Coming For Christmas? Romantic and Family Friendly Fun In West Hawaii


King Kamehameha Marriott Christmas Tree

Are you packing your bags and thinking about your getaway to West Hawaii with the family or your honey for the holidays?

Have you been so busy with life that now you are saying, “How can I get the most out of my time on the Big Island while I am there?”
A reader reached out to me today and asked me this exact question. She said she is coming with her two kids and hubby to stay at the in laws, and so she has a babysitter for a few hours during the day and wanted to know where she could go with her hubby for romance and with the kids for day time fun.  (speaking of, I have a teenage daughter that could use some baby sitting money during the holidays this year, and she can help you out with kids over 3 if you send me a note!) The reader’s caveat was also watching her pocketbook since it is Christmas time, so I gave her some ideas for inexpensive things to do, as well.
If you ARE coming for the holidays, just about every hotel, VRBO, and AirBnB is booked solid, so we are experiencing a VERY crowded year this year. SO, if you DO want to take some of the charters, from dolphin swims to helicopters, BOOK NOW.  And if you have a group of folks you are dining with, get those reservations in, as well.
Most of the suggestions below also keep in mind that the island is going to be very busy, so I suggested a few things that many tourists don’t know about. If you love the company of other people, visit Kua Bay, Kahalu’u Beach Park, Hapuna Beach, Lava Lava Beach Club, Bongo Ben’s, etc.
Here is what I wrote to her with my suggestions: 
When my hubby and I had some free time without the kids, we took adventures that they would never do like go on a snorkel cruise, such as FairWinds and Body Glove or Dolphin Whispers Hawaii to swim with dolphins with Jan Salerno,   or just go snorkeling (free), go for a drive past Hawi and hike at Pololu Valley with a picnic and just lay on the beach down there. (Black sand!)
We would also just sit at an ocean side bar in Kona and drink mai tais at sunset at Huggos on the Rocks or Kona Inn. (Holiday timeframe? Get there early)

Snorkel For Free 

A nice place to snorkel that many people use for a swim lane instead, is Kailua Bay. It’s an easy “walk down the steps onto sand and walk in with no rocks” entry. I have seen HUGE fish balls there that I have never experienced anywhere else on the island. Like THOUSANDS of fish. And have seen a few turtles right there at the entry point as they feed off of the rocks.


Honu at Kailua Pier

It is safer during high surf events (common in December and early January) when you want to get into the ocean but other beaches are closed or are dangerous)  We have  been known to get our floaties and lounge around in the bay. (You can buy the floaty rings at the ABC store right there near the bay and they will blow them up for you! $6 for entertainment!)
(Here is a video I took of the swim entrance) 

Star Gazing
A night time adventure is to drive to the Visitors Center at Mauna Kea for star watching. If you can catch a clear night, it’s not only awe inspiring, but romantic! Bring some blankets and lawn chairs and just look up for the Milky Way spanning across the heavens. (or you can bring your children for some education about constellations and such as they run videos up there and you can get hot chocolate for $1)

Hau Bar at Mauna Kea

Go North

If you want another romantic hubby and I do this on special occasions…the Mauna Kea Resort has a spectacular view over a gorgeous bay. (Kaunaoa Bay) You can also take the kids there to swim (another safer than usual beach for waves) There is a beach bar with awesome margaritas or you can dress up and have appetizers in the Copper Bar (lobby bar) and watch the sunset or have burgers on the beach at the Hau Tree restaurant or splurge and just go for dinner at the Manta restaurant and enjoy a spectacular view across the bay.

Special Holiday Viewing
Go to the Mauna Lani Resort Hotel for the charity Christmas tree display with the kids. Non-profits decorated trees this past weekend (Dec 9) and the entire lobby is full of these artistic and eclectic trees. At the Mauna Lani Resort, the kids can also see the sharks/large fish in the lagoon, the hundreds of koi in the entrance pond, see the baby sea turtles in the pond in the main atrium and go for a walk down the beach to see the Moray eels at the entrance gate to the ancient fish ponds. The Mauna Lani does fireworks over the bay for New Year’s Eve, so you can call for tickets to their buffet and live entertainment event and fireworks show to see it up close or pull up a chair on the beach nearby or have dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club and then stay for the show!
I wrote a post about all the holiday events in West Hawaii (in case you are reading this for next year!) but all the events have already occurred for 2017.
Jazz and Art 

Gertrude’s Jazz Bar

My friend Marlina owns Gertrude’s Jazz Bar right on Alli Dr. across from the Kailua Bay. They have dancing, jazz, live music and have a great view of the bay at sunset. Check their entertainment calendar-there is ALWAYS something fun going on there!  It’s a night you can wear something pretty and feel grown up without kids and have some festive photos taken of you. I love it there.

And for brunch…EVERYONE raves about the Holuakoa Garden Inn restaurant in the artists village of Holualoa. Stroll through the art galleries for some amazing art displays and upscale Hawaiian art. My friend Mary Lovein owns the Holualoa Art Gallery next to the post office. Pop in and say Aloha!
I can’t end this post without a few tips to make sure you are caring for the land while you are here. Please DO NOT use sunscreens with oxybenzone in them. That ingredient is killing our coral reefs and if you wait until you get here to buy sunscreen you can look for “reef safe” products at the dive shops, at the charter boat shops and even Target. OR better yet, get a rash guard/swim shirt and avoid using chemicals that stay in the ocean and on the sand AND in your endocrine system.
Also, please do not step on the coral…visitors do this to have a place to re-adjust their masks. Did you know over 400,000 people visit our reefs each year? When even a fraction of those folks stand on the coral, they are damaging the entire ecosystem of our bays. And drive with Kokua and share your Aloha. You WILL be in traffic on your trip.  Don’t freak out and just look at the ocean and turn on the radio and relax. Skipping around cars on our two lane roads lead to accidents. Mahalo!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Want More Tips? 
There are a few other fun things I can suggest. If you would like some other adventures to attempt that get you out of the crowds…email me at [email protected] and check out my “365 Things to Do in Kona” page on Facebook!

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 and 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.

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