Big Island of Hawaii ~ Kailua-Kona
Welcome to the Big Island of Hawaii ~ Kailua-Kona
Aloha! E komo mai!
Hele mai! Hele mai!
Mahalo for continuing on our tour of the Big Island of Hawaii! On this leg of the tour (Part 6) we will be visiting Kailua-Kona, the sport fishing capital of the world and home to the annual Ironman Triathlon World Championship endurance race.
If you missed the last 5 buses (pages) of our tour you can catch them here:
- The Big Island of Hawaii - Part 1 - North Kohala - Kamuela - Waimea
- The Big Island of Hawaii - Part 2 - Hamakua Coast
- The Big Island of Hawaii - Part 3 - Hilo
- The Big Island of Hawaii - Part 4 - Volcano Area - South Point
- The Big Island of Hawaii - Part 5 - South Kona Coast
The Big Island of Hawaii, also named Hawaii, is the most diverse of all the Hawaiian Islands. You can travel around the Big Island of Hawaii in one day and go from white sand beaches to snow capped volcanoes; from cacti on cattle ranches to tropical rain forest; from black beaches to green sand beaches; and then on to live erupting volcanoes. All in one day!
But wait! You don't want to do it all in one day! Relax, take your time, enjoy! There is so much to see and do on a Big Island of Hawaii Circle Island Tour!
This is a Hawaiian Hale (House) - Tradition Requires that You Remove Your Shoes Before You Enter
Eh! No Forget!
You Gotta Remove Your Shoes Before You Go Inside
Relax...Take Your Time
It is well worth it to take your time and plan on staying for a while. There are so many unique and interesting things for you to enjoy while visiting the Big Island of Hawaii. You don't want to just drive around the island without stopping and miss it all!
You will want to slow down and absorb the beauty; slow down and experience the diverse cultures and life styles; slow down and savor the exotic tastes and aromas that the Big Island of Hawaii has to offer.
Where is Kailua-Kona, Hawaii?
I Kona - Sung by Ledward Kaapana
Listen to "I Kona" by Ledward Kaapana while visiting the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii
Sing Along with the lyrics below:
Sing Along with the Lyrics:
Aia i Kona kai 'opua i ka la'i
'A'ohe lua e like ai me 'oe
Malihini makou ia 'oe i Kona
I ke kona a keu ke aloha no makou
Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka pu ana
'A'ohe lua e like ai me 'oe
There in Kona are the cloud banks and calm seas
Second to none, you are incomparable
We are your guests in Kona
By invitation with love for us
Tell the refrain
Second to none, you are incomparable
We will be traveling along Ali'i Drive which is the ocean front main thoroughfare, which weaves along the Kona Coast from Keauhou Bay into Kailua-Kona where it gently winds to an end at the Kona Pier.
Our first stop in Keauhou is Kuamoo and the Lekeleke Burial Grounds.
Where the Hawai'ian Gods Died
Kuamoo and the Burial Grounds of Lekeleke is a significant historical place of the Hawaiian people, that is not found in very many tour itineraries.
This is the where the ancient Hawaiian religion died in a blaze of musket fire, After the death of Kamehameha I, his son Kamehameha II, was crowned King Liholiho. Shortly thereafter, he ate at the table of women and commoners, thereby breaking the ancient kapu`ai system.
This was previously discussed in The Ending of the Kapu`ai System on the Big Island of Hawaii ~ Kona Coast page.
Chief Kekua o`kalani, who held radically different views about religious traditions, unsuccessfully challenged King Liholiho in battle here.
The battle was fought between the traditionalists Hawaiians; headed by Kekua o`kalani, that wanted to keep the old religious traditions of the kapu' ai system alive, and forces of Liholiho and regent Kaahumanu; the Hawaiians that wanted to be free of the kapu laws.
Over three hundred warriors lost their lives here and their graves, despite the official-looking marker at the site, are under the numerous, large stone altars erected by the victors over the very spots the warriors fell. Viewing their lava rock burial mounds produces an
Viewing their lava rock burial mounds produces an eerie feeling and a good case of "chicken skin" (goose bumps).
The Hapaiali'i Heiau (temple) and the Ke`eku Heiau are located nearby the battlefield. The walls of Hapaialii Heiau are newly restored, and honor the royalty.
Kuamoo and the Burial Grounds of Lekeleke
Keauhou Bay: The Birthplace of a King
Keauhou Bay is our next stop on our tour of Ali'i Drive in Kona.
Kamehameha III was born nearby Keauhou Bay, a favorite place for snorkeling, swimming, and picnics. This is another place the Honu turtles can frequently be seen.
Book a sailing, snorkeling and diving adventure with the Fair Wind catamaran at Keauhou Bay. Board the boat to sail to Kealakekua Bay for a 2-1/2 hour expedition of sailing, snorkeling, diving and fun.
I am biased in my appreciation of the Fair Winds as I use to surf with the owners, Steve and Jay Lambert, when we were all kids in school in Honolulu. I also worked for them in their office for Captain Cook VII and Fair Winds tour boat companies, years ago.
Kayaks are another fun activity that can be rented at Keauhou Bay. When in Kona, just check at any of the Activities Desks in town. You can find them in every hotel lobby and there are several set up right on the street in the village of Kailua-Kona.
King Kamehameha III Birthplace - Keauhou Bay ~ Kailua-Kona
The Historic Keauhou Holua Slide
He'eholua (mountain surfing) on the holua slide was a sport in ancient Hawai'i that was reserved only for the Ali'i (royalty).
This very dangerous sport is similar to tobogganing, except in tobogganing, the sled rider lies down on his back on a sled board and slides down an icy mountain path at high speed.
With holua racing, the sled riders either laid down on their stomachs or they stood up balancing like riding a wave on a surfboard.
The Keauhou holua slide was not only the longest holua slide in all the islands but also the most dangerous one. At the end of the sled path, the sled rider ended in the ocean at Keauhou Bay.
The papa holua, Hawaiian sleds, were usually about 12 feet long, 6 inches wide, and 4 inches in depth, and weighed about 30 - 60 pounds. The sleds were long and narrow. It was quite a feat to be able to ride on one of these sleds.
Usually, the runners were made out of endemic woods called kauila, mamane, or ukiuki and the rails were made out of bamboo. The body of the sleds were a combination of kapa cloth and woven lauhala mats. Everything was tied together with sinnet cording.
The slide, or sledding course, kahua holua, was paved with rocks, covered with dirt and beaten down to form a smooth runway. Right before the track was used it was covered usually with pili grass, then saturated either with kukui nut oil or coconut oil to make it slippery.
The runners of the sled where also greased for speed. These sled riders could travel at speeds of 50 and upwards to 100 miles an hour. The tracks were narrow and could usually only accommodate one sled rider at a time.
The winner of the race was the one that could sled the farthest without killing himself.
The holua racing ended in the early 1800's because the missionaries forbade the Hawai'ians to continue practicing their "heathen" ways.
There was quite a bit of gambling that went along with the racing which the missionaries also frowned upon. It seems to me that anything the Hawai'ians considered fun, the missionaries considered "heathen" and ungodly, i.e. singing, dancing the hula, and speaking in the Hawaiian tongue.
Papa Holua (Hawai'ian Sledding)
Historic Keauhou Holua Slide
This is the site of the historic Holua Slide, the largest preserved Holua in Hawai'i. It can be seen across from the Keauhou Kona Country Club golf course.
The slide originally ran all the way down the mountain into Keauhou Bay. As you can see from the photo, the rest of the slide was destroyed to make way for the road, the golf course and the subdivision full of vacation homes.
The original slide was over 4,000 feet (1,200 m) long, but the remains are are only about 1,290 feet (390 m) long.
During the Makahiki Festival, this particular slide was used for the Makahiki games by the ruling Ali'i (Monarchy). The Makahiki games of ancient Hawaii were similar to the Greek Olympics.
He'eholua: Hawaiian Sledding
A Royal Battle, A King Sacrificed: Ke'eku, Big Island Hawaii
Keauhou Petroglyph Fields
Ke'eku heiau, located near the grounds of the Keauhou Beach Hotel, was both a puuhonua heiau (place of refuge temple) and a luakini heiau (place of human sacrifice temple). This spot is famous in Hawai'i because of the 16th-century wars between the chiefs of Hawai'i and Maui.
In front of this massive heiau are the Keauhou kii pohaku, petroglyph fields, where the petroglyphs have been carved into the lava rock. The petroglyphs can only be seen at low tide or with mask and snorkel as they are under water.
The petroglyph in the photo is of particular importance as it depicts the Maui Chief Kamalalawalu who was sacrificed upon his defeat.
Keauhou Beach Hotel Demolishion Planned for 2015
After almost 50 years, the Keauhou Bay Hotel will be demolished. This will be a sad time for many of us who grew up with this hotel and the many cultural events we attended there.
The mana from this hotel and its sacred grounds is nothing less than revered. Leaving behind something we value deeply is never an easy thing to do.
This is a place that holds a powerful history of the presence of kings and queens; billionaires and great leaders; educators, scholars, and avid students; artists, musicians, and dancers. Generations of relationships have formed at this hotel.
“From the start, this was a center for training leaders. There was something special about it. It is home to a deeply revered, archaeological site, brimming with ancient healing pools, sacred temples, and tropical seaside solitude, people can feel Hawai‘i’s ancient family tree, both roots, and branches, and carry the story forward,” says Paul Horner, former General Managerwho led the hotel to its modern stature with innovative Hawaiian Cultural classes and programs.
Kamehameha Schools officials eventually hope to offer a Visitor Heritage Center. as well as a Visitor Education program on the site. The program would be able to accommodate about 200 visitors daily. The property is home to many cultural and archeological artifacts. The entire project is estimated to cost about $34.3 million.
Completing the environmental review and getting the permits to demolish the hotel will likely take until the middle of this year, but actual demolition probably won't start until the end of the year. The remaining construction is going to be phased out through 2023.
Hapaiali'i Heiau, Keauhou Holua National Historical Landmark, & the Ke'eku Heiau - Keauhou Heiaus
Mo'o Twins Homesite and Punawai Spring - Playspots of Goddesses and Kings, Keauhou, Hawaii
Kahalu'u Beach Park
Our next stop heading along Ali'i Drive back into Kailua-Kona is Kahalu'u Beach Park, also known as Turtle Beach because of the large number of Honu turtles who come to sunbathe on the beach,
Kahalu'u is one of only a few of the beaches in Hawaii that can boast having a tame fish population.
It is not a marine preserve, yet the amount of fish you will see is incredible. It surpasses the quantity of vibrant colored tropical fish you would see at a regulated marine sanctuary.
There aren't any fishing restrictions at the beach, yet at this well-protected cove, the fish are very comfortable around swimmers and snorkelers. They are known to swim right alongside of you. Over 108 reef fish varieties have been recorded at Kahalu'u Beach alone!
As you can see in the above photo, the cove is almost completely surrounded by a partially submerged rock wall which is the remains of a breakwater built by early Hawaiians to aid in fish farming.
The wall aids in keeping out the rough surf, creating a calm, and very gentle protected area. The water at Kahalu'u Beach Park is so shallow and calm, that it's perfect not only for the
The water at Kahalu'u Beach Park is so shallow and calm, that it's perfect not only for the first-time snorkeler but also for young children to swim in as well. Within the lagoon, the deepest part is only 10 feet deep and you won't reach deeper water unless going out past the reef.
Lauwiliwili - Butterfly Fish
Large schools of fish can often be seen swimming up to greet swimmers and it is not unusual to find the fish nibbling on your fins while snorkeling. On the right here is a school of yellow tang.
Black spiny sea urchins and red pencil sea urchins can be seen on the rocks and coral once you swim away from the shore into the crystal clear water.
The quills of the red pencil sea urchins are used in making jewelry after they have dried. When the are dry they lose their red color and turn into several different shades of brown and tan with creamy white chevron stripes.
The black spiny sea urchins are highly poisonous if stepped on, so please be very careful. The only known antidote is human urine. I know, it sounds awful, but that is the only thing that will dissolve the quills; stop the swelling and pain; and prevent infection!
The only known antidote is human urine. I know, it sounds awful, but that is the only thing that will dissolve the quills; stop the swelling and pain; and prevent infection!
Other than that it is an expensive trip to the emergency room at the hospital, where you will get multiple injections and suffer from a lot of pain as they dig and cut out the quills.
As you can see in the photo, the quills can get very long and super thin. The thin quills are really difficult to dig out, however, the uric acid in human urine will dissolve them.
Snorkeling at Kahalu'u Beach Park - Honu - Green Sea Turtle
Kahalu'u is another favorite place for the Honu sea turtles to swim, feed and sleep. They love to sun themselves on the black rocks and can sometimes be difficult to see because when they are out of the water, the color of their shells is very similar to the black rocks.
Keep your eyes open for them as they can easily be missed as they are camouflaged against the rocks and tripping over them is an easy thing to do. You can see a photo of one of them swimming below.
Honu Turtle Swimming at Kahaluu Beach Park
Kahalu'u Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii - September 2014
Kahalu'u Beach Park Concession Stand - Kahalu'u Beach Park in Kailua-Kona
At the beach park, is a food concession where snacks, drinks, sandwiches and plate lunches can be purchased. Also, available at the concession stand is a professional marine biologist, to answer any questions you might have.
A Snorkel Rental Package can be had at $14.50 for a full days use and includes a snorkel, professionally fitted dive mask, and rubber snorkel fins. The snorkel equipment is some of the best and is always sanitized. It is more economical to rent from some of the dive shops in town, but if you forget it is there for your convenience.
The sand at the beach is a kind of salt and pepper color from the erosion of the lava rock that was once prevalent along the shoreline and the picnic area is lined with coconut trees.
There are picnic tables and BBQ stands that make it an easy place for a cookout on the beach or an afternoon picnic lunch. Restrooms are available and there is a lifeguard on duty during the day.
Kahalu'u is also a favorite spot for surfers and you will often see them out beyond the breakwater catching small waves.
Kahalu'u Beach Park Activities
Magic Sands Beach - The Best Body Surfing in Kailua-Kona at La'aloa Bay Beach Park
La'aloa Bay Beach Park in Kona has several names; Magic Sands, Disappearing Sands and White Sands Beach.
During the summer, the beach is a beautiful white sand beach with great waves for body surfing. Kids like to boogie board, or paipo board, on the shoreline, and some people will surf further out when the surf's up too.
During the winter, the waves get larger and the undertow gets stronger, taking all of the sand out to sea, leaving black lava rocks exposed on the beach.
Body surfing can get treacherous during the winter months. If you are not a good body surfer or a good swimmer, don't attempt it. You have to know exactly when to pull out of the wave so you don't crash and burn; and get pounded onto the rocks. Once the winter surf is over, all of the sand comes back to the beach.
The Best Times of the Day to Body Surf
I use to live in a house down the street a short distance from the beach.
I would walk down to the beach every morning to body surf as the sun was coming up, and every evening as the sun was setting.
These two times of the day are when the waves are the best, the beach and the ocean are practically empty, so you aren't running into inexperienced people in the water.
There is a really nice shore-break at White Sands as the waves get moderately high and even curl before breaking on the sandy beach. This makes for a really nice ride.
During the winter, I have seen the waves get up to 6 to 8 feet, upon occasion, and that makes for an awesome ride, as long as you remember to pull out of it before crashing into the rocks.
Lifeguards are available year round as well as restrooms and showers.
Waiting for the Wave - Magic Sands Beach in Kona
Magic Sands Body Boarding Body Surfing
Waves at Magic Sands
Onward on Ali'i Drive into Kailua-Kona Village
Now that we are all worn out from the body surfing, sun and fun at White Sands Beach, we will head into Kailua-Kona traveling along the beach road into town on Alii Drive. The photo above is the coastline along Alii Dr. as we head into town.
Kailua-Kona was the originally claimed as the seat of the Hawaiian government by King Kamehameha I, as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. This is where Hulihee Palace can still be seen today. The capital now, of course, is in Honolulu on Oahu.
When Iolani Palace was established in Honolulu as the residence of the Monarchy, Hulihee Palace in Kailua-Kona became the summer vacation home for the royal family.
Kailua-Kona Village 1820's - Alii Dr.
Kailua-Kona Village Today - Alii Dr.
Big Island of Hawaii
When I was a little girl, Kailua-Kona was a sleepy little fishing village and remained that way for many years. The soft, gentle breezes, that drifted in from the ocean kept the temperature at a balmy 86 degrees F. almost year round.
It was a different climate and a different time. The aloha spirit was everywhere and the ohana (family) and the aina (land) were the most important things in our lives.
When the fish were running and the taro and the breadfruit were plentiful; we were happy. We didn't ask for much and we didn't need much. Life was much simpler back then.
It wasn't until the early 1970s that the village began taking a turn, and within the next 20 years it had grown into a bustling tourist resort. The village had acquired just about every fast food dive imaginable; from Makadanonei (McDonald's) to Taco Hale (Taco Bell).
I guess all of the fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables that not only grew wild but were cultivated too, just wasn't good enough for the mainland haoles (Caucasians). They had to import their crap food to eat instead of eating fresh, healthy food while vacationing in a tropical paradise. Auwe! Go figure.
Now Kona is a colorful mixture of curio stores, specialty shops, boutiques, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, art galleries, souvenir stands and bars that all line the beach front road along Ali'i Drive.
Kona is where you will find the most remarkable sunsets and sunrises in the world, acting as a magnificent backdrop for the aqua-blue waters.
Ali'i Drive is semi-protected from the ocean waves by a long lava rock seawall that was built long before the road was paved. Ali'i Drive comes to an end at the Kailua Pier which is next to the birthplace of King Kamehameha I located next to the King Kamehameha Hotel.
Drving Through Kailua-Kona on Ali'i Drive
Huggo's on the Rock's - Best View in Kona
One of the 1st places we come to when we hit town is Huggo's Restaurant And Bar. I love Huggo's.
I have been eating and partying there since 1969 when Eric's parents first opened the place. I've seen it go through many changes to what it is now, and it is one of the best places in Kona for "Cocktail Hour". The ambiance is the absolute best for cocktails and pupus (hors d'oeuvres) as it is smack-dab oceanfront. It is lovely listening to the sound of the waves splash up against the rocks directly below the restaurant.
We have often watched both whales and dolphins from the restaurant's lanai (veranda) as the sun sinks slowly into the horizon offering the most gorgeous, unforgettable sunsets in the world as a backdrop.
As for the food, it depends on the time of day, who the cook may happen to be and if the fisherman brought in any fresh fish for the menu.
Nine times out of ten, the food will be excellent. I have had superb dinners there and I have also had mediocre ones. It is always a good idea to check with the locals to find out when is the best time to eat there, as chefs do change. The same one may not be working in April 2015 as was working in January 2015.
With that being said, it is still a wonderful place for cocktails at sunset and for partying after dinner.
Huggo's at night is a great party place. There is always something going on. Something that I find very cool about Eric's son, who is running the place now, is that he is always open to giving new local musicians a chance to play their music.
They are even more fun now that they have added on more acreage for party space with the addition of Huggo's On The Rocks.
if you are in Kona it IS a place to check out 'cause Huggo's Rocks!
Painting of Huggo's - By Artist John Collins
Artwork of Huggo's painted by local artist John Collins. You can see more of his artwork about Kona and Hawaii on his website.
The Summer Home of the Royal Family.
Hulihe'e Palace was originally built out of pukapuka stone(lava rock) by John Adams Kuakini, Governor of Hawaii in 1838.
The Palace wasn't plastered over until 1885, when King Kalakaua decided to give the building a more refined appearance.
Hulihe'e was built with native Hawaiian hardwood from the tropical rain forest. The logs of koa and ohia are beautiful, lustrous wood that can be seen throughout the interior of the palace and has been polished to a high sheen.
The home is a two level structure, as can be seen in the photo above, that includes an entry hall, parlor, dining room, sitting room and two bedrooms.
Hulihee Palace Entry Hall
The entry hall includes a striking marble bust of King Kalakaua, who continues to watch over the entry hall today, and several redwood pillars that the King brought home from California.
The Kuhio Room
The Kuhio Room honors Prince Kuhio Kalaniana`ole and Princess Kahanu. Prince Kuhio was Hawaii's Delegate to Congress and served Hawai'i in Washington DC for twenty years.
It features a gorgeous koa dining table that belonged to the Kalakaua family. It is 80 inches in diameter and was cut vertically from a single log. It also contains a Queen's traveling trunk and a set of Lokelani rose china from England.
The Kuakini Room
The Kuakini Room is like a museum within a museum. It contains display cases full of artifacts from pre-Western contact through the Monarchy period and a reproduction of a papa holua (Hawaiian sled).
The 2nd Floor Sitting Room
The second-floor sitting room is a treasure store of traditional Victorian-style furnishings, priceless oriental rugs and marble statues.
Two Different Views of the Upstairs Parlor
Princess Ruth's Upstairs Bedroom
The bedroom of Princess Ruth Keelikolani features many of her favorite personal items that are now island treasures.
Princess Ruth loved the Palace, however, she seldom actually slept in her bedroom. She had another large dwelling made of pili grass constructed on the lawn of the palace.
The pili grass hale (house) was not a rustic grass hut. It was a substantial residence complete with double hung windows. This is where she slept. She used the Palace for entertaining and to house visiting guests.
King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma often enjoyed staying at Hulihe'e Palace with their son, Prince Albert. His cradle is in the Princess Ruth Room.
The Kawananakoa Room
The Kawananakoa Room is dedicated to Prince David and Princess Abigail Kawananakoa. Prince David was Prince Kuhio's brother and a Honolulu businessman.
Much of the furniture in this room belongs to direct descendants of Abigail Kawananakoa and is on loan to the Hulihe'e Palace Museum.
The fabulous wardrobe on display was commissioned by King Kalakaua. This fine furniture piece is an example of the high level of skill of Hawaiian furniture makers at the time.
The armoire is fashioned from native Hawaiian koa wood and trimmed with darker native kou wood. The top of the wardrobe is crowned with the King's crest.
This piece was entered into the Paris International Exhibition of 1889 in France as the Kingdom of Hawaii's entry. The armoire won a silver medal.
Hulihe'e Palace - Video of the Palace by the Daughters of Hawai'i
This video was created as a fundraiser to help pay for the repairs of the palace by the Daughters of Hawai'i. When the video was made they expected restoration to be finished by 2007. Since it was filmed the palace has sustained more damages from earthquakes related to the continually erupting volcanoes. The repairs are almost pau (finished) and expected to be completed sometime this year.
Palace Managed by the Daughters of Hawaii
The Territory of Hawaii purchased the palace in 1925. It was then turned over to the Daughters of Hawaii as caretakers in 1927. The summer home of the Hawaiian ali'i (royalty) is now preserved as a museum by the Daughters of Hawaii.
The Daughters of Hawaii were first formed in 1903 by descendants of Protestant missionary women, whose mission is "to perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawaii and of historic facts, and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language."
I have always found this ironic as the ancestors of the founding Daughters are the very ones who tried to abolish the Hawaiian language as a sinful, heathen language.
The missionaries actually believed that they would have better control over the Hawaiian people and their land if their entire lifestyle and culture was not only abolished but completely obliterated. Ethnic cleansing at its finest.
Fortunately today, the Daughters of Hawaii are a melting pot of woman who have descended from all ethnicity of the people of Hawai'i and can belong to the organization only if they are direct descendants.
Fortunately today, the Daughters of Hawaii are a melting pot of woman who have descended from all ethnicity of the people of Hawai'i and can belong to the organization only if they are direct descendants.
"In order to be a member of Daughters of Hawai`i, a woman must be directly descended from a person who lived in Hawai`i prior to 1880. Membership is presently about 1,400. The Society has been assisted since 1986 by a support group known as the Calabash Cousins. Membership to this group is open to anyone interested in supporting the Daughters' purposes. Currently, there are approximately 350 Calabash Cousin members."
The Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company sought to purchase the land under the palace to build an oceanfront hotel in Kailua-Kona, but thankfully the Daughters refused to give up the property.
Kailua-Kona Circa 1883
The Kona Inn
The old Kona Inn was built in 1928 by Charles W. Dickey, a Hawaii-born architect, who designed many of the state's buildings in Honolulu.
Some of his building designs include buildings at Kamehameha and Punahou Schools, the Waikiki Theater, the Halekulani Hotel, and the Naniloa Hotel in Hilo, in his uniquely Hawaiian style architecture.
His style emphasized broad double-hipped roofs and open, spacious plans that were intimately linked to the Hawaiian Islands. The Kona Inn was the first resort hotel to be built in Kailua-Kona.
It was built on the site of Papa 'Ula, red flats, which was once a heiau (sacred temple) used for human sacrifice of the enemy warriors killed in battle. The heiau was built by Chief Umi.
Early Days at the Kona Inn
In the old days, the Kona Inn was the go to place in Kona. The hotel was always booked solid and it had the best luau show in town. The hotel had tennis courts and a saltwater swimming pool that is fed directly from Kailua Bay.
Back in its heyday, before my time, when the steamships came to town, my aunties put on hula shows on the large, palm-shaded lawn area in back of the hotel, as you can see in the old 1952 photo above.
After the shows, they worked in the hotel serving the wealthy guest. The old Kona Inn was responsible for the beginning of tourism in Kailua-Kona, for the very wealthy.
Above is a vintage photo of the Kona Inn lobby in the early 60's. Auntie Sweetie is standing on the right side of the photo wearing her blue and white Hawaiian print uniform waiting to take a cocktail order from a guest.
During my day, in the late 1960s, it was a popular place for the jet-setters to hide-away. The cocktail lounge in the hotel was always jumping and sported a gorgeous Hawaiian koa wood bar and a baby grand piano.
I worked there as a cocktail waitress and bartender in the early 70's. It wasn't unusual to see Richard Boone and Lee Marvin hanging out in the lounge, back then. The Kona Inn Lounge and the old Kona Steak House were the happening places in those days and the favorite hangouts for the two actors.
This was when Richard Boone and Lee Marvin were partners in the charter fishing boat, the Blue Hawaii. Even then, the very wealthy and well-known celebrities would come to the Kona Inn to stay.
Today, it is home to the Kona Inn Restaurant and the Kona Inn Shopping Village, which is a sprawling shopping complex that features some very unique shops and art galleries.
Boat View of the the Old Kona Inn
The Kona Inn Today
This year, the Kona Inn will celebrate its 87th year as a historical landmark.
In front of the lawn of the old hotel, now the shopping village, is a sea wall that faces the ocean. You can see it in the photo above. If we weren't having a cocktail at Huggo's we would be sitting on the sea wall watching the whales breaching and the dolphins dancing in the sparkling aqua blue water of the ocean.
Some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world can be seen from this very spot. The lawn and sea wall are still open to the public as a fine place to picnic and whale watch. Sometimes the waves are large enough for the local surfers to paddle out and surf.
Hand Carved Humpback Whale Carved in Hawaii
It is nestled on a driftwood base. This sculpture would make a wonderful gift for any whale or ocean enthusiasts or for a nautical themed room décor. Each carving is a
Anyone who loves the ocean and has a coastal or nautical themed room décor will appreciate receiving this beautifully carved whale piece. Each carving is a hand-carved one-of-a-kind carving from Hawaii making for a very unique and exclusive gift.
Kona Inn Shopping Village
Big Island of Hawai'i's 1st Church
Moku'aikaua Church is the first Christian church to be built in Hawai'i. It is located right across the street from the Hulihe'e Palace. When viewing the Palace from out at sea, you can see the steeple of the church towering in the background.
After the death of Kamehameha the Great in 1819, and the end of the kapu system by King Kamehameha II (King Liholiho) a missionary ship named the Thaddeus, was anchored further up the Kona coast waiting for permission for its passengers, the First Company of American missionaries, to disembark and come ashore.
Among the passengers where the Christian ministers, Hiram Bingham and Asa Thurston, and their wives, who were anxious to get to shore and start converting the "heathens".
Upon hearing the news of the destruction of the heiaus (Hawaiian temples) by order of the new king, they immediately sailed down to Kailua-Kona from Kawaihae Harbor. They wanted to get permission from the new king as soon as possible to come ashore and begin constructing Christian churches and schools.
The concept of Christianity was not exactly new to the Hawaiians. They had already been indoctrinated to the Christian faith from the ships that been landing since the time of Capt. Cook's arrival.
To make a long story short.....
In 1820, the missionaries received permission from King Liholiho to build their church and missionary school on today's present site. They received a year probation from the new king (a probation that lasted indefinitely).
Hiram Bingham was assigned to Honolulu and Asa Thurston stayed in Kona and constructed thatched buildings for their first places of conversion on the site of what is now the Moku'aikaua Church.
The construction of the present stone structure wasn't started on the site until 1835 and the building as it stands now was completed in 1837.
Alter Inside Moku'aikaua Church
The interior of the church is constructed of the gorgeous wood of the o'hia trees and the koa wood trees that are the hardwood trees endemic to Hawai'i.
The outside foundation and walls are made from the puka puka (porous lava rock) stones that were mortared together with a mixture of sand, kukui nut oil, and burnt, crushed coral gathered from the ocean by the local Hawaiian men.
The building as it stands today was constructed by the seamen off of the ships that had transported the missionaries to Hawai'i. The same seamen also constructed the Hulihe'e Palace across the street.
In the back of the church is a small museum that contains a collection of artifacts and paintings that portray the history of the Christian arrival. A scale model of the brig Thaddeus is the centerpiece of the museum exhibits.
The replicated model was crafted by the same seamen of the Pacific Fleet Command that constructed the church in 1934. The church did not receive the ship model as a gift until 1975. Visit the website of Moku'aikaua Church where you can get more information
Stain Glass Above Alter Inside Moku'aikaua Church
Center of Kailua-Kona Village
Leaving the Moku'aikaua Church we can now take a leisurely walk through the Village of Kailua-Kona walking towards the Kailua Pier and the King Kamehahameha 1 birthplace.
Ali'i Drive is the home of the World Champion Triathalon Race. The Kailua Pier is the starting point of the race with an ocean swim and it is also the last leg of the triathlon with a race across the finish line on foot However, for some it is not a race but rather a crawl across the finish line.
Walking Through Kailua-Kona on Alii Drive
The rest of the walk from the Kona Inn Shopping Plaza down Ali'i Drive, are a bright and colorful mixture of specialty shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars, until you get down to the Kona Pier next to the King Kamehameha Hotel.
Kona Farmer's Market
The Farmer's market gets bigger every year with new vendors joining. It is a fabulous place to pick up vegetables, fruits and sometimes fresh eggs to last for the week. Local craftsmen and artisans also sell their wares.
Next top is the Kailua-Kona Pier. We call it the Kailua Pier for short. This is a great place to fish from the seawall for small fish, go for a refreshing swim after a hard day at work or lounge on the beach with the keikis (children).
Whether it is a bucket of manini fish to bring home for dinner or fishing for the "Big One" giant marlin, Kona is the place to do it!
Kona is the Deep Sea Fishing Capital of the World
Deep Sea Fishing in Kona
Fishing is still very much a part of our lives, in Kona, but in a different way than it was in the past.
Kona is still home to World Records for the largest Pacific Blue Marlins, ahi (featured in this photo), ulua along with many other species of large fish that have been fished in the Kona waters.
Deep sea fishing, also known as sport fishing, has become an expensive hobby for wealthier fishing enthusiasts, especially in Kona.
Kona has become one of the sport fishing epicenters of the world. It is one of the reasons our oceans surrounding the islands, have been so over-fished.
I am just as guilty as the next person for this as I love deep sea fishing. For us locals, we eat what we kill. It helps to keep our freezers full and our families fed. However, it isn't always that way for the sports fishing trophy hunters.
We not only have the sports fishermen fishing for their trophy fish to stuff and ship home, we also have the high demand for fresh fish. The high demand is not only from the many restaurants catering to the tourists, but also to the ever growing population of people that come to visit and then forget to go back home.
Our ecosystem is having a difficult time supporting the influx of people that have decided to make Hawaii their home in the last 40 years and it continues to grow daily.
Kai Rizzuto of NYC reeled in this humongous 1,058-pound blue marlin off the Kona Coast on February 20, 2015. Kai is the grandson of local fishing columnist, Jim Rizzuto.
McGrew Rice, the captain of the 45-foot Monterey fishing boat where Rizzuto caught the fish, called it "the fish of a lifetime." The 14 foot long monster fish was 599 pounds shy of breaking the 1984 world's record still held by Gary Merriman featured below.
World Record Marlin Fished in Kona Waters
This Pacific Blue Marlin weighed in at 1,656 pounds and was caught aboard the "Black Bart" charter boat in 1984, skippered by the legendary Capt. Bart Miller and angled in by Gary Merriman.
This 17-foot long beast is the largest blue marlin ever brought into Kona and is the second largest Pacific blue ever caught by rod and reel. The fight to bring this huge fish on board lasted two hours and 20 minutes.
The biggest fish ever caught on rod and reel was a blue marlin caught just off O'ahu, weighing in at a hefty 1,805 pounds! Gail Choy-Kaleiki was fishing with her father, legendary Capt. Cornelius Choy on the COREENE-C when they hooked a 1,805-lb Pacific blue marlin.
It is the largest blue marlin ever caught on a rod and reel and is not an IGFA world record because they were assisted by other persons in landing the monster. The fish was caught off the island of O'ahu on June 6, 1970. The boat still charters today from Pearl Harbor on O'ahu.
What is really amazing is that these huge fish are half the size of what the Pacific blue will grow to. They can grow to over 3,000 pounds. You can see a photo of one of these 3,000 pounders that Capt. Bart Miller hooked up to by going to Big Marine Fish Photos.
A Guide to Kona's Past
The Ahu`ena Heiau is located by the Kailua-Kona Pier, between the Kamakahonu Beach and the King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel.
King Kamehameha the Great rebuilt this sacred heiau (temple) on a puka puka stone, (lava rock) paepae (platform) between 1812-1813. One of the Big Island's most historic sites is the Ahu`ena Heiau! We are very proud that it has been added to the register of National Historic Landmarks.
Inside the heiau, the image of Kalaemoku, a healing god known for his great healing powers, is the dominant carved image. Other images in the heiau were of ancestral gods with whom Kamehameha maintained close rapport for the benefit of his kingdom. The heiau was built to honor Lono, the God of peace and prosperity.
Members of Kamehameha's council frequently met with Kalaemoku at the Ahu'ena Heiau for ritual prayers. This was also the gathering place to school Prince Liholiho, Kamehameha's young heir, in the arts, sciences, theology, and the ways of wise government.
Hawaii and The Rise of Kamehameha
Kamakahonu Beach ~ Located Between the Kailua-Kona Pier & the King Kamehameha Hotel
King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona
The Best Luau Show in Kona!
The King "Kam" Hotel Sponsers Many Events in Kona
King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is the only property in Kailua-Kona located on a white sandy beach. Kamakahonu Beach (sometimes called "Baby Beach") has excellent snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddle board surfing that are just a few of the many activities guests and locals can enjoy.
The King Kamehameha Hotel has been the meeting place for many of the local Hawaiian events for the West Hawai'i community for years. They are the sponsor of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, the annual Kona Brewers Festival, the Ford Ironman World Championship Triathlon, and many other local events.
The reason that I mention this historical hotel is not only because of it's historical significants and it's sponsorship of these world famous events, the King Kam Hotel is also home to the best luau feast and show in Kona, known as the famous Island Breeze Lu'au.
Removing the Roasted Pig from the Imu
The kalua pig that is the main entrees eaten at the luau is put into the imu (cooking pit) in the morning to cook underground all day. When the guests first arrive at the luau in the afternoon, there are many local Hawaiian craft activities going on for the guest to participate in while waiting for the Royal Court to arrive. While waiting, they can also watch the pig being removed from the imu.
In the photograph above the pig was just brought out of the hot steaming imu. The ti leaf and banana stump leaves that the pig was wrapped in for cooking are being pulled away from the kalua pig before being taken inside to the kitchen to prepare for the luau. In the kitchen, the kalua pig is hand pulled from the bones and put into serving vessel.
The Royal Court Arriving to the Luau
When the Royal Court arrives at Kamakahonu Beach, they will be dressed in the attire of the Ali'i (royalty) in ancient Hawai'i. They arrive on board an outrigger canoe. The Royal Court is then announced by the trumpeting of the Court Conch Shell and the Royal Court Chanter.
The guests will then follow the procession from the activities area into the Royal Grounds, where the elaborate luau buffet awaits. When the feast begins the guest will then eat traditional luau food, that includes the Kalua Pua'a (the succulent pork that just came out of the imu), while watching the amazing Polynesian entertainment that has been arranged for the pleasure of the guest and the Royal Court.
Arrival of the Royal Court
Weekend Brunch at Honu's on the Beach Restaurant in the King Kam Hotel
The dining at the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel restaurants are also memorable and they use to have wonderful Sunday brunches. The hotel use to feature one of the most spectacular all you can eat, Sunday brunch buffets imaginable.
Now they have a daily lavish breakfast buffet spread and an evening weekend Prime Rib & Seafood Dinner Buffet.
The breakfast buffet serves anything and everything you can think of from customized waffles, pancakes, eggs any way you want them, crepes and omelets at the waffle station to tables laden with a bounty of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, breakfast meats, granola and cereals, freshly baked breads and pastries, dairy such as yogurt and cheese, rice and potatoes.
The Friday and Saturday nights Prime Rib & Seafood Dinner Buffet in the newly designed Honu's on the Beach Restaurant is an amazing assortment of fresh island salads, local dishes, and creative seafood entrees.
You will be amazed at all of the selections the buffet has to offer. The menu for the buffet does not do the buffet justice. I love the tempura bar included with the wonderful dinner buffet selections.
If there are only two places you have the time to try while visiting Kona, the luau and the buffet at the King Kam should not be missed!
The resort is an easy walk to the other historical sites that I have already mentioned, and to the restaurants, night life and shopping along Ali'i Drive in the historic Kailua-Kona Village.
King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel
No Make Hi-Ways By Me - Don't Build Your Highways By Me
This is a fun Pigeon English song about the progress in Hawaii. Pigeon English is da way us local guys like talk.
It would be nice if everyone got paid for their land, unfortunately, that hasn't always been the case. Often the US government just takes what they want under some mainland law created to steal Hawaii.
The Awful Truth.....
This influx of people that continue to arrive to live on these small islands are like those dreaded relatives who come to visit and never leave.
Instead of visiting for a week vacation as planned, they choose to stay and make annoying pests out of themselves.
They make our home their home without permission, literally. They use the natural resources that were not meant to stretch as far as they are being stretched today. They do NOT seem to understand that the Hawaiian Island chain are small amounts of land with small amounts of water and natural resources.
In fact, just yesterday, on only one online real estate agency, they had 20 million people looking to buy property in Kona. That was on just ONE (1) website.
Even though this is the "Big Island", there is no way Kona could possibly support the influx of that many people! There just isn't enough land space, water or food grown to go around for that many people. Water is the keyword here.
Many of the people that have already moved in have worn out their welcome. They have been inconsiderate and rude guests. They have over-fished our oceans, polluted our water and air; devastated the aina (land), and have disrespected our culture.
Many claim our home is better than the homes they left behind. Yet they seem to be determined to turn it into the mainland they are running away from. They have found it important to their lifestyles to build the likes of Walmart, KFC and McDonald's. Funny we never needed these places to shop or eat before they got here.
They love it here so much, that instead of adapting to our way of life, learning and appreciating our customs, our language, and experiencing the flavors of the local food, they are in obsessed with changing it into a mini-mainland with it's fast food restaurants, strip malls, and the ever polluting automobiles and cruise ships.
The traffic in Kona is horrendous now and over taxing for our 2 lane roads. When new highways get built to accommodate the traffic that continues to increase with the influx of population, it will rip away more of the natural beauty and resources that have attracted these people to begin with.
Like flies to honey, with no thought of their effect on the environment or the delicate eco-structure, they come and stay.
Unfortunately, these uninvited guest can't seem to remember how to get back on that plane that brought them here and return back home. They have laid claim to our homes and land as if they have an inherent right to it.
Now, Kona is a bustling tourist spot that is overcrowded with bumper to bumper traffic that is backed up for hours in the mornings and afternoons. The rents for a studio apartment have risen to $1800 - $3000 a month (at the minimum, some are higher) which is impossible for many of the local Hawaiian people to pay.
Tourists are fine. They come. They have a good time. They go home. It's the rest of the intruders that stay, injecting their carbon footprints into our atmosphere.
I am really not trying to be mean, it is just simple fact that the islands can not keep its lifestyle and resources if the population continues to increase at the current rate.
Unfortunately, the people that want to move here do not care one iota about these issues. They are in denial that they are part of the ever increasing problem.
Visit Kona with the Right Tour Guide
For all of you wonderful people who would like to visit Hawaii, this is the tour guide book that I highly recommend.
I read Andrews book to see if it is something I would recommend to my friends visiting from the mainland and yes it is. This is the tour guide I will be recommending to my friends from now on.
It is written by a kamaaina (local resident) and is much more accurate than anything else I have seen on the market. It covers the usual tourist haunts that are a 'must see' for anyone visiting Hawai'i for the 1st time but also reveals detailed, personal advice about off the beaten path places of interest.
Keep in mind that it is more suited to the adventurous spirit than to the lounge lizard who wants to relax by the pool all day.
There are lots of warnings throughout the book for visitors to be aware of changes which may occur, to use good judgement, to be respectful of the land and the natural resources, and to ALWAYS leave the island in better shape than you found it. I do hope that people reading this book will heed these warnings and follow his advice more than they have in the past.
I think the maps are pretty accurate and I got a bit of a chuckle as sometimes the directions are described in the way a local would give directions, i.e. next to the yellow house turn right, then turn left by the banana tree. LOL.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he gives fair and astute recommendations, pretty much the same that I would do for my own friends. He does include his personal take along with the pros and cons of each place to visit.
I would use this guide when planning my vacation to Hawai'i. It will be a huge help in making sure all of the things I want to do will be available when I arrive. Nothing is worse than having your heart set on seeing or doing something only to find out it is not available when you arrive.
Overall, I am very pleased with the research which was done by the author and the emphasis that is put upon respecting the Hawai'ian culture and the Hawai'ian land.
How fo Speak Pidgin
When we were keiki (children) in Hawaii before we became a state, we were told not to speak the Hawaiian language because it was bad. Then after we became a state we were told not to speak pigeon.
None of us cared. We spoke pigeon anyway. It was a short-cut language that made sense to us. We could "talk story" with anyone of any kine nationality in Hawaii and understand each other.
Maybe I wouldn't understand a word from another language and I'd ask and then pretty soon I would be using that other language word in my pigeon vocabulary.
Before you know it, everybody on the whole island is using and understanding the foreign word too.
I went to a prep parochial school in Honolulu (Baptist Academy) where we were not allowed to use pigeon. Perfect English only. We spoke it anyway when away from the teachers. That's how.
Pidgin The Voice Of Hawaii
This is NOT Being Hateful ~ This is Fact
I recently received a hateful comment that I chose to delete because of the venomous nature. The writer basically stated I should not speak the truth. I should shut my mouth and not speak of the realities on the Big Island.
She was offended by the word "haole" which told me right away that she is one of the mainland haole intruders and not a "local girl", as she does not know the translation of the word.
Unfortunately, she is ill-informed and only sees the Hawaiian word as something derogatory, which is NOT the case. (I myself am Hapa-haole. LOL!)
She did not have the courage to leave an email address or a link where she could be reached for further discussion or enlightenment, yet was adamant for me to "Stop the Hate". This poor child must be too young to know that I do not hate. I pity the blindness of individuals such as herself.
I am only stating the issues as I have seen them develop over the last 60 years. I have also learned from my own Mother who will be 95 this December 2015. Nothing that I write is out of hate. It is only to inform. I love my home with the depth of my being and am insulted with the ignorance of people such as this writer.