Day Trip to Kailua-Kona

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Once a sleepy fishing village, and before that the home of Hawaiian royalty, Kailua-Kona (locals simply call it ‘Kona’, which in Hawaiian means leeward or calm) . This area was the ancient home of Hawaiian Royalty and the first landing place of Christian missionaries (chapter three in James Michener’s novel “Hawaii”). We have put together a day trip that highlights the fun and cultural sites of Kailua Village and includes a visit to its weekly farmers market.

Stops Along the Way *

Island Lava Java: Start the day here with an oceanview breakfast. Although it is situated on busy Alii Drive, in our opinion, there isn’t a better ocean view breakfast or coffee and scone stop on the Kona Coast

Mokuaikaua Church: Constructed of lava and coral blocks, the first and oldest Christian church in Hawaii, was completed in 1837.  Stop by for a self-guided tour of the interior before visiting nearby Scandanavian Shave Ice for a cooling refreshment.

King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel: Go inside the hotel to get a quick overview of Hawaiian history in air-conditioned comfort. Museum-quality exhibits, which start in the lobby, will quickly bring you up to speed with a thousand years of Hawaiian history and culture. While you are there, step out back and visit the Ahu`ena Heiau, the restored Kona residence of King Kamehameha the Great.

The Fish Hopper Restaurant: Stop for lunch at  (you passed it on the way to the hotel). Wait for an oceanview table, then watch the tourists getting splashed by waves that crest the seawall across from the restaurant.

Hulihe`e Palace: Stop by to see how Hawaiian Royalty lived. Then wander the shops at the Kona Inn Shopping Village. Stop at the Cuz’n ice cream shop for a cool refresher.

Kona Farmers and Crafts Market:  The market sets up every Wednesday through Sunday in a parking lot near big downtown Kona village. Here you will find everything from fresh fruits and flowers to tacky tourist trinkets to take to friends.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

Whether it is for a snack or dinner, the oceanside deck at Bubba Gump’s will soothe frayed nerves and give rest to your tired feet. We like the frozen lemonade or (if the machine has been repaired) their slushy Mai Tai, and the Shrimper’s Net Catch (a bucket of peel-and-eat shrimp).

* You will find full restrooms at most of these stops.

Market Day in Kona - Wed. - Sun. (Printable itinerary of this trip)

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Getting to the Start Point

This day trip starts at Kailua Kona. Here are directions for getting to the start point:

From Kailua-Kona: You are already at the starting point for this day trip..

From Waikoloa Resorts: Take the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway (Queen ‘K’ highway, as locals call it) south to Kailua Kona. Turn right at the intersection of the Queen K Hwy and Palani Road, then turn left two stop lights later onto the Kuakini Highway. Travel south on the Kuakini Highway to the parking lot of the Ali`i Sunset Plaza, 1/4 mile past the intersection with Hualalai Road.

From Waimea: There are two routes from Waimea to Kailua-Kona - the high road and the low road. The low road is the safest and fastest. Depart Waimea on upper road (called the Hawaiian Belt Road or the Mamalahoa Highway). After about 7 miles turn right on Waikoloa Road and follow it to the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway. Turn left and continue on the Queen K Hwy  until you reach Kailua-Kona. Then follow the directins above.

From Hilo: It is too far to get there and back in a day.Instead, choose the Volcanoes National Park, Plantation towns and secluded valleys, the Hilo town, or the Kamuela and Cowboy country day trips.

Our Recommendations

Click below to download

itineraries for these day trips

on the Big Island

  1. Place of Refuge and Kealekekua Bay

  2. Kohala Coast Resorts and Attractions

  3. Volcanoes National Park

  4. North Coast and King Kamehameha Country

  5. Plantation Towns and Secluded Valleys

  6. Kailua-Kona

  7. Hilo and Hamakua