While Ironman Kona is a HUGE deal for the triathletes and they will be quite preoccupied leading up to the race, this means that you, trisupporter, need to find activities to do to occupy your time. You can easily find the most popular tourist things to do and in fact, you can find them right here on the TriWivesClub. We have done multiple articles on Kona with things to do, places to eat, and spectating tips. So, we thought you might like something off the beaten path.
We have a good friend who actually lives on the island and has for many years, so is helping us with some local tips. We will be sharing both what we didn’t get to last year and tips from the locals. Take advantage of our insider knowledge and read our series on Beyond Ironman Kona. Our first 3 tips so far have included North Kohala, Waimea, and the Mauna Kea Observatory in case you missed them.
THINGS TO DO
This is supposedly one of, if not the best, white sand beach with turquoise water on The Big Island. I tried to find it on foot from the hotel, got lost, had already walked 1 1/2 hours in the hot sun, truly felt like I had a taste of what the racers must feel like with no shade and surrounded by lava rock, and when the nice kid at the activity center told me how to really get there and that it would still take me at least another hour partially walking on the beach, I came back to the hotel, got in my car and drove! Whew…..
It wasn’t easier to find by car as the access road is not marked. It is, however, directly across from the West Hawaii Veteran’s Cemetery, so you can’t miss it. The beach is located in a national park. When you drive down a bit, you’ll see cars parked along the road. Park where you can and walk down. It is absolutely stunning. We went mid afternoon on a Saturday and it was quite busy. Honestly, seemed to be mostly locals, which we liked. Lots of body surfing and swimming going on, with some big waves, too.
(Okay, I actually know to take video horizontally and must have spaced here – my apologies.)
Okay, if you’re tired of wineries and wine tours, try something totally different. The Hawaiian Vanilla Company has supposedly the best vanilla in the world. You can tour the facility and stay for either a special presentation or lunch – and then take some home with you. The company was started in 1989 by the husband and wife team, Jim and Tracy Reddekopp. They search the world over, including the rainforests, Haiti, and Vanilla, Mexico – no, I did not make that up… finding and cultivating the best vanilla beans for their products.
They were also the first commercial growers in the US. They sell a variety of products including vanilla coffee, beans, beauty products, and more. To get to the facility, take Hwy 19 towards Hawi and keep going towards Honoka’a. Turn right after mile marker 37 onto Pohakea Road. Go about three miles and you’ll find a bright yellow building on your left. It’s probably about 1 1/2 hours from Kona.
Mamalahoa Hot Tubs
Okay, we’ve reported on this one before as Dana, Jodi, & I went 2 years ago. It was such a pleasure and distraction, I’m writing about it again. It is this little totally off the beaten path spa in Kealakekua and I’m not exaggerating here….It’s in a residential area and you will really think you’re in the wrong place. But, once you start walking up the path to the spa, it looks like a tropical garden. Hey, you can always go to a spa at a hotel/resort, but you won’t find anything like this back home. You’ll slip into a bubbling spring of purified water and then have a message that will literally make you melt.
It is a ways outside of Kona, about 11 miles to be exact, but why not explore and enjoy the scenery on your way… You take Hwy 19 (Queen K) going south to St. Johns Road and turn left to 81-1016.
Here’s our experience from 2 years ago:
Upon arrival, we were escorted at the entrance up a short path to the spa where we changed and headed to our outdoor hot tub. After sliding into the warm water, we spent time catching up, laughing, talking about our athletes, talking about our passions, and just relaxing. Our time ended way too soon, when we were pulled away for, oh darn, fabulous massages!
Side note – on any other pre-race day, there is a good chance that our “A” type trihubbies would call a few times, but this day they don’t. Why? Well, they too realize what a year of training and getting them to Kona is like on the family and know that this day with our trifriends, who we see once or twice a year, is so very special for us. This is what keeps us trisupporters and not triwidows.
For the next hour, there was nothing but silence from the four of us. The only sounds heard were birds chirping and waterfall-like rushes. Once we were done with our massages, with a tear in our eye we said, “see you next year” – we can only hope – to Mamalahoa and headed back down to the Queen K. From there, we headed north for a short drive to the Strawberry Patch Restaurant; a small roadside eatery that is just so darn cute. The food is wonderful and they are happy to squeeze whatever fruit is fresh to mix with your champagne, which we of course, just happened to have with us!!! We chose passion fruit on this particular day.
After a long lunch full of more catching up, laughing, and firmly reestablishing our friendships, we piled in the jeep and headed back to Kona and our trihubbies. We found them sitting in the grass of the King K, watching bike check-in and waiting for their turn. So predictable, but so comforting at the same time. Life is good……
Regardless of what you choose to do while you are in Kona – and maybe that means absolutely nothing but sitting on the beach – we hope you are having a great time and that your triathletes have a great race! Mahalo…