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10 FREE Things To Do In and Near Kona, Hawaii

From striking beaches to the dramatic volcanic backdrops, and relaxed atmosphere of island life, Hawaii’s big island is one of the most expensive destinations. Nevertheless, you don’t have to splurge a fortune when visiting many of Kona’s highlights and natural gems. Here are 10 awesome free things to do in and around this sunny paradise by the sea: Here are 10 awesome free things to do in and around this sunny paradise by the sea:

1. Swim in the Waters of Kahalu’u Beach Park
Kahalu’u is one of the favorites on Kona’s Big Island and has a wealth of tropical fish and sea turtles that can be snorkeled in the nearby waters. Sunbathe on the beach, which is located at the sandy rim of the reef, or have lunch beneath one of the palm-covered gazebos. The use of the beach park and structures within this place are free for anyone to use.

2. Shopping Tour around the Kona Inn Shopping Village

Located right in the middle of Kona, this open-air shopping village has various specialty stores, artisan studios, cafes, and restaurants by the ocean. Stroll around at your own pace, taking a look at Hawaiian products made by local artisans and artwork on the walls as you enjoy the stroll. The last but not the least thing you can do is to get a feel of the tropics by admiring the view and feeling the wind on your face and this is free. Pause at the back lanai where you can view spinner dolphins and whales (depending on the season) in the waters below.

3. Ku’emanu Heiau Trail – this is a short and easy 1.9-mile out-and-back trail.

For scenic views of the ocean, it will be a short one-point-two-kilometer round-trip hike along this historical trail in Kona. The trail takes you through the dryland forest area to one of the ancient Hawaiian temples or heiau located on a steep lava plateau that drops to the sea. It is also important to be vigilant in search of whales, especially in winter. This trail is approximately half a mile in length and has lots of interesting sights along the way that are illustrated with interpretive signs that provide historical information.

4. Visit Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo

This is the only tropical rainforest zoo in the entire USA and this charming and delightful 12-acre zoo is located outside of Hilo and offers a wonderful look at over 80 different animal species from tropical regions of the world. Get to see monkeys, sloths, parrots, and many others from the comfort of your screens in this stand-up comedy series for free! It is just great as a family outdoor event or for people, who have a passion for animals of any age.

5. Other attractions include; magic sands beach park where you can relax.

Also known as Had Sai Kaew or Had Chao Ley and sometimes called White Sands Beach or Disappearing Sands Beach because the sand is shifted by the currents constantly, this beach is perfect for swimming and you can even body-surf if the waves are big enough to produce nice boogie boarding. For everyone’s entertainment, you can swim in the shallow breaker zone or enjoy sunbathing at the beach, using a lounge chair on the beach. And the best part is there is also a parking just right opposite the building.

6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Drive up to the top of Mauna Kea for sunset

To get above the clouds to see an excellent sunset, take the curvy road up to Mauna Kea to get to a better elevation. Prime parking for free is available at the 9,200 feet level where you can watch the sunset and star gaze in the night. It gets cold in the evening so be sure to dress appropriately to suit the chilly weather in the evening. However, it is advisable to check the road conditions before going because during winter there is a tendency to have ice and snow on the road.

7. Puuhonua O Hōnaunau National Park: A Guide to Hawai’i’s Ancient Place

A trip to this island will give you an insight into Hawaiian history and culture since it was previously known as the Place of Refuge. Explore the natural trails that go through the lava rock shoreline passing through the sacred site with temples fishponds and typical Hawaiian houses built to create a historical background. Free cultural performances are also presented regularly as well The facility also has an amphitheater stage that is about fifty feet across and has a natural slope of 5 percent to facilitate drainage.

8. Drive the Hamakua Coast

The Hamakua Coast Drive is a narrow two-lane road that runs along the northeast of the island and is known for its luxuriant and tropical countryside views and fabulous seascapes while driving. It is possible to stop at beautiful waterfalls such as Akaka Falls, explore the botanical gardens, and visit the picturesque plantation towns. It will not even cost you a single dollar to get the views.

9. Take time and visit Amy B.H Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden

Here you will find details of Hawaii’s agricultural past so do not miss the chance to visit this 12-acre garden. Find out trees and plants that existed in Hawaii when early Polynesian settlers arrived and other plants that were later imported and form part of the Hawaiian culture. Free, guided tours are available every Wednesday and Saturday for visitors who seek to receive more detailed information.

10. Go and watch a Free Concert of Hawaiian Music

Food is not the only thing, the islands are also famous for music, from authentic music such as ukulele to contemporary music like Hawaiian vocals, jazz, reggae, and much more Kona and the Big Island are rich in local music. There may be free concerts in place so it is advisable to check at places like the Huggo’s restaurant to see if the atmosphere is spiced up with live music from competent Hawaiian artists as you continue with your island experience in the evenings.

The Big Island does not disappoint with its memorable landscapes or the grand and varied indigenous traditions. The list mentioned above will help you to enjoy Kona’s countless opportunities to the fullest without causing a hole in your pocket. With these 10 free options and more, you can enjoy the essence of being in paradise even when you are a cheap, frugal traveler. Enjoy the island life!