Kona on Big Island: Much More Than Great Coffee

By Karen Rose
Photo:  Mr. Tentacle.

Photo: Mr. Tentacle.

First time visitors to the Big Island often notice that island regions are identified by districts, rather than by north shore, south shore, east shore, and west shore. Because the Big Island is, well, big – its areas are distinguished by their given districts.

A Rural Area with Modern Amenities

Photo:  Rosa Say.

Photo: Rosa Say.

The sunny Kona Districts expand for approximately 60 miles along the west shore from Kona International Airport to south of Kealakekua Bay. This historical region boasts everything from important landmarks to famous coffee farms. Despite its modern amenities, Kona is a rural area with lots of heart, balmy weather, and calm seas.

Kona means ‘Leeward’ side. You may have heard of the terms leeward and windward to describe different sides of islands. Leeward is the side of the island that faces away from the incoming winds. On the Big Island, Kona is separated into two districts, north and south.

Home of World Famous Kona Coffee

Photo:  Christopher Michel.

Photo: Christopher Michel.

South Kona is located on the Big Island’s southwest shore with climate that is ideal for growing coffee and farms that produce the world famous Kona Coffee.

Noteworthy About South Kona

Photo:  Susan Smith.

Photo: Susan Smith.

South Kona is also home to popular historical sites such as Puʻuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Kealakekua Bay, and Captain Cook Monument where Captain James Cook first landed on the island in 1778, and also where he would meet his untimely death.

Because the mountain of Mauna Loa protects South Kona from the winds, the waters are calm and clear. Kealakekua Bay is an underwater sanctuary and perfect for snorkeling and spotting dolphins and Hawaiian green sea turtles, honu.

Noteworthy About the North Kona

Kailua-Kona.  Photo:  John M..

Kailua-Kona. Photo: John M..

North Kona is located on the Big Island’s west shore and is home to the popular and historical Kailua-Kona Town, a fun, bustling village in the heart of the district and home to wonderful restaurants, shops, and a historical walking tour of the village where you can experience the splendor of Huliheʻe Palace, Ahuena Heiau, and Mokuaikaua Church.

Photo:  Rosa Say.

Photo: Rosa Say.

North Kona is also home to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, and Kekaha Kai State Park. The majority of resorts, condos and hotels are located in North Kona, as well as South Kohala Districts, and is where most visitors to the Big Island stay while visiting. This is also home to the world-famous International Billfish Tournament in August and Ironman World Championship Triathlon in October.

The Kona coastline is diverse and beautiful. The opportunities for adventure and fun are as big as the island itself!

Things to Do in and Around Kona

Vanilla Farm Tour

As seen on Food Network, Travel Channel and Discovery Channel! Come and see why vanilla is the 2nd most expensive spice in the world. Farm tour includes beverage, dessert and tour. $25 per person


Morning Whale Watch with Hawaii Nautical

Hawaii Nautical offers a Whales Guaranteed experience in Kona on their 1.5 hour eco-friendly whale watching excursion. Catch these beautiful mammals at their best. Dolphins are also likely to be seen. Available December through April. $79 adults. $39.50 children.


Ultimate Hawaii Tour with Pearl Harbor Experience

Escape to Hawaii! This 12-day trip of a lifetime allows you to tour historic Pearl Harbor and stroll along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu; view daily rainbows and some of the most breathtaking natural surroundings in the world on Kauai; venture to Maui and take in thousands of stunning waterfalls; and the Big Island where you will visit Hilo, the Black Sand Beaches, and Kona.

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