South Kona Fruit Stand

The South Kona Fruit Stand has been a fixture in South Kona for a number of years. They grow and sell their own produce as well as serving smoothies, coffee and sandwiches.

The fruit stand is located just south of the intersection of Highway 11 & Highway 160). Their distinctive signs will give you forewarning of where to pull over. Take note – it’s a one way entrance and a one way exit. There is also easy parking.

What you'll find

You’ll find a wide variety of homegrown produce (depending on the season), some familiar snacks, and some homemade baked goods (try the lilikoi bars!). They also do made-to-order sandwiches.

Outdoor seating is located above the parking lot and is accessed by a path that runs alongside the main shop.

The South Kona Fruit Stand is a great little fruit stand and a great addition to the South Kona community. It doesn’t have the wide selection of fruit available at some of the bigger farmers markets but it makes up for it with a unique local charm of its own.

When and where?

The South Kona Fruit Stand operates everyday except Tuesday. Open 10-5pm Mon, Wed, Thurs and Fri & 10-4pm Sat and Sun.

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Restaurant review: The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill

The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill is a South Kona institution. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Korner Pocket is in Kealakekua close to Highway 11. Open every day, they also do a Sunday brunch. A great place to stop on your way south!

We arrived for lunch mid-week and there were plenty of tables. There is also easy parking in the parking lot in front of the restaurant. You can choose to eat inside or outside where there is a covered lanai. The service was great and the menu has some great options. 

Of course it is a sports bar and this is well-catered for with nine TVs and two pool tables. It can be a little noisy inside but there is a great outdoor lanai with seating which we found to be perfect. 

The menu

Korner Pocket uses fresh, grass-fed beef for their hamburgers, served on locally-made fresh buns. They also offer – slow-cooked prime rib, spicy poke nachos, fish and chips, tacos and salads, as part of an extensive menu.

What we ordered

(Above) Blackened Ono Sandwich $16.95 – Lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion & aioli on a French brioche bun with a side salad.

(Above) KP Patty Melt $14.95 – Toasted rye, sautéed onions and Swiss cheese.

We took advantage of the outdoor seating which is to the left as you walk into Korner Pocket from the main parking lot entrance (the outdoor seating is located behind the screen in the photo below).

The fish sandwich was delicious and perfectly cooked as was the KP patty melt. 

The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill is a great place to grab a quick lunch, or to watch the game, or to simply spend the afternoon or evening having a leisurely meal. 

Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill

81-970 Haleki’i Street 
Kealakekua

Hawaii 96750

Ph. 808 322 2994

Hours: Mon – Thurs 11am – 8pm, Fri – Sat 11am – 9pm, Sun 9am – 8pm

https://kornerpocketkona.com

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Snorkeling Kahalu’u Beach Park

Kahaluu-bay Kona 2
Photo credit: lovebigisland.com

Kahalu’u Beach Park is one the most popular snorkeling spots on the Big Island of Hawaii. While we recommend Two Step and Kealakekua Bay as two of the best, Kahaluʻu Bay has its own charm.

The beach park is located in calm water only minutes drive south of Kailua-Kona. Its easy location makes it the perfect place to snorkel if you are staying near Ali’i Drive, or in one of the hotels around the waterfront.

Kahaluu-Bay-Aerial_Please-Credit-The-Keeper-of-Bay-Production-resized
Photo credit: Kahalu‘u Bay Education Center

The bay itself is well-protected by a fringing reef, providing safe, calm waters for your snorkeling adventure. The water is relatively shallow, at about 4-5 feet deep. Green sea turtles are often seen in the bay as they like to sun themselves on the rocks.

Some of the sea life you might see when snorkeling include: sea urchins, octopus, eels, turtles, and of course plenty of tropical fish such as yellow tang, parrotfish, rainbow fish, and more.

hawaii-snorkeling-at-kahaluu-beach-park-big-island
Photo credit: wanderwisdom.com

Take care to snorkel in the south part of the bay. Traditionally, the north part of the bay is where surfers congregate. But there’s plenty of room for snorkelers and surfers alike! 

Free parking is available at the beach park. There are also picnic tables, showers and bathrooms, and snorkel rentals. Lifeguards are on duty from 9:30am–4:45pm every day.

Keep in mind that this is a very popular snorkeling destination because of its accessibility to downtown Kona. During the busy season (Nov-Mar) it can get crowded. Your best strategy is to arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. The ocean will be at its most calm first thing in the morning before the wind changes to onshore. 

The best snorkeling is found in the cove directly out from where you first enter the water. The water is a little clearer further out, due to the fresh groundwater that comes up through the sand near the shoreline causing a blurry effect in the water.

Photo credit: paradiseinhawaii.com

When the tide goes out there are plenty of shallow tide pools to explore in amongst the rocks. The park also has large pavilions for added shade and the beach park is the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch. Don’t have a car? The beach park is close enough to Kailua-Kona you can walk to it (if you’re staying nearby), cycle to it, or make use of the Kona Trolley! 

If your stay on the Big Island is limited then a short trip to Kahaluʻu Beach Park for snorkeling is well worth it. Make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds, and before the parking lot begins to fill up! 

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Essential Big Island: Two Step snorkeling

The Big Island has some of the best snorkeling in the state of Hawaii. Two Step is one of those places (along with nearby Kealakekua Bay). We recommend you don’t miss out on this amazing snorkeling spot.

South Kona is perhaps most famous for coffee and snorkeling. Both Two Step and Kealakekua Bay have some of the best snorkeling on the island and in the entire state. Two Step is especially popular because it’s easy to get to and even easier to jump straight into the ocean and start snorkeling.

Two Step Hawaii
Photo credit: bigislanddivers.com

Two Step is the name of the beach and also the name of the two naturally occurring steps inset into the rock at the ocean’s edge. These steps are where you enter the water. It can get crowded at peak times, so we recommend getting to Two Step as early as possible. This way you will beat the crowds and also take advantage of the calm ocean surface which is best for snorkeling. Alternatively, the end of the day can be a less crowded time to go snorkeling too.

You will find parking right at the beach itself but keep in mind this fills up quickly. On the opposite side of the road is paid parking. There is more free parking on the side of the road which approaches the National Park next to Two Step. If you park here it’s just a two minute walk down to the beach. You can also park in the National Park itself.

Entering the water is easy because of the two naturally-formed lava steps (hence the name two step). It’s mostly lava here, and there isn’t much sand. But the snorkeling is easy and there are no currents, making it a perfect place for beginners to try snorkeling. We recommend using a flotation device (either a belt, or even a boogie board) if you feel apprehensive about being in deep water (10-15 feet). Using a boogie board is a great way to simply relax and concentrate on observing the marine life.

Photo credit: Bigislandguide.com

Two Step is popular with local residents and tourists alike. Despite the lack of sand there is still shade and it makes a nice location to set up a beach chair and relax by the ocean. There is also a shallow bay to the left of the boat ramp that serves as a safe place for children to swim, or adults who aren’t confident in deeper water.

Two Step is one of the jewels of South Kona. You’ll see plenty of fish including yellow tang, butterflyfish, eel, parrotfish, and puffer fish, to name a few. You might even see dolphins and the occasional turtle. Keep in mind it’s now illegal to swim with spinner dolphins. A distance of at least 50 yards must be maintained at all times.

There are limited facilities at Two Step. There are porta potty restrooms, but no showers. There are also a few picnic tables.

Two Step is definitely an essential stop on your Big Island journey. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or just a beginner, there is something for everyone at South Kona’s celebrated snorkeling spot.

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The Ho’oulu Farmers Market & Artisans Fair

Make sure you stop by one of the best arts & crafts markets on the island! The Ho’oulu Farmers Market & Artisans Fair includes a range of locally made and grown products.

This farmers market located just south of Kailua-Kona has been operating for 13 years. Gail and Greg Smith, along with founder Kuku Keala Ching, created the market and artisans fair. The market is held on the front lawn of the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa beside Keauhou Bay near Kailua-Kona. The market operates on Wednesdays and Fridays between 9am-2pm.

What you'll find

At this market you’ll find locally grown coffee, produce, seasonal fruit, macadamia nuts, jams, bakery items, local arts and handmade crafts. Live music is also a feature.

Ho’oulu means ‘to grow’ in Hawaiian and the market is one of the longest-standing farmers markets in Kona.

When and where?

The market operates on Wednesdays and Fridays, 9am-2pm. Visit bigislandmkt.com for more information and a list of vendors.

The Ho’oulu Farmers Market & Artisans Fair is a great market in a lovely location, on a large lawn space in Keauhou Bay. We found that the market’s focus on 100% Big Island made, to be a big attraction – for visitors and local residents alike. It does cater more to the arts and craft than the fresh produce seen at other markets, but this is definitely a big plus. A great place to find genuine Hawaiian arts and crafts!

For a full list of Big Island farmers markets check out our blog post Your Guide to Big Island Farmers Markets or download our Timetable of Big Island Farmers Markets.

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Restaurant review: Menehune Restaurant

Menehune Restaurant is located on Mamalahoa Highway in South Kona, just south of Captain Cook. They serve a great variety of breakfast and lunch dishes. Open from 6am to 3pm. A handy pitstop on your journey south!

We arrived for lunch early in the week and there were plenty of tables. There is also easy parking in front of the restaurant. The service was super friendly and the menu is extensive.

The menu

For breakfast choose from – a range of omelettes or waffles, or go for their classic breakfast options – like biscuits and gravy, a breakfast burrito, a wrap, or a turkey & Swiss croissant. For lunch choose from sandwiches, wraps, burgers, salads or fish and chips.

What we ordered

(Above) Fish and Chips – beer batter crispy fresh caught fish, French fries, citrus slaw, and tartar sauce ($26.95)

(Above) Ono sandwich with avocado and slaw ($29.95)

The fish and chips were tasty and the portion was large. The Ono sandwich however, was overpriced for what it was and wasn’t as flavorful as expected. This was disappointing. We do like to support local businesses but the prices at Menehune Restaurant are on the steep side. If you’re looking for a lunch spot on your way out of Kona there are other restaurants to choose from such as the Coffee Shack that might be a better option in this area. 

(*Please note, we haven’t tried their breakfast menu).

Menehune Restaurant

84-5227 Mamalahoa Hwy 
Captain Cook

Hawaii 96704

Ph. 808 238 0627

Hours: Mon – Sun, 6am – 3pm

https://www.menehunecoffee.com/restaurant/

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Parasailing Kona

Parasailing is a fun way to get out on the water, to get above the water, and to get some amazing views of Kailua-Kona and the surrounding coastline. We give you all the details on how it works and where to book to parasail your way above Kona.

(Check out the video below of our recent parasailing adventure!)

Once out on the boat you are strapped into the harness containing a nylon seat and a bar in front. The parasail is inflated and the speed of the boat is increased. As this occurs the parasail picks you up and you float up and back into the air. The process is smooth and easy.

As you float away from the boat the sound of the engine fades and you are left with simply the sound of the wind, and the gentle creak of the ropes attached to the sail.

The entire experience lasts about ten minutes. During this time the boat slows in order to bring you down closer to the water before sending you back up into the air again. At the end of the parasail they carefully winch you back in, at which point you float back onto the boat, landing on your feet.

Our captain and assistant were friendly and engaging, and the views of Kona and the coastline were amazing!

(*Special thanks to our friend Rob for taking the video of his tandem parasail with Clem!)

UFO Parasail

UFO Parasail offers parasailing at competitive prices and at two different heights (either parasail to 800 or 1200 ft). Book online or give them a call.

Parasailing Kona Hawaii

Check-in: Kailua Pier, next to the Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha Hotel lobby. Look for the blue umbrella attached to our boat trailer on the left hand side of the pier.

Parking: Parking is available at the Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel. UFO offers discounted parking validation for the self parking section, 3 hours for $2. Regular parking fees are $10 per hour and $25 per day without UFO validation.

Parasailing Big Island Hawaii

Pricing:

800 Ft Express Soaring
Per Person
$116

1200 Ft Out of This World
Per Person
$136

Observer
Per Person
$79

Private Charter
$1199

Parasailing Kona is a great experience, don’t miss out on seeing Kailua-Kona from a unique perspective!

**Please note this is not a paid promotion for UFO Parasail, we just had a great experience with them!**

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Restaurant review: Taka Sushi Grill Chinese Cuisine

Taka Sushi Grill Chinese Cuisine is tucked away in the Coconut Grove Marketplace on Ali’i Drive. They serve a great selection of sushi as well as Chinese dishes. Open all day for lunch and dinner, this quiet restaurant is great for a quick lunch or a dinner feast!

We arrived early in the week for an early lunch and were seated quickly. The restaurant has only a few tables, plus seating at the counter, although there is a back room for large groups. Unless you’re seated at the table by the window there aren’t views of the ocean. Parking is easy, the Coconut Grove Marketplace almost always has adequate parking in the lot behind the marketplace, and it’s just a short walk to the restaurant.

The service is good and the only problem we had was deciding on what to choose from their vast menu!

The menu

A large selection of sushi rolls, sashimi/nigiri as well as chow mein noodles, chicken and pork dishes.

What we ordered

(Above) Dublin Roll – Spicy tuna crabmeat topped with yellowtail and avocado ($14.95). Unagi ($6.95) and Seared Sake (Nigiri) ($7.95).

(Above) Sesame Balls – sticky white flour dough filled with a sweet paste ($6.25).

(Above) Edamame ($5.75).

(Above) Sunset Blvd Roll – Spicy tuna and yellowtail crunch with unagi spicy sauce ($13.95).

(Above) Dragon Roll – Crabmeat mix, shrimp tempura and eel, topped with avocado. Served with eel sauce and tobiko ($14.95).

Taka Sushi is a great place for fresh sushi. All of our dishes were excellent,  in particular the eel. The only disappointment was the heavily salted edamame but that’s just a personal preference. If you’re looking for sushi for lunch or dinner near the Kona waterfront, be sure to head to Taka Sushi.

Taka Sushi Grill Chinese Cuisine

75-5803 Ali’i Dr B5, Kailua-Kona

Hawaii 96740

Ph. 808 491 2321

Hours: Mon – Sun, 10:30am – 10:30pm

https://www.takaorder.com

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Exploring Kealakekua Bay

Photo credit: fair-wind.com

Kealakekua Bay

The crown jewel of South Kona is undoubtedly Kealakekua Bay. This beautiful bay is part of a marine reserve and is home to an amazing array of tropical fish. Dolphins are often seen here as they use the sheltered bay as a place to avoid predators and also a place to sleep.

On the south side of the bay is Napoʻopoʻo Beach, a small beach where access to the water is easy, though there are no lifeguards and limited facilities. 

On the north side of the bay is Captain Cook’s Monument. The monument was erected in 1874 by British sailors to commemorate the spot on which he was killed. The small plot of land on which the monument sits was actually deeded to the United Kingdom by Princess Likelike – so it is actually British soil! 

To access the monument you’ll need to hike down from Napoʻopoʻo Road. Read more about this hike in our blog post about top hikes on the island here. The north side of the bay is where the best snorkeling is located and you’ll find that the tour boats typically congregate here.

There are tour operators offering snorkeling and kayaking tours, or you can rent kayaks yourself. This is a great option if you want to snorkel but don’t want to join a tour. Kayak across the bay, and snorkel off the kayak (we’ve done it and we recommend this, especially if you aren’t keen on hiking down to, and back up from, Captain Cook’s Monument).

Kealakekua Bay
Yellow Tang. Photo credit: thatadventurelife.com
Captain Cook trail Kona
Captain Cook Monument Trail. Photo credit: Lang Parker

Dolphins. Spinner dolphins are often see in the bay. They are so-called because when they leap out of the water they are able to spin on their longitudinal axis.

Boat Tours

The Big Three

Fair Winds Cruises – Fair Wind II

60 ft catamaran with a capacity of about 100 people. The tour leaves out of Keahou Bay. The boat also has a water slide and a high dive platform. $159 for 4.5 hour morning tour or $115 for the 3.5 afternoon tour. The Fair Winds is the only company that has a mooring in the bay. This allows it to become a stationary platform from which to snorkel.

Fair Winds Cruises – Hula Kai

This boat is owned by the same company that owns the Fair Wind II. The boat is a little faster and the entire experience is a bit of an upgrade from the Fair Wind II. $165 for a 5 hour morning tour.

Sea Paradise – Hoku Nui

This company operates a 45 foot sailing trimaran that leaves out of Keahou Bay. The boat is a competitor to the Fair Wind II but is often less crowded and a more enjoyable experience. If there is wind they will use the sails. $165 for a 4.5 hour morning tour or $125 for a 3 hour afternoon tour.

Fair Wind II in the bay. Photo credit: adventureinhawaii.com
Smaller tours

Sea Quest

Their hard-bottom inflatable boats hold up to 14 passengers and the tour takes them to Kealakekua Bay and then on to Honaunau (Place of Refuge). $145 for a 4.5 morning tour (includes lunch) or $128 for a 4 hour tour (no lunch). Leaves out of Keahou Bay.

Dolphin Discoveries

This company also uses hard-bottom inflatables for their tours. $139 for a 4.5 hour morning tour, to both Kealakekua Bay and Honaunau (Place of Refuge) and another tour just to Kealakekua Bay (there are three different times during the day for this tour) $114 for 3 hours. The early morning tour gets to the bay by 8am so you’ll likely be the first boat there!

Sea Quest Tour with Captain Cook's Monument in the background. Photo credit: adventureinhawaii.com

Exploring Kealakekua Bay and the area around the Captain Cook Monument is a must-see activity. The bay has some of the best snorkeling in the entire state of Hawaii. Whether you decide to hike down to the monument, kayak across the bay, or enjoy a tour, this destination should be near the top of your list on your Big Island adventure.

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Restaurant review: Foster’s Kitchen

Foster’s Kitchen (Kona) is located amongst the strip of restaurants on Ali’i Drive, with a picture-perfect view over the ocean. The restaurant offers a casual dining experience with an extensive menu. They pride themselves on purchasing directly from local famers and producers with a commitment to certified-organic products where possible.

Foster’s Kitchen is currently open Monday to Sunday from 11am to 10pm. We arrived midweek for an early lunch soon after opening and were among the first to be seated. The entire restaurant seating area is a patio space, with lovely views, and a breeze that comes right off the ocean. Note, there is some road noise from Ali’i Drive, especially if seated close to the road.

Make sure to take advantage of the free parking lot behind Foster’s Kitchen which is accessed via Kuakini Highway. The service we experienced on our visit was quick, friendly and efficient.

The menu

From bruschetta and marinated calamari appetizers, to ahi stir fry, fish tacos and shrimp & grits – Foster’s Kitchen has a large menu. They also have salads, burgers and sandwiches, plus an extensive children’s menu.

What we ordered

(Above) Fried Green Tomatoes – breaded green tomatoes, fried golden brown and served with a Cajun remoulade dipping sauce ($13).

(Above) Tomato Bisque Cup – Hot savory tomato bisque topped with avocado mousse and micro greens. Served with gourmet grilled cheese with caramelized Maui onions on sourdough bread ($10).

(Above) Seared Crab Cakes – traditional lump crab cakes served with Cajun remoulade, lilikoi slaw and microgreeens ($22).

(Above) Calamari – calamari marinated in fresh herbs, chardonnay, and garlic – lightly grilled. Served with grilled white truffle lemons and a herb-infused oil ($15).

(Above) Seafood Puff Pastry – puff pastry filled with a mixture of crab, shrimp, Macadamia nut pesto, and cheese, then baked golden brown, brushed with fresh pesto, and sprinkled with parmesan ($15).

(Above) Cheesecake – Graham cracker-crusted scratch-made no-bake cheese cake with a lilikoi topping. Finished with whipped cream and strawberries ($8).

(Above) Banana Pudding – buttery crispy puff pastry shell with house-made vanilla pudding and bananas, caramelized with local dark rum ($12).

Foster’s Kitchen was a relaxed dining experience. Some of the appetizers were more successful than others, in particular the calamari flavors didn’t quite gel, and the seared crab cakes came with a Cajun remoulade that was too hot, overpowering all the other flavors. However, the seafood puff pastry was delicious and the fried green tomatoes were also very tasty.

Foster’s Kitchen is a great place to have lunch or dinner in Kona with an ocean view. They also have another location in the Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa.

Foster's Kitchen Kona

75-5805 Ali’i Dr, Kailua-Kona

Hawaii 96740

Ph. 808 326 1600

Hours: Mon – Sun, 11am – 10pm

https://www.fosterskitchen.com

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