Hiking and biking in Kona are two vastly different experiences. If serious hiking is what you’re looking for, you’ll want to visit other regions of the islands. Instead, the Kona area offers a lot of moderate trails that are almost always the means to getting to some awesome beach. On the other hand, as home to the famous Ironman World Championship, Kona takes biking seriously.
Hiking in Kona
You can hike to Captain Cook Monument via the inland trail. It’s not the most exciting hike ever, but the destination is the goal. The trail starts on Napo‘opo‘o Road just 500 feet below where it drops off Highway 11 (between mile markers 110 and 111). Look for a group of three coconut trees right near a telephone pole. The trailhead will be obvious, as it is worn there. It will take you 60-90 minutes to descend and much longer to return to the top. While on the trail, if you see any side paths, just always keep to the left.
If you are looking for something more organized, try Hawaii Forest and Trails (74-5035B Queen Ka‘ahumanu Hwy./Hwy. 19, 808/331-8505). Although their headquarters is in the heart of Kona, their tours are outside this region, mainly to Kohala and Volcano. It is a wonderful company with an excellent environmental ethic—the tours are highly recommended.
Biking in Kona
On any given day you’ll easily see many serious bikers riding along Highway 19, sometimes faster than the cars. Some areas have semi-designated bike lanes. Highway 19 is an ideal ride: smooth and flat and uninterrupted for many miles. Check out PATH to learn more about efforts in Hawaii to develop bike lanes.
Since Kona is a bike town, there are many shops that build custom bikes for elite athletes. If you’re just looking for a rental, visit Cycle Station (73-5619 Kauhola St., 808/327-0087, Mon.-Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10am-5pm, Sun. 10am-4pm, $20-75 a day). The website has an extensive list of what bikes are available, ranging from hybrid to luxury bikes. Another option with online booking options is Bike Works (74-5583 Luhia St., 808/326-2453, Mon.-Sat. 9am-6pm, Sun. 10am-4pm, $40-60).
If you’re aching for a guided or group riding tour, consider Orchid Isle Bicycling (808/327-0087, $125-145 per person), which offers four different trips. Some trips are for beginners while others are for more experienced riders, like the ride up the Kohala Mountain Range. Orchid Isle also offers week-long bicycling tours that include accommodations ($3,000) for those who want to cycle around the entire island.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.