If you want to read more about the complicated process, please read my more detailed blog post about “Hawai’i’s COVID-19 Travel Procedures” here!
Luckily, we did everything correctly and had no issues getting to the island. We were even re-tested once we landed at the airport, and all of our tests came back negative! After we landed in Hawai’i and put all the stress of traveling behind us, we started our magical Christmas in Kona!
You can see exactly what the process was like in my YouTube video below.
Where we stayed:
We booked an Airbnb situated between the airport and downtown Kona only about 10 minutes from the beach. We chose this spot because of its prime location, price, and private pool!
Our hosts turned out to be amazing too! Every night, they gave us recommendations for things to do in the area. Without them, we would have missed out on many incredible things!
You can read more about this awesome Airbnb and book a stay, here.
Day One, Thursday: Downtown Kona and Kua Bay
Kona Farmers Market -
We had originally planned to visit Manini'owali Beach, but the night before, our Airbnb host’s recommended Kua Bay. When we plugged Kua Bay into our GPS, we discovered that they were the same place! Now, we were even more excited!
You can see more from our visits to Kua Bay in our YouTube video here!
Kekaha State Park -
NOTE: We drove the wildly bumpy and pothole-riddled road then walked down to the beach. We did this in our rented, compact car and would NOT recommend it! It took us forever and the speed bumps were a major hazard to the car.
We explored the nice beach and walked around some little, freshwater pools. Our Airbnb hosts told us, later, that their favorite secret beach is in Kekaha State Park on a 45-minute-long hiking trail! We didn’t venture that far before we got hungry and hopped back in the car!
Dinner at Papa Kona
We drove back down to Papa Kona, but this time, it was for a sunset happy hour and dinner. We all enjoyed delicious plates of seafood, Hawaiian pork, rice, and cocktails! We even got to see a whale breach near the horizon while we were eating. It was truly dinner and a show!
Read more about all of the restaurants we tried across the Big Island, here in my "Where We Found The Best Food On Hawai'i" post!
Day two, Friday: Petroglyphs and Snorkeling with Manta Rays
Queens Bath -
Night Snorkeling with Manta Rays with My Kona Adventures
When the sun set, we took off into the darkness with My Kona Adventures to look for these gigantic sea angels.
It didn’t take long, after we were in the water, for us to start seeing the humongous creatures.
I keep emphasizing their size because their wingspan can be up to 14 feet!!! Theses rays came so close that we were within, what our guides called, “licking distance” of them. It was CRAZY!
You can see much more from this once-in-a-lifetime experience in my YouTube video and blog post here!
Day Three, Saturday: South Point, Green Sand Beach, and Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
South Point -
The App guided us all the way down to South Point - the southern most point in the United States!
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach -
*Though we later learned this isn't completely legal. We did not see any signs or warnings against commercial vehicles.*
Check out more from Papakōlea’s Green Sand Beach inmy blog post here!
Punalu’u Bakery and Black Sand Beach -
It was unbelievable! We kept our distance but took lots, and lots of pictures of the endangered animals. We didn’t stay long and were back in the car to head to our last stop of the day.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park -
We wanted to drive down the Rim of Craters Road and explore more so badly, but we only got a few stops in before it was pitch black and pointless to continue.
We headed back to Kona in the dark disappointed by our visit to the park but little did we know, our disappointment would be blasted away in just under 48 hours. (Keep reading to see what I mean!)
Day four, Sunday: Back to Kua Bay with a Luau at Night
See more about all of the amazing restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and other establishments we check out across the island in my "Where We Found The Best Food On The Big Island" post, here!
Day Five, Monday: Snorkeling at Two Step in Captain Cook
Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau Park -
The area used to be considered a place of refuge in ancient Hawaiian law. Meaning that if you made it there, you could not be hurt or penalized for any crimes. It was a safe haven.
It was beautiful and so interesting to learn about!
When we finished the short trail, we finally walked over to the actual Two Step to snorkel!
It is called “two step”, because the volcanic shelf literally makes two steps into the ocean! It makes it a perfect place to snorkel especially for beginners - and it was by far the best place we snorkeled on the island!
Check out my YouTube video below to see just how incredible the entire area truly is and read my article "The Best Snorkeling Spots on The Big Island", here!
Day Six, Tuesday: Chasing Waterfalls in Hilo & Back to Volcanoes!
We had an extremely eventful day planned, so we hit the road to Hilo early. You can read more from our day road tripping around to look at all the waterfalls, here, in my separate Hilo Day blog post!
Waipi'o Valley -
Our first stop was the Waipi’o Lookout. Sadly, we didn’t have time to hike into the valley, but I will definitely make time on my next visit, because from the overlook, the beach looks unlike anywhere I have ever been. We marveled at it for just a few minutes before we continued our road trip south to our next stop.
Akaka Falls State Park -
After Akaka Falls, we headed down into Hilo to get some lunch. We chose the adorable Pineapples Restaurant mainly based on the cute pineapple drinks we could see through the window. Turns out, the food was really great too! We all had fresh seafood and salads and of course, a fancy pineapple cocktail!
After our food and drinks were gone, we continued our road trip to our next two points: Rainbow Falls and The Boiling Pots. These sites along The Wailuku River were gorgeous! They are also riddled with history and myth which we all found extremely interesting.
You can read more about the myths of the God Maui and the giant lizard Kuna in a more detailed “Places to See In Hilo” post here.
Kaumana Caves -
Remember how I said when we went to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on Saturday that our disappointment would be blasted away? That’s because on December 20, 2020, Sunday evening, the Kīlauea volcano started erupting again - and now we were going to see it!
You can see more from this once in a lifetime opportunity in a more detailed “Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park” post, here!
Day Seven, Wednesday: Kua Bay, again, before Heading Home
This was our last day on the island, and we felt that there was no better place to go than back to our favorite Kua Bay!
We spent our final day in our own little paradise swimming, snorkeling, and soaking in the sunshine. Eventually, we had to make our way to the airport to catch our overnight flight home.
None of us wanted to end our trip, but we were so thankful for all we had done.
We sat on the plane rehashing all we had done over the course of the week, and we just couldn’t believe how incredible the entire vacation had been.
We decided that we might consider having a Mele Kalikimaka in Hawaii every year!
Read these other related Hawai'i blog posts:
Where We Ate Across The Big Island
Where We Stayed In Kona, Hawai'i
Snorkeling Spots On The Big Island
1/28/2021 11:51:44 am
What an amazing trip, the blog looks awesome, I love that our memories have all been captured
3/25/2021 09:49:26 am
Looks amazing! Do you have an itinerary with all the locations you visited each day that you can share? Was it easy to explore all of these landmarks on your own with no tour guide?
3/25/2021 04:30:26 pm
No we don’t have an itinerary. This post really lays out most of our details by day! And yes we found it VERY easy. We also did download the Gypsies Guide App so we were semi-guided ;)
6/2/2021 06:03:28 am
I loved reading about your experience in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i. Your descriptions really made it come alive for me. Happy travels
6/2/2021 10:03:27 pm
Thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed. Hope you have a wonderful trip yourself if you make it over there,
12/2/2021 08:30:24 am
The Traveling Tacos
12/2/2021 09:24:07 am
We went last December (2020). I am not sure the policies to enter anymore. Vaccines were not available when we went. Sorry I cannot be more help! Have a great trip though.
Lisa Papillon Webster
12/25/2021 11:32:02 am
Great fun reading your notes and watching your videos! Mele Kalikimaka 2021!
12/25/2021 12:05:28 pm
Thank you so much! Mele Kalikimaka right back to you :)
3/27/2023 07:01:17 pm
Looks like a great trip .Did you stay the entire week in the same Airbnb or did you stay in other Airbnb‘s throughout the island?
3/27/2023 10:26:26 pm
Thank you! We stayed at the same Airbnb the entire trip. Each day’s distances varied? The furthest being Volcanoes National Park and Hilo. They were around 3 or 4 hours from where we stayed if I remember correctly.
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Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.