Guided hikes aren’t a big business in Kohala as there aren’t too many established trails here, but the Kohala Mountains do offer some splendid scenery if you decide to explore on your own or join Hawaii Forest and Trail (808/331-8505, adults $159 plus tax, children $129 plus tax). This top-rated tour company offers an all-day hiking experience along the Kohala Ditch trail to Kapoloa Waterfall at the back of the Pololu Valley and another hiking trek to other waterfalls in the area. It also takes guests on its six-wheel Pinzgauer vehicle into rugged former sugarcane lands for views of waterfalls and the coast. The hiking portion is pretty minimal (only 1.5 miles), making this tour accessible to anyone comfortable walking that distance over uneven terrain.

The Kohala Mountains do offer some splendid scenery if you decide to explore on your own.Biking areas are a little easier to come by. Highway 19 extending north of the airport provides a nice, flat stretch of road. It’s an ideal place to ride fast, and you’ll see many serious bikers doing just that. Otherwise, renting a bike simply to ride around the resort area can make for a nice afternoon. Riders wishing to follow the Kona Ironman route will want to continue from Highway 19 to Highway 270 north to Hawi to experience the steep climb. Beware: As you travel north on Highway 270 there is not much of a shoulder for bike riding.

Polulu Valley Lookout.

Polulu Valley Lookout. Photo © CHeitz, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

For do-it-yourself rentals in the area, Bikeworks Beach and Sport (Queens’ MarketPlace, 808/836-5000) has a nice selection of ultra-deluxe road bikes ($60 per day), deluxe bikes ($50), and cruisers ($25).

Alternatively, Velissimo Cycling Destinations (808/327-0087, $125 plus tax) has a four- to five-hour 21-mile tour that starts at the summit of the Kohala mountain range and then continues downhill through Hawi, ending at the ocean. The tour includes equipment rental and snacks.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.