Kailua-Kona a popular destination on the Big Island of Hawaii

beach_kona.jpg

In the Hawaiian language 'kona' means leeward, referring to the dry side of the island, as opposed to 'koolau,' which means the windward or wet side of the island. In ancient Hawaii, Kona was the name of the leeward district on each major island. Hence Kona on the Big Island was named Kailua-Kona for clarity. This popular retirement town is just south of the airport and was the original capital of King Kamehameha's unified Kingdom of Hawaii. When the capital moved to Lahaina on Maui and eventually to Honolulu on Oahu, Kona remained a retreat for the royal family. The Kona Coast, Kona Surf and the King Kamehameha were the first major hotels in the area and have recently been renovated. Known for its nearby black sand beaches, this town is also host to the Ironman World Championship triathlon, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament. Perhaps best of all, for travelers on a budget, Kona features great restaurants, abundant activities and newly renovated rooms for a fraction of the cost of most resorts just up the road in Kohala coast.

Where to stay?

Sheraton Kona, 521 rooms, $189-$2,550 King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, 452 rooms, $149-$499 Royal Kona Resort, 436 rooms, $115-550

Restaurants:

Bangkok House, 75-5626 Kuakini Hwy,808-329-7764
Basil Pizzeria Restaurant, 78-5707 Alii Dr,808-326-7836
Big Island Grill, 75-5702 Kuakini Hwy 808-326-1153
Da Poke Shack, 76-6246 Ali'i Dr, 808-328-8862
Don the Beachcomber, 75-5852 Ali'i Dr, 808-329-3111
Fish Hopper, 75-5683 Ali'i Drive, 808-326-2002
Huggo's, 75-5828 Kahakai Rd off Ali'i Dr, 808-329-1493
Island Lava Java Bistro, 75-5799 Alii Dr, 808-327-2161
Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill, 75-5995 Kuakini Hwy,808-327-0209
Kenichi Pacific, 78-6831 Alii Dr,808-322-6400
Kona Beach Restaurant, 75-5660 Palani Rd,808-329-2911
Kona Brewing Co.,808-334-2739
Kona Inn Restaurant, 75-5744 Ali'i Dr,808-329-4455
La Bourgogne, 77-6400 Nalani St, 808-329-6711
Orchid Thai Cuisine, 77-5563 Kaiwi St, 808-327-9437
Quinn's, 75-5655A Palani Rd, 808-329-3822
Royal Jade Garden, Lanihau Center on Palani Rd, 808-326-7288
Sibu, 75-5695 Ali'i Dr, 808-329-1112
Tacos El Unico, Kona Marketplace, 75-5729 Ali'i Dr, 808-326-4033
Teshima's Mamalahoa Hwy, Honalo 808-322-9140
Thai Rin Restaurant, 75-5799 Ali'i Dr, 808-329-2929
Wasabi Japanese Cuisine, 75-5803 Alii Dr, 808-326-2352

Annual Events:

~ March Kona Brewers Festival: One of Kailua-Kona's premier events, the festival promotes the craft brewing revolution in Hawai'i. ~June King Kamehameha Day Festivities: The annual King Kamehameha Day Community route travels along popular Ali'i Drive right in front of the hotel. This special celebration includes a Ho'olaule'a featuring Hawaiiana Arts & Crafts Fair, Cultural Exhibits and Live Entertainment. ~July Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament(HIBT): The annual "grandfather of all big game fishing tournaments" draws teams from around the world competing for the prestigious HIBT Governor’s Trophy, awarded to the team scoring the highest number of billfish points. The event takes place at Kailua Pier adjacent to the hotel. ~ September Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Races: The world's largest long distance canoe race was started as a way to train for the grueling long distance canoe races from the island of Molokai to the island of Oahu. The race was named in honor of the last reigning monarch of Hawai`i as the first race fell on Queen Liliuokalani's birthday. Crews from Hawaii, the US mainland and around the world come to enter this world class event. The race begins at Kailua Bay, adjacent to the hotel and the fun includes a torchlight parade and dance on Saturday night, and an awards luau on Sunday. ~October Ironman World Championship: Nearly 1,800 athletes embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit to earn the title of Ironman. The race begins and ends at Kailua Pier next to the hotel. ~November Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival: Since its inception in 1970 the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival has sought to preserve, perpetuate and promote Kona's unique 182-year coffee heritage. The annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival highlights 10 days of festivities honoring pioneers, farmers, artisans and coffee!