Kona is a district on the western coast of Hawaii Island which stretches for approximately 60 miles. Kona is known for its historic landmarks, coffee farms, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing.
In southern Kona, Kealakekua Bay, where Captain James Cook was killed, is near Puuhonua O Hanauna National Historical Park.
Beautifully clear and calm waters in southern Kona create ideal conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving. Kiholo Bay has excellent snorkeling. In Kona, one may be fortunate enough to find manta rays, dolphins, or green sea turtles.
The waters of Kona are also known for deep-sea fishing. The Billfish Tournament is held every August in Kona. In October, Kailua-Kona also hosts the famous Ironman World Championship Triathlon.
Kailua Village, also known as Kailua-Kona is only a 15 min. drive south of Kona international Airport and has shops, restaurants nightlife, and historic places such as Hulihee Palace, Ahuena Heiau, and Mokuaikaua Church. King Kamehameha spent the final years of his life in Kailua-Kona, Kalako-Honokahau National Historic Park is just north of the village and is a 1160-acre park.
For one of the top-rated sites in Kailua-Kona include the Mauna Kea Summit. The peak rises to 13,796 feet and provides amazing views of the of desert, lava, and Mauna Loa. Other highly rated attractions in or near Kailua-Kona include the secluded Manini Owali Beach (Kua Bay), the beach of Makalawena, the scenic drive of Saddlle Road, the Island Breeze Lu’au on the shores of Kamkahonu Bay, White Sand Beach, Magic Sands Beach, Kamakahonu for paddleboarding, and Ali’i Drive for access to cute, local shops.
Mauna Loa’ and Hualalai in Kona have excellent conditions for growing coffee on their volcanic slopes. If one is interested in learning about coffee, a visit to the H. N. GREENWELL STONE Museum would be in order.
Ali’i Drive is a gorgeous 7 mile waterfront drive that connects Keauhou to Historic Kailua Villiage. It was an ancient foot trail that later evoled into a road. Along the 7 miles, seven centuries of Hawaiian culture and history await. Visitors can see archaelogical sites, four ancient Royal Centers, and scenic vistas. It is known as the Royal Footsteps along the Kona Coast.
Free activities in Kona include:
1. A self-guided coffee tasting tour at 600 specialty coffee farms along 20 miles of mountainside.
2. Free 30-minute hula dances every Monday at the shops at Mauna Lani Stage. Check schedules for months the dances are performed.
3. The beautiful scenic drive along the Saddle Road of course is always free.
4.. At Kahalu’u Beach Park or at Honaunau Bay, one can see sea turtles.
5. The Pana’ewa Zoo and Gardens in Hilo is free and offers a petting zoo along with the sea. The location is in the Puna district at the end of Highway 130.
7. Volunteer astronomers offer telescopes at The Mauna Kea Observatory for visitors to gaze at the stars from a mountaintop.
8. At Mokupapapa: Discovery Center for Hawaii’s Remote Coral Reefs, a 2,500-gallon saltwater aquarium holds an abundance of Hawaii’s undersea life. Visitors can learn about the NWHI Reef in the theater, or visitors can operate robotic arms which are used by scientists.
9. Approximately 3 miles southeast of Pahoa, the Lava Tree State Monument is where visitors can see the molds left after lava flows through a forested area. Remember to bring drinks of water.
10. Visitors could view remnants of an ancient coastal settlement at the Lapakahi State Historical Park, located 12 miles north of Kawaihae. Again, bring drinking water.
11. A beautiful area for day hikes and picnics is at Kalopa State Recreation Area, southeast of Honoka’a. Trails lead to a forest reserve, an arboretum, and a two-mile horse loop trail.
12. Examples of traditional Portuguese bread are available at the Kona Historical Society. The samples, which are baked in large wood-fired ovens are available from 11 AM to 2 PM every Thursday.
13. Revered as the most famous of all sacrificial temples on the island, the birthplace of King Kamehameha is just 1.6 miles southwest of the Upolu Airport.