The Traveling Steve's

Enjoying The Big Island: Kona days and nights.

Steve (DOS) and I had a wonderful three night stay in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The weather for our stay was overall very pleasant, although by our last day the rains and winds were moving in quickly. I’ll post more about that in the next post as we headed towards the Volcano National Park, in the middle of the Hawaiian “Blizzard” conditions. For now though, we really enjoyed Kona, and wish we had more time to stay and enjoy our resort and the Kona Coast. There’s always another trip in the future though!

Our hotel – Royal Kona Resort
We had a HUGE wrap around corner lanai.
Rocky volcanic coast and palm trees as seen from our lanai.
Small beach area and snorkel lagoon at hotel as seen from our lanai.
Royal Kona Resort and Grounds

In my last post I showed our arrival and first day in Kona. Here are a few additional photos from our stay at the Royal Kona Resort and surrounding town of Kona. Our resort was centrally located in the heart of Kona, which is a lay-back city of mostly smaller and casual resorts,(ours was the exception as it was a large resort), condos, restaurants, shops and an overall relaxed lifestyle.

We loved our location in downtown Kona, and although we had a rental car, we didn’t use it much during our stay there, (except for lunch at the Kona Brewery and a visit to the Greenville Coffee Farm), as all of the restaurants and shopping were walking distance from the resort. There was several shopping and waterfront restaurant areas just down the street from our resort, and we enjoyed dining, shopping, and just walking around there.

The shopping areas even catered to pets with their own little “doggy bar”!

As it was December while we were there, Kona (and the rest of Hawaii we saw) was decorated for Christmas and the holidays. Or as they say in Hawaiian “Male Kalikimaka”! (We love that song by the way that Jimmy Buffet and others have recorded!)

Of course DOS was once again in his shopping mode, and couldn’t resist buying some local shirts (among other things!) from Hilo Hatties and other stores. Hilo Hatties especially though was the more or less original manufacturer of Hawaiian shirts, that they still make in Hawaii.

Here we are on the Kona waterfront after shopping, with our hotel (Royal Kona Resort) in the background.

After shopping, we walked back to the hotel and stored our purchases, before heading out for lunch.

And what better place to go for lunch (and a brewski) than The Kona Brewing Company! The Kona Brewing Company was a short drive from the hotel, and as DOS isn’t a beer drinker, he made the perfect designated driver.

We actually get some of the Kona brews at home in Florida, and it was really cool visiting this place where these beers are actually brewed. While we didn’t take the complimentary brew tour, we did have lunch there. While we had a short ten minute wait, it was perfect for taking a couple photos, and even having a quick brewski at the outdoor “tent bar”.

After our table was called, we then followed the hostess to our inside seating location, passing the colorful flowers and trees decorating the outside seating area.

We sat inside in a booth in the large bar area which was fine as it was a hot day, and the wait time was much shorter than outside seating. I chose a flight of 4 beers for starters, while DOS had a Diet Coke.

We ordered a pizza to share between the two of us, and it really looks much bigger in the photo below than it actually was! It was large, but this photo (must be the camera angle!) makes it look huge! But we didn’t eat all the crust! LOL!

After lunch DOS couldn’t resist a quick stop at the Kona Brewing gift shop, where we picked up a hat or two and beer mug. But of course!

We enjoyed our breakfast each day served open-air oceanfront at the resort restaurant. It was a great way to start the day with coffee and a view!

In the evenings we had dinner at our resort or nearby within walking distance of the hotel. We really enjoyed our second night’s dinner in Kona especially at Hugo’s, which was next door to the resort. We had a window seat overlooking the water, and even though we arrived around 7pm (well after sunset) and it had been raining, we had a great view (and sound) of the waves and tiki torches just outside the open air window.

For dessert we had what must have been the biggest “Mud Pie” ever! It was HUGE! Of course we split it, but it was truly decadent and well decorated and presented to us.

We managed to waddle out of Huggo’s after such a delicious and filling dinner, and walked next door to our hotel. It was really a fun-filled day, and wonderful night of dining!

Good night, and Mele Kalikimaka from Royal Kona Resort!

On our last day in Kona, the rains were starting to move in, but we did a day trip to the Greenwell Coffee Farm. Kona is famous for its Kona Coffee, and they take their coffee seriously, even though they produce only a minuscule amount of coffee for the world market. The drive to the Greenwell Coffee Farm was only a half hour or so from our hotel, and it was a nice day trip, albeit a bit rainy the day we went.

I told DOS to be careful driving, as we were entering a busy “highly caffeinated” area! LOL!

Before we went to the coffee farm, we had noticed how pricey Kona Coffee was, as seen in the local grocery store or the Hawaiian ABC type stores, and wondered why it was so expensive, especially considering it was harvested there in Kona. Many stores offer a “Kona Blend” which is much cheaper, but a true 100 percent Kona Coffee costs between $45 and $80 a pound! Sure enough though, when we got to Greenville Coffee Farm, we noticed the pricing was more or less the norm perhaps slightly cheaper than the grocery store at $23 for 8 ounces ($46 a pound) and more for select roasts. As our tour guide would later tell us, much of the pricing is due to hand-picking the coffee and hiring additional laborers, vs the mass market coffee mills which are highly automated in harvesting their coffees.

The Greenville Coffee Farm is one of the oldest in the Kona area, and this family-run farm has been in existence since the 1850s. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by the outdoor staff, and were offered our choice of several of their Kona coffees while we waited for the next (complimentary) tour to start. As we arrived shortly after the 9am opening time, it was not very busy, however by the time we left, there was quite a crowd of coffee lovers! While there were several complimentary coffees available for tasting, I’m showing my two favorites in the photos below.

On our morning arrival to Greenville Farms, the welcome center was not very busy yet, so we had plenty of time sample several coffees before our coffee tour.

We had a lovely young guide for our tour. Our guide was actually a high school senior, but was very knowledgeable and passionate of the Kona Coffee, growing up with the generational family coffee knowledge and tradition. Our tour had a dozen of us touring with her thru the coffee fields and past the processing areas, all along the beautifully manicured grounds. They even provided complimentary umbrellas, which would come in hand for parts of the tour when the “liquid sunshine” would appear for a few moments.

After our Coffee Farm tour, the welcome center was quite busy with fellow coffee lovers!

And of course, DOS couldn’t resist buying a few souvenir coffee mugs and caps!

After our tour and purchases, we headed back to the hotel, as it was starting to get rainy once again. We had a really nice visit to the Greenwell Farms, and now have a much better appreciation for Kona Coffee. Mahalo Greenwell Farms!

For the beach lovers out there reading this, you’re probably wondering why we are not basking on the Hawaiian beaches? For one, Kona is a rocky (volcanic) coast, and most of the sandy beaches are man-made at the resort hotels such as ours. We did pass by the “black sand beach”, in our travels around the island, which was interesting, but the rainy weather wasn’t conducive for even a walk on the beach the day we were there. Second, we are no longer the beach-basking lovers of our your days; believe me when we were younger we wore the Hawaiian Tropic oil with pride! Now we love to walk on the beach with our caps, shirts, and sunscreen 50 on, but can’t handle the sun like we used to.

Evenings in Kona were always special, and although we only had one good sunset the first night (as the rains were slowly settling in the next couple days) we had some awesome views from our lanai. The small, but ocean-front condominium complex next to us had one unit that was decorated for Christmas with lights all around the balcony, (middle level, third from left) and you could see the Christmas tree indoors; really festive!

We didn’t do the luau at the resort in the evening, but did get a glimpse and sound of it from our balcony (facing the other direction) and on our way to dinner at the hotel.

We’ve been to several luaus over the years, both in Hawaii, and even very authentic luaus at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Village and Sea World, and they are always nice, especially if you are a first-timer or with a group. While we passed up on the hotel’s luau, we had dinner in the outdoor restaurant adjacent to the luau, and could hear the music and entertainment from there. Here are a couple photos of the luau at Royal Kona Resort we took on the way to dinner.

We enjoyed our last night’s dinner next door to the luau the the resort, but could still hear the music and sounds from it while we dined outdoors, under the covered pavilion.

After dinner on our last night in Kona, we headed back to the room, stopping to take a couple tiki photos along the way.

We then had to pack for our next stop the following day, which was at Volcano National Park. I’ll leave this post with a preview of the weather as seen when we checked out the following day! There’s a blizzard brewing in Hawaii!

For now, Aloha, and good night from Kona!

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