Kona, United States

My Town

Kona, United States

Alivia Prattas on her family's property in Hōnaunau, with a view of Kona's south coast. Photos courtesy of Alivia.

Alivia Prattas (BA'12) is an ethical marketer who has worked in a variety of roles including in real estate, food and beverage manufacturing, tourism, and not-for-profits. She grew up in Hawaiʻi, lived for more than a decade abroad, and recently moved back to her home state.

What three words best describe Kona?

Community. Culture. Coffee.

How did you come to live in Kona?

I was fortunate to be born and raised in Hawaiʻi, but moved away after high school to attend UBC. After living in Canada for seven years, Australia for a couple more (my husband is from there), and most recently New Zealand for the past four years, I finally felt the call to move home and relocated back at the end of 2021. Kona is actually a district on the west side of the Big Island, which encompasses several towns located close to one another, including Kailua-Kona, Kealakekua, Keauhou, Holualoa, Hōnaunau, and Honalo.

What do you like most about living there?

I’m a huge nature lover so being surrounded by the great outdoors is really important to me. It’s pretty special to have amazing beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, and even an active volcano all within easy reach.

Describe your favourite neighbourhood.

I may be biased but I really love where I grew up in Hōnaunau. It's a beautiful valley surrounded by farmlands but also only a short drive away from world-class water sports. It’s common to see wild pigs on sunset drives in the area, glimpse dolphins playing while enjoying a swim, or watch whales breaching off shore during their winter migration season. It’s also a “food basket” region for growing some of the best coffee and tropical fruits on the island, if not the planet. We also have stellar (pun intended) stargazing at night, thanks to low levels of light pollution in the area.

From amazing outdoor spots to some of the best coffee and tropical fruits in the region, there's lots to enjoy in Kona. Click on each image to learn more.

If you could change one thing about Kona, what would it be?

I’m an avid traveller so living on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific definitely has its drawbacks in terms of flight availability and travel times. Don’t get me started on shipping costs!

What might surprise a visitor about Kona?

We have our very own royal residence right in the heart of Kailua-Kona called Huliheʻe Palace. Not many people know that Hawaiʻi was actually a sovereign kingdom up until an illegal overthrow in a coup d'état against Queen Liliʻuokalani on January 17, 1893.

What are your favourite hidden gems or activities that only locals know about?

Nice try! Rule number one of being a local is that we don’t give away any of our hidden gems. It’s nice to keep some spots to ourselves and protect them from being overrun.

What’s the most over-rated tourist hotspot in Hawai‘i?

Most people who visit Hawai‘i tend to stay in Waikiki on the island of Oʻahu. It’s a gorgeous city right on the water but it’s also filled with cliché stores, restaurants, and hotels catered to tourists. To get a real taste of Hawaiʻi, make sure to hop on a short flight and visit the neighbouring islands.

How easy is it to meet new people?

It really depends on where you live and how social you are, but in a small area like Kona you’re bound to make new friends just by running into each other repeatedly around town. Here it’s also very common when meeting someone new to already share a mutual connection (or several!) with them.

What issues are particularly important to the people of Kona? 

Like most everywhere else these days, affordable housing is a huge issue facing the entire state. Hawaiʻi has one of the highest living costs of anywhere in the U.S. yet annual incomes tend to fall far behind national averages. It’s very common to have several generations all living under one roof, both for cultural as well as financial reasons.

What is one local custom that every visitor should know about?

When visiting someone’s home, always remove your shoes before entering. This is done out of respect and cleanliness. This custom was introduced by our early Japanese immigrants who brought the tradition with them to our shores. Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Sweet treats — and views. Here are some of Alivia's snapshots of daily life in Kona. Click on each image to learn more.

Looking to connect with your UBC alumni community?

If you live outside our campus communities in the Lower Mainland and Central Okanagan, visit the Global Alumni Network page to see if there’s an alumni ambassador or social media community where you live.

Alumni volunteers also host fun My Town Meetups in locations around the world. Check out our Meetups page to see if there’s a gathering near you — or sign up to host one in your location!