travel journal: discover the world
The sunny Kona District stretches for about 60 miles from Kona International Airport to beyond Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island’s lava-lined western coast. Along this expansive area, you’ll find everything from coffee farms to historic Hawaiian landmarks.
In fact, King Kamehameha actually spent his final years in Kailua-Kona. Today, Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) is a bustling, gathering place in the heart of the district, just a 15-minute drive south of Kona International Airport. Home to shops, restaurants and nightlife, you can conveniently take a walking tour of Kona’s history at places like Hulihee Palace, Mokuaikaua Church and the Ahuena Heiau.
Other significant historic places include Kealakekua Bay to the south, where Captain James Cook first set foot on the island in 1778 and where he was eventually killed. Nearby is Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, a well-restored Hawaiian “place of refuge.” North of Kailua-Kona is the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, a 1160-acre park that lets you explore early heiau (temples), fishponds and petroglyphs.
Shielded from winds by Maunaloa, south Kona’s calm and clear waters are perfect for snorkeling, diving and spotting dolphins and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles). One of Kona’s most memorable experiences is going on a manta ray boat tour to scuba or snorkel with these gentle, graceful sea creatures. Kona is also famous for its deep-sea fishing, hosting the International Billfish Tournament (August) every year. And on land, don’t forget to travel to the cooler upland slopes of towns like Holualoa, where you can sample the distinctive flavors of 100% Kona coffee. On the versatile Kona coast, you’ll find the adventures are as big as the island itself.
The west coast of Hawaii is know as the “Kona Side”. Due to the local weather conditions this side of Hawaii is almost always dry and sunny, and there are numerous white sand beaches perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling and swimming! The Kona side of the Island is also known for its lush green golf courses that form an unearthly contrast with the black lava they are build upon and attract top-players from around the world.
In the middle of the Kona coast, a few miles south of the Kona International Airport (KOA), lies the historic seaside town of Kailua-Kona. In the last couple of decades, this formerly sleepy coffee and fishing village has transformed into a hustling and bustling city with a thrilling atmosphere!
Kailua Kona (also referred to both as “Kailua” or “Kona”) has shops of every description and restaurants for every taste. It is a good home base to explore this side of the island. Relax and look at the waves crashing over the black lava rocks while sipping from a cup of the world-famous Kona coffee, or have some freshly caught ahi (tuna) while recovering from your busy day.
If you are staying here, don’t forget to get up early one day to go for some sunrise-snorkeling at King Kam beach on Ali’i drive.
While you are in Kona, don’t forget to stroll up the “see-and-be-seen” Ali’i Drive, and see the many fish in the bay. End at the Kailua pier or any of the restaurants along the seaside to see the perfect sunset. Why not also take a mai-tai, or one of the many local specialties, the Kona Brewing Company’s handcrafted ales?