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Walking Tours on the Big Island

Historic Kailua Village

Downtown Kailua-Kona is home to some of the most important sites in Hawaiʻi’s history. This quaint, historic downtown village running along the shores of Ali‘i Drive is home to such historical landmarks as Mokuaikaua Church, Kamakahonu Bay, Kailua Pier and Huliheʻe Palace. A relaxing, seaside village, Kailua-Kona offers a plethora of opportunities to visit historically significant sites and take in the wonder of Hawaiʻi Island’s rich and unique past. One of the town’s important sites is Ahu‘ena Heiau Temple at Kamakahonu Bay. Built in the early 1800’s, this iconic structure once served as the religious temple serving King Kamehameha the Great when he returned to the Big Island in 1812. Strolling south down Aliʻi Drive leads to Mokauikaua Church, the oldest Christian church in the state of Hawaiʻi. The church was constructed out of lava rock and sandstone in 1837. There’s no metal in the church’s construction, as there is no metal found naturally on the island. Across the street is Huliheʻe Palace, one of only three royal palaces in the state. It was built in 1938 by then Governor Kuakini and remodeled by King Kalākaua. Visitors can peruse the palace and enjoy the artwork and antique koa wood furniture.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Known as the “Garden in a Valley on the Ocean,” The Hawaiʻi Tropical Botanical Garden is located off Highway 19 on the tropically beautiful Hāmākua Coast, a few miles north of Hilo. A museum of living plants, the garden attracts nature lovers, photographers and scientists world-wide with their over 2,000 species of tropical plants. This 40-acre garden valley of beauty holds nature trails winding through a rainforest filled with waterfalls, streams and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

Ala Kahakai Trail

History buffs will enjoy a walking stroll along Ala Kahakai trail as it winds its way through remains of ancient fishponds, dwellings and other archaeological sites. The walking trail once connected hundreds of ancient island communities dating back over 1,500 years when the first Polynesian settlers inhabited Hawaiʻi Island. A combination of several trails, Ala Kahakai connects to the shoreline in multiple locations. The best starting point is a section of the trail that begins at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. Explore the abundance of archaeological features and cross beds of lava to some of the most spectacular beaches on the island. Some sections of the trail become more challenging near Kukiʻo Beach and Four Seasons Resort Hualālai. Don’t forget to wear closed-toed shoes and bring plenty of drinking water. It gets hot out there on the black lava!

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.

Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

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