The Kona region of the Big Island goes beyond Hawaii's traditional offerings. Sure, there's ample sun, surf and sandy beaches, but the Kona coast features so much more. Step back in time and explore Kona's history, taste some of the world's richest coffee and view marine animals in the clear waters of the surrounding Pacific Ocean. These activities and more await along the Big Island's Kona coast.
Kona is one of seven regions on Hawaii's Big Island, encompassing a 60-mile stretch of the western coast. The Big Island sits at the southeastern end of Hawaii's island chain, and is 4,038 square miles, double the combined size of Hawaii's other seven islands.
Kailua-Kona, also called Kailua-Kona Town, is a city in the Kona region and was, at one point, home to King Kamehameha in the early 1800s. The Historic Kailua Village in Kailua-Kona pays homage to Kamehameha and other Hawaiian royalty with tours of historic sites such as Hulihee Palace and Mokuaikaua Church. Also located on the Kona coast is Kealakekua Bay, where captain James Cook first landed on the Big Island and eventually was killed, in 1779.
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park has a monument to Captain James Cook. Near Kealakekua Bay is the 180-acre Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, which was once a sacred place of refuge. The Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park is a 1,160-acre park just north of Kailua-Kona that is home to historic temples and ancient petroglyphs.
There are many white-sand beaches and ocean activities available on the Kona coast, from snorkeling and surfing to whale watching and dinner cruises. The waters along the Kona coast are calm and clear, providing perfect visibility of green sea turtles, fish and other marine life while snorkeling and scuba diving. There are surfing schools that offer individual and group lessons, sport fishing charters, dinner cruises and boat tours that will put you up close to whales, dolphins, manta rays and green sea turtles.
Things to Do
There's plenty to do in Kona aside from beach and ocean activities. Kona's small towns have many shops and galleries. Take a tour up to the 14,000-foot summit of nearby Mauna Kea, either during the daytime, to enjoy spectacular views, or at night, to take in some stargazing. Visit Kona in October to take in the annual Ironman World Championship, a long-distance triathlon that attracts some of the world's top athletes.
Kona has many excellent restaurants that offer dishes featuring fresh seafood from the Pacific Ocean, but the real treat on this part of the island is Kona coffee. There are many coffee farms in Kona, the only place where Kona coffee beans are grown to produce 100 percent pure Kona coffee. The conditions in Kona are just right for growing these rare beans--elevation, constant cloud cover and rich, volcanic soil. Aside from taking home some of this famous beverage, visitors can tour many of the area's coffee farms, and visit the Kona Coffee Living History Farm.
- Photo Credit Kona Skies image by Rick Chesler from Fotolia.com