Between Dana and I, we have been to the Big Island of Hawaii at least 15 times and probably more. We have been both for vacations, including one wedding – mine – and the Ironman World Championships. The only conclusions to be reached are that WE LOVE HAWAII and that we really know it inside out and all the great places to have food and fun!
Alas, this year will not find either one of us at the world championships, but you will find me vacationing there a bit later in the year. But, we have put together all our tips in one easy place for you, whether you are visiting the island on vacation or as part of the Ironman World Championships.
BIG ISLAND/KONA FOOD AND FUN
ALOHA BIG ISLAND/KONA BOUND – BEST ACTIVITIES
Aloha Again! Kathy Boyd, dropping in to give you some of my TOP activity recommendations while you’re on the Big Island. These allow you to experience the island in a myriad of ways (by air, land, and sea), as well as do a few of things you can ONLY DO on the Big Island (not Maui, Oahu, or even the mainland for that matter!). Here they are:
BEYOND IRONMAN KONA – TIP 1
Ironman Kona is a HUGE deal for the triathletes (okay, you too some of the time) and they will be quite preoccupied leading up to the race. This means that you, trisupporter, need to find activities to do to occupy your time. You can easily find the most popular tourist things to do and in fact, you can find them right here on the TriWivesClub. We have done multiple articles on Kona with things to do, places to eat, and spectating tips. But, we thought you might like something off the beaten path, along with your tourist attractions.
BEYOND IRONMAN KONA – TIP 2
If you’re itching to see turquoise water, abundant wildlife, including sea turtles, less people, and a clear fresh water pool in a lava tube, then Kiholo Bay is your kind of place. Take Highway 19 (Queen K) north to mile marker 82 and the Scenic Overlook – not too far from Kona. You can stand there and just gape and have a gorgeous view and be happy or if you crave more, you can hike down the long, and at times arduous path to the ocean and be in for a treat. (Dress accordingly for a hike). Cars are not allowed on the beach anymore.
BEYOND IRONMAN KONA – TIP 3
Visiting the Mauna Kea Observatory is about as unique of experience as you can get and why we recommend it so highly. It will afford you a view like no other. You are literally on top of the mountain, above the clouds, with viewing conditions close to perfect. To native Hawaiians, this summit is a very sacred place. You can do this on your own, but it’s more complicated than just getting in your car and driving, including acclimating yourself to the change in altitude. To make life easier all around, we feel the way to go is with a tour.
BEYOND IRONMAN KONA – TIP 4
Kua Bay – This is supposedly one of, if not the best, white sand beach with turquoise water on The Big Island. I tried to find it on foot from the hotel, got lost, had already walked 1 1/2 hours in the hot sun, truly felt like I had a taste of what the racers must feel like with no shade and surrounded by lava rock, and when the nice kid at the activity center told me how to really get there and that it would still take me at least another hour partially walking on the beach, I came back to the hotel, got in my car and drove! Whew…..
ALOHA KONA BOUND – TRISUPPORTER TLC
Last year in Kona, while our athletes all rested, triple checked their race bags, quadruple checked their bikes, sat, ate, drooled over the bikes entering bike check in, and repeated, we high-tailed it out of there. In the past, we have used this day to explore the island, shop, zip line, among other activities, but last year, our go-to girl, Local Expert Kathy Boyd, recommended a different type of exploring.
ALOHA BIG ISLAND/KONA BOUND – RESTAURANT PICKS
Hopefully you enjoyed our article, Aloha Big Island/Kona Bound – Best Activities and have your time in Hawaii all planned out. As promised, our Local Expert, Kathy Boyd, is back with her Kona restaurant picks while on the Big Island. As it is called the Big Island for a reason, we are dividing the recommendations into districts and will start with Kailua-Kona. Happy dining…..
NELL STEPHENSON SHARES KONA “FOOD FOR THOUGHT”
We TriWives are so lucky to have tri supporter, triathlete, and Paleo nutrition expert, Nell Stephenson, back to share with us her professional and personal views on Kona. Nell will be at the Ironman World Championship this year as an age group qualifier, along with her triathlete hubby Chris and was recently in Kona for the 70.3. As you head to Kona, she wanted to share with you her thoughts about eating locally, but take note that they apply to any dining experience. We totally agree with her views and hope you do, too. Nell also shares with you her favorite Paloe restaurants. For more words of wisdom, make sure to check out her blog at The Paleoista.
KONA BOUND TRIWIFE
DIARY OF A KONA BOUND TRIWIFE
Okay, I know I have it good and I’m not complaining at all… I’m going to Kona for 12 days for the Ironman World Championships and a bit of vacation on the side. Granted, I will be working for both TriWivesClub and TravelingMom, but I’m sure I’m going to find time to play and party. Plus, I have tons of friends and family who will be there, so WooHoo! At the same time, I’m also very appreciative of this opportunity and realize it doesn’t come along very often!!!
DIARY OF A KONA BOUND TRIWIFE – THE WEEK BEFORE
We’re getting closer and closer to THE DAY…..Kona bound. I’ve now heard, “My mind’s in Kona” multiple times to be precise. The bike has been packed up, delivered, and per Tribike Transport’s message, picked up and on it’s way to heaven. The shirts and pants have been separated in the closet into “what I’m taking to Hawaii”. The spare bedroom has become more cluttered with tri stuff and there is a gathering of tri supplies in the middle of the basement floor. And, the dining room table has started to fill up with non-dinner related items…Okay, part of the clutter in the spare bedroom is my stuff, too….
DIARY OF A KONA BOUND TRIWIFE – RACE WEEK
We have now been on The Big Island since late last Thursday night and time has flown by. I can’t believe THE race is almost here. I keep hearing, “I have nothing to prove” interspersed with “I’m a little wound up right now.” I’ll just let him have his period of schizophrenia…..
Was very happy to run into one of our fellow racers at breakfast soon after we got here. As he was by himself for a few days until his wife and family joined him, we invited him to have dinner with us. So glad we found Maury, as he told me to take a hike along the beach to Kua Bay. What a great beach find! Well, it wasn’t an easy journey – read the tip and you’ll see…but loved the local flavor…
DIARY OF A KONA BOUND TRIWIFE – MY RACE REPORT
Wow, I seriously can’t believe I’m writing this already and that we went from Kona bound to Ironman Kona 2014 as a thing of the past…It went by quickly and this triwife survived unscathed. I am now back home and life has returned to my normal…I have to say that this was one of those RARE, pretty much perfect vacations, for me at least.
IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
KONA TRAVEL – QUICK TIPS
If you are reading this, big congratulations must be in order to your triathlete on making it to Kona and to you for getting a great vacation in Hawaii. We’ve all been at least twice and it remains awe-inspiring. From the banquets to the underwear run to the parade to the energy in the town to the finish line….. It is an experience like no other. But, now what???? You need a few Kona travel tips!
IRONMAN KONA TIP #1 – SWIM TO BIKE VIEWING
The Ironman World Championship is one race site we HIGHLY recommend you go to early with your triathlete. The atmosphere is just amazing; take it all in, especially if it’s your first! After they’ve seen to transition bags, bike checks, marking, etc., go together and find a place you can see the swim start. This way, they will know where to find you if they wander off. If you have an athlete who just needs alone time before the start, give your kisses and head further down the seawall where there is more room. It is amazing with the sun rising behind you over the island and the waves rolling in. Have your camera ready……A few years ago there were even dolphins swimming next to the athletes.
IRONMAN KONA TIP #2 – WHAT TO DO WHILE THEY BIKE
So, your athlete is headed out on his bike for Hawi and has left the King K area. The bike segment is now an out and back, so time for breakfast, showering, a quick nap…..
First, decide where you will be spending your day. In Tip #1 – Swim to Bike Viewing, we recommended that you get to and stay on the side of the street that you plan to have breakfast on after the swim. The reasoning is simple; last year, it took us an hour to cross the street. Your two best options are as follows, with the first one being our favorite:
IRONMAN KONA TIP #3 – BIKE TO RUN AND RUN COURSE VIEWING
Hopefully, you enjoyed your lunch or whatever break you took while your triathlete was out on the bike. But, now is the time you really need to watch where you are. One year, it literally took us an hour to get back to the spot we like to be to watch the run – due to both the crowds and trying to cross the street.
Your athlete will come in from the bike on the King K side of the road to T2. T2 is a quick turn around and if you want a sweaty kiss or high-five, it is best to be on the run side opposite the King K, just north of Ali’i Drive. As your athlete comes out of T2, they will be behind the finish chute and heading up the hill to turn right onto Kuakini Highway.
IRONMAN KONA TIP #4 – RACE NIGHT
Well, your triathlete has crossed the finish line at the Ironman World Championship and has heard, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.” So, now what? He/she will be ushered away from the finish line by volunteers and all the normal tasks will be preformed; timing chip removed, water and cold towel given out, finisher’s picture taken, finisher’s swag doled out, and then an escort to the athlete area.
DAVE ORLOWSKI – ORIGINAL IRONMAN TALKS RACING AND SPECTATING
The TriWivesClub had the distinct pleasure to chat with Dave Orlowski, one of the original 1978 Ironman, who finished 3rd by the way. Over the years, Dave has taken on the role of both racer and spectator, so he was able to offer a unique perspective for this interview. Dave actually did not do another Ironman until 2008 for the 30th anniversary in Kona. Since that time, however, he has completed an amazing 28 races in 5 years; yes, I said 28 races in 5 years – all this despite having faced several serious medical issues.
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub’s founders. She is also a contributor at TravelingMom & Challenge Family. She has been her triathlete husband’s biggest supporter and co-traveler for over 15 years. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include running, traveling, real food, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.