Visiting Keauhou on the Big Island
Visiting Keauhou on the Big island is really like paradise on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Along the coastline in Keauhou, the sun is always dazzling under clear blue skies, adding just the right amount of heat and tropical vibes to this quiet community in West Hawaii. The small harbor and neighborhood around Keauhou is very laid back and quiet compared to the busy tourist hub in Kailua Kona. Now the area it is a magnet for recreation and water sport outfitters providing a range of kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, fishing and water related activities around the bay.
Let’s take a tour around Keauhou and the surrounding neighborhood. I promise there will be a few places to take a nice dip in the ocean, including the cool swimming pools at the Sheraton Kona afterwards.
What is the best time to visit Keauhou on the Big Island?
The Big Island of Hawaii is a popular year round destination and the most busy time frames to visit the island are summer season and winter breaks when families tend to take vacation time from work and school. The better time frame to actually visit is during the spring and fall season from February to April and then September to November outside of major holidays. The shoulder season for spring and fall has cooler weather and beautiful days with milder weather than the heat of summer or the rainy season in winter. Also, flights, hotel accommodations, restaurants and tours are usually cheaper, more competitive and more availability and options during the shoulder season in visiting the island.
Here are the fun and unique things to do in the Keauhou area of Kona
Explore the ancient fishing village of Keauhou
Just a short walk from the harbor are the remains of the old and ancient fishing village called Kaukulaelae, located on the grounds of the Sheraton Kona resort. The main archeological site dating back to the 1700s includes the main archaeological site – a fishing heiau, which was used primarily to offer tributes and pray for bountiful fishing in the area. Many of the foundations are still visible with diagrams showing the type of architecture and use for the structures during its time. This included hales (buildings) used for storing canoes, cattle pens, homes, fish pond and significant rocks that were used as tokens or tools, including the rock below. This large rock was used for collecting salt through the small pukas (holes) on the rocks which evaporated the salt water turning into salt for the Hawaiians to use.
A lava path with fallen plumeria
The beautiful grounds of the Sheraton Resort at Keauhou has a lovely garden area that fronts the bay with sunken gardens, tropical foliage and flowers that is easy and fun to explore and future out is the small harbor where adventure outfitters keep busy with manta ray dives and coastal tours and snorkeling adventure to visitors to explore the areas offshore and all the way down to scenic Captain Cook area including the popular Body Glove tours that tour the south coast of Kona area.
Bell stone and heiau at Kaukulaelae
The ancient site is cared for by maintenance staff of the Sheraton Kona hotel where the site is located at. An open expanse of grassy areas, tropical plants and an elegant white church are open for visitors to explore the historic sites and scenic views of Keauhou bay. The grassy lawn areas are often used for wedding functions, luaus or special events that are held through the Sheraton’s business or client services. There are many beautiful gardens and small trails to explore along the cultural site and further down into the harbor area.
Farmers Market a Sheraton
You can even do the one of the fun Kona farmers markets that happens right on the Sheraton grounds with arts, crafts, locally prepared foods and take outs from the small and unique farmers markets located on the grass lawn. This happens on Wednesdays from 9 to 2pm. For a larger farmers market, visit the Keauhou farmers market close by on Saturdays from 8 to 12 noon in the main parking lot area.
An ancient rock wall cattle pen below
Walk around the grounds of the Sheraton Resort at Keauhou
The ancient grounds of the hotel are a wealth of cultural treasures which are open to the public to visit and there are also free complimentary tours of the village and heiau. It’s also fun walking around the hotel to check out the organic and modern architecture, outdoor rooms and water features that show the best of Hawaiian style comfort and indoor/outdoor lifestyle. There are relaxing lounges and bars set up for you to enjoy the stunning coastline and harbor views around Keauhou bay. At night the famous manta rays feast nearby on the plankton and from the viewing platform, you can sometimes see their gorgeous water ballet while snorkelers wait in suspended disbelief.
Like the ancient people that used their resources wisely, I learned that the Sheraton Kona practices sustainable and eco principles by sourcing local ingredients or locally made products including sourcing coffees directly from their Kupuna (elders). Along with purchasing mostly local products, the hotel graciously helps the community by supporting local events, fundraising and other cultural events geared towards the community.
As a guest of the hotel, you can also take part in a variety of fun programs offered by the hotel from ukulele classes, hula or even lei making. There is also a regular tour of the cultural landmarks around the hotel with a local Kupuna (elder/guide) who shares all the wonderful history and stories of the area and the people who inhabited this small fishing village. On certain days of the week, the Sheraton offers guided tours with a Kupuna (elder) knowledgeable about the area and cultural landmarks around the property. You can find out about the complimentary tours on the Sheraton website here.
Exploring the harbor area at Keauhou Harbor
Just a short walk from the Sheraton resort grounds is the harbor area of Keauhou. It is a popular spot to do any of the water sports offered by recreation outfitters for kayaking, manta ray diving, sailing, fishing and other adventure water sports. I ended up just walking around and taking some nice views and photos around the harbor and had a nice meal at the Akule Supply Co. fronting the harbor. The café is casual dining at its best with a friendly staff serving fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients from the island. I choose a very filling seafood combination plate (below) which was really Ono (or tasty in Hawaiian).
Water Adventure Fun
There are a few adventure outfitters that do some cool tours in the area for snorkeling, cruising the coastline and even manta ray diving. Check out the details below for adventure fun on the water. Just off Keauhou, you can do a fabulous manta ray night dive or snorkel just off the Sheraton resort.
You can enjoy the amazing manta ray ballet dance lit up at night like a water ballet, it is pretty spectacular to witness this one of a kind experience and this outfitter gives you a safe and fun night adventure to experience with the manta rays. Check out the details here for current prices and availability.
Enjoy a gorgeous and fun sunset cruise to Kealakekua Bay also known as the Captain Cook Monument. Cruise the gorgeous and calm waters off Kona with beautiful coastline views, sunset and complimentary drink, appetizers and dinner. Check out the details here for current prices and availability.
Cruise the beautiful coastline and waters from Kona to Captain Cook and a fun dive in pristine and beautiful coral and tropical fish in this unique and stunning underwater snorkel and dive location. Check out the details here for current prices and availability.
Seafood feast at Akule Supply with a water view
Keauhou neighborhood and coastline
It’s fun to walk around the quiet streets of Keauhou, just to get a glimpse of how people live in this community. It’s variety of older cute bungalow styled homes mixed in with more contemporary styled subdivisions. I took a picture of this bungalow below which I can easily picture myself – enjoying a casual and relaxed lifestyle and walking to my mermaid mailbox to pick up the daily mail.
Further down the subdivision is an ocean access path that leads to a smaller hidden beach, the locals call He’eia, a small cove that only a few people frequent in the area. There’s a nice small beach and easy entry into the ocean that is a great spot to relax and enjoy the water. I was not prepared with a bathing suit so I hightailed it back to the Sheraton resort so I can cool off in the huge pools and water areas around the property.
It’s pool time at the Sheraton Resort at Keauhou
Well my timing was perfect after a long hike around the coastline and neighborhoods in Keauhou, I was ready for a dip in the two outdoor pools of the resort. Both pools are fun to explore with the interior pool which is cooler in temperature and you can swim right up to a large waterfall. There’s also the huge family pool set with a kiddie beach and a large water slide feature which is fun for both children and adults. It’s actually fun to try out both pools since they are close by to each other.
I think it’s time for a refreshing drink and I spotted someone with a cool Mai Tai drink by this colorful graffiti wall. After she offered me a little sip, knew I also had to try the Sheraton’s version of the Mai Tai, it’s classic but with some cool layered effects and a cool tiki glass to boot.
The outdoor pool with a delicious Midori tropical drink to soak in those pool views
Sunset at Keauhou
The end of day at Keauhou is worth waiting for the unbelievable sunsets. They are varied with each day. When I visited these cloudy skies created dramatic skies and changing light reflections, making you want to linger every second while the sun drops into the horizon. Of course having a nice glass of wine or tropical drink while toasting the end of day is always a fun way to celebrate an evening in Keauhou.
Dinner and drinks anyone?
A perfect way to cap off the evening would be at the Sheraton’s signature restaurant called Rays on the Bay. Set right on the point of Keauhou bay with indoor/outdoor seating, the casual and fine dining restaurant is the perfect combination of Hawaiian lifestyle mixed in with Hawaiian contemporary cuisine. The views along the coastline are truly magnificent especially with a few drinks served around sunset while a local band plays some inviting tunes. If you hang out long enough, someone occasionally shows up to do an impromptu hula dance for the crowd.
Check out some of the delicious pupu/appetizers at Rays on the Bay
How about a roll it yourself sushi platter?
Or how about a refreshing flatbread with local goat cheese and greens?
Rays on the Bay signature drink
I tried a special concoction on the tropical drink menu called the Smoldering Guava, and what a surprise. Made with Grand Leyenda organic reposado tequila, Sombra Mezcal, chili peppers and island guava, it was so delicious and layered with spicy flavors and a bit of heat with the chili on the end. There’s a lot of really cool specialty drinks to sample, but be careful, those delicious drinks are also quite potent.
A medley of local fish and seafood for my entrée
There’s plenty of choices on the menu at Rays on the Bay for someone who enjoys local seafood, specialty meats or even vegetarian options. I find out that the hotel sources over 80 percent of all their raw ingredients for all their food venues, which is really an amazing effort considering that all the islands actually import over 80 percent of raw goods outside of Hawaii. I chose a seafood medley with shrimp, clams and a local mahimahi fish in tomato puree with fresh herbs – it was full of flavor and texture, perfectly matched to the rich tomato base.
Time for the perfect sleep at the Sheraton Kona Resort
After a full day discovering all the cool and historic areas around Keauhou and the Sheraton grounds, I was so ready for a nice comfortable sleep. My bed was so huge and plush, it was easy to fall asleep quickly with the ocean waves soothing in the background. Really this was one of my most satisfying nights rest with a huge and sumptuous bed that is so hard to get out of in the morning. Of course the bathroom facility is also elegant with ample amenities for toiletries.
Check out the details and reviews to staying at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa here for updated prices and availability.
What a perfect rest and I’m ready to do it all over again and maybe try out some of those water recreation tours on the bay this morning. It really was a wonderful visit to Keauhou and exploring the coastal areas, harbor and historic sites around the Sheraton Kona’s grounds.
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Conclusion to visiting Keauhou on the Big Island
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