Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Cruise Port
How often do you get to visit an island village established by a king? The cruise port of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii was established by King Kamehameha I, who had conquered most of the Hawaiian Islands by the early 1800s; he made this the capital of his newly unified Kingdom of Hawaii. While the capital designation was eventually given to Honolulu, the area has been a center of tourism since the late 20th century. Also called Kailua (or just Kona to the locals), this historic area is located on the Kona coast and features a delightful combination of past and present cultures. Its tropical, semi-arid climate translates into warm temperatures all year long, providing outdoor lovers with multiple activities. You'll also find plenty of places to shop, eat, drink the world-famous Kona coffee, and just relax. Listed below are a handful of our favorite experiences when cruising to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii:
- While beaches and whale-watching tours abound, one of the most awe-inspiring adventures involves going to the top of Maunakea Summit. This is a drive-only excursion and you may have to adjust to the height gradually: It's one of the only places in the world you can travel from sea level to 14,000 feet within a couple of hours. If there after dark, the visitor center has a stargazing program.
- King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel (where he actually lived in his later years) is also the site of Kamehameha's rebuilt temple, Ahu'ena Heiau, dedicated to the god Lono and on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Other artefacts are displayed here as well.
- Not far from the Kona airport is the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. Here you can watch turtles and learn how the seemingly barren landscape here sustained life; birdwatchers can also spot the varieties of migratory species that winter in the wetlands of Aimakapa Fishpond.
- For unique beer and a pub dinner if you're hungry afterward, visit the Kona Brewing Company. With both year-round and seasonal brews, the tour is a great way to sample beverages such as Big Wave Golden Ale, Fire Rock Pale Ale, and the island-only Hula Hefeweizen.