How to tour Kona, Hawaii (Big Island) with Kids on the Cheap

Sisters looking out at the ocean.

Sisters looking out at the ocean.

Here is our third of four posts about our trip to Kona, HI.  Our week in Kona with family, was filled with fun and adventure.  Luckily, we did most of it on the cheap without having to travel far with the kids.  Here is a list of some of the fun and inexpensive local places we visited.

1. One of the most inexpensive things to do in Kona, Hawaii is to go to the beach!  Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen. Use lots of it, often-- more than you think you’ll ever need! I was overly confident and apparently under sun-screened the first day we went to the beach and was in pain and red and blistered the remainder of the trip.  I was on top of the kids, though, so they stayed safe, whew.  Pack your towels, sand toys and lunch in a cooler sack and head out for the day.  Big plus to bring life vests, water wings, a glass bottom boogie board for the kiddos and snorkeling gear for you!  You can rent these for the day or the week pretty inexpensively at Snorkel Bob’s over in the downtown area of Kailua-Kona, HI.

Playing in the waves in Kua Bay.

Playing in the waves in Kua Bay.

Laying in the waves in Kua Bay.

Laying in the waves in Kua Bay.

-The best beach we went to was Kua Bay.  It’s sandy, a bit protected, has showers, restrooms, parking, no lifeguard, local folks all around and great snorkeling.  The waves were a blast to play in here! It’s about 7 miles north of Kona Airport off of Highway 19. Don’t forget to stop and explore the lava tube on the side of the road on your way.  If you have passed the airport on your way to Kua Bay it will be on your right hand side.  Look for cars parked on the side of the road and pull off to join them.

At the mouth of the lava tube.  

At the mouth of the lava tube.  

-Another beach we enjoyed right in Kailua-Kona, was Magic Sands Beach.  It’s south on Alii Drive past the old downtown area.  The waves were also really fun here too.   It’s sandy, there’s a volleyball court, showers, a restroom, parking and a lifeguard.

Playing in the waves at Magic Sands Beach in the afternoon sun.

Playing in the waves at Magic Sands Beach in the afternoon sun.

Playing in the sand.

Playing in the sand.

-Go tide pooling!  We found a great little snorkeling and tide pool beach at Kahaluu Beach Park.  We did both tide pooling and snorkeling at this gem of a find!  It’s south on Alii Dr. coming from old downtown, past Magic Sands Beach.  The girls loved being super up close to sea turtles and spotting sea urchins in every nook and cranny.  The snorkeling here was very good as it’s so shallow and the fish are so friendly.  Todd even swam along side a very friendly sea turtle after it snuck up on him!  There is also an education table with rentals available on the beach. It’s more pricey than it is in town, though.  There is a food truck, showers, restrooms, covered picnic tables and a lifeguard on duty.

Spotting marine life.

Spotting marine life.

Sea turtles so friendly and so close!

Sea turtles so friendly and so close!

Sea urchins-- in every nook and cranny! 

Sea urchins-- in every nook and cranny! 

Trying on the sea turtle shell at the educational booth.  

Trying on the sea turtle shell at the educational booth.  

2.  Tour free to nearly free stuff in town!

- Hulihe’e Palace in old downtown Kailua-Kona, was a great find for the price. Adults were $8 and kids were free. My almost 3 year old did well for the first 40 minutes.  After that, she needed to be traded out to another adult, who did not do the tour with us. My 5 year old sat and listened and was curious about everything our tour guide was telling us.  The palace was built by the second governor of Hawaii in 1838 and is wonderfully preserved with so much story to be told, the house is now run by the Daughters of Hawaii.  This tour took about an hour and a half.

Relaxing outside of the Palace (in background) while folks finish the tour.

Relaxing outside of the Palace (in background) while folks finish the tour.

- Right across the street from the Palace is the Moku`aikaua Church, the first stone church on the Island of Hawai`i finished in 1837.  It’s beautiful to look at on the outside and peaceful and serene on the inside.  

- Take a stroll over to the Kamakahonu, the residence of Kamehameha I at the back of the property of the King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel near the pier.  There is a nice calm bay there for swimming and for canoe launching.   Beware- you can’t get too close to the ancient structure when the hotel is hosting its luau in front of it- but you do get to see a bit of a free luau...

 Kamakahonu in the distance with a luau.

 Kamakahonu in the distance with a luau.

And a little pro tip:  For food; Da Poke Shack by far got the most rave reviews by our crew.  Locals also love this place.  It’s south on Alii Dr. coming from old downtown heading toward Magic Sands Beach.

3.  Use the local cultural centers to provide activity and history!

Making another shell bracelet.

Making another shell bracelet.

- The Keauhou Village Shopping Center, not only has a movie theater, a CVS, a grocery store, smaller stores and a recreational guide kiosk, it also has a Cultural Center that provides free activities to whoever shows up!  We stumbled upon craft day with the “Aunties”.  A group of older seniors or “kupuna” were teaching lei and bracelet/necklace making out of kukui seeds and shells.  We had such a great time as a family all making our own leis and jewelry.  We must have stayed for a couple of hours. It was so fun to chat with all of the “Aunties” and feel really immersed in culture rather than paying for an activity for tourists.  This was all free, but they do take donations.  Their craft days are Thursdays from 10am-12pm.

Making leis with the Aunties.

Making leis with the Aunties.

Giving Dad his lei.

Giving Dad his lei.

There is also a free hula show on Fridays from 6pm-7pm.

Free cultural hula show on Friday evening.

Free cultural hula show on Friday evening.

Hope you've enjoyed our round up of Kona, HI so far!  

Be sure to subscribe via email, follow on Facebook and on Pinterest. Can’t wait to share the rest of kids in Kona, HI.  Any other great outings you know of?  Please add in comments! As always, thanks for reading.

Our last two posts on Kona, HI:

 

2 Comments

becky

I'm a part-time work from home, full time stay at home mom to two daughters and an Australian Labradoodle puppy. We are enjoying our last year before big girl school, playing with friends, swapping childcare to get the job done and getting crafty when we can fit it in. We live together in a wonderful community that we are truly thankful for and proud to be a part of. It takes a village and this is ours.