Top Things to Do on Kona, Hawaii with Teens

You planned your family vacation for the Big Island of Hawaii, now what? Traveling with teens can be tricky. Teenagers don't always want to hang out with their parents and sightseeing can feel like a bore, so how can you create a tropical vacation itinerary everyone will be happy with? I've visited the Big Island of Hawaii on two different occasions with kids aged 10-18 and I've come up with a list of top teen approved picks of things to do. Get ready to take some notes, I'm spilling all my secrets to the best {and least crowded} beaches to those excursions you are probably wondering about to see if they are really worth spending the big bucks on.

kona coast

Top {Teenager Approved} Picks for Things to do in and Around Kona, Hawaii 

teen girl with a surfboard

Our favorite secluded beach on the Big Island

I can't believe I'm telling you all this. This is my favorite hidden gem on the whole entire island. On our first visit to the Big Island, we accidentally found this beach. It's one we keep coming back to because it's never crowded and it feels like a little piece of paradise.

Kekaha Kai State Park is its real name, but we call it Turtle Town. It's near Kona airport and it's not super easy to get to. You really have to work for this one, though on our last visit, it seemed like parts of the road were being paved, so perhaps the uneven lava-pocked road will be getting a facelift and this hidden gem won't be quite so hidden anymore.

This beach can be found between mile marker 90 and 91 just past the lava tube that many people stop to explore. You have to drive down a long winding road that takes you over a lava field, but it's totally worth it. Once you feel like you've gone just too far, you finally make it to a parking area. There is limited parking so get there early or you may not be able to find a place to park. Most people come to this beach as a pass through on their way to Makalawena Beach or "Maks".

Any guide book will tell you about the secluded pristine white sands beach of Makalawena. But most of them won't tell you that the hike just isn't worth it. Friends, this is why I'm here.

I've done the hike to Maks beach and it's just not worth it. Instead, take a much shorter hike to my favorite spot. There are no facilities here, instead what you will find is a beautifully curved inlet surrounded by palm trees. You will probably see a stream of people hiking past you all day heading to Makalawena, don't mind them, just tip your head and know you've got the best spot on the island.

big island travel to kona

Bring your hammock, pack a lunch and claim a spot for the day. This beach is everything you are looking for. You will find a sandy beach you can enter into for snorkeling or head around to the larger beach and boogie board on some larger waves. 

Once you park, walk past the port a potties and you will find a trail over lava rocks. Wear sturdy shoes. There are several abandoned houses you will walk past before following the trail to the open inlet. Keep your eyes peeled you may just see some mountain goats on the lava fields or sea turtles out for a swim in the shallow water.

Best snorkeling stop on the Big Island

Hōnaunau Bay/Two Step is the best snorkeling spot on the island. This isn't a secret though and this beach fills up fast! It has warm tide pools that fill up that are perfect to sit in and read for the day and if the tide is out, you can find some sand to lay your towel on, but you have to get there early for that. The reef is large and the fish are plentiful and if you are lucky, this is a great place to see wild spinner dolphins and whales. 

Swim with wild spinner dolphins

Every time we visit, this is a highlight of our trip. There are pods of wild spinner dolphins that rest in Kealakekua Bay. You can take a charter boat or a special kayak tour of the bay, but I think it's best to explore this area on your own. This bay is huge and is near the Captain Cook monument. You have to get here very early because there isn't much parking. There are bathroom facilities. 

If you want to snorkel with the wild spinner dolphins, I would only recommend this for very strong swimmers. They rest far out in the bay. You may want to bring a life vest, kickboard or something you can rest on to view the dolphins. 

You can also rent a kayak. You do need a permit, but it's an easy and free process of simply filling out the non-commercial form and e-mailing it in. This is perfect if you have access to kayaks. If you don't, make sure you rent from one of the three authorized companies. 

zipline tour on the big island

Zipline over waterfalls

While ziplining may feel like an extreme sport, there is nothing extreme about it other than the extreme beauty you will see. The whole family will love zipping nearly 2 miles on 9 different lines over nearly 14 different waterfalls at the Umauma Falls Zipline Tour

The tour guides on this zipline excursion are fantastic and will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Just a few lines in, you will be flipping upside down and doing tricks {if you want to!} while seeing beauty most locals have never seen. 

zipline tour of umauma falls in hilo

Stop and explore the area before or after your tour and check out some of the other experiences you can have. The self-guided garden tour is included in your zipline purchase so enjoy it. The guides will tell you to feel free to eat any of the fruit you find that's ripe on the trees.

Spend a few days at Hilton Waikoloa Village

This resort is totally worth splurging on. The resort is so large they have a free tram and canal boat that wander around the resort property. You will find on-site dolphins {though if you swam with the wild spinner dolphins in Kealakekua Bay nothing will compare}, and amazing pools. 

things to do with teenagers in hawaii

Keep your eyes open around sunset because you can watch a man dressed in a traditional Hawaiian costume lighting the grounds torches before blowing the conch shell at the Buddha statue. The sunsets from this resort are amazing.

I love this resort for teens and families because your family can spread out. There is a little bit of everything to do and everyone from your Instagram-loving daughter to your adventure-seeking son can find something to do here. Plus, everyone will love the ocean-fed lagoon and swimming in the beautiful pools. 

kona with teens

You've made a good choice by booking a family vacation. Your whole family is going to love the Big Island. Enjoy the memories you will be making!

Looking for even more things to do on Kona during your next family vacation? Check out 50 awesome things to do with your family from Hawaii Travel Spot!

disclaimer: I was compensated with discount zipline tickets for my family. All opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't share something I didn't love. Promise.

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