5 Things No One Will Ever Tell You To Do in West Hawaii


I am not the only blogger on the Big Island sharing information about things to do. However, I think I am one of the only bloggers in West Hawaii who actually goes out just about every day and tries to discover new and interesting things for ME to do, not necessarily the general tourist public.  Of course, I have been to Green Sands beach, and walked down to Cook’s monument and ran down the trail to Pololu Valley to see how fast I could get down.

However, there are a few things that I have done that I wanted to share that I bet most of you have not done and maybe think, “Yeah, no”, especially if you avoid excercise! However, if you love a great outdoor adventure, read on!

  1. Run the 1871 Trail.
  2. Run the Ala Kahakai Trail between Beach 69 and Hapuna Beach
  3. Bike Waikoloa Beach Resort
  4. Snorkle Mahukona
  5. Hike to the top of Pu’u Waa’waa.

I bet if you asked people who have lived on the island for any length of time if they have ever hiked some of the trails that make up the Kakahi Kai trail they will say no.  I decided this past January to find and run as many sections of the trail as possible before it gets too hot. As many miles of this trail are on open lava fields, if you get out there after 9 am, you are already doomed. (I am not a bright sun in the heat, kinda gal)

The 1871 Trail is one section of a coastal alaloa, or regional thoroughfare. Alaloa were long trails that formed primary routes of travel between communities, royal centers, religious sites, and resources. Shorter more locally important trails were known as alahele. Inland and coastal alaloa and alahele typically ran laterally with the shoreline. This trail is also part of the Ala Kahakai Trail.

Background: The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is a 175-mile (282 km) long trail located from Volcanoes National Park all the up to Kohala.  It is not yet a continuous “trail”, but can be accessed at several broken segments along the coastline of the Big Island. The trail was established to access the traditional Ancient Hawaiian culture along with the natural geology of the island. The trail was established 14 November 2000 as a National Historic Trail

1871 TRAIL -Photo: Julie Ziemelis

Discover the 1871 Trail The trail head can be picked up at the back of the Pu’uahonua Honaunau State Park (also known as City of Refuge.) I found it to be a challenge to actually run it (although I DID!) because of the lava stones and uneven trail, so take it easy if you are not into obstacle course running. You can feel the sense of history while on this trail and you pass by a few ancient cultural sites, as well as beautiful cliff side views of the ocean.  (If it says, “Kapu” anywhere on this trail or anywhere in Hawaii, it means stay out, so please heed these signs as they usually are culturally sensitive sites) There is a modern and clean outhouse about a mile or so in, after you have walked through a Kaiwe forest, and walked up a very cool “two horse wide” stone path (see photo).  You can take this trail all the way to Hookena, but by the time I got to the outhouse and had the sun coming up quickly on me, I turned around there and then sat in mediation at the park near the bay.  If you want to get out of the tourist mecca, this was a very nice morning adventure as I only passed maybe five people.

Ala Kahakai marker near Beach 69 PC: Julie Ziemelis

Run the Ala Kahakai Trail between Beach 69 and Hapuna The trail has markers, both signs and stacked stones to guide you, but you have to look for them, which makes this trail actually fun to run AND to try and follow! You run (hike or walk) in an ancient creek bed, across a meadow and discover a completely hidden trail down to Hapuna Beach from the upper cliff area. To make it a bit easier, you may wish to pick it up at the base of Hapuna Beach first. Go to the very south edge of the beach and head into the forest from the cliff. You will see the trail market for Ala Kahakai Trail at the trail head. It is about a 15 minute run from one beach to the other. If you follow it correctly, it lets you out right at the beach at Wailea Bay.  After a few runs I have been jumping into the ocean at one beach or the other.  Being out there at 7 am or so is amazing as there is both solitude and calm water.

Bike Waikoloa Beach Resort-If you just love the resort experience, like my teenage daughter, a nice bike ride around the Waikoloa Village Resort area is both a way to get some exercise AND take in the resort landscaping and sweeping views of Mauna Loa. We parked at the Queen’s Shops and took our bikes out of the car from there. If you want, you can rent bikes at Bike Works Hawaii right there in the Queen’s Shops.

We started at Starbuck’s as a carrot for my daughter to bike for at least 20 minutes and be able to come back to get a drink at the end of the ride. I am not saying that bribery works all the time, but if you have teens and its an overcast day or it is too early to go to a pool or beach, this is a fun family thing to do.  The roads all have plenty of room to ride on the side, the loop is relatively flat, you can see the mountains, the golf course, and can also check out where Mai’s Grille and Tropic’s Alehouse are, as those restaurants sometimes fly under the radar since they are nestled into the condos “back there”. You pass golf course waterfalls, and if you look for the trails, you can pop out onto the coast line, too.

Mahukona on the Kohala Coast; Photo credit: Julie Ziemelis

Snorkle Mahukona: Most visitors don’t get to this park because there is no beach, no sand, no bar or restaurant, and it is about an hour and fifteen minutes from Kailua Kona in North Kohala, but they do have an outhouse. What it lacks in “amenities”, it makes up in awesome things to see underwater and around the area as it is an abandoned sugar cane mill and loading dock.  You can lower yourself into the water and get back up from a ladder from the cement dock. Watch the currents as they are strong here. If you have problems getting in, don’t go in unless you are a strong swimmer.  If you head across the bay, you will see the old pilings and decaying chains near the pier. There is even a sunken propeller and engine from a long ago shipwreck there about 15 feet deep. On calm days there, our kids enjoyed seeing the fish and objects in the bay. (and again, bored teens that you have to entice to have an adventure like things that don’t require TOO much effort to see!)

If you go, please remember to NOT use sunscreen with oxybenzone. Since this is one place that hundreds of tourists are not dropped into each day from a boat, the coral and fish population here is healthy.  Wear a rashguard if you dont have reef safe sunscreen and also please take your trash with you. Many locals enjoy this park and since it is pretty far out there on the Kohala Coast, it is important to take out what you bring in.

So, there are few more adventures you can have while enjoying the Big Island. When you live here, you start to discover the more interesting things that you normally don’t have time to do when visiting for the first time, but for those seasoned lovers of this island, I have enjoyed each step, pedal and swim stroke of these places!

 Hike Pu’u Waa’waa  Most visitors who want to visit the ocean will never get close to this hike because it is located off of the upper highway between Kona and Waimea. This is for the folks who like a bit of a cooler climb since it is at elevation and also for a pretty strenuous hike that follows a road for almost 2 miles before you actually get to the pu’u (hill) to get onto the trail to make your way to the top. I have done the trail to the back side of the pu’u and my daughter made it all the way to the top, an 8 mile endeavor! It is green and beautiful there during the first part of the year and the jacarandas bloom in April, so even if you just get inside the gate, you can enjoy the lavender colors of the trees and the new spring green grass.


If you would like to learn more about cool things to do, check out this link to learn more about fun things to do on the island and around Kailua Kona!


1871 Trail/Ala Kahakai Trail in South Kona



Spread the word if you love what you heard! #365kona so we can say Thanks!

Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

Leave a Question or Comment About this Topic

  • Kelley says:

    Māhukona is a very special place to my family! That building that says Railroad was my great grandfathers office, he was the accountant for the sugar cane fields. Around the corner in the bay you can find steps leading to a foundation where my grandmas house once sat. She lived there for the first 5 years of her life before moving to Hawi.

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Thanks for adding this info Kelley! When I go to Mahukona again, I will be sure to look at that building more carefully and think of your grandfather in that office!