The Kona International Airport is located at Keahole and is also referred to as Keahole Airport. The airport is a hub for many transpacific, west coast US, Alaska, and Vancouver, Canada air travel.
The airport is open air and is located relatively close to Kona’s major tourist areas. However, the major form of transportation are rental car agencies and taxis as there are no free hotel shuttles and the local Kona bus serves airport only once per day.
The Kona International Airport is built on lava flows dating back as recently as the early 1800s. The airport is built on just under 3,500 acres. It has two terminals; terminal one on the north end, and a terminal two on the south end of the airport.
The Kona International Airport itself is also home to a historical tourist attraction in the firm of the Ellison S Onizuka Space. The Onizuka Space is located between the two major passenger terminals of the airport. The space center is dedicated to the memory of astronaut Ellison S Onizuka, who was killed on the space shuttle Challenger which disastrously exploded in 1986. The space center is a museum which includes information and artifacts not only of the life and career of Ellison S Onizuka, but also includes moon rocks and an Apollo 13 spacesuit.
Prior to the 1970s expansion of the Kona international Airport, most tourism on Hawaii’s Big Island is located on the east side where tourists generally flew in to the capital Hilo area of Hawaii.
Since the expansion of the airport, most of the Big Island’s tourism has shifted to the west side of the island including Kailua Kona. As of 2005 approximately 86% of lodging accommodations were located on the west side of Hawaii.
In addition to the development of the Kona International Airport, the shift in tourism to West Hawaii was also affected by a tsunami which destroyed every east Hawaiian hotel in the 1960s.
Visitors landing or departing from the Kona International Airport can see solar and aqua culture experiments being conducted by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.
The Kona airport is the second largest in the Hawaiian Islands second only to Honolulu.
The east side of the island also has an airport — Hilo International Airport. Some visitors to the Big Island have arranged for their arrival at one airport and for their departure at the other. For example, arriving at Kona international Airport and departing at Hilo International Airport.
This gives visitors the opportunity to explore more of the Big Island my dividing their trip between the two sides of the island.