It’s winter break and I am trying to entertain my kids on a budget here in Kona. We have friends coming in on Christmas to spend ten days here and they want to have fun on a budget, too. So, I am sharing my itinerary for the next few days with you, in case you are looking for some free fun things to do around Kona that are memorable, not too hard and don’t require Herculean strength and fortitude to pull off.
Five Free Fun Things To Do Around Kona
There is a visible trail from the road to Kua Bay (Manini’owali Beach). Park nearby, and hike up the trail. Stand at the top and enjoy the panoramic view and watch for whales. My daughter and I got an early start a few days ago and climbed to the top (there is loose rocks, so wear shoes and aim for the patches of grass to get a good foothold).
You can even run around up there and you get to see what the top of “Butt Hill” looks like. This is a great hike in December, because it does not get as hot as if you were to do this at other times of the year. One of these days, I would love to hike up here with a bottle of wine and some pupus and watch the sunset.
2. Stargaze on Mauna Kea
We are going tonight to the Visitors Center at Mauna Kea to watch the almost full moon and we get to wear jackets, scarves, and gloves and get chilly! This has become our Christmas Eve tradition. We will bring up some snacks and we splurge and pay $2 for the instant hot chocolate mix they sell in the Visitors Center. Then we head outside and watch the stars blanket the heavens. There is usually a guide outside who can help you look through a variety of telescopes for free and sometimes does talks about the constellations, too. Depending on the weather (windy and they won’t be out there with you!) and if it snows..well, you don’t want to be there, either! A good time to go is the new moon, when the moon’s light won’t interfere with your ability to see the Milky Way which is absolutely spectacular as it stretches across the entire sky. It is seriously one of the must things to do if you are visiting. One thing about going in December, is obviously, the sun sets earlier, making the 90 minute journey each way from Kona more doable with tired children in the winter than in the summer. (There’s the mom in me) You CAN take a tour to the very top at 13,000 feet, but I like to skip the frigid cold, the altitude headache and the bumpy road to the top and stay near the Visitors Center.
Extra free bonus: The new kids park at the rest room stop on the way to Mauna Kea. It is THE best park on the island and our kids even requested that we leave early..like now..to play before going up to see the stars. Stop by, its really cool!
3. Words and Wine at Kona Stories
Words and Wine is a monthly event at Kona Stories at the Keauhou Shopping Center where the public can come and support local writers. There are 3 or 4 authors present at each event. Each author gives a 15-20 minute presentation or reading about their work. Kona Stories hosts a lovely table of appetizers and wine during this event. Meet and greet before and after the presentations. Check the events calendar for the authors coming each month. This event happens on the 1st Tuesday every month. (The owners of the store are awesome and have events where they also have complimentary Sangria. Buy local, my friends!)
For the price of two cans of food (so almost free!) you can listen to three local musical masters on Saturday December 26th at the Keauhou Shopping Center. Bring a beach chair and some snacks! Concert starts at 5 pm. I recently had the pleasure to hear Sonny Lim perform and his voice is angelic. (Well, he was singing Silent Night, so there you go!)
5. Find a Beach.
Yes, our friends from California want to dig their toes into the soft white sand while they are here and its FREE! I will take them to La’aloa (Magic Sands) -five miles south of Kona on Ali’i Drive, Honl’s Beach, right next to downtown Kona, the Old Airport tide pools, Makalewena, Kua Bay, and Hapuna Beach. All of these beaches are amazing places to spend the day, explore and enjoy. (here is a helpful guide) (Hapuna Beach started charging out of state guests a nominal parking fee)
Mele Kalikimaka for those reading this post today and tomorrow!!
For more ideas of free things to do on the Big Island, check out this post “Things to Do for Free On Hawaii’s Big Island”