So you’re visiting the Big Island of Hawai’i, looking for delicious coffee. Where should you go? What should you do?

In a recent edition of our Coffee Design feature series on Sprudge, we posed this question to the team at Pacific Coffee Research, a “quality-focused, woman-owned” coffee education and training center in Kealakekua, on the Kona side of the Big Island. We *love* asking questions like this to folks in interviews, but the answer we received in this particular interview from PCR’s Brit Horn & Madeleine Longoria-Garcia was so excellent, so transportive, and so exactly perfect for a dreamy day on Hawai’i that we simply had to break it out as its very own feature.

We hope you find this story as you prepare your own travel itinerary for the Big Island, a special, beautiful place, alive with volcanic magic and home to truly exceptional food, coffee, and experiences. Have fun! It’s also perfectly fine to read this story with no set travel plans in mind, and instead, to daydream along with the flow of this ideal perfect day, perhaps with 100.3 KAPA FM streaming in the background.

As told to Sprudge by Brit Horn & Madeleine Longoria-Garcia.

As a coffee-forward traveler—how would you recommend I spend a day on the island of Hawaiʻi?

Pro Tips: Rent a car because public transportation is relatively unavailable and this place is nicknamed “Big Island” for a reason. When you land in Kona, you’ll head south and hit up a couple spots on your way to your final destination: Volcanoes National Park.

Always shop local—local grocery stores, farmers markets, tourist shops. Most commercial “mineral sunscreens” still have toxic chemicals that are harming the reefs. Best bet: Hat and full coverage, breathable clothing. If you must, don’t bring your own sunscreen and buy from a local dive shop. Avoid oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, and octocrylene. Bring your own water bottle. Refill along the way.

Start early!

7 am: Visit a local coffee shop: HiCO Hawaiian Coffee features an array of locally grown offerings on kegged cold brews and drip. Grab your coffee and a pastry and then hit the road.

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8 am: Take a coffee farm tour at Hala Tree Coffee in Kealakekua and do a quick Kona coffee tasting in their roastery.

10 am: You should have packed a cooler so you’ll stop at Honaunau Poke for the best fresh ahi poke on the west side. Make sure to grab chopsticks and shoyu. Save it for later.

11:15 am: Enjoy the views on your hour+ drive to Naʻalehu. Make another pit stop at Miranda Farms for a cup of Kaʻū coffee. Then, if you’re feeling something sweet, stop at Punalu’u Bakery for a malasada.

12:30 pm: You should be back on the road.

1 pm: Poke picnic at Punalu’u Black Sand beach, snorkel with honu. Don’t touch.

3 pm: Keep heading south towards Wood Valley. Visit The Kaʻū Coffee Mill for a tour and views of one of Big Island’s larger coffee farming operations.


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4:30 pm: Back on the road and now to your final destination.

5 pm: Arrive at Volcanoes National Park, stay til dark, enjoy the glow. Don’t forget to refill your water bottle at the rain water fill station at the Visitor’s Center!

7 pm: Dinner in Volcano Town or in the Park—I leave it to you to choose. It’s all good options.

9 pm: You’re exhausted. Drive back to Kona via Hilo route and over Saddle Road. It’s safer and if you’re up for it: Stop and look at the stars.

big island stars lava ocean

Read the full interview feature with Pacific Coffee Research here. 

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