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North Kona

Hulihee Palace.

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.

Konas Glassbottom Boat.

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.

Kailua-Kona seawall.

Couple in surf.

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