If you love lush green jungle, history, and most of all, stuffing your face - a road trip over Saddle Road to Hilo from Kona is well worth the drive. The county seat of the Big Island, Hilo is the oldest city in the Hawaiian island chain. This historic town has a lively music, arts, and food scene, plus stunning natural beauty with it’s waterfalls and beaches. Follow this guide for an epic road trip over Saddle Road from Kona to Hilo. You may not want to come back...until it starts raining.
The drive from Kona to the Kohala Coast on the northern tip of the Big Island is gorgeous. As you get north of the airport, the landscape opens up to reveal sweeping views of Mauna Kea, the Kohala Mountains, and a view of Maui’s Haleakala on a clear day. This route passes numerous world class beaches and several historical sites for those interested in Hawaiian culture and history. During the winter whale season, it’s possible to spot whales breaching along the way. The ultimate destination of this trip is spectacular Pololu Valley.
Grab your snorkel gear and follow this itinerary to see dolphins, vibrant coral reefs, and some of South Kona’s most beautiful beaches, plus where to stop for ono eats along the way. A note on respecting the Nai’a (Dolphins): do not chase or try to touch these amazing creatures. Observe them from a respectful distance.
So, you’re a backpacker on a budget stoked to explore the Big Island. You want bang for your buck, without sacrificing glorious tales of adventure to take back home. You want more time lounging on white sand beaches, enjoying good eats, and cooling off under waterfalls… not stressing about how on earth you’re going to get there.
In Kona we sleep to the sounds of surf, but there’s more to listen to than the ocean on any given night. Here are a few of our favorites venues for live music and dancing in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. From classy jazz joints to open mics and Karaoke, Kona has some good stuff to offer music lovers.
In Kona, coffee is king. Introduced back when mule-drawn carts and horses were still the primary mode of transport in the 19th century, Kona families have farmed and made a living from coffee for over 200 years on the slopes of Hualalai volcano. Relatively new on the scene is the coffee shop.
One of our favorite parts of traveling is the food. Forget about the snazzy tourist traps with overpriced, mediocre renditions of your hometown fare. It’s time to duck into that side alley and eat where the locals eat. Delicious, cheap, and worth the lunchtime line.