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With its year-round warm weather, stunning beaches, and laid-back island vibe, Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island is an alluring place to live or visit. If you’re considering moving to or vacationing in Kona, this comprehensive guide will give you an insider’s look at what it’s really like to live in this Pacific paradise.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Kona offers an idyllic tropical lifestyle with amazing outdoor activities like snorkeling, surfing, hiking and more. However, living here is expensive with a high cost of living. You’ll need to secure housing and employment before moving.

In this roughly 3000 word guide, we will cover everything you need to know about living, working, and enjoying yourself in Kona. We’ll explore the climate, locals and lifestyle, best places to live, jobs and economy, things to do, and tips from current residents on making the most of island life in Kona.

Kona’s Climate and Geography

Kona, Hawaii offers a unique and stunning environment for residents and visitors alike. Its climate and geography contribute to its appeal as a tropical paradise. Let’s explore some key aspects:

Tropical weather year-round

Kona enjoys a consistent tropical climate throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for those seeking warm weather and sunshine. Temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 24-30 degrees Celsius). This pleasant climate allows for a variety of outdoor activities such as snorkeling, hiking, or simply relaxing on the beach.

Two distinct sides: Wet and Dry

Kona is divided into two distinct sides, each offering a unique experience. The west side of Kona, known as the “Kona Coast,” is often referred to as the “dry side.” It receives significantly less rainfall compared to the eastern side of the island. This dry climate creates an arid landscape with rugged lava fields and stunning sunsets.

On the other hand, the east side of Kona, known as the “Windward Side,” is lush and green, with frequent rainfall. The combination of volcanic soil, ample rainfall, and sunshine creates fertile grounds for agriculture, including the famous Kona coffee farms.

Stunning natural scenery

Kona offers breathtaking natural beauty that captivates residents and visitors alike. From picturesque beaches with crystal-clear waters to majestic mountains and lush rainforests, Kona’s natural scenery is awe-inspiring.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Kona is the Mauna Kea volcano, which stands tall at over 13,000 feet (3,966 meters) above sea level. Visitors can venture to the summit for a remarkable stargazing experience, as the summit is renowned for its clear skies and lack of light pollution.

Moreover, Kona is home to stunning coral reefs, making it a haven for snorkelers and scuba divers. Exploring the vibrant underwater world is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Kona.

Local Culture and Lifestyle

When it comes to the local culture and lifestyle in Kona, Hawaii, you can expect to encounter a unique blend of friendliness, laid-back vibes, and a strong native Hawaiian influence. The locals in Kona are known for their warm and welcoming nature, making it easy for newcomers to feel right at home. Whether you’re strolling through the farmer’s markets, enjoying a cup of Kona coffee, or simply exploring the stunning natural landscapes, you’ll be greeted with smiles and aloha spirit at every turn.

Friendly, laid-back locals

The people of Kona are renowned for their friendliness and laid-back attitude. You’ll often find locals striking up conversations with visitors, sharing stories, and offering recommendations on the best places to eat, swim, or hike. It’s not uncommon to make lifelong friendships during your time in Kona, as the locals are known for their genuine and welcoming nature. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself invited to a backyard barbecue or a beach gathering – the locals love to share their island hospitality!

Strong native Hawaiian influence

Kona is deeply rooted in the native Hawaiian culture, and you’ll find its influence in every aspect of daily life. From the traditional hula and ukulele performances to the vibrant art scene that showcases local crafts, the native Hawaiian culture is celebrated and embraced by both locals and visitors alike. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history, traditions, and customs of the native Hawaiians through various cultural events, museums, and even hands-on experiences such as lei-making workshops. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in a rich and diverse culture that has shaped the identity of Kona.

Outdoor, active living

Living in Kona means embracing an outdoor, active lifestyle. With its year-round sunny climate and breathtaking natural beauty, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get outside and explore. Whether you’re a water enthusiast looking to surf, paddleboard, or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters, or a hiker eager to conquer the trails of the nearby volcanoes, Kona offers a playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. The locals are passionate about staying active and preserving the natural environment, and you’ll find a plethora of outdoor activities and events to keep you engaged and energized.

For more information on the local culture and lifestyle in Kona, you can visit Go Hawaii or Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

Best Places to Live in Kona

Affordable neighborhoods for families

When it comes to finding an affordable neighborhood for families in Kona, there are several options to consider. One popular choice is the Kealakehe area, which offers a range of housing options at more affordable prices compared to other parts of Kona. Another great option is the Waikoloa Village, which provides a tight-knit community feel with affordable housing and access to amenities such as schools and parks. Additionally, the Captain Cook area is known for its picturesque landscapes and affordable housing options, making it an ideal choice for families looking to settle down in Kona.

Luxury communities near the ocean

If you’re looking for a more luxurious living experience near the ocean, Kona has plenty of options to offer. One such community is the Kohanaiki, which is renowned for its high-end amenities, including a private beach club, golf course, and spa facilities. Another luxurious community is the Hualalai Resort, which features stunning oceanfront properties and access to world-class amenities, such as a beachfront restaurant and championship golf courses. These communities not only provide luxurious living spaces but also offer breathtaking views of the ocean, creating a truly idyllic living experience.

Considerations for choosing where to live

When choosing where to live in Kona, it’s important to consider a few key factors. Firstly, proximity to amenities such as schools, hospitals, and grocery stores should be taken into account. You’ll also want to consider the commute to work or other daily activities, as Kona can experience heavy traffic during peak times. Additionally, safety and security should be a priority, so researching crime rates and the presence of neighborhood watch programs can provide peace of mind. Finally, think about the lifestyle you desire – whether you prefer a quiet, secluded area or a vibrant community with plenty of activities and events. Taking all these factors into consideration will help you find the perfect place to call home in Kona.

Jobs and Economy in Kona

Living in Kona, Hawaii offers a unique and vibrant job market that is driven by various industries. From tourism to healthcare, there are several opportunities for employment in this picturesque coastal town.

Tourism drives the economy

Kona is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world with its stunning beaches, vibrant marine life, and rich cultural heritage. As a result, the tourism industry plays a significant role in driving the local economy. From hotels and resorts to restaurants and tour operators, there are numerous job opportunities available for those looking to work in the hospitality sector. The tourism industry also supports various other businesses, such as retail shops, transportation services, and entertainment venues, creating a ripple effect that boosts the overall economy of the region.

Healthcare and education jobs

In addition to the tourism sector, Kona also offers a range of employment opportunities in healthcare and education. The town is home to several hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities, providing job prospects for doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and administrative staff. Additionally, Kona has a strong educational system, with schools and colleges that offer employment opportunities for teachers, administrators, and support staff.

Entrepreneurial opportunities

Kona’s entrepreneurial spirit is evident in the numerous small businesses that thrive in the area. From local artisans and craftsmen to eco-tourism ventures and organic farming, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals looking to start their own businesses. The supportive community and the growing demand for unique, locally-made products and experiences make Kona an ideal place for entrepreneurs to flourish.

Considerations for moving for work

Before making the decision to move to Kona for work, it’s essential to consider a few factors. The cost of living in Hawaii, including housing, groceries, and utilities, is generally higher than the national average. It’s important to research and evaluate the job market to ensure that there are sufficient opportunities in your field of expertise. Networking and establishing connections with local professionals can also be beneficial in finding employment in Kona. Additionally, being aware of the cultural and social aspects of living in Hawaii can help newcomers adjust and integrate into the community more smoothly.

For more information on job opportunities and the Kona economy, you can visit the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce website.

Things to Do in Kona for Fun

Beaches, Snorkeling, and Water Sports

If you love the sun, sand, and water, Kona is the perfect place for you. The region is known for its stunning beaches, where you can relax, swim, or simply soak up the Hawaiian sunshine. Some popular beaches in Kona include the beautiful Hapuna Beach State Park and the picturesque Kahaluu Beach Park, which is famous for its excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Snorkeling in Kona is a must-do activity. The crystal-clear waters teem with colorful coral reefs and a variety of marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins if you’re lucky. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear or rent some from the local shops, and get ready for an underwater adventure you won’t forget!

For those seeking more adrenaline-pumping activities, Kona offers a wide range of water sports such as surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and jet skiing. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the vibrant waters of Kona.

Hiking and Exploring Volcanoes

Kona is blessed with a unique natural landscape, thanks to the presence of active volcanoes. The most famous volcano in the area is Kilauea, located in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. While exploring the park, you can witness the power of nature as you come face to face with lava flows, steaming vents, and awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes.

In addition to the volcanoes, Kona offers numerous hiking trails that take you through lush rainforests, along rugged coastlines, and up to breathtaking viewpoints. One of the most popular hikes is the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park Trail, where you can learn about the ancient Hawaiian culture while enjoying stunning ocean views.

Whether you’re a nature lover or an adventure seeker, Kona’s hiking and volcano exploration opportunities are sure to leave you in awe of the island’s natural wonders.

Coffee Tours and Farmers Markets

Kona is renowned worldwide for its exceptional coffee, and a visit to the region wouldn’t be complete without exploring its coffee farms. Take a coffee tour and learn about the fascinating process of growing, harvesting, and roasting Kona coffee beans. You’ll also have the opportunity to sample some of the finest coffee in the world and even bring some back home as a delicious souvenir.

If you enjoy fresh, locally grown produce, Kona’s farmers markets are a must-visit. Here, you can find a wide variety of tropical fruits, vegetables, flowers, and homemade products. The markets are not only a great place to shop for organic goods but also a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and interact with the friendly farmers and artisans.

Cultural Activities and Events

Kona is rich in cultural heritage, and there are plenty of activities and events that allow you to experience the island’s unique traditions and customs. Attend a traditional Hawaiian luau, where you can feast on delicious food, watch captivating hula performances, and learn about the history and culture of the islands.

Throughout the year, Kona hosts various cultural festivals and events, celebrating everything from music and dance to arts and crafts. One notable event is the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of hula that attracts performers and spectators from all over the world.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Kona and create lasting memories by participating in these cultural activities and events.

Tips for Living in Kona from Locals

It’s expensive – budget accordingly

Living in Kona, Hawaii can be a dream come true, but it’s important to be aware of the cost of living. The beautiful weather, stunning beaches, and laid-back lifestyle do come with a price tag. From groceries to housing, everything tends to be more expensive compared to mainland cities. To make the most of your budget, it’s essential to plan and budget accordingly. Research local markets, compare prices, and consider growing your own produce to save money. By being mindful of your spending and making smart choices, you can enjoy all that Kona has to offer without breaking the bank.

Island time is real – low key lifestyle

One thing you’ll quickly notice when living in Kona is the concept of “island time.” Things tend to move at a slower pace, and locals embrace a laid-back lifestyle. This can be a refreshing change of pace, allowing you to slow down and enjoy life more. However, it can also take some adjustment if you’re used to a fast-paced lifestyle. Embrace the relaxed atmosphere, don’t stress about every little thing, and learn to go with the flow. It’s all part of the charm of living in Kona.

Outdoorsy activities are everywhere

Living in Kona means being surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and a wide range of outdoor activities. From hiking to snorkeling, surfing to whale watching, there’s something for everyone. Take advantage of the stunning beaches, explore the lush rainforests, and hike to incredible viewpoints. The opportunities for outdoor adventures are endless. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and your sense of adventure!

Make local friends for the real Kona experience

While living in Kona, it’s worth taking the time to make friends with the locals. They can provide you with invaluable insights into the culture, traditions, and hidden gems of the area. Locals know the best spots for snorkeling, the tastiest local eateries, and the most picturesque hiking trails. By immersing yourself in the local community, you’ll get a truly authentic Kona experience. Attend local events, join community groups, and strike up conversations with your neighbors. Building connections with locals will enhance your time in Kona and make it even more memorable.


With its laid-back vibe and endless sunshine, Kona offers an idyllic Hawaii lifestyle. However, island living here also comes with a high cost of living. If you plan ahead financially, secure housing and employment, and embrace the local culture, you’ll be on your way to thriving in this Pacific paradise. Use this guide to make the most of your time living in or visiting Kona, Hawaii.

We covered everything you need to know about Kona’s climate, culture, neighborhoods, economy, activities, and tips from locals. Let us know if you have any other questions as you plan your Hawaii lifestyle in Kona!

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