About Kailua-Kona, HI
Written by Jen Davis
Kailua-Kona is located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii in the heart of the Kona Coast. It sits along the shoreline of Kailua Bay and on the leeward side and southern slope of Hualalai Volcano, which shields it from rain and wind. This allows its 34,000 residents and many visitors each year to benefit from a sunny, dry, semi-arid climate with consistently warm temperatures for enjoying plenty of outdoor fun year-round, making it a highly sought-after place in Hawaii to live.
Once a small fishing village and tropical paradise retreat for Hawaiian royalty, this historic, lively area known as ‘Kona’ to locals has undergone a real estate boom in recent decades and is now the center of commerce and tourism in west Hawaii. With its affordability, great beaches and recreation, fantastic dining and shopping, highly-ranked schools, and superb natural scenery, it’s a wonderful place to raise a family, retire by the sea, or have as a second home getaway spot.
The main road of Ali’i Drive offers scrumptious seaside dining and an array of unique shops and boutiques. It also hosts many historic spots including Hulihee Palace, Mokuaikaua Church, and Ahuena Heiau (a reconstructed temple rebuild by King Kamehameha). And the nightlife here is always fun with live music to listen to and fantastic places to watch the sunset from such as on Kailua Pier. Other popular shopping centers in Kona include the Kona Shopping Village, the Coconut Grove Marketplace, and the Kona Commons Shopping Center.
Though a lot of the Big Island’s shoreline is constructed of hard, black volcanic rock, there are still many beautiful and varied beaches found in between the lava rock. Most can be reached by car, but some do require a 4-wheel vehicle, so be sure to always check if you want to be able to reach the shore every time you venture out to a new location. These beaches offer an array of fun aquatic activities such as swimming, snorkeling, surfing, diving, boating, parasailing, fishing, whale watching, and a “magical swim” with dolphins.
Luckily, most of the beaches on the Big Island are in the area of Kona since the Kona Coast is the sunniest spot in the whole United States. Many are the typical, pristine, white sand type of beaches with clear, bright blue water, lava pools, and glorious palm trees like at White Sands Beach and Makalewena Beach. But there are several Black Sand Beaches with black sand made by the volcanic lava rock and one (called Green Sand Beach) with unique green sand, so it’s always fun to explore these kinds of diverse shorelines too. And if you want a great place for surfing and snorkeling, Kahaluu Beach Park is a small cove that’s ideal for doing both.
There are also many great, family-friendly parks in Kona. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park located along the coast offers a nice beach and wonderful hiking. Kailua Park (also called Old Kona Airport Park), is a free public park located in the middle of Kona. It offers lots of recreational facilities including two pools, several ball fields, and tennis courts. Keauhou Bay Park offers a great place for kayaking and playing volleyball. Higashihara Park has basketball courts, tennis courts, and a fantastic playground. And other area parks such as Hale Halawai, Pahoehoe Park, and Pualani Estates Playground offer even more outdoor recreational fun.
Kailua-Kona has eight private and public golf courses to tee off on, including some that are award-winning. Courses include the Kukio Makai Beach Golf Club, the Kona Country Club, and the Big Island Country Club.
Kona Coffee, one of the top coffees in the world, is produced here on Kona, so coffee plantations abound. You can visit many for a tour and to taste samples, such as at Bayview Farms. And two of the biggest annual events in Kona that are not to be missed are the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in August and the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in October.
With warm year-round temperatures, beautiful scenery, and so many great outdoor activities to keep active, Kailua-Kona is a fantastic oceanside gem to call home.