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

See Lava by Boat!

Epic lava viewing from your front row seat on the LAVAONE, the only US Coast Guard inspected lava boat. Feel the HEAT as lava sizzles into the sea! Special rates for juniors 4-12 years old. No children under 4.

Tour time: 2 hours.

$180 and up BOOK NOW

Airport Lei Greeting

Arrange a traditional lei greeting for your arrival at the airport on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island of Hawaii! Your friendly island greeter will welcome you with a warm “aloha” and present you with a beautiful fresh flower lei — a symbol of aloha, welcome and love in Hawaii. You’ll feel like you have a friend in the islands as you are offered assistance to baggage claim or directions to your connecting inter-island flight.


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.


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