This 180-acre national historic park, once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers, offers immersion into the Kona culture.
This was a bus tour that included a stop at a coffee "museum", the Painted Church, and Place of Refuge. Our bus drive gave excellent commentary on culture and scenery as we drove along, but at each stop we were on our own. The coffee museum was nothing special and samples always seemed to be running out. The docent at The Painted Church was excellent and made this brief stop memorable. The Place of Refuge was beautiful and would have been a truly fantastic experience with some guidance. After touring with Marylou in Hilo I wished we had booked with her for Kona as well (same sites with more guidance).
For this port we booked the Kona Coffee, Chocolate & City of Refuge Tour through Skymilescruises.com. The driver’s name was Bob from C-Big Island tours. He was driving a regular size van not a shuttle. I guess it was ok for a small group of 8 but it was hot, the A/C did not work properly so we were extremely hot inside the van. The driver was nice and knowledgeable but I felt like we made too many stops unnecessarily. I was disappointed to find out that most of the coffee is only 10% Kona coffee unless you’re willing to pay a pretty penny for it. At least the samples were free and one of the coffee places had samples of rum cake and that was delicious! The city of refuge is surrounded by water so instead of watching the movie about the history and how it came about you can just walk to the water and enjoy the water, black sand, fishes and turtles and the beautiful view. You don’t necessarily have to take an excursion in Kona since the beach is right by the pier, within walking distance.
Very interesting site with lots of historical information. We also saw green turtles in the water which was a bonus. We booked this tour through Roberts and they had a package for a reduced price for all our ports, which was good value for the money.
One of the few tours where I didn't feel too rushed + there's a bonus stop at the end. Your first stop is at a coffee store to buy some 100% Kona coffee, drive by a few other things, then head to Pu'uhonua o'Honaunau/Place of Refuge. Interesting story that goes with it, but it was a place where the royal family traditionally visited and was buried. One of the few stops on any tour where I didn't feel I was totally rushed. After you get back on the bus, you go to the Painted Church, which has a really interesting story. That's worth the tour, by itself. You drive by a few other locations before going back to the harbor. One wish is that they would drive by the Captain Cook location. It should be close to the route.
Kona historic tour included small coffee plantations, Place of Refuge, St. Benedictine's Painted Church. Local guides on all Roberts Hawaii tours contribute greatly to the experience, Have good sense of humor as well. Most have lived in the islands all their lives, so get a feel for the island life from their perspective.
we were on an afternoon tour and the morning tour was late returning. The Princess organization was very lacking as we waited in the hot sun with no signs designating what tour we were waiting for. The Painted Church was supposed to be a stop, but we were told that because it was Sunday we could not go there. No attempt was made to add some sight seeing or to refund any portion of the cost. Place of refuge was beautiful and the stop for Kona coffee sampling was fine.
NCL set up tender for us, so that was convenient. Tour was informative and fun. Had plenty of time at Place of Refuge, Painted Church, and coffee plantation. Back in Kona just in time for lunch and shopping!
We booked this excursion which provided a tour of Kona, visit to the Kona coffee company, the painted church and the Place of Refuge. The place of refuge was beautiful, with interesting ruins, a lovely setting, as well as sea-turtle viewing. We were only given 45 minutes to explore the Place of Refuge by the tour operator, which we found very frustrating because we would have liked a few hours to enjoy the site at our leisure. The Kona coffee company was a mad-house, with many tour buses converging on it at once, and was not a very pleasant experience. The painted church was also very beautiful, but once again had many tour groups visiting at the same time, which made the visit less pleasant. It I were to do it again, I would book a car and visit these sites at my leisure, although we did choose a ship's excursion because Kona is a tender port with limited time, and a ship's tour ensures that we would not need to worry about returning to the ship on time.
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