Endless fields of jet-black razor-sharp lava rock. Picturesque beaches of white, yellow, black, and green sands. Majestic mountains capped with some of the purest snow on Earth. Idyllic palm trees swaying in soothing island breezes, backdropped by vibrant sunsets that seem to reflect the fiery heart of the island itself. The Kona coast of Hawai‘i is all of this, and more. Around every bend and at each secluded cove this island paradise promises the fantastical, the incredible, and the unforgettable. Wherever you call home during your stay, make sure to take in these incredible sites, each as spectacular as the last.
Swim with Manta Rays
After the sun sets, swarms of inky black wraiths descend on the coastal waters off Kona, swirling and pirouetting before a spellbound nightly audience of SCUBA divers and snorkelers looking for Kona sights. Attracted by schools of plankton (which are in turn attracted by special lights), the manta ray dives off Kona are one of the few places on Earth you can join these majestic – and harmless – denizens of the deep as they feed. Lit by the eerie glow of dive lights and glow sticks, you’ll marvel at their grace and beauty as they cartwheel and flit in and out of the ocean depths, putting on a show just for you.
Pololu Valley and Black Sand Beach
Located 90 minutes north of Kona at the end of the road – and seemingly the end of the world – the scenic overlook at Polulu is a vista like no other. From high atop the cliffs, you can see the breaking waves of the mighty Pacific Ocean descending on the black sand beach of the valley below, crisscrossing and refracting and at times even breaking back toward the open sea due to the strong currents and sandbars. The steep valley is covered in lush greenery and ironwood forests, with waterfalls decorating the canyon walls. Tackle the 3-mile (round-trip) hike down the switchbacks and claim your reward with your very own secluded black sand beach. Reward yourself again with a fresh coconut from the best of Kona‘s local vendors at the top when you return!
The Big Island is full of spectacular sights, and under the sea is no different. This incredible snorkeling destination gets its name from the lava shelves that form steps into the turquoise waters. Explore the protection of Honaunau Bay (just south of Captain Cook) and frolic with colorful reef fish while under the playful gaze of spinner dolphins and curious green sea turtles. Patch reefs and undersea boulders provide plenty of unique topography and hiding places for dozens of species of native fish, making this one of the most dynamic and spectacular places to visit on the Kona Coast. When you finish, be sure to visit the Pu`uhonua O Honaunau “city of refuge” at the base of the bay to see the preserved remains of a royal summer palace and mausoleum.
The Best of Kona’s Beaches: South Point and the Green Sand Beach
Ka Lae is the southernmost tip of the Big Island (and the USA), and its windswept panoramic vistas and sea cliffs are reason enough to visit (you can catch some great sunsets here). Make a day of it and hike the old lava fields along the rugged coastline for 2.5 miles (each way) to one of the world’s only green sand beaches. Formed of a rare mineral called olivine, this unique crescent-shaped slice of paradise was formed when a cinder cone was washed out by the sea 49,000 years ago. Its eerie green sands sparkle beneath the warm Hawaiian sun and are truly a one of a kind spectacle among Kona Sights when set against the dark blue waters of the Pacific.