Traveling is overwhelming, right? But you’ve made it! Put down your stress and itinerary and make time for some of the island’s simple pleasures. We felt like making a list of the best little things on the Big Island (at least our top little things). It’s that delicious fresh cup of Kona coffee that really hits the spot, or finding the perfect place to watch the sunset. Stop worrying about the big things and take time to smell the plumerias.
Starting your day: Coffee
Is it just us, or is no day complete without the perfect cup o’ joe? You’re in the land of coffee here, it’s very hard to find a bad cup of coffee (actually, we’ve had one or two but mostly at diners, and that’s what they’re known for). We do however, have a few choice spots.
1. Kona Mountain Coffee: Your to-go coffee
This is a perfect stop on your way from the airport or on the lengthy drive from Kohala to Kona (or vice versa). There isn’t much of a sit down area so maybe don’t plan on taking time here to contemplate the meaning of life, but do plan on grabbing a delicious cup of coffee. We personally suggest making your coffee “Mana Proof,” they add grass-fed cow butter and coconut oil and it’s good.
2. Ka-Lae Coffee: Your off-the-grid cup amongst orchids and friends
Hope that isn’t too specific for you. This place is a true gem and took us forever to discover. Now that we have we may never leave. It’s a charming coffee spot with the most welcoming sitting area we’ve ever come across. It’s part inside and part outside, surrounded by gardens and even with a playground. The farm it’s on also grows and sells orchids and guests are welcome to wander through the greenhouse. Just be quiet, they might be having a yoga class. If so, you might as well join in (it’s by donation).
3. Hawaiian Crown Plantation and Chocolate Factory: Your over-the-top-but-definitely-deserved cup
We try not to over-indulge but every now and then (sometimes daily) we deserve something amazing. This chocolate shop makes drinks that are basically dessert in a cup. Ask for their chocolate ice cubes in your iced coffee or try one of their extra extra concoctions that will have you on a sugar and caffeine high.
Winding Down: Mai tais
It’s tropical vacation’s signature drink for goodness sakes! You gotta add this sunset-in-a-glass to your vay-cay itinerary. We’ve tried mai tais here and mai tais there, we’ve tried mai tais everywhere! And we’re happy to share our extensive knowledge with you.
1. Island Laval Java: The Classic
It’s easy to find an overly sweet cocktail that tastes more like a slurpy than a snazzy (sometimes pricey) drink. The mai tai at Island Lava Java is based on the classic recipe of the well-known cocktail and comes to your table just sweet enough. You can enjoy the dazzling horizon without feeling hungover from a sugar rush (and just from the booze).
2. Lava Lava Beach Club: The Variety Package
With so many tropical cocktails to choose from, it can be hard making a choice. Lava Lava Beach Club has solved that problem for you. Order their flight of cocktails (seriously, why isn’t this always as option) and get a taste of a wonderfully delicious range. Or prove you’re a decisive individual by choosing one specific spin on the island classic.
3. Don’s Mai Tai Bar: The Birth Place
We can’t verify the truth of this, but Don claims to have been the inventor of the now-famous mai tai. Visit a historical landmark and try their claim-to-fame while you listen to the crash of waves beneath you. This place is a well known spot on the island, it has a lot of history and also offers some incredible live music.