Day in Kailua Kona

A West Hawaii Island Adventure

Kailua Kona is a town on the dry leeward or West side of Hawaii Island and one of the best places in the State of Hawaii to snorkel, paddle board, kayak, lie on the white sandy beaches and catch some sun rays, and watch the sunset.

Kona Cruise ship

Here are our favorite fun things to do on a day in Kailua Kona:

Snorkel at Kahalu'u Beach Park

Kahaluu Bay beach

Kahalu'u Beach park is one of the most beautiful places to snorkel in all of Hawaii with a protective rock wall surrounding the bay, a huge number of colorful reef fish, and Hawaiian turtles. Learn about more about Kahalu'u Beach Park.

Walk Ali'i Drive Kailua Town

Ali'i Drive starts at Kamakahonu Beach in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel and runs south along the Kona coast through Kailua town. (Ali'i means Royalty or Nobles in Hawaiian) In Kailua town, Ali'i Drive, has a wide sidewalk along the coast with restaurants, stores, gift shops, beaches, and historic sights all along the way. Here is a brief walking tour of Ali'i Drive starting at the Kailua pier.

Facing the ocean, Kamakahonu Beach is on the left side of the Kailua pier, in front of the King Kamehameha Beach Hotel. The beach is protected from the surf and great for snorkeling.

Kamakahonu Beach Kona

The Hawaiian Ahuena Heiau Temple is located across from the beach. The restored Temple is an ancient Hawaiian thatched structure built in 800 AD. It is considered one of the best examples of a Hawaiian place of sacrifice. The building was King Kamehameha's retreat and the place where he died on May 8, 1819. The Heiau consists of a stone wall and a few grass buildings. It is considered a Hawaiian holy site so no one can enter the building.Luau's are held on the grounds next to Ahuena Heiau so in the evenings you can sit on the beach and enjoy the music.

The onsite Beach Shack rents snorkeling equipment, canoes, paddle boats, and kayaks.  The Kailua pier is busy with ocean activities.

Kailua Pier activities

Walking south on Ali'i Drive from the Kailua pier, a sea wall protects from the surf. Stores and restaurants line the street opposite from the seawall.

Kona Beach wall

The town of Kailua holds festivals on Ali'i Drive with musicians and artists lining the street.

Kailua Kona festival

The seawall extends all the way to Hulihe'e Palace.

Seawall behind Hulihee Palace

Hulihe'e Palace is a two-story stone structure overlooking Kailua Bay. It was built by the second Governor of Hawaii, John Kuakini, in 1838 and from 1844 until 1914 it was used by Hawaiian royalty as a vacation home. In 1925, the Territory of Hawaii purchased the house to be operated as a museum by the Daughters of Hawaii with artifacts and memorabilia on display. The museum is open Monday through Friday (9-4) and Sunday (10-4). There is an admission fee charged. Daily tours are available of the house and grounds and there is a gift shop.

Hulihee Palace on Alii Drive

Across from Hulihe'e Palace is Mokuaikaua Church, the first Christian church built in Hawaii. The land was given to the missionaries by King Kamehameha III and the original thatch structure was completed in 1820 under the direction of Asa Thurston, one of the first missionaries.

Mokuaikaua Church

The current coral church was built by Governor Kuakini in 1837. The lava rock used the church originated from a 15th Century Hawaiian temple in the same location.

Mokuaikaua Church

The interior of the church is made of Koa wood.

Inside Mokuaikaua Church Kona

The church is open daily (7:30AM-5:30PM) and visitors are free to look inside and around the grounds. There are tours available. A small museum is located in the back of the church.

Walking further south on Ali'i Drive, is the Kona Shopping Village area boardwalk.

Kona Shopping Center

In the center of the boardwalk is the Kona Inn cafe, all that is left of the historic Kona Inn.

Kona Inn Cafe

The Kona Inn Cafe overlooks Kailua Bay. You can walk into the beautiful garden area bounded by the seawall.

Kona Inn Sea Wall

Hale Halawai is just beyond the boardwalk. It has a small beach, a police box and a community meeting area.

Hale Halawai

Kona's Farmer's market is open Wednesday through Sunday on Ali'i Drive across from Hale Halawai.

Kona Farmers Market

If you want to keep walking at this point, you will be rewarded with a beautiful coastline along Ali'i drive with great shops and restaurants along the way.

Sun bathe at the Old Airport Beach

Just north of Kailua Kona is a wonderful white sand beach located where the old Kona airport used to be situated.

Old Kona Airport Beach

The county park includes a skate park, community buildings, pool, baseball park, and walking park.

Swim Ironman Route

Kona Ironman Race

Next to the Kailua pier is a small sandy beach where every year the Ironman World Championship swim starts.

Ironman start in Kona

Buoys line the route so that you can swim the same route as the ironman do. Every morning swimmers show up and swim some or all of the route. If you choose the route you will swim over reef fish, turtles and on some lucky days with a pod of dolphins.

Ironman swim area in Kona

Tour a Coffee Plantation

Kona Blue Sky Coffee Tour

Kona Le'a Plantation Coffee Tour

Hula Daddy Coffee Plantation Tour

Ueshima Coffee Company was started by Tadao Ueshima in 1933 to bring coffee to Japan, a country of tea drinkers. Ueshima Coffee Company is now the largest provider of coffee products in Japan. UCC established Ueshima Coffee (UCC Hawaii) Corp. in Kona in 1989. Call to make reservations for a tour.

Watch a Kona Sunset

Kona has beaches and restaurants all along the coast that are perfect for watching the sunset. The south facing Kona coast offers the perfect view of the sun setting into the water and some special times, when all the conditions are right, you can get a glimpse of the green flash, caused by the curavature of the earth which allows a very brief view of the sun through the ocean water.

Kona Sunset

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