Big Island may not be as trendy or touristy as better-known destinations such as Maui or Oahu, but that doesn’t mean that a ‘conventional’ Hawaiian experience is out of reach. If beachy boutiques and patio dining are priorities, both are guaranteed when you hit up Kona’s iconic Alii Drive.
There’s a lot to do and see along Alii Drive, so you can expect to spend several hours on this magnificent street. If you’re short on time, however, it may help to plan your visit so you know which stores to hit up and where to grab a bite to eat.
In this guide, we’ve outlined the street’s best stores and restaurants, plus a few unique opportunities you won’t find anywhere else:
First things first:
Finding a parking spot without paying a fortune. This is easier said than done, so plan to walk or take advantage of ridesharing apps if you stay nearby.
If you absolutely have to park nearby, try for the municipal lot if possible. Depending on when you visit, you may also be able to score a free spot near the public library. Otherwise, there are several paid parking lots available along Alii Drive — but you’ll pay quite a bit for the privilege of proximity.
As Kailua-Kona’s best shopping street, Alii Drive provides ample opportunities to find special souvenirs and gifts. From fashion to food and even ukuleles, you’ll find plenty of compelling items to fill your suitcase.
Score some distinctively Hawaiian finds at this locally owned shop, which sells the island’s most adorable clothing for kids and babies. Adults should also discover some fashionable finds without breaking the bank.
If you believe that edible treats make the best souvenirs, you will have a blast shopping at Tasty Kona. This welcoming shop offers samples, so you’ll definitely want to stop in. You’ll be just as impressed by the non-edible merchandise, including locally made jewelry and artwork.
Cherry Hill Kona Coffee
Stock up on high-quality coffee at this wonderful little shop. Every blend you could possibly want is available, not to mention helpful suggestions from the knowledgeable staff members.
Honoloa Surf Co
The trendiest beach clothes can be found at this small shop, which specializes in swimwear, flip flops, and towels. This is where you go to prepare for your next big adventure on the water.
Just ‘Ukes Hawaii
What souvenir could be better than a ukulele? Simply stepping foot in this store will make you smile, as the setting is as pleasant as a relaxed ukulele tune. In addition to these instruments, you’ll find plenty of T-shirts and magnets.
Keoki’s Donkeyballs Chocolates
If nothing else, the silly name should get you in the door. Once you arrive, however, you’ll be blown away by the selection of hilariously named treats.
Kona Farmer’s Market
If you’re only able to dedicate your time to one Alii Drive shopping experience, make it the local farmer’s market. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, as do floral displays. You’ll also love examining the local arts and crafts as you stroll near the market’s many stands.
While they don’t exactly qualify as shopping locations, it’s worth mentioning that Alii Drive is also home to several excellent tattoo shops. If you’d like to mark an unforgettable vacation with an eye-catching tattoo, feel free to stop in at Voodoo Tattoo, Old Moon Tattoo Collective, or Lost Coast Tattoo Studio. What better to complement your new outfit than some stunning new ink?
The perfect Alii Drive experience includes at least one meal or sweet treat overlooking the coast. There are a wide variety of options easily accessible as you wander this iconic street.
A few of our favorites include:
Get an early start at Kalikala Cuisine, where you can enjoy a delightful breakfast with one of Alii Drive’s most impressive views. You’ll love the eggs benedict and avocado toast, but the service is even better.
Scandinavian Shave Ice
There’s no shortage of flavors at this cute shop, which claims to serve “da best shave ice in paradise.” Other essentials sold here include ice cream and espresso.
Ocean Sports Bar & Grill
Grab tacos or a pulled pork sandwich at this local favorite. The prices are reasonable — especially for the margaritas. There are plenty of TVs, so you can always stop in to watch the big game.
Papa Kona Restaurant & Bar
Few sunset views are as mesmerizing as the one you’ll enjoy from Papa Kona, which serves the area’s best burgers and specialty drinks. The view is just as remarkable during the day when you’ll spot parasailers and other active types on the water.
If you’re in a hurry to enjoy your meal and get back to shopping, Kamana Kitchen should have your food served in a jiffy. This authentic Indian restaurant delivers the perfect blend of spices, plus huge portions and friendly service.
This is just a small sample of the many restaurants found on or near Alii Drive. You could commit just to this street for your entire vacation and still barely scratch the surface. When in doubt, look for a restaurant with a view; no matter what you order, you’ll be amazed by the scenery.
Things to Do
When you aren’t shopping or dining, you’ll find plenty of other activities to keep you occupied as you explore Alii Drive. The Hulihee Palace is a must-visit, with both docent-guided and self-guided tours available. There, you’ll encounter gorgeous artifacts, such as Hawaiian quilt-work and authentic koa wood furniture. Be sure to check out the start and finish lines for the Ironman and keep an eye out for the many runners who train here.
Set aside some time to relax at Hale Halawai Park, where a variety of community events are held. Simple, yet pleasant, this small waterfront park boasts some of Alii Drive’s best sunset views.
It’s easy to spend an entire day on Alii Drive. The shopping street’s best moments arguably happen in between the countless visits to local boutiques and restaurants. Take it all in as you enjoy the positive vibes of Kailua-Kona’s best shopping district.