Products are made from 100% Certified Organic Ingredients which means that the land, water, and people that grow their ingredients are much healthier. All of their packaging and bottles are recyclable. Kona Henna specialises in Henna services of all kinds, such as for bridal showers, corporate events, and even Bat Mitzvahs.

Kona Henna Studio

Address: 75-5744 Alii Dr, Ste 25, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Website: Kona Henna Studio

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 10am - 6pm

Price: 10-15 USD for smaller sized hennas, 40 USD for bigger sized hennas, 20 USD for henna kits

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9. Discover whales (from USD 112.0)

Open water? Check. Underwater hydrophone? Check. Leaping whales? Check. Fun? Check. Join the whale tour today and be taken to prime whale territory. Learn about their behaviour and biology from your knowledgeable US Coast Guard Licensed Captain and crew who will entertain you on this journey, and listen to whales sing using an underwater hydrophone. If you are lucky, you might spot sea turtles and dolphins as well! With this tour, you will be able to view humpback whales with the help of an expert, enjoy a scenic boat ride off the coast of Kauai, listen to whales and enjoy deli lunch and beverages. You will be in for an entire day’s treat!

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RAFT ADVENTURE - Whale Watch Discovery

Duration: 2 hours

29 reviews

10. Go on a food tour (from USD 125.0)

What better way to start your day in Hawaii than with a Kauai food tour on one of the three shores: north, south or west shores. Together with a local guide, enjoy sampling artisan foods, meet up with chefs and farmers, and indulge in some of the best food the island has to offer. What’s good about food tours is that with advanced notice, your dietary preferences can be accommodated. This is a great chance to sample delicious street food and other local goodies.

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Best Food Tours on Kaua'i

Duration: 3 to 4 hours

293 reviews

When in Kona, Hawaii...

Don’t forget to go on Island tours to explore what nature can bring to you - the serendipity and tranquility a city-like soul needs in order to recuperate from the busyness of life. Book a stay at a great Vrbo or Airbnb rental and enjoy a relaxing holidau. What is a visit to Hawaii without witnessing the sun setting right before your eyes?

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Linguist by day but an all-day wanderluster - if there exists such word. She dreams of living in a house surrounded by lush palm trees and an ocean at her doorstep. Having a love-hate relationship...Read more

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