The Kona Coast may be the dry side of the island, but even this rugged volcanic landscape gets a shower or two from time to time. If escape to the other side of the island is not in the cards for you, or if you just want to escape the brilliant Hawaiian sun (or rain clouds) for a day, there is plenty to do indoors in this tropical paradise if you’re looking for what to do in Kona.
City of Refuge – Pu`uhonua O Honaunau
While this unique, partially reconstructed royal summer palace and sacred Hawaiian village has outdoor components, it is normally very hot and dry so braving a few light showers (and ducking into the various temples, recreated houses, and larger dwellings) is a fair trade-off, depending on the severity of the weather. With a temple housing the bones of 23 Hawaiian chieftains, this city is one of the most sacred sites on the Big Island. Those seeking refuge from war or from prosecution after violating one of the kapu laws would find protection here, both from the massive carved wooden warriors that still stand guard and the massive protective wall of stone nearly 20-feet high.
Located in the heart of Kona, this was the summer home of Hawaiian royalty during the Victorian Era. Built in 1838, the cheery yellow estate is an excellent place to visit and learn about the history of Hawai‘i, particularly after the unification of the islands in the late 18th century. The house boasts incredible views of Kailua Bay, and was the home to Hawai‘i’s second governor. Admission is $8, and guided tours are available.
Taste of the Islands
Rain got you down? What to do in Kona? Turn that frown upside-down with a tasting tour of Hawai‘i’s breweries and local wineries on your list of Kona Indoor Activities. Choose from the mainstream beers of Kona Brewing Company (this is the only site where the company still brews in the islands; bottled beers are now brewed on the mainland), the local flavors of Mehana Brewing, or the award-winning brews at Big Island Brewhaus in Waimea. Kona offers an educational tour of their facilities, complete with four tastings for only $5. If you think wine is more fine, head on over to Volcano Wineries. For under $10 you can taste their lineup of fruit wines and special varietals inspired by fire. Unique and definitely different, this is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Kona Indoor Activities: Museums
A childhood staple for rainy days, the Kona Coast has several interesting museums to choose from if you need an indoor day. The Lyman Museum and Mission House tells the story of the first missionaries to the islands, and their interactions with native Hawaiian culture. The Tsunami Museum and the Mokupapapa Discovery Center both focus on the power, majesty, and wonders of the Pacific Ocean, from the destructive forces of tsunamis (and the havoc they have wreaked on the Hawaiian Islands in the past) to the protective work being done at the National Marine Monument in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.
The iconic and rugged scenery of the Kona Coast inspires many artists, and the streets of Kona are full of beautiful and eclectic galleries showcasing world-class art. Choosing can be difficult, but there is something for everyone at the Isaacs Art Center, Pacific Fine Art, Volcano Art Center Gallery, and Clint Sloan Galleries. If that fails to impress the younger ones in your group, the Big Island Candies Co. features entirely different – and edible – works of art sure to impress your “palate.”