Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Nestled on the sunny Kona Coast – a mere 15 minutes south of the Kona International Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii – Kailua Kona is a charming seaside town that boasts a plethora of natural attractions, such as beautiful beaches, pristine bays and lava fields.
The town is also of much historical importance, being the home of Kamehameha the Great who conquered the Hawaiian islands and established the Kingdom of Hawaii.
These days, Kailua Kona is a popular tourist hub peppered with quaint open-air restaurants and cafés overlooking clear blue water. The town is well-known for sport-fishing, snorkelling, surfing, diving and a whole host of other water spots. Kona, as the locals call it, is also renowned for its great coffee, grown on the plantations just outside of town.
Cruise ships anchor in Kailua Bay and tender passengers to Kailua Pier – the perfect place to watch a Hawaiian sunset while local children and fishermen cast their lines.
Kailua Pier, where most cruise lines tender passengers, is located directly in front of the King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. The bulk of the town’s offerings can be found just as you come off the pier.
Kailua Pier is centrally located in Kailua Kona, and a number of nearby facilities are within walking distance of the pier.
Facilities nearby include:
- Public toilets
- Cafés, restaurants and bars
- Car hire and tour booking offices
- Retail outlets.
How to Get Around
For most visitors, exploring the seaside town by foot is all the transportation you need. Kailua Kona is rather small and can easily be covered by walking everywhere.
However, if you intend on exploring attractions just outside of town, then renting a car or organising a taxi is your best option. Tourists can also book themselves on a day tour to see the sights with a guide.
There is often a free shuttle bus from Kailua Pier to Hilo Hattie (a popular Hawaiian department store), Kmart and WalMart on the days the cruise ships dock in town.
Travel times from the pier:
- It is a 7 minute journey to Hulihee Palace Museum and Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s oldest Christian church
- It is a 15 minute journey to the Kona Coast Shopping Center.
- It is a 15 minute journey to the Kona International Airport (costs around USD$25 by taxi)
- It is a 23 minute journey to the Kona Coffee Living History Farm
- It is a 15 minute journey to Kahaluu Beach.
- Currency – The local currency in Hawaii is the US dollar. Coins come in 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, and $1 denominations. US dollar notes have the following denominations: USD$1, USD$2, USD$5, USD$10, USD$20, USD$50, and USD$100. Credit cards are widely accepted, and there are many ATMs around town.
- Time Zone – Kailua Kona operates on Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST), which is 10 hours behind Coordination Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather – Kailua Kona enjoys warm weather all year-round, thanks to its tropical climate. Yet it surprisingly receives very little rain. The coolest time of year to visit is during February when temperatures hover around 23 degrees Celsius on average. Visit in August for the warmest weather, when 27 degrees Celsius is the average. Humidity is usually between 50 to 70 percent, while the annual rainfall is on average 467mm.
- Historic Kailua Village Walking Tour – Departing right from Kailua Pier, this 90-minute guided walking tour gives visitors a comprehensive historical overview of the town, visiting the Hulihee Palace Museum, Mokuaikaua Church and St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Participants leave with a 24-page booklet and over 40 archival photographs of Kailua Village. Tickets cost USD$15 per adult and USD$7 per child (aged 5 to 12).
- Beaches – Visit one of the numerous beaches that grace the Kona coastline and spend the day snorkelling, surfing or just relaxing. Beaches range from having black sand to pristine white particles. Sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins and even humpback whales can often be seen from the shorelines. Kahaluu Beach is a 15 minute car ride from the pier and a great place to check out.
- The Kona Coffee Living History Farm – A historic coffee farm spread out over 5.5 acres, the Kona Coffee Living History Farm transports visitors back to 1920-1945 during the time of Japanese immigrant coffee workers. Historic buildings, costumed actors, and traditional crafts make for an educational, yet enjoyable day. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 10am-2pm.
- Aerial Flight over the Big Island – Take a plane or helicopter flight over the west coast of the Big Island and soar over lush green valleys, gorgeous coastline, smoldering volcanoes and cascading waterfalls. Flight tours start at around $150 per person.