This seaside city offers plenty of Hawaiian charm, and is within striking distance of lovely beaches, volcanic landscapes and a popular local market.
|A view of the coastline off Ali’i Drive, in Kailua-Kona.|
Travelers flying into Kona International Airport are greeted by a grim panorama: scorched earth and black, volcanic rock stretching from the sea to the mountains. Given all the apocalyptic footage issuing from Hawaii’s Big Island earlier this year, the scene seems to confirm the worst — except that much of this lava hardened hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. Between the Kilauea volcano blowing its top in spectacular fashion and an August hurricane, there’s no doubt Mother Nature has had Hawaii’s number of late.
But the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is once again open for business. And, on the opposite coast, the seaside city of Kailua-Kona has emerged from the year’s calamities relatively unfazed. Long a favorite of package tourists and budget travelers, Kailua-Kona may not have the lush landscapes of other Hawaiian hot spots. But, beneath a slightly dated exterior, it has plenty to offer. Hawaii’s trademark charms — beaches, wildlife, fresh cuisine, gorgeous sunsets and a volcano or two — are all within striking distance for those equipped with a rental car and a little research.
1. 3 p.m. Urban Snorkeling
2. 6 p.m. Sunset Dining
3. 8:30 p.m. Tiki-Tinged Night Life
|A plate of ahi poke and sides from Umeke’s, a longtime Kailua-Kona standby.|
4. 9 a.m. Breakfast Grind
5. 10 a.m. History Lesson
|Hulihe’e Palace once housed the island’s fading royalty in a fantasia of Victorian elegance.|
6. 12:30 p.m. Fish Bowl
7. 1:30 p.m. Liquid Aloha
8. 3 p.m. Coffee and Crafts
|A replica of the thatched-roof temple used by King Kamehameha I.|
9. 6 p.m. Mountain Harvest
|Early risers can rent a kayak at Ehu and Kai Adventures for a 20-minute paddle to the monument at the edge of Kealakekua Bay that marks the spot where the British explorer Captain James Cook was killed.|