Kailua-Kona

Say a big aloha to Hawaii’s Big Island in a town that not only ticks all the boxes for a tropical getaway, but also harbors an intriguing history of its own.

Meet Kailua-Kona. Mind you, you probably won’t catch many people calling the town by its full name beyond Kona Airport. The west coast town is better known as Kailua or Kona Town, or if you start to get really comfortable, you can even get away with just “Town.” After all, you’re not likely to get this place mixed up with anywhere else. Kailua is the Kona Coast’s mover and shaker, an intrepid place that has been creating, building, and growing for close to 1,500 years.

Once you’ve peeled off your welcome lei and settled in, Kailua comes knocking. Get a taste of Kailua’s signature blend of big-town ambitions and island-style chill. The town has some experience in both these fields, having hosted vacationing Hawaiian royalty in the 19th century. Get a taste for the regal life with a visit to Hulihee Palace, which dates back to 1838. For an even closer brush with royalty, book a night at the reconstructed thatched-roof hotel that marks the site of Kamakahonu, the former home of King Kamehameha I. Mokuaikaua Church is another relic from this time, and is the oldest Christian church in Hawaii.

Peer even further into Kailua’s past at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. The undulating wrinkles of black lava form a tapestry that tells Hawaii’s ancient story. Stick around awhile, and stay quiet: this landscape comes alive with wetland birds and lumbering sea turtles. Take the plunge from Kamakahonu Beach and check out the iridescent corals that shimmer beyond the shores.

Being the Big Island’s western extremity, you can bet the sunsets in Kailua are beyond beautiful. Roll out the beach blanket or grab a table at a beach bar and watch the day turn to dusk. There’s more to Kailua-Kona than meets the eye, that’s for sure.

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