Referred to as simply Kona by locals, Kailua-Kona, the west-side urban paradise is the heart of the Kona district with its white sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. In addition to surfing, fishing, swimming, and snorkeling are easily accessible in the bay town. Visitors can also check out the many shops, farmer's markets, and eclectic seafood restaurants.
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With 11,975 local residents, Kailua-Kona is the center of the state’s tourist industry and commerce in West Hawai’i. The Kona International Airport is located just a few miles south of the city.
Known as the sunny doors’ capital of the Big Island. This historic seaside town draws an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 visitors per month. Since 1978, the city has annually hosted the Iron-Man Triathlon World Championships. The triathlon starts with a 2.4-mile swim that ends at the town’s pier. Then continues with a 112-mile bike ride that heads through scorching hot lava fields and finishes with a 26.22-mile run.
Kailua-Kona's weather is almost always perfect with sunny, warm temperatures on the “Kona Side.” To reach the cooler parts of town, head to Holualoa or drive down the Ali’I coastal highway.
Historical tours of the town consist of a visit to the Hulihee Palace, the former royal vacation home which dates back to 1838, or the Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s oldest Christian church, also built in the 1800s. Tourists can see reconstructed thatched houses at the Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark on Kailua Bay.
Other attractions at Kailua-Kona include a tour through one of the world-famous Kona Coffee plants. There are many tours to choose from, with over 650 coffee farms near the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcano slopes. These coffee tours generally begin by taking guests around the plantation, where they are taught the bean growing, drying, and roasting process. Many walking tours and tastings are free and last an average of 30 minutes. Some tours must be scheduled in advance, so check with the local visitor center for details.