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One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

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One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

We are renting a car for our 8 hours on the Big Island. What should we do to maximize the day..no need for snorkelling as we will do on other stops.


Hawaii Oceanic
Eco Tours, Scuba & Snorkeling, Dolphin & Whale Watching, Boat Tours, Swim with Dolphins
Coral Reef Snorkel Adventures
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Kona Ocean Adventures
Boat Tours, Private Tours, Scuba & Snorkeling, Dolphin & Whale Watching, Swim with Dolphins
Sea Quest Snorkel Tours
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Kona, Hawaii
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1. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

Well I am not sure of your likes or dislikes but I can give you a short list, check it out and let us know what looks interesting and we can take it from there:

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park



Waipi'o Valley

Na'alapa Stables


Might be a good starting point.. Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park will give you a feel for the island and there are a few other things you could take in from there, like the Painted Church and a Coffee AG tour...

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2. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

I agree with Adeline. Honaunau is beautiful, as is the whole area down there at Captain Cook. A little further on is Ho'okena Beach. (when you get back on the Hwy. Worth a look and a dip in the Ocean.

Huntington Beach, CA
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3. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

where does your ship dock?

My two choices would be Place of Refuge and Waipi`o Valley as they are both unique to the Big Island, however on different sides of the island.

Place of Refuge/Honaunau was life altering for me. That is my definite first choice.


Island of Hawaii...
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4. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

I think it totally depends on your tastes in activities and you haven't said anything about what you like. There are lots of things to do. Some different approaches would be:

a) you do a lot of driving and aim to get an overview of the scenery as seen from the highway, with stops at a few popular attractions such as are mentioned.

b) you pursue some specific interest such as Hawaiian culture or geology, coffee-growing, beaches.

c) you pick an activity like swimming or a hike at a special place and do it for half day or longer

d) you do shopping and walking around town (presume this is a no because you have bothered to get a car)

e) you take a tour (often a sound choice) by sea or land.

North and south of Kailua-Kona are very different. You can do one or the other or try to go half and half. I suggest for your cruise that you get a good book, probably an all island guidebook, and read up on the lay of the land and see what appeals to you.

Palm Springs...
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5. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

Ok... first forget the idea that you have 8 hours in Kona you will have 5 hours at best. I have take the cruise 3 times and know the routine very well !!

The ship does not dock... and you tender in. Passengers who are on ships tours will be tendered first. You will be luckey to get to the pier by 0830 or 0900 !! then it is a 20 to 30 min drive one way to the Airport. so you will be starting out at about 0945 to 10000 The last tender sails to the ship at 4:30 pm...... that meand you have to return the car at the airport by 3pm !!!! to catch the last shuttle to the pier of pay $30 for a cab !!!

Driving to Place of refuge will take 2 hours rt. You can not take a car to Captain Cook... you have to do a boat tour there.... ( from the ship)

The ships tours will offer you the best bang for the buck and the best utilization of time! I would totaly rethink writting off Kona for snorkeling..because the finest snorkeling in the state is here... way beyond Molikini........... but thats your call. The only snorkel tour option available to you will be from the ship... as all the others will have left between 0745 and 8. .....

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6. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

I am a frequent visitor of the Big Island and I agree with HawaiiDan. There is not enough time to enjoy the Place of Refuge. Also that area has become unbelievably crowded.

I would drive down Alii Drive (just a few miles from the Pier) and snorkel at Kahalu'u Beach Park. You can rent all your gear there (or at the Pier) and you'll see turtles and fish galore. If you like boogie boarding and the surf is good, rent boogie boards (at the Pier) and go to Disappearing Sands Beach (right before Kahaluu Beach Park) and have a blast. Both of these beaches are just 10-15 minute drive from the Pier, giving you plenty of time for Big Island fun.

A good stop on the way back would be Island Lava Java on Alii Drive for great island coffee and a sandwich with outdoor seating on the water. Or stop at Huggo's on Alii Drive for a great water view and a Mai-tai at an outdoor table with your feet planted in the sand. Both of these places are 5 minutes from the Pier. So there is plenty to do on your own close to town, allowing enough time to get back to the Pier for the ship tender.

If you want a picturesque sandy beach, drive up the Kohala coast to Hapuna Beach, often featured on the travel channel in the Top 10. Great for boogie boarding. That is about a 30-40 minute drive from the pier.

Before you go, check that the beaches are open. There have been many high surf days lately. Kahaluu is protected by a reef so is rarely closed.

Have a great time!

n san diego, ca
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7. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

Call snorking places, they are great in kona. And see Captain Cook s area.

If the snorking person has a head person by the name of Karen

you got the best and a health lunch. This must be done in the morning for seeing more.

.If later go for a plane ride around the island 1 and 1/2 hrs.

You will see water falls and more...

Bryan, TX
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8. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

It always annoys me when people tell me to change the plans I've already made, but I would join in and say you might want to consider switching activities - do the snorkeling in Kona, and drop the snorkeling in favor of something else in another stop. That said, here are some other ideas you could do with a car:

- If you like coffee, drive down to the Kona coffee area. This is near the Place of Refuge/Captain Cook area. I saw several places with tours around there. If you wanted to, you could drive down to Place of Refuge or the Captain Cook bay (across the bay from the monument; you can drive to where you can see it, and I believe there were kayak rentals there).

- If you really had 8 hours, you could drive all the way to South Point. Some of the drive is kind of nice, but the main thing would be to actually see the Southernmost point. For that matter, with 8 full hours, you could also see the black sand beach in the South. Note that this would basically be a day of driving with just a few short stops. Highway 11 is fairly slow moving in the Kona area, but the speed limits go up in the south.

- If you were interested in a beach, besides those already mentioned, you might be able to get to one up in the north (I understand these are better beaches in general). When I was there earlier this week, some locals were telling me about some beaches up in the Kohala area that were nice. You need to know where to go to (and some will require getting a pass at a gate; they are still supposed to allow you beach access even if in a gated area), but that's an option if you want. I don't remember the locations; you'd need to find out.

- Though it would not be for everyone, I found the lava fields in the area near the airport fascinating. It won't take long, but just driving up highway 11 for a while might be pretty interesting.

- You don't say when you're going, but there are whale-watching trips (probably could do those via the ship tours, if available) in the winter.

- I know there were kayak rentals in Keauhou bay, and I'm guessing there are kayaks at several other places (I think I mentioned there's one near the bay where the Captain Cook monument is (can't remember the name). Keauhou bay on its own didn't seem that interesting to me, and when I was there the surf was really high, so you wouldn't want to go out of the bay in a kayak, but maybe on a calmer day....

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9. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

Thanks to all..great info!

Kona, Hawaii
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10. Re: One day cruise ship stop in Kona-What to do?

I just want to share that I know many a cruise ship person who did Pu`uhonua o Honaunau (Place of Refuge National Park) with no problems. Yes you can spend the entire day there BUT you can get a feel for that park in 90 minutes. Will you do it justice? No but do you do justice to the island in 8 hours? No.. that is a given. As far as crowded goes.. No... you will be reverse commuting going and coming..

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