The Kona Coast: Paradise by the Dawn's Early Light
Kailua-Kona is located on the western coast of the "Big Island" of Hawaii. The island comes by its name honestly, as Hawaii is bigger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined. Hawaii is believed to be the first of the islands settled by Polynesians somewhere around 500-700 AD. King Kamehameha the Great, born on the Big Island, united the islands under a single monarch in 1795. During the 1800s, Hawaii's economy revolved around sugar cane plantations, pineapple plantations, and cattle ranching.
Start your journey on the Big Island by landing at either Kona or HiloInternational Airports. Hilo serves the eastern side (windward), and Kona the western coast (leeward) portion. Either airport will get you up and running. The island has a well maintained and intricate highway system, so navigation should not be a problem.
A vacation on the Kona Coast can range from relaxing in the sun to chasing down a huge marlin. You can bike the paths along a volcano, or golf the same courses as Tiger Woods. If you want a view of undersea life, there are plenty of opportunities to dive and snorkel. You can even take a submarine ride and stare down a curious shark! Surfing, hiking, and horseback riding are also available choices.
Beach lovers will appreciate the many options available to them along the Kona and Kohala Coasts. Anaeho'omalu Beach (called "A Bay" by the locals) is a great spot for kayak and canoe tours. For sheer relaxation and a couple of the best swimming spots in the Islands, head north to Kauna'oa, or Hapuna Beach State Park, both of which offer prime sunbathing and have both been ranked among the best beaches in the world by CondÃ¨ Nast Magazine.
History buffs will appreciate Ahu'ena Heiau. King Kamehameha began the renovation of this ancient temple. He came here to seek wisdom and guidance during the last years of his life. It was here that his son, Liholiho met with queens Keopuolani and Ka'ahumanu and broke a longstanding kapu (edict) of not eating with women, thereby ending the old order and ushering in a new era in male/female relations in Hawaii.
If you are a coffee drinker, you probably have heard of Kona coffee. Famous for its dark color and rich flavor, Kona coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. If you are interested in how this crop has been instrumental in shaping the economy of Hawaii, or if you just want a good cup of Joe, visit the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. The farm is a working museum that illustrates the history of Kona Coffee, and how it has been harvested since the 1930s. Shoppers, and anyone who appreciates fine dining should make time to visit Waikoloa, a quiet little community known for its plentiful shopping boutiques and excellent restaurants.
For a great day trip, head south on route 11 and follow it until you reach the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take a peak at an explosion captured on film in the Kilauea Visitor's Center. Head down the Chain of Craters Road and look for flowing lava. Ask about the safety of hiking the trails (it changes daily), and explore the Thurston Lava Tube, the fern forests, and the other natural phenomena of the area.
A vacation in Hawaii is what you make of it. The possibilities are endless. If you want to relax in the golden sun, or do something a bit more active, the Kona Coast has every opportunity you could ask for!
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