Kailua (Kona) Travel Guide

The city of Kailua Kona is located on Hawaii’s Big Island on the renowned Kona coast, 12 miles northeast of Honolulu. Kailua means ‘two currents’ or ‘two seas’ and the city is so named because of the two currents running through Kailua Bay and the two lagoons in the region. This resort town offers a rich history, thriving tourist industry and most spectacular scenery and beaches, above all Kailua Beach, which ranks among the top beaches worldwide.

One of Kailua’s major historic attractions is Hulihee Palace and Museum, which was built in 1838 and used to be the summer retreat of the island’s kings. Initially constructed for affluent locals, Kona Inn Historical Landmark is another interesting draw. There are also several ancient temple ruins in the area such as Ulupo Heiau state monument.

The center of Kailua features Kona’s spectacular white-sand beach and the main promenade, Alii Drive. This lively area boasts numerous boutiques, stores and galleries as well as a great variety of restaurants, cafés, bars and street-side entertainment. Leisure activities are abounding in Kona: visitors can enjoy surfing, wind-surfing, parasailing, fishing and whale-watching. Each October, the town hosts the legendary Kona Coffee Festival.


Kailua Beach: due to its steady trade winds, this is one of the globe’s most excellent windsurfing and kite-boarding destinations.

Hulihee Palace: built in 1838, the palace was once a royal summer residence and is now home to an interesting museum full of historical artifacts from Hawaii’s past.

Kona Inn: this historical landmark was built in 1928 for wealthy Kona residents and is responsible for the beginning of Hawaii’s commercial tourism. Today, it houses the Kona Inn Shopping Village and Restaurant.

Ulopo Heiau state monument: situated 15 miles from Waikiki, very little has remained of a temple that was the spiritual core of the windward side.

Alii Drive: Kona’s main through street along the oceanfront features a mix of fine dining places, sidewalk cafés, souvenir stands and art galleries.

Kona Coffee Festival: this picturesque event takes place after the coffee harvest and includes parades, a scholarship pageant, coffee-tasting, a coffee-picking contest and more.