The great thing about the Big Island is that it offers plenty of shortcuts into the local lifestyle, far more than some of its island sisters. Here are spots where the live-like-a-local lifestyle is easily within reach.
American Restaurant in Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
Hawaiian coffee is legendary with good reason and Kona coffee ranks among the best. Start your day with locals who understand the nuances. At null, coffee is a serious business. The shop boasts a coffee scientist who presents seminars, workshops, and tastings. Whether you just want a cuppa or are hoping to learn some new tricks of the trade, you’re in the right spot. Locals are known to linger. Join them.
Find a mix of locals and expats at null in Kainaliu Town. And don’t be surprised if you spot the local cashier on stage or your yoga teacher in the audience. Despite the amateur casts, the productions are quite good and the history of the theatre—it was built as a silent movie house in 1929—adds to the charm. Remember to get there early so you can walk through town and peek into the shops.
Locals can spot one of those loud Hawaiian prints from a tourist shop a mile away. Want to blend in? Pop into the shop of fashion designer and Hilo nativenull. This is the only place in the Islands where you’ll find his signature colorful designs, all inspired by the flora and marine life you’ve spent the day admiring.
Take a drive and explore the island. For a change of scenery, head to Hilo. The drive across the island will take you about four hours round-trip if you go all the way, but don’t rush it. With gorgeous views and spots to stop and take it all in, it’s well worth the time.
Other Great Outdoors in Kealakekua, HI, United States
Forget the 9-to-5 routine of the mainland and welcome mornings in the water. The marine life around the island is impressive. Brightly colored fish are easy enough to spot if you’ve got a mask and snorkel. Head out to Kealakekua Bay, slip a towel onto the slick black rocks and jump in. Need gear? Kona Boys offers rentals on just about everything you need.
Seafood Restaurant in Kailua-Kona, HI, United States
Try poke, the fresh fish marinated in soy and ginger that's a staple food of the islands. You’ll have a choice of about a half dozen flavors ranging from sweet to savory. Pick two and they’ll add a scoop of rice and your choice of salad to round things out. But beware: One bite, and you’ll find yourself unable to move until you’ve finished your meal. Yes, it's that good.