Thu. Jul 18th, 2024


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 for 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 sunshine and warmth to your day!

mai tai dons mai tai bar the big island Hawaii , ahi tuna, salad, lilikoi , berries, fruits, gluten free, salad

Don’s Mai Tai bar

One 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 Hawaii

I 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 its greeting is!

Kahalu’u Bay Surf

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

Basik Cafe for Acai 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!


The Coffee Shack

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

Kona Brewery

If you’re looking for a spot that has 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.

Puna Chocolate Hale Cocoa

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 hawaii

Kona Coffee & Tea

One 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 Daylight Mind was out of business, one of my favorite places. 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!

Cookies Clothing Company

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.

Island Naturals

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, surf


The 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! Oh, 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, 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, surf

There 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.

I came back from Hawaii with an extra ten pounds of organic food, and it was all worth it.

coffee shack , magic sands beach

Magic Sands

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 coffee

Kona Haven Cofee

Kona Haven is an excellent spot for coffee while walking around downtown! They also have pretty tasty gelato and tuna salad sandwiches.

Kayas cafe, organic food, gluten free food, big island, hawaii, dairy free, vegan food, healthy eating, Hawaiian, eat healthy, Kona, coffee, lunch, veggie burger, Kona coffee

Snorkeling Tour with Sea Quest in Kona at Captain Cook

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.

The 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 will sound strange, but there’s nothing better than fresh Hawaiian pineapple after swimming around in saltwater.

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

Lava Java is another great spot downtown for macadamia nut pancakes and fresh fruit.

Kona Boys Beach Shack for Paddleboarding

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 paddle boarding 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 remember the mimosa and food were fantastic! If you’re in downtown Kona, 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.

Fosters Kitchen Kailua Kona

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!

Royal Kona Resort Luau

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!

Jackie Reys Dinner in Kailua Kona

Dinner at Jackie Reys is where to be! It’s busy, so make sure to make a reservation for 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



By Liga