Spending Three Weeks on The Big Island of Hawaii: Kailua Kona

Kailua Kona, The Big Island of Hawaii

Happy Tuesday, everyone! While I was out on my walk this morning, I realized that I never shared my photos from Hawaii. I’ve been working on a travel guide for the big island from the past three years of visiting, but that won’t be coming out for a few more months. I decided that I’d take the time this afternoon to quickly share the photos from my last trip to the Island in November. I’m doing one of my “ultimate guide” posts so that you can expect that soon, and it’ll have so many more details on what to do when you visit Kailua Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii! I know it’s cold in most parts of the U.S., so I’m hoping these photos bring you sunshine and warmth to your day!

Please follow me on Instagram for more food & travel inspiration! —> @TARALYNNMCNITT
mai tai dons mai tai bar the big island Hawaii , ahi tuna, salad, lilikoi , berries, fruits, gluten free, saladOne of the best parts about Hawaii is treating yourself to the fresh ahi tuna and the mai tais at sunset. Don’s Mai Tai bar is one of my favorite spots. 
mai tai dons mai tai bar the big island HawaiiI recommend ordering the flight so you can try all the flavors. Plus, the presentation is adorable!
And if you’re wondering which airport to use when flying to the Big Island, Kailua Kona is the way to go. Look how gorgeous it’s greeting is! 
And of course, you have to take a surfing lesson when you’re there. This was my second time, and it’s an absolute blast. I will say, definitely go towards the end of your trip because you’re going to take a few beatings! Not only will you get bruised up from your board, but the sun will also be beaming down on you. Make sure to wear the coral reef safe sunscreen that is waterproof. 
This was my second time at Kahalu’u Bay Surf. We did the semi-private group lesson, but the group next to us who didn’t do the semi-private paid way less and did just as much surfing as we did, so I wouldn’t bother paying extra for a semi-private. Do the group lesson, and you’ll be good to go! It’s a pretty extensive activity, so make sure you have a hearty breakfast and drink a ton of water. açaí bowls basik cafe, the big island, Kona , Kailua Kona vegan, plant based, healthy food, the big island food, açaí bowls
The best way to end a surf lesson is down the street at Basik Cafe for some delicious acai bowls. This is one of my favorite spots on the Big Island! 
When I find a place I love, I go multiple times. This was my seventh time having breakfast at The Coffee Shack in the past three years. I mean, look at that view. 
This is a hidden gem and a great place to stop before spending the day at the beach or hiking.
I always get the same thing.

The fried egg, papaya boat, fresh coffee, and pineapple slices. The first I visited, I had their to-die-for cinnamon roll and the lilikoi yogurt. 
The best part about this place is feeding the geckos jelly. They are EVERYWHERE! They come right up to your table and eat the little jelly by the window. I could sit and watch them all day.
the big island, Hawaii, Kona, downtown Kona, coffee, macadamia nut
If you’re looking for a spot that thas amazing food (and pizza), head to Kona Brewery! They had a happy hour with all kinds of delicious options and for great prices. Another brewery we loved that had AMAZING food, and phenomenal cider was Ola. If you plan on doing the night dive with the manta rays (my post from my dive), bring a change of clothes, and end the night at Ola! You’ll love the atmosphere, and I highly recommend their poke bowls. Their purple potato salad was unbelievable.
Raise your hand if you like chocolate. Ok, everyone? Thought so! Hale Cocoa is where it’s at. They have free samples of all the delicious chocolate, and a bar inside that serves dessert cocktails. It’s my kind of place!

kailua kona hawaiiOne of my favorite places to grab a coffee and a snack is the Kona Coffee & Tea. They have an amazing drip coffee, and I highly recommend buying a bag to take home with you. I also ordered their chia seed and papaya bowl for breakfast a few too many times! 
I was really sad when I saw that one of my favorite places, Daylight Mind was out of business. Luckily, they still have yoga and amazing coffee there, but their food used to be my favorite while visiting the island. This is the macadamia nut cappucinno, and it was pretty great!
When you’re in Kailua, stop at Cookies Clothing Company! It’s a boutique with great prices, and the clothing is adorable! I bought a few outfits while I was there. I brought Abby in with me, and she did the same!
And of course, the best parts about the Island are the nights out on the patio grilling while the sunsets. 
I always went to Island Naturals for groceries. It’s a cute organic and natural store with so many great products! They also have a ton of healthy pre-made food. I call it the mini tropical Whole Foods of the Big Island.
Kayas Coffee, organic food, the big island, Kailua Kona, hawaii, where to eat in hawaii, hawaii travels, big island healthy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, cafe, weekend recap post, travel, what to do in Hawaii, paddle board, surfThe highlight of this last trip was finding Kaya’s.

It’s my dream spot. It has healthy options, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, and so much more! Ohhhh the food was amazing. This black bean burger has me drooling just thinking about it. I had it at least four times in the three weeks that I was there! It had gluten-free bread, their homemade black bean burger, egg, veganaise, lettuce, tomato, and onion. I’ve never had a veggie burger that could top this.
Kayas Coffee, organic food, the big island, Kailua Kona, hawaii, where to eat in hawaii, hawaii travels, big island healthy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, cafe, weekend recap post, travel, what to do in Hawaii, paddle board, surfThere were also these lazy gluten-free, vegan Somoas that we could not get enough of!

Sometimes, I’d take my laptop to this spot, order a macadamia nut cappuccino and have a cookie while I checked emails and caught up on my blogs.
My brother and his girlfriend, Abby, were hooked on this spot as well! 😊 We ended up ordering an entire smorgasbord the first time we went.
Kayas cafe, organic food, gluten free food, big island, hawaii, dairy free, vegan food, healthy eating, Hawaiian, eat healthy, Kona, coffee, lunch, veggie burger♥️ 
I came back from Hawaii with an extra ten pounds of organic food, and it was all worth it. the big island, Hawaii, Kona, downtown Kona, coffee, macadamia nutcoffee shack , magic sands beach
There’s a local (slightly touristy) beach called Magic Sands that is an absolute blast to hang out at. There’s a Beach Shack right there so you can have the convenience of beverages and food whenever you’d like. This isn’t the spot to hang out if you’re not a good swimmer because the waves can get super rough, but what is cool is that the sea turtles like to hang out by the shore, so don’t get freaked out when you see one swimming next to you! 
The best time to swim is at sunset when the beach isn’t as crowded, and the views are unbelievable!
big island Kona coffeeKayas cafe, organic food, gluten free food, big island, hawaii, dairy free, vegan food, healthy eating, Hawaiian, eat healthy, Kona, coffee, lunch, veggie burger, Kona coffeeKona Haven is an excellent spot for coffee while walking around the downtown! They also have pretty tasty gelato and tuna salad sandwiches.
One thing you must do is take a Sea Quest boat ride to go snorkeling at Captain Cook! It’s the ultimate experience, you’ll learn a ton of history, and it’s the only way you can snorkel at Captain Cook unless you hike down an advance 2.5 trail. 
We got so lucky on our day because over 50 dolphins were circling the bay. It looked like a Lisa Frank folder underneath the water. kailua kona, seaquest, boat, dolphins, snorkeling, kailua kona, the big island, things to do, snorkel, caption cookThe only thing you’ll need to bring is sunscreen and a swimsuit! They provide all the gear and snacks (check the post for my last time snorkeling!)

This is going to sound so strange, but there’s nothing better than fresh Hawaiian pineapple after swimming around in salt water.
Not only were we lucky enough to see the dolphins, we saw a Manta Ray!
The boat ride is one of the best ways to see the Island away from shore. And it’s cool to go near the caves and watch the blowhole go off! 
You can also cliff jump a few miles away from here at the end of the world. My friend, Emily, did it!
Lava Java is another great spot downtown for macadamia nut pancakes and fresh fruit.
If you enjoy paddleboarding, Kona Boys is a great place to rent and go out. If you’re lucky and early enough, you may get to paddleboard with the moring pool of dolphins.
💜 I could live here.
After paddleboarding early in the morning, we worked up an appetite and had breakfast at the purple building. Yes, I’m the worst blogger ever and could not remember the name of the place we went to, but I do remember the mimosa and food was fantastic! If you’re in downtown Kona, just look for the bright pink/purple building down by Kona Boys! I had fried potatoes, eggs, and fresh fruit 😋 PS if you know what place I’m talking about, let me know! We were so hungry and only had a few minutes to spare before heading to our surf lesson, and we happened to pop into this delicious gem. 
Foster’s Kitchen is another spot that I love! Take advantage of the mai tai special during happy hour. 
I had the barbecue chicken, white rice, and vegetable medley. The first time I ate there three years ago, I had the fried goat cheese on my salad, which I recommend. The food is always fantastic!
I went there again when my brother got to Hawaii, and we split the fish tacos! YUMMY! 
And it’s not a Hawaiian trip if you don’t attend a Luau! One of my favorites is at the Royal Kona Resort.
It’s right at sunset, so don’t forget your camera! It’s one of the most relaxing nights, and the performers are fantastic. 
Do you know what else is fantastic? The food! They have a ton of gluten-free options, and everything is labeled. It’s an all-you-can-eat style buffet, and make sure you save room because the food is phenomenal.
Wine down? I think so!
Hello, sweets! 
The best luau in Kona! 

Such a fun night!
Dinner at Jackie Reys is where to be! It’s busy, so make sure to make a reservation on the weekend. We all had fresh salads, the poke tower, fish tacos (to die for), sweet chili edamame, and fried calamari. 
Of course, I had to make another trip to The Coffee Shack to show my brother and Abby.
I went with the eggs benedict over tomatoes this time! 😋

And of course, the worse part of visiting Hawaii is returning home! I have so many photos left to share, but if you haven’t caught up on all my other past Hawaii trips here! I’m excited to finish the guide, which will help you plan your next trip to Kailua Kona!

Thanks for stopping by to check out the photos 😊

Questions for you!

  1. Have you ever been to Hawaii?
  2. I have the travel bug! Where should I go next?



  • Alena

    I want to visit Hawaii so badly! I just need to take the plunge and spend the $ on a ticket lol!
    My husband and I are planning a long weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico in March. We’re looking forward to a nice getaway for spring break!! Have you ever been?

    Reply to Alena
  • Jenna Rall

    Never been but hope to one day!!

    You should go to the keys!

    Reply to Jenna Rall
  • McKayla

    Gorgeous Taralynn, thank you for your wonderful blog posts! 🙂 I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time! I would LOVE to see anything else you have to share on The Big Island and your ultimate guide! My husband and I are spending ten days on the Big Island April 27th and are excited out of our minds. I’ve been taking notes from all of your posts! 🙂 Anything you have to share/recommend would be such a blessing (especially for two newlyweds in college who are trying to make the most of a once-of-a-lifetime trip!) 🙂

    You should definitely consider Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy for your next trip or your honeymoon! 🙂 It has the dreamiest beaches covered in sea glass, gorgeous coastline, the most amazing food and can be as chill/exciting as you want it to be. 🙂 Excited to see where you go next! <3

    Reply to McKayla
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Ahhhhh you’re going to LOVE the Big Island! If you’re staying in Kailua, make sure to message me! I know the most amazing guides that will take you around!!

      Cinque is a dream!!!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
      • James Sharp

        Much mahalo for the beautiful pics. We have lived in Kohala for three years and LOVE it here. Good job. You should visit during Ironman. It’s a good vibe too.

        Reply to James Sharp
  • Melissa

    I’m pretty sure the purple building restaurant is Paradise Brewing Co. We went there last time I was on the big island and I recognized the purple railings 🙂

    Reply to Melissa
  • Amie

    Such good pictures! We were in the area in October and I fell in love! We kayaked over to captain cook and it was amazing. No dolphins or rays when we went 🙁

    Reply to Amie
  • Susie

    Love all your Hawaii photos and recommendations! I’ve been to Maui, which I absolutely love, but not to the Big Island. My next trip is a 10 day cruise to Alaska – very excited! Have you ever cruised before?

    Reply to Susie
  • harriet

    Wow Hawaii looks just incredible! your photos are amazing. I haven’t been yet but its the next holiday destination on my list along with Florida. I have taken some notes from this post for places to eat and explore for when I start planing my trip. I it might sound bias as I live here but I think you would love New Zealand, I have been to over 18 incredible countries world wide but they never top nz, and our South Island is just breath takingly beautiful (think lord of the rings back ground scenery). have a great week

    Reply to harriet
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thank you, Harriet!

      Oh, I would for sure love New Zealand! I need to travel more for sure! I’ll have to get all your recs if I make over there one day!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    I can’t believe I still haven’t been to Hawaii! It looks amazing – thanks for sharing, Taralynn! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Reply to Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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