Located in the busiest and most widely known part of
the Big Island is the district of North Kona and the
seaside village of Kailua. Nestled in this busyness
are a few significant historical and cultural landmarks.
Beside the Kailua pier is `Ahu`ena Heiau built in 1817.
This ancient temple which was built on a rock platform
was dedicated to patron spirits of learning, the arts,
and healing. King Kamehameha also made his home here
in a thatched hut where he could maintain control over
boats entering and leaving the bay. Kamehameha also
monitored the farming pursuits of his village from Ahu`ena.
Also on Alii Drive is Mokuaikaua Church. Built in the
1820's Mokuaikaua was the first Christian church to
be built by western missionaries. Across the street
is Hulihee Palace, a nineteenth century vacation home
to some of Hawaii's monarchy. Hulihee was built in 1838
and today serves as a museum open daily to the public.
Occasionally, throughout the week, some of Hawaii's
youngsters can be seen in the courtyard under the shade
of giant banyan trees practicing hula under the direction
of a kumu hula (teacher of hula). Later in the nineteenth
century Kailua was a village that was used primarily
as a sea port for shipping cattle, coffee and sugar
off island. Most of the population in Kona lived in
the mountainside towns between Honaunau and Holualoa
along a stretch of road still called Mamalahoa Highway.
The town of Kailua, for the most part, was always a
sleepy kind of village. Up until the early 1970's the
population was no more than 700 people, today the population
of Kailua is around 40,000 and growing rapidly.
Looking beyond the hustle and bustle of Kailua there
are many wonderful opportunities for personal dining,
shopping and tour experiences around the town. This
district of North Kona also hosts some of the Big Islands
most beautiful white sand beaches. A short drive north
of Honokohau Harbor on Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway are
the beaches of Makalawena, and Mahai'ula. These beaches
require a short hike to access them. Easier to reach
and located on Alii Drive to the south are Kahalu'u
Beach Park and Magic Sand's. Both these popular beaches
provide ample parking and do not require a hike.
Around these historical sights are a whole host of
restaurants and shopping opportunities and hundreds
of visitor and local businesses keep the streets and
sidewalks around Kailua busy with activity throughout
the year. Cruise ships lay at anchor off the shores
of Kailua-Bay and many tour and activity companies provide
visitors with ample opportunity for hiking, sailing
cruises, snorkeling and scuba adventures.
Hula on the beach.
Giant crater on Hualalai.
Couple in surf.