Kona, Hawaii, is already known for its beaches and sunsets. The Big Island is also famous for its coffee. But not everyone knows that this is also a nature lover’s paradise. If you have an affinity for animals and love opportunities to interact with them, you can take advantage of two unique farms in Kona.
Seahorses, Octopuses and Manta Rays Up Close
Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is a 29-minute drive north of Kona Reef Resort, and a visit is so worth it! Featuring 15 species of seahorses, this farm is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Visitors can actually touch seahorses, allowing them to wrap their powerful tails around friendly fingers. The farm also sells seahorses and educates potential owners on how best to care for these delicate creatures.
Just down the road from the seahorse farm is Kanaloa Octopus Farm. The marine biologists here have created a safe environment where man and octopus can coexist. Here visitors can marvel at the personality, camouflage, and quirkiness of various species of octopus.
“Overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution – all equally responsible for the tragic decline in octopus populations all over the world. At Kanaloa Octopus Farm, we strive to provide a sustainable source of live cephalopods.”
Manta rays at first glance might seem a bit large and scary, but watching them glide through the water puts your mind at ease as they feed on plankton (not human divers thankfully!). Big Island Divers have several charters for viewing manta rays. Their charters are for snorkelers or certified scuba divers. Either way, divers will get a nighttime show of fish and manta rays in their natural environment.
Be in awe of the majestic manta ray in this video shot in Kona in 2015.
Explore on Foot or on Horseback
Whether you take a guided tour of a volcano or just explore the island on your own, hiking is the best way to visit places few tourists will ever see. The Big Island has eight out of the 13 worldwide defined climate zones. This makes the Big Island diverse – you’ll find something different on every hike. If you prefer the expertise of local guides, you can sign up for hikes that take you into Volcano National Park in search of molten lava. Don’t worry – it’s probably safer than it looks in the movies.
The Big Island of Hawaii was made for adventure travel. You can swim, snorkel, dive, hike, ride horses, ride in helicopters, and just about anything else you can think of. The unique animal farms and lava tours are not easily found in other places. So when you’re in Kona, consider going beyond the normal tourist activities. Be daring!
Where to Stay
Kona Reef is a comfortable four-story resort located on the lush western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. The resort features a swimming pool, hot tub, and barbecue grills, and each unit has either a patio or balcony where from most you can enjoy views of a verdant garden or the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. Kona Reef is just a 10 minute walk from the historic fishing village of Kailua Kona, a quaint town home to many wonderful restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries.