big island destinations


Kailua-Kona the Royal Retreat of the Big Island

Kona Coast, Big Island Hawaii by hawaiimakai

Kailua-Kona has a history that looms much larger than its size would indicate. Hawaiian reggae group Hoaikane’s humorous lyrics about Kailua-Kona is evidence that the local residents are prideful and proud of their hometown.

Tourists have discovered the uniqueness of Kona and made it a popular destination

Nestled at the bottom of the Hualalai Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, this area was considered the premier place to live in ancient times due to the excellent weather and water. British explorer Captain James Cook first spotted Hawaii off the coast of Kailua-Kona. Kona is also where King Kamehameha the Great died and where the ancient kapu (taboo) system was discarded.

Kona coffee farm, Kona-Kailua front street and Kona bay skyview
Kailua-Kona’s coffee plantations, crystal clear bay and its animated front street

Things to Do

Most people consider Kona to be the center of the visitor industry on the Big Island. The town has an intoxicating aroma, thanks in part to the Kona Coast’s world-famous Kona coffee. The main street, Alii Drive, runs along the oceanfront through the heart of the city from Kailua Pier to the Kuamoo Battlefield, where many lives were lost in fighting over the value of the kapu system. The charming town mixes numerous historical sites with modern tourist attractions, restaurants, shops, and hotels.

The Ahuena Heiau, located in Komakahonu bay
The ahuena heiau temple resting in kamakahonu bay

The Ahuena Heiau, located in Komakahonu bay, was rebuilt by King Kamehameha the Great and dedicated to Lono, the Hawaiian God of peace, agriculture, and prosperity.

Hulihee Palace
Hulihee Palace

Across the bay is Hulihee Palace, built-in 1838 by Governor John Kuakini. The palace became the summer retreat of King Kalakaua during his reign. Today it is a museum houses artifacts from the 1800s.

Mokuaikaua Church
Mokuaikaua Church

Directly across the street from the palace is Mokuaikaua Church, the first Christian church in the islands. The lava rock and coral building was first dedicated in 1823 and finally finished 14 years later.

Ironman Triathlon

Today, Kona is one of the world’s great sports fishing centers and home to the annual Ironman Triathlon. The King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel has been the headquarters of the Ironman Triathlon since 1988. The 460-room hotel fronts the only white sandy beach in Kona. The full-service hotel features three restaurants, a swimming pool with a whirlpool spa and sauna, comprehensive meeting and banquet facilities, a Hawaiian activity center, beauty salon and the only air-conditioned shopping mall in Kona.