There are certain places in the world with an innate sense of peace; one that envelops a weary traveler from the moment the plane touches down. Kona is one of those places, although it is entirely possible that the open air terminal plays a major factor — at first glance, one might mistake it for a local farmers market. In other words, the island vibes are immediately apparent and consistent throughout, no matter what brings you to the Big Island or how long you’re around, and you’re guaranteed to be sipping something worthwhile at any given time. Kona is not only home to some of the best coffee in the world (the perfect way to start any day), but it also serves as a namesake for Hawaii’s most renowned brewing concept, where you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time on this itinerary for our perfect three day jaunt. Okole maluna (bottoms up), as they say.
Arrive to Kona International Airport. If you’re flying from the east coast, you’ll want to arrive the evening before to maximize your time in Hawaii but either way, once you’ve touched down, hail a local taxi bound for King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Check in, settle into your room, and slather on some sunscreen — there’s sunshine to be soaked and cold beer to be sipped.
Located just a short walk from the hotel, Kona Pub & Brewery is a mecca for beer aficionados, bringing together a love of craft brewing, sustainable practices, and Hawaii’s culture and spirit. Oh, and some of the best food around. Brewery tours take place several times daily; schedule one in advance by phone, via web, or through your hotel’s concierge to ensure your spot. From there, spend the remainder of the afternoon tasting the menu’s variety of brews on the patio.
Save a little room for dinner and make your way to Foster’s Kitchen where inventive Hawaiian fare and cocktails await. Start off with the Kilauea stuffed mushrooms and Hapa brown beer cheese before moving on to the daily fresh catch, followed by a few bites of Lilikoi cheesecake for dessert.
Wake up early and gather your things for round two of your Kona sejour; check out and hop in a rental car. Next stop: Waikoloa.
By now, you’ll have made it to the airy lobby of the Hilton Waikoloa Village, where both the water and a tall glass of local brew beckon. After you’ve checked in and gotten settled, throw on your finest beachwear and make your way outside to find the perfect spot by the pool or beach, drink in hand.
Head over to the Kona Tap Room on property, either by canal boat or the hotel’s tram (or by foot if you’re feeling adventurous). Spend the evening sipping from the extensive selection of beers accompanied by island fare and punctuated by a few rounds of pool; if you’re lucky, you might also catch a live music performance.
Rise and shine for a massive breakfast spread — the perfect send-off. Chances are you’ll have some time before your flight home, so plan accordingly; there are plenty of water sport options to choose from, and there’s also a shopping mall nearby if that’s more up your alley. When the time comes, make your way back to the Kona airport, fresh tan and bags of coffee in tow.