The burgeoning district of Kona covers a lot of ground (and elevation). From high up on the Kona Coffee Belt and agricultural Holualoa village down to the ocean front Kailua village, quiet Keauhou, and historic Kealakekua (among others). The largest town in Kona is Kailua-Kona and often referred to by locals simply as Kona. Where locals go to shop local or mainland stores, check out a festival, eat, and people watch.
Historic Kailua Village / Ali’i Drive
This quaint, seaside section is home to famous Ali’i Drive. October, it turns into the finish line of the Ironman World Championships triathlon race. It’s filled with year round shopping, souvenirs and artwork; plus open-air restaurants fit for a beach destination, volleyball court included. Spend time discovering respected, historic landmarks. Relax or play in the surf at different beaches. Walk, run, or Bikeshare bike your way along the waterfront. Check out a Kokua Kailua stroll or hula at the Palace. During heavy surf, watch out for the breaking waves over the seawalls.
Head down to Kailua-Kona’s Alii Drive where beside a banyan tree sits this “Summer Palace”. Famous as the vacation home to the Alii, members of Hawaiian Royalty, and home to priceless artifacts of Hawaiian history. It is preserved and maintained by the Daughters of Hawaii as a museum with monthly events, some are free.
Originally known as Kaiakeakua “sea of the god”. This is a popular spot for open water swimming, canoe races in summer, and kayaking. Tour boats and cruises leave from the Kailua Pier for diving and snorkel excursions.
Explore this small beach and the royal compound of Kamakahonu. Translated from Hawaiian to “eye of the turtle”, named after a rock formation located to the left of the beach. Find a replica of King Kamehemeha I’s thatched-roof residence where he and other Ali’i resided prior to Hulihe’e Palace down the street. Dive in to explore colorful reef fish and corals at this sandy spot. A handy rental kiosk can provide you with a kayak or SUP board to explore into Kailua Bay.
Kona waters are recognized as a top sport fishing destination. While some residents still practice subsistence fishing (to feed their families) Billfish, Ahi tuna, and marlin are popular prize catch in addition to the variety of deep sea and shoreline fish found here. Visit Honokohou Harbour to check out the day’s catch at the restaurant. Create your own fish tales, charter a boat or take a group excursion for a day on the water. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Kona Coffee Belt / Holualoa
Take a windy road up Hualalai mountain and through the lush coffee fields of Kona’s internationally recognized coffee belt. A unique micro climate at this elevation provides the ideal growing conditions. Visit quaint Holualoa, a historically agricultural and currently artsy area. In the weeks leading up to the November harvest and festival, spot the bright red cherries peaking on the bushes. Discover all year long numerous coffee estates, mills and tasting rooms along this road in addition to vintage shops, galleries, and the Painted Church. Visit the Kona Historical Society’s Kona Coffee Living History Farm to discover 1930s life on the belt. Roadside picking is discouraged.
Kealakekua Bay State Park
12 miles south of Kailua-Kona lies the Kealakekua Bay Historical District. An area settles thousands of years earlier and home to the first contact with the European Captain James Cook. This contact and his death are remembered by the Captain Cook Monument. Archaeological and historical sites are found here, including a heiau or temple, but the bay is also a popular snorkel and water activity destination.
Puuhonua o Honaunau: Ancient Hawaiian Refuge
A place of refuge and royal grounds south of Kealakekua Bay. Located at Honaunau Bay in South Kona, Puuhonua o Honaunau immerses you in Hawaiian culture. This 180-acre national historic park was once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers.