Where to Eat

The Coffee Shack
Green Flash (Kailua-Kona)

Walk the footpath that starts at the end of the of the dead-end street. Turn right at the end of the path and walk Ali'i Drive until you hit the crosswalk. Cross the road and you'll see Green Flash just ahead. Great spot for coffee, smoothies and breakfast sandwiches.

Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill (Kailua-Kona)

Exit the neighborhood and make a left. At the first intersection on the right: Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill. They add lilikoi to their margaritas and have the island's best ahi tartare. We'd very much like to provide entree recommendations, but have yet to order more than appetizer medleys. Of those, the edamame and crispy pork ribs stand out.

Papa Kona (Kailua-Kona)

Right on the water! Great for breakfast, lunch or supper (open daily from 7am until 11pm), Papa Kona has fantastic views, nice breezes and a full bar. They also have live music in the evenings. Pro tip: park for free just down the road in Coconut Grove (set your navigation system to Outback Steakhouse).

Kai Eats and Drinks (Kailua-Kona)

Right next door to Papa Kona sits Kai, for a relaxing meal on the water. Check out their lemon french fries: fried lemon slices and chimichurri. Kai also has a wide variety of foods friendly to most kids, including burgers, quesadillas and pizza. For the adults, Kai serves forty-eight draft beers.

The Coffee Shack (Captain Cook)

Get up early one morning and drive to The Coffee Shack. Breakfast is definitely worth it; they have lunch, too. The views make it even more heavenly. The ono benedict with rice, fried egg sandwich or the Hawaiian French toast make it hard to decide what to eat. They make their own breads and serve Portuguese sausage.

Rebel Kitchen (Kealakekua)

A short drive to the south and you reach Kealakekua. If you do so between Wednesday and Saturday, have lunch at Rebel Kitchen, where they serve seasonal and local foods. On the tables they have Mauka Mustard and Hawaiian Fire Sauce, sure to add zing to sandwiches and fries. Try their Cajun pasta or jambalaya for a bit of spice. You can also order their sauces online, to share with friends and family back home. Browse the Kealakekua shops, including the Donkey Balls store for some chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

Merriman's Big Island (Waimea)

If you want a special meal, ditch slippas (flip-flops) for nicer shoes and head up to Merriman's Big Island. You might check in advance if reservations make sense.

Lava Lava Beach Club (Waikoloa)

Head north to Waikaloa and enjoy a meal right on the beach, at Lava Lava Beach Club. They also have live music! LLBC does not take reservations, so go before you get hungry, put your name on the waiting list and enjoy a short stroll on the beach.

Harbor House (Kailua-Kona)

Head down to Honokohau Harbor and enjoy casual dining and drinks at Harbor House Restaurant. Great burgers and sandwiches, plus well-priced 18 oz schooners of beer (voted coldest in town). Very nice open-air place that rarely has a line to wait in.

Things to Do

Cliff jumper

Remember to use GPS / Google Maps or car navigation to get around. While mainly one highway, you can easily miss a turn.

Kilauea Lava Viewing (Volcano)

Prepare yourself for a lengthy drive, but one worth it with the lava flowing right now. Take the highway around the south side of the island. On the way, have breakfast at The Coffee Shack. Don't miss a chance to drive to the southernmost tip of the USA, at South Point (signs exist). For those brave enough, jump off the cliff into the ocean. Grab some macademia nuts from Paradise Meadows on your way back to the highway - they also have restrooms. Other stops to make: Panulu'u Bake Shop and Volcano Winery. Enjoy a meal at Thai Thai Bistro, then head down to the volcano. A few notes: fill up the vehicle before you head out, bring plenty of water and don't forget flashlights. The volcano walk is not lit and not very level. We recommend the couple-mile trek only for those who can safely navigate rough terrain in the dark.

Pololu Valley (Kapa'au)

Drive through Hawi and Kapa'au, until the highway ends. Park and enjoy the views of Pololu Valley. Hike down to Keokea Beach. The beach has picnic tables and restrooms, a great place to take the family.

Waipi'o Valley (Kukuihaele / Honoka'a)

Sean considers this the most beautiful spot on the island. The only way to this black sand beach is by 4x4 or hiking. At the base of the cliffs is the Wailoa Stream: cool, fresh water that meets the ocean waves. Hikers can explore the area for views of waterfalls (Ipu'u, Kakeha and Hi'ilawe, among others) and the ocean from elevation points. Stop for a bite or to shop in the nearby town on Honoka'a.

Akaka Falls (Honomu)

In the rain forest section of the island you'll find Akaka Falls. Either on your way in or out, stop at Mana's Aloha Fruit Stand for fresh coconuts. It's a short drive from here to Hilo, the island's largest city, with plenty to check out.

Hapuna Beach (north of Waikoloa)

Bring a small amount of cash to park the car (5 bucks, we think). This spot often ranks on top ten lists of beaches worldwide. The gentle waves and long stretches of sand make it popular with families, especially those with young kids. This state park has changing areas, rinsing faucets and restrooms.