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Guide To West Hawaii

Updated on June 1, 2015
Hapuna Beach, Hawaii
Hapuna Beach, Hawaii

The Kohala Coast

Descending into Kona by airplane visitors can see the coast's most striking features - the entire airport sits on top of an ancient lava flow, and the town of Kailua - Kona as well as the many resorts seem to be carved into these huge flows that originate from Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

The "Kona Side" stretches from Kohala in the north to South Point, the most southern point in the United States. Only 4 % of the islands' rainfall reaches the west side. The two major mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa strongly influence the climate by blocking the clouds, providing for almost constant sunny weather. Developers saw the potential and built their hotel resorts along the Kona coast. Beautiful landscaping and perfect maintenance are the characteristics for almost every major resort along the coast, making them great places to stay..

The Kohala coast has the nickname Kamehameha coast, because of its many historical sites. Visit the birthplace of King Kamehameha in North Kohala, see where Captain Cook once landed, or stop by Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park north of Hookena. The park was the most important place of refuge of the island, and today is one of the most impressive cultural sites.

The area of Kailua-Kona has a vacation-town atmosphere. The oceanfront shopping and dining places are neat and cozy. Oceanfront hotels like the Kona Surf, Kona Reef or the Kona Seaside offer great places to stay.On the slopes behind the town you can find many the great Kiwi Gardens B&B, Merrymans and other B&B's, coffee farms and a great "upcountry" feeling with unbelievable views from any stop along the road.

Kailua - Kona

Kailua-Kona and its vicinity is well worth a visit. The small town counts only 10,000 residents, who are mostly working in the tourist industry or on the nearby coffee plantations.Kona is rich in history since King Kamehameha returned after his conquest of all of Hawaii in 1812, and decided to rule his kingdom from Kailua-Kona. He also retired here, enjoying the great fishing along the coast.

His house was a simple grass hut at the north end of the town, which is now the site of the King Kamehameha Hotel, the only place with a sandy swimming beach in Kona and home of the Royal Luau. The small narrow beach in front of the hotel used to be the Royal canoe launching point. The Ahuena Heiau is there in the shallow water. It is a temple, which should honor the fertility god Lono, and it was there where the king met with his closest priests and consultants.

In recent years Kona gained international popularity by hosting the Ironman Triathlon World Championship. This tough competition is held every October, and includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.The town literally explodes with athletes coming from all over the world to compete in this prestigious event, which is broadcast worldwide.Hotels are booked months in advance and don't even think about getting a rent-a-car.Small restaurants line the main street, along with shops and some turn-of-the-century buildings.

The town has managed to maintain its small town atmosphere, but provides plenty of hotels space such as the Kona Surf, the Royal Kona and the budget Kona Bay and Kona Seaside hotel. A short drive away you find some of the nicest B&B's with incredible views of the coastline.

South Kohala

The geological oldest part of the island is Kohala, which is divided into the peninsula of North Kohala and South Kohala. South Kohala is now famous for its beautiful beaches and luxury resorts, but has a rich history which can still be seen in the many burial sites and petroglyphs. The resort area stretches from Upolu Point to Kona. Upolu Point is the closest point to Maui.

In the 1960s, Laurence Rockefeller discovered the beauty of the coast and began leasing lava fields.The land, which was deemed useless before, was used to built a first class resort outside of Oahu, and immediately. attracted the upscale visitor.

It did not take very long until other resorts were opened at Waikoloa and Mauna Lani. The Mauna Kea Resort is now rivaled by the Hilton Waikoloa Mega - Resort, a large- scale development featuring its own tram system from the lobby to the tennis courts, dolphins in their private lagoons, and an intricate pool-system. 750,000 gallons of water are needed to fill their pools, and 18 million gallons of seawater are pumped through the channels daily.

The Orchid at Mauna Lani , the Shores at Waikoloa and other hotels followed, making the Kohala Coast the area with the most hotel rooms on the island and a favorite place to stay for many visitors from all over the globe. The newest resort, the Hualalai Resort, sets new standards in style and simple luxury.

A few hundred yards north of the Mauna Kea Hotel is the most beautiful white sand beach of the Big Island, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Park. The beach is not only excellent for swimming but also for surfing.On the slopes behind the hotel you can find some of the largest coffee plantations.


The Kona Coast offers some of the best swimming and snorkeling on the Big Island, and by far the most sun to get that tan that proves you were really here. All beaches are public, so enjoy...

Kamakahonu Beach

This small beach is located in downtown Kailua-Kona near Kailua Pier and the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel. It is the only beach in Kona.

Honokohau Beach

Popular beach with fishermen, surfers and snorkelers. Located along the Rt. 19, 3 miles north of Kona. The shallow water makes swimming safe, and beach is known for nude sun bathing. This practice is changing, since the authorities are trying to ban nudity on the beach.

North Kona Beaches

The North Kona Beaches are a string of beaches starting 2 miles north of Kona airport with the famous surfing beach Pine Trees. These beaches are not very exciting swimming beaches but nice to walk along and watch surfers. If you go north on 19 you will pass several dirt road turn offs, which lead you to the coast. Before you reach the luxury resorts, you can stop at Kona Beach State Recreation Area, Mahailua Bay, Makalawena Beach, Kua Bay, Kiholo Bay and Luahinewai Pond.

Anaehoomalu Bay

Follow the markers off the Waikoloa Resorts road, and get to a wonderful white beach oasis, in the middle of black, naked lava flows. The area is also rich in old archeological sites.

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Hapuna Beach is the most popular white sand beach on the island. Half a mile long, it offers great swimming and surfing, although the sea can get rough at times. Very good facilities.

Kaunaoa Beach or Mauna Kea Beach

Located close to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, the beach offers is long and white. Its sandy bottom provides excellent and safe swimming conditions. The bay is protected by a fringing reef.


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