Kona, Big Island

The sunny Kona District stretches for approx 60 miles from the Kona International Airport (KOA) 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. Kona is the name of a moku or district on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi in the State of Hawaii. In the current system of administration of Hawaii County, the moku of Kona is divided into North Kona District (Kona ‘Akau) and South Kona District (Kona Hema). The term "Kona" is sometimes used to refer to its largest town, Kailua-Kona. In the Hawaiian language, kona means leeward or dry side of the island, as opposed to ko‘olau which means windward or the wet side of the island.

Map of Hawaii Big Island

Explore Big Island by region: HiloHamakua CoastNorth KohalaKohala CoastPunaKau.

Download Tour Map of Hawaii (Big Island)

Island Highlights

- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Home to Kilauea Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
- Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona): Lively, historic gathering place in the heart of Kona.
- Hilo: Home to botanical gardens, waterfalls and off-the-beaten-path local shops and restaurants.
- Waimea: Experience the cool uplands of paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country.
- Holualoa: Visit coffee country and taste why 100% Kona coffee is so famous.


Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

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. Kapu, or sacred laws, were of utmost importance to Hawaiian culture and the breaking of kapu could mean death. A kapu-breaker's only chance for survival was to evade his pursuers and make it to a puuhonua, or a sacred place of refuge. Once there, a ceremony of absolution would take place and the law-breaker would be able to return to society.

Hundreds of years old yet beautifully restored, Puuhonua o Honaunau remains one of Hawaii's most sacred historic places. Beyond the puuhonua, explore the nearby Royal Grounds, which were the sacred home of alii.

Location: South of Kealakekua Bay.

Keauhou

Keauhou

Keauhou is an area blessed with sunny weather and perfect waters for snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking. These idyllic conditions made it a favorite hideaway of Hawaiian royalty, and today the area boasts diligently restored heiau (temples), ancient fishponds and a wealth of historical sites. 

At night, the Keauhou area attracts manta rays that feed on microscopic plankton near the shore. You can also sometimes see honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) in the shallow tide pools. It’s easy to see why Hawaiian royalty, including the “Merrie Monarch” King David Kalakaua, adored this area.

Location: Just south of Historic Kailua Village.

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

Kealakekua Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. The bay's brilliant waters are filled with coral and schools of tropical fish. On occasion, you can even see spinner dolphins swimming in the bay. If you want to stay dry, there is a picnic area to relax and enjoy this historic spot. 

Kealakekua Bay is an important historic location because it marks the site where the first westerner, Captain James Cook, landed on Hawaii Island in 1778.

Location: 12-miles south of Kailua-Kona.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Explore this coastal park and discover how an early Hawaiian settlement survived on the rugged Kona coast. Hike to see four different ahupuaa (traditional sea to mountain land divisions), as well as heiau (sacred temples) and kii pohaku (petroglyphs). The park is also home to two amazing Hawaiian fishponds that show the engineering acuity of Native Hawaiians. Walk out to see how the white sands of Honokohau Beach contrast with the black lava rock coastline. Lookout for local wildlife including honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles), native birds and maybe even a Hawaiian monk seal, sunning on the shore.

Location: Just south of Kona International Airport.

Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona)

Historic Kailua Village Kailua-Kona

Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) is a lively seaside town in the heart of the sunny Kona Coast. Once a sleepy fishing village and a retreat for Hawaiian royalty, now visit by tourist from all over the world.

Stroll down the main road of Alii Drive and you’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants. But look closer and you’ll also discover some very important Hawaii Island historical spots. Hulihee Palace and the Mokuaikaua Church are both located right on Alii Drive. King Kamehameha I spent his later years living near the current site of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Resort until his passing in 1819.

Location: 15 min south of Kona International Airport.

Hulihee Palace

Hulihee Palace

Once a summer vacation home for Hawaiian royalty built in 1838, today Hulihee Palace is a museum showcasing Victorian artifacts from the era of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani.

The Palace features beautiful koa wood furniture, ornaments and artifacts from Hawaii’s royal past. In fact, this entire area of Kailua-Kona town has great historical significance with Mokuaikaua Church (Hawaii’s earliest Christian Church built in 1820) right across the street and Ahuena Heiau (the last royal residence of King Kamehameha I) visible right across the Kailua Pier.

Location: In the heart of Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona).

Holualoa

Holualoa

The high elevation, constant cloud coverage, and rich volcanic soil in the upland slopes of Kona, Holualoa and Kealakekua create an ideal environment for harvesting the unique Kona coffee bean. There are roughly 600 coffee farms in the Kona area and many offer tours to the public. Visit Holualoa’s thriving coffee orchards and learn about the meticulous coffee bean harvesting process. Then explore the coffee mill and see how the beans are processed.

Tucked amid the upland farms on the slopes of dormant Hualalai Volcano between Kailua-Kona and Keauhou, Holualoa has also become art central for the Kona and the Kohala Coast resort areas.

Location: On the slopes above Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) and Keauhou.


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Memberships and Certification

 Hawaii Tourism Authority

Certified Hawaii Tourism Authority 'Destination Expert'.

A member of Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

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