Anyone who visits the Big Island in Hawaii knows there are opportunities to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and parasail. And the landscape lends itself to some incredible hikes, lava walks, and even mountain climbing. But there’s a side of Hawaii that not everyone takes the time to explore: its rich history.
Every corner of Hawaii has a story to tell. Kona in particular has several historic sites, a monthly stroll through wonderful Kailua Village, and a pier inviting you to take in the pristine turquoise waters of the Kailua Bay.
“When ancient kings wanted a vacation, they gravitated to Kailua on Hawaii Island. At first a fishing village, it evolved into a sovereign retreat and 19th-century political and social hub. Today’s visitors still have a royally good time in this historic seaside town on the Kona Coast.”
Monthly Town Party: Kokua Kailua
One Sunday every month the main street in Kailua Ali’i Drive is shut down to vehicle traffic. Vendors set up their booths and pedestrians can stroll at their leisure, browsing and shopping the local handmade jewelry, copper creations, and wooden decorations. Live musicians serenade passersby all throughout the day. Food vendors are eager to give you a sample of their specialties, such as Scandinavian shaved ice (with ice cream in the center) and falafels (fried chickpea balls in a pita). The next Kokua Kailua is scheduled for Sunday, September 17.
“Kailua’s story comes alive through its longtime landmarks.” Or so the local historians would have us believe. But when you see a place like Mokuaikaua Church, and then hear the story of the first missionaries who came from Boston in 1820, the historic building no longer just looks like an old church. Visitors to the church can walk inside the structure that was originally erected in 1836 and see a model of the brig Thaddeus that brought the party of 14 missionaries to Hawaii. The stone archway was built in 1910 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of their arrival.
Or cross the street and venture inside Hulihe‘e Palace. General admission is $10, but they offer discounts for military, seniors, and children. Originally built out of lava rock by John Adams Kuakini in 1838, it was a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty. Today the Palace serves as a museum with “beautiful koa wood furniture, ornaments, portraits, tapa, feather work, Hawaiian quilts and artifacts from Hawaii’s royal past.”
A beach vacation on Kona reef must include fun in the sun: exploring coral reefs, basking in the sun’s rays, and discovering underwater caves. The Kailua Pier is just the place for snorkeling, boat rentals, kayaking, and swimming with the fish.
Kailua, Hawaii: it’s one of those vacation spots that offers it all. You can shop locally made products, dig into history, and dive into ocean waters teeming with life.
Where to Stay
Kona Reef is a comfortable four-story resort located on the lush western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. The resort features a swimming pool, hot tub, and barbecue grills, and each unit has either a patio or balcony where from most you can enjoy views of a verdant garden or the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. Kona Reef is just a 10-minute walk from the historic fishing village of Kailua Kona, a quaint town home to many wonderful restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries.