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Resting on the western shores of the Island of Hawaii at the foot of the sleeping Hualalai volcano is Kailua-Kona—a perfect holiday destination for anyone seeking a mixture of relaxation and adventure. Head underwater for snorkelling. Paddle into a perfect wave. Get cultured at a luau. Whatever the reason for your visit, a mai tai in the sand will make everything that much better.
Since this is the island’s centre of tourism, finding accommodation in Kona isn’t difficult. Everything from 4-star beachfront resorts to bed and breakfast bungalows exist on this stretch of coastline. Book yourself the perfect hotel in Kona with Wotif, and forget all about your troubles.
You’re in Hawaii, so naturally the first thought that comes to mind is “Let’s beach it”. Sure, you could lay by the pool all day at Kona accommodation, but you came to paradise to soak up the sun in the sand. So get to it!
Enough with the sand already. Would you like to wander the grounds of an ancient Hawaiian society? Spend your day at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park and explore the oceanfront Honokohau Settlement. The amount of crisscrossing trails ensures you’ll be able to enjoy every inch of this moss-covered rock in the middle of the Pacific. If you’d like to get out in “da country”, head an hour north to the Waipio Valley—the stand-in for the coveted “dryland” from the ending of Waterworld.
Make your way back to the Kona Coast to Kahaluu Bay for a surfing lesson at the local surf school. If you’d like to see a show, book a stay at accommodation near Kahalu’u Beach, which will put you in close proximity to the Haleo Luau. Chow down on a roasted pig and have your eyebrows singed by the fire dancers. You’ll walk away looking like you lost a bet.
Flights to Kona will land you at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA), 11km north of the town’s main district. The public buses of the Hele-On bus system give you access to the town and a majority of the island. Taxis are a great option if you don’t feel like being packed in a bus like sardines.
Maybe you want control of your own wheels—if that’s the case, arrange car hire and hit the coastal roads like a bat out of…um, heck.
If you love to party, that’s good, because the Hawaiians wear their party hats 24 hours a day.
Translation: You can’t go to Hawaii without attending a luau. You just can’t. Put on a Hawaiian shirt, a comfortable pair of shorts and don some thongs while you witness one of the better shows of your life at the Island Breeze Luau. You’ll stuff yourself silly with some of the best food in Kona while fire breathers and hula dancers go nuts onstage. Their gyrating hips will mesmerise you like a professional hypnotist.
Are you ready to celebrate America? Check out the Kailua-Kona Independence Day Parade & Fireworks Extravaganza in early July. The Fourth of July, to be exact. Beer, food, a parade and explosions in the sky? We can’t think of a better way to celebrate America’s birthday. And doing it in paradise is just the icing on the cake.
Who’s ready for a mai tai? Yeah, you are, baby. In the middle of August there’s a thing called Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival and it may be the best thing you do all summer. Here’s the breakdown: Eat plate after plate of Hawaiian barbecue and lose count of how many mai tais you can consume.
Everyone knows that the Hawaiian Islands were formed by underwater volcanoes. Duh. But wait until you get a load of the lava-spitting mountains in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Kilauea and Mauna Loa are constantly erupting, producing a show of fire and lava that compares to nothing else on earth. Be careful of how close you get, or else your shoes will melt.
Some of the best places to stay in Kona are oceanfront, so you can check the surf from your bed. If it looks good, sign up for a surf lesson and take part in an ancient Hawaiian tradition. There’s nothing like gliding across the ocean’s surface while fish pick at the coral reef below. Throw up a shaka while you’re at it—all you have to do is close your fist and extend your thumb and pinky finger and boom, you’re hanging loose in no time.
Have you ever dreamed of visiting an organic Kona coffee farm and mill? Or maybe you just really, really love coffee. Either way, make your way over to Lyman Kona Coffee Farms and see where some of the tastiest beans in the islands are grown. The 90-minute tour will start with breakfast and of course a cuppa. Don’t forget to pick up a few bags to bring home for friends and family.
We don’t know why you might only have one day in Kona, but in case you do, you’ve got to check out Hulihe’e Palace. It’s the former holiday home of Hawaiian royalty, but now it’s a museum. Take a walk through it and pretend you’re an old Hawaiian king. King Kamehameha I, perhaps.
And we can’t tell you to see the palace without directing you to the ancient Honokohau Settlement and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park—say that three times fast. There are fish ponds, stone slides and even petroglyphs. You can do all that in a day, can’t you?
Almost time to go? Before you get back on that airplane, you’ve got to have a few cold ones. Head to Kona Brewing Company and get taste a flight of Fire Rock Pale Ale, Big Wave Golden Wave and Longboard Island Lager. Now you’re ready for the flight.
All right, kids. We’ve done our best to get you to the “Aloha State”, but now it’s up to you to actually go. Book Kona holidays with Wotif and get “lei’d” immediately after stepping off the plane.
Hotels in Kailua-Kona start at NZ$223 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.