The town of Kona, known as Kailua, is the largest town on the island of Hawaii in the state of the same name. Although just over 11,000 people live here, it’s a hive of activity, especially as many visitors from all over the world come for the sand, sea and sun, not to mention the views of the rest of the island in the background.
Despite its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Kona is known for being a hotspot for coffee growing. It’s also a deeply spiritual place, with many churches and other places of worship dotted around the main towns and villages. It’s also a good place for a round of golf and a bit of mountain climbing if the mood takes you.
As some of the roads are on a slope, it might be useful; to drive something powerful, especially if going to the beach or up one of the volcanoes on the island away from town.
Mauna Loa, the volcano which dominates the landscape of Hawaii Island, is a relatively short trek away from Kona. One of the largest of its kind in the world, it’s pretty active, although standing from afar, it looks just as impressive.
Kona Coffee Living History Farm is the best place to visit to learn about the plant and its importance to the way of life in the town. This historic coffee farm, which was first established in 1900, has a museum and allows you to see the coffee and macadamia nut plants up close.
One of the most important historical sites nearby is Hulihe’e Palace, the former residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi’olani. Today, it operates as a museum where visitors can marvel at the splendour of the rooms and furniture as well as several artefacts from years gone by.
No visit to Kona should be complete without a surfing lesson. On the beach near the town, it’s possible to get a few lessons, although you should make sure you have the correct surfing gear, which can be bought locally.
Some of the roads away from the major routes are a little rough in places, especially going uphill. Avoid if you don’t need to use them.
Many of the road numbers in Kona are a little confusing. They usually have two parts – an area code followed by another number detailing the distance from a certain starting point.
In some parts of town, there is free parking. This mainly exists in the centre, but during summer, it can be hard to find a space.
Kona International Airport is the sole airport serving the island of Hawaii, lying six miles north of the town. It has one terminal which serves both domestic and international flights. Major destinations include Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu.
The airport is connected to the road network by Keahole Airport Road. Then, on Queen Kaahumanu Highway, you drive south towards Kona town centre.