Day Trip to Place of Refuge

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This day trip will take you from Kailua-Kona to Kealakekua Bay, the Place of Refuge National Historical Site, Saint Benedict’s Church (also known as the Painted Church), lunch at The Coffee Shack Restaurant, and a stop at Holualoa village before returning you to Kailua- Kona in time for dinner. The trip covers approximately 50 miles and an elevation change of 3,000 feet.

Stops Along the Way *

Kealakekua Bay: Once home to a village with an estimated 10,000 residents, in January,1779, the bay was the site of the first recorded contact between Europeans and Native Hawaiians. Today the bay is a popular tour destination for kayakers and snorkelers. To learn more, click here to download the official Kealakekua Bay visitor’s brochure.

Place of Refuge: Scattered around the island, sites like this provided a place of refuge for defeated warriors or those who had broken a kapu - a law punishable by death. A massive wall built in the 16th century separates the refuge from the royal grounds, a village reserved exclusively for Hawaiian royalty. Click here for things to know before your visit.

The Painted Church: Built by Father John Velghe in 1899, St. Benedict Catholic Church is famous for the biblical murals he painted with ordinary house paint on the wooden interior walls and ceiling of the church.

The Coffee Shack Restaurant: Even if you aren’t hungry, stop for the view from their back deck. Otherwise, stop for lunch and the view.

Greenwell Farms: Enjoy a free walking tour of a working coffee plantation and processing facility, along with free tastings of their Kona Coffees.

Holualoa Village: High on the slopes of Hualalai in the heart of Kona Coffee country, this small artist colony provides a cool place to stretch your legs during the drive back to Kailua-Kona. Discover local artwork including paintings, ceramic sculptures, and handcrafted woodwork.

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


Place of Refuge and Kealakekua Bay (Printable itinerary for this trip)

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. This day  trip begins as you cross the intersection of the Queen K Hwy and Palani 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. This day  trip begins as you cross the intersection of the Queen K Hwy and Palani Road.

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, or the Hilo and Hamakua day trips.

Image © jamesbrandon

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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