The town has a population of nearly 30,000 people, and a median age of 36. The city is known for its golf courses, beaches, historic Hawaiian landmarks, and coffee farms. Among its many activities, visitors can snorkel with dolphins, whale watch, and dive with manta rays.
Tourist Attractions And Visit In Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Kailua-Kona is the main settlement on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. This area of the island is known for its sunny weather, stunning sunsets, and pristine beaches. It is also a great place to snorkel, swim, and explore.
Many of the activities in this area are perfect for families. If you are visiting during the winter, be sure to check out Kona’s whale watching tours. They are affordable, and you may see dolphins, sea turtles, and rays.
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One of the top things to do in Kailua-Kona is to explore the Mauna Kea Summit. The summit features a great view of the Pacific Ocean, hardly any light pollution, and advanced telescopes. There are many hiking trails here.
Another must-see attraction in Kailua-Kona is the Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark. This historic site is home to reconstructed thatched houses that used to be the residence of King Kamehameha I. During his reign, Kamehameha the Great worshiped at Ahuena Heiau, the temple he built.
Kailua-Kona is a great place to explore Hawaiian culture. At the Kona Coffee Grower plantation, you can learn about coffee growing and tasting. You can even take a tour of the roasting plant.
Hulihe’e Palace is a former royal vacation home. Here, you can tour the grounds, which include six large rooms and two oceanfront lanais. Also, every month, they host a cultural day. These events include admission prices and lunch.
You can find plenty of shopping and dining in Kailua-Kona. Ali’i Drive is the most popular shopping district. In addition, you can visit the Kona International Market for local arts and produce.
Kailua-Kona is the largest settlement on the west side of Hawaii Island. It’s also the main shopping center on the island.
Mauna Kea Summit #1
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, and its summit has some of the best views on the Big Island. It’s also a great place to learn about astronomy, as it’s home to several of the world’s most prominent observatories.
The summit is a place where many ancient astronomers came to study the sky. You might even be able to see the moon. However, you don’t have to be an astronomer to enjoy Mauna Kea. Just be aware of the risks involved, like altitude sickness, UV radiation, and lack of oxygen.
If you want to go to the top of Mauna Kea, you’ll need a 4 wheel drive vehicle. You can rent a jeep from the state of Hawaii, but you’ll need to plan ahead. Some rental car companies won’t allow you to drive up the road, so it’s best to plan your trip as far in advance as possible.
Before you climb the summit, you’ll need to check into the Visitor Information Station (VIS) at around 9,000 feet. There, you’ll be able to get some tips on the best views to look for. Getting to the top of the tallest mountain in the world is no small feat.
The road up isn’t paved, so you’ll need to be prepared. And don’t forget to bring some water, as the air at the summit is dryer than the rest of the island. Visiting the summit is not for everyone, but the experience is definitely worth it. For example, the telescopic night sky view is amazing.
Saddle Road #2
Saddle Road is an approximately 54-mile-long highway that crosses the island of Hawaii. The road is situated between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. It provides access to the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Station, Mauna Kea Telescopes, and military bases.
For many years, Saddle Road was considered unsafe for vehicles. But since then, many improvements have been made. Today, drivers can expect to drive safely, and can enjoy scenic views of the mountains.
Before the Saddle Road was paved, it was littered with potholes, sharp curves, and blindspots. In addition, it was not well-lit. As a result, people were warned to avoid driving on the road after dark.
Over the past few years, Ala Mauna Saddle Road has been extensively improved. It now includes passing lanes, and there is even a new highway extension on the west side.
Currently, the only highway route to the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Center is via Saddle Road. Besides the scenic views, Saddle Road offers travelers a unique opportunity to drive between the two most prominent volcanoes on the island.
Previously, the County of Hawaii was responsible for maintaining the road. However, it had poor pavement, steep inclines, and a lack of drainage. A community task force was formed to gather information about Saddle Road.
The group met with government and private organizations, as well as interested citizens. These meetings allowed the group to refine alternatives to improve the roadway. They also hosted public scoping meetings and distribution of Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS) for the project.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park #3
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is located on the west coast of Hawai’i. It is 1,160 acres in size. The park is home to an ancient Hawaiian settlement, fish ponds, and petroglyphs.
There are two large fish ponds at Kaloko-Honokohau. They were used by the ancient Hawaiians to trap fish. Both are important habitats for native Hawaiian species. In addition, the ponds provide excellent habitat for migratory birds.
Another site in the park is the Ai’opio Fishtrap. This site is also located at the beach. During high tide, fish enter the pond through a submerged wall. During low tide, the walls are opened.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Park is also home to Ala Hele Ike Trail. This trail runs north and south beside the ocean. Hikers will see native plants and stone walls. The Honokohau archaeological site is located near the southern end of the park. You can reach it by hiking trails from the visitor center.
If you are interested in learning more about Hawaii’s natural history, the park is a great place to start. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park has a variety of programs throughout the year.
There are a number of native and non-native birds in the area. Some of these are the American wigeon, cattle egret, and African Silverbill. Several species of native waterbirds depend on the ponds.
If you have questions about the park, the park rangers are friendly and knowledgeable. The rangers are happy to explain the best activities to do during your visit.
Hulihe’e Palace #4
Hulihe’e Palace is a former Hawaiian royalty vacation retreat that now serves as a museum. Originally built in 1838, this historic landmark is located in Kailua-Kona. The palace features furnishings and artifacts from the Victorian era, a time when the kingdom was under the rule of King Kalakaua.
Located on the oceanfront in Kailua-Kona, Hulihe’e Palace offers visitors a beautiful view of the bay. The palace is free to explore and offers a glimpse of the past. It is also a great venue for weddings, cocktail parties, and formal dinners.
Built in the koa and ohia timbers, the palace was constructed with coral lime mortar and a lava rock foundation. The grounds were surrounded by water on three sides. A small gift shop and guided tours are available.
During its time as a royal residence, Hulihe’e was visited by more Hawaiian royalty than any other royal residence in Hawai. It was built in a style similar to that of European royal palaces.
It is managed by the Daughters of Hawai’i. The organization rescued the palace from disaster and restored it to its original state. In 1928, the organization held a lu’au. Afterwards, they replanted the grounds.
Now, Hulihe’e is a museum that showcases furniture, artwork, and other antiques from the Victorian era. Hulihe’e Palace is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. There is a nominal admission fee. Children under age twelve are free.
Magic Sands Beach #5
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach to spend the day, look no further than Magic Sands Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. This sandy beach is located near the south end of Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona. It is a popular destination with locals and tourists alike.
The white sands at Magic Sands Beach make it a great place for bodyboarding. In fact, it may be the best bodyboarding spot on the island. This beach is also a fun spot for people to play volleyball. You can rent a net and have some fun with friends.
There are showers and restrooms, as well as a volleyball court. During the summer, you’ll find it packed with tourists. However, if you visit during the winter months, you’ll be able to enjoy the magic of the sands in a different way. During high surf, the waves break into large rocks beneath the sand, revealing dark lava rock.
Throughout the year, you’ll see people playing in the water and surfing. There’s a lifeguard station on duty at Magic Sands. Those who are more experienced swimmers can find it difficult in the rip currents.
When you’re at Magic Sands, don’t forget to wear REEF SAFE sunscreen. Having a waterproof cell phone case is a good idea, too. Those with large hats will be comfortable in the sun, especially on a hot day. Also, be sure to pack a cooler for your drinks.
Magic Sands Beach is just a short drive away from downtown Kailua-Kona. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to take a break from your busy day, or you’re eager to hit the waves, you can’t go wrong.
Kiholo Bay #6
Kiholo Bay is one of the most popular hiking destinations on the west side of the Big Island. It is a protected series of turquoise tidepools. There are two main ways to reach Kiholo Bay. One is by driving down a rough road to the beach.
The other is by taking the Queen Kaahumanu Highway. Both have campgrounds. Hui Aloha Kiholo is a local group that is working to restore the estuary, improve the marine life, and offer educational programs. They also maintain public restrooms and rubbish bins.
Kiholo Bay used to be a Hawaiian fishpond. This pond is an important resting site for green sea turtles. However, in 1959, a lava flow blew through the area. That lava flow destroyed the third fishpond.
Today, the pond is connected to the ocean by a man-made channel. It is also a great place for photos. If you are interested in hiking to Kiholo Bay, you should bring sturdy hiking sneakers. There are several spots along the trail that are worth seeing.
Another area to consider visiting is the Keanalele lava tube. It is less than a tenth of a mile from Kiholo. This lava tube is flooded and filled with both saltwater and freshwater.
Other sites to check out include the Wainanalii Pond, which is located at the northern tip of Kiholo Bay. Also known as the Blue Lagoon, this pond is home to many sea creatures. If you plan to hike to Kiholo Bay, make sure you have plenty of water to drink and reef safe sunscreen to protect your skin.
The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary #7
The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary is located in a cloud forest at an elevation of 3,000 feet. Originally a pasture land, this sanctuary was converted to a lush tropical jungle.
This area is home to a variety of native plants, birds, and bamboos. The 70-acre sanctuary is maintained by Norman Bezona, a retired professor of tropical agriculture from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Norman Bezona has been working to protect Hawai’i’s diverse ecosystems for more than fifty years. He continues to study and protect the endangered forest. His work has involved working with international communities. Currently, he lives on site with his partner and children.
As a horticulturist, Norman is passionate about the health of Hawaii’s rainforests and forests. Previously, he worked as an extension agent at the University of Hawai’i. In 1982, he established the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary.
Since then, he has managed the 70-acre sanctuary, which is home to a wide array of exotic and endemic plants. You can see the beauty of the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary on a guided tour. They are offered several times a day.
Several groups and organizations visit this sanctuary to conduct educational programs. There are numerous endemic and exotic bird species living at the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary. Visitors can also observe giant ferns, flowering ohia, orchids, and other indigenous plants.
Also, you can check out the demonstration gardens of non-native plants. Guided tours at the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary are available by appointment. The easiest time to explore this cloud forest is in the mornings.
The Mokuaikaua Church #8
The Mokuaikaua Church is an historic landmark located on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is the oldest Christian church in the Hawaiian Islands. The church is built on land acquired from the Royal Governor of the island, Kuakini.
Construction of the church began in 1835. Materials were sourced from the local Hualalai Forest. Local lava rocks and coral stone were used for construction. In 1937, the church was in need of major repairs.
To address the problems, a structural engineer was hired. A community effort was organized to preserve the historic church. Several improvements were made, including the installation of a new roof.
The church was designated a national landmark in 1978. Today, the church is open to the public, and its museum contains a replica of the brig Thaddeus. There are also displays of historic Hawaiian artifacts. Free tours are available on Sundays from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.
The church has a yearly Christmas Eve service. This is a popular community event. Children can participate in an outdoor caroling program. The Mokuaikaua Church has been repaired after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake in 2013.
The structure still has significant safety issues, but the church board has been working on improvements. They have installed large steel beams for stability.
The first Christian church in Hawaii was built in 1837. Originally, the church was a simple thatched structure. Later, a 112-foot-tall steeple was added to the top. For decades, the steeple was the highest structure in Kailua.
The St. Michael the Archangel Church #9
The Saint Michael the Archangel Church is a historic church located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island. It serves the Roman Catholic community. Located at 75-5769 Ali’i Drive, the church is one of the oldest churches in the state.
Founded in 1840, the St. Michael the Archangel Church is the first Catholic church on the island. Two French priests arrived in the area in 1840 and faced strong opposition from the Protestant population. However, the Religious Tolerance Act was passed by King Kamehameha III in 1839.
In the 1840s, six generations of parishioners worked to build a church in the small village of Kona. At the time, the church was the largest in the entire island. After the building was completed, the church served the Catholic community for over 150 years.
With a steady stream of visitors, the congregation was made up of nearly 2,000 families. When the church was built, it was a coral mortar and lava rock structure. It measured 22 yards by 14 yards. Sadly, after a number of earthquakes, the church was badly damaged.
Upon its renovation, the church was upgraded with flooring and a new altar. New pews and statuary were added as well. The church was a source of inspiration for several local artists who were commissioned to create stained glass windows.
As a result, the church’s bells were restored to their original condition. Before construction began on the new church, many permits were required. Specifically, the building needed a structural report.
FAQs about Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
What is Kailua-Kona known for?
Kailua-Kona is a popular tourist destination on the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. It is known for its beautiful sunsets, stunning beaches, and abundant outdoor activities. Kailua-Kona is home to some of the most iconic Hawaiian landmarks, such as Hulihee Palace, the historic Mokuaikaua Church, and the beautiful Kailua Pier. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and fishing in the crystal clear waters of the Kona Coast. The nearby Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates the region’s robust coffee industry, and the Ironman World Championship is held in Kailua-Kona each year.
What’s the difference between Kona and Kailua-Kona?
Kona and Kailua-Kona are two distinct towns located on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kona is a large town located on the western coast of the Big Island, while Kailua-Kona is a smaller, more residential town located immediately south of Kona. Kailua-Kona is a popular tourist destination, known for its beautiful beaches, lush vegetation, and vibrant culture. Kona, on the other hand, is more of a working-class town, with many resorts and businesses. Kailua-Kona is also home to a number of historical and cultural sites, including the Hawaiian Royal Palace and the Kona Historical Society.