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Dining & Diving in Kona

Napa, CA
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Dining & Diving in Kona

We are arriving in Kona Thanksgiving Week, 11/16-24, and would like some input on great local dining. We're not really into the big resort over-priced dining, but the really great locally owned fun places to dine. We live in the Napa Valley, so we're used to excellent places to dine and know that you don't need to pay a fortune for great food/ambience. Also, we are planning to scuba and have never been to Kona. Any recommendations on good diving companies -- PADI certified. Thanks!

Island of Hawaii...
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1. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

I can't help you with diving recommendations but check out konaforum.com for restaurant reviews.

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

the thing about great ambience ... if a view is involved, you do have to pay for it here. The big hotels have the best views, with the exception of the waterfront in Kailua-Kona where even Bubba Gump's has a view ... but not great food or ambience.

The set-up here is very different from Napa Valley. I can't think of any place that produces great interesting food that doesn't charge a lot for it. But you're right that the hotels don't necessarily have the best food; only some of the hotel restaurants are outstanding.

Reading through the reviews as TT suggested is a good idea, but I expect you'll have to lower your standards for great food in order to eat affordably here. My main goal in eating out here is not to feel ripped off ... sorry if that sounds cynical. I came here from the Bay Area and I was spoiled by the many wonderful dining choices.

The Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi has a fun funky ambience with fusion cuisine that's different from your average place, but it's fairly expensive too. Also check out Daniel Thiebault's in Waimea, Merriman's in Waimea and Waikoloa Kings' Shops and Kawaihae Harbor Grill and Roy's at Waikoloa. All are expensive, but somewhat less expensive than the best hotel restaurants. The ambience at Roys is "crowded and noisy" and Merriman's, the one time I ate there, I felt they had tried to put too many tables in the room, but a lot of people swear by it.

Palm Springs...
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3. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

as a guy who lived in the napa valley.( for 20 y.r.)....I would suggest

IN ORDER:

1. Merrimans in Waimea......$120 for 2

2. Jackey rey in Kona $ 98 for 2

3. Merrimans MARKET cafe... $75 for 2

4. Quinns in Kona............$ 45 for 2

5. Big Island Grill............$ 35 for 2

the rest are chain or resort stuff including Roys... and yes, unlike the Valley you WILL have to PAY for any standout food......sorry! no deals without dough...........

Ain't no Mustards or Cathoula here...............you will find the food less competive and dynamic than in the valley...Hey you are 2400 miles from St Helena........adapt

For Diving try Dive Makai

Napa, CA
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4. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

Thanks for all the info. I will check them all out. By the way, Mustards is tourist trap! San Francisco folk think its cool, but its way overpriced for the cuisine - not even in our top 25 in this valley.

San Jose, CA
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5. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

Hi -- it's been more than 5 years since my last dive trip to Kona, but I've always used Dive Makai. Once when they were already booked, I used Jack's Diving Locker which was also good (preferred Dive Makai though). Dive Makai has new ownership since my last visit but I hear they have maintained their good standards.

As for dining, I highly recommend Fujimama's in Kona, and Ke'ei Cafe' in the Capt. Cook area (about 10 miles south). No views but great ambience and cuisine.

Tulsa, Oklahoma
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6. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

Food: Kona Inn....abit pricey but the view and atmosphere is awsome!

Diving: Jack's Dive Locker

Mike in Tulsa

Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

If you like microbrew, check out Kona Brewery. It's a fun place (the flies are kind of annoying but that's minor). Only 2 or 3 of their brews are served in restaurants around the island; the rest are at the brewery. They have very good pizza, many kinds, and good salads and good kalua pig quesadillas. Good casual dining, portions are generous for the price.

Also try going south of Kona and eating at Coffee Shack or the Aloha Theater for view and tasty lunch, not expensive.

I was thinking about your question ... and it seems to me people pay through the nose to eat "fusion" and "Pacific Rim" here, and further it's not always prepared so wonderfully. I would rather just have a fresh fish sandwich or fish and chips than some of the fish dinners they come up with. Or get a plate lunch with mahi.

Better food for the money is stuff like pizza, salads, soups, Thai food, fish and chips. If you want to have "cuisine" expect to pay a lot.

Kawaihae Harbor Grill up in Kohala has very fresh fish, right off the boat, much fresher than any restaurant in the Hilton.

Napa, CA
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8. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

Thanks for the good info. And yes, we are more interested in fresh fish dishes than "fusion" style.

Englewood, Ohio
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9. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

I too will be in Hawaii, on the Big Island, from Nov. 19-22, and plan to go diving. I can personally recommend Jack's Diving Locker, as I've dived with them and they were wonderful. Ironically, for this upcoming trip, I'll be diving with Red Sail Sports at Hilton Waikiloa Village becasue that's where we're staying, and I am diving with them due to the convenience. If it were not for the convenience, I'd rather be diving with Jacks. Kona diving is excellent!

Palm Springs...
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10. Re: Dining & Diving in Kona

for fresh fish... Quinns Almost by the Sea in Kona has been the consistent hands-down local favorate.......... its a little fish and chips place which put out all manner of stuff... not just fried food......

Everything else is going to be some form of fusion

You can eat at quinns, for 2 for under 60, the next strata will be at 100 to 150 and fusion

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