Explore the Kailua-Kona Area in a Day
Kailua-Kona 1-Day Itinerary Suggestions
Kailua Kona also referred to as "Kona" for short is located in the western region of Hawaii, the Big Island. Its warm and sunny weather has made it one of the most exciting and lively places on the western side of the island. It is usually dry and receives minimal rain.
As the center of attraction, Kailua Kona is bursting with tourists and an abundance of activities you can experience.
In this article, we give you a list of things you can enjoy in Kailua Kona if you only have a day.
How to use our Big Island itineraries for your trip
Big Island of Hawaii 'Pack-and-Go' Wayfinder Guides for daily excursions
Ultimately, we’ve designed our Big Island of Hawaii itineraries around a set number of on-island Big Island days: offering one (this page), two, three, four, five, six, and seven-day itineraries for exploring the island, soaking in the best sights, and ensuring your precious time (and potentially money) on the Big Island are used wisely. We’ve tried to balance our itineraries between those who seek adventure and those looking to find a good beach and relax. Overall, we want your experience to be exactly what you’ve dreamed of when planning your Big Island of Hawaii trip.
For each island, including the Big Island, we’ve attempted to split up the itinerary days by sorting attractions according to their geographic proximity; i.e., on Volcano day, you’d explore the best of the Big Island's Volcano region attractions, hiking trails, and activities. Our itineraries are not meant to be followed consecutively necessarily, which would probably be exhausting, but instead as a grab-and-go resource for ‘mapping’ your trip - think of us as a Wayfinder’s guide to the Big Island of Hawaii. We always like to travel by making day-by-day plans, putting the most important attractions and activities (the must-see and do) upfront, and if the weather doesn’t cooperate one of those days, we switch that day with another. That way, we always get to the important stuff first, and if we have to skip anything, it’s ideally the minor attractions only.
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2023 Big Island Visitor Guides
If you're visiting the Big Island of Hawaii soon, be sure to download your copy of one of our updated 2023 Big Island Visitor Guides. We've updated both travel guides with a lot of new great information for potential visitors (and those who've been a time or two as well).
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Must See Kailua-Kona Sights & Attractions
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau - Place of Refuge
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, also called a "Place of Refuge", holds historical significance. Dating back in history, this was a place of forgiveness. Those who had broken ancient laws or stepped foot in forbidden sacred places came here seeking reconciliation. Here, they would be pardoned by a priest and excused for their wrongdoings. Today, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau is a national historical park, but it is still viewed as a sacred space that is tranquil and calm. To arrive here, it is a 45-minute scenic drive from Kona.
Saddle Road is a highway that offers a scenic drive from Hilo to Kona. Along the way, you will witness a beautiful contrast in ecosystems and landscapes ranging from foggy deserts to tropical forests. The driving duration may vary for some, but the stunning views, such as the picturesque snow tops of the volcanoes Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa make the ride quite pleasurable.
Ahuena Heiau is an ancient temple recognized for peace, prayer, and its divine position to the sun. It is a "chosen place" that rests prominently behind the King Kamehameha Hotel. Like any other historical edifice, it has survived various circumstances over the years. However, it has been restored to ensure that its true essence remains intact. At Ahuena Heiau, you will enjoy the warmth of the sun, the energy it brings, and the beauty that flows both in and out of this beautiful temple.
The Christian faith was initially brought to Hawaii by missionaries in the 1820s. It is also during this time that Mokuaikaua Church’s first congregation was formed. Following this in 1838, Mokuaikaua Church was erected. It is recognized as the first Christian church in Hawaii.
Mokuaikaua Church is in the Kailua Village on Ali’l Drive, surrounded by touches of greenery. This building has withstood fires and the trials of time, but its construction remains reminiscent of its deep-rooted historical past.
Its congregation is still active and is welcoming and friendly to visitors. So, if you wish to attend a service after observing the building’s composition, you are welcome to do so on a Sunday during its service hours.
Must See Kailua-Kona Beaches
Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay)
Manini’owali Beach also known as Kua Bay is in Kailua Kona just off of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway near mile marker 88. This beach is very accessible due to its paved roads, and it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Kona. It has clean, transparent blue waters and a surrounding view that is magnificent. Here, you can sunbathe on white sands, relish in the splendor of its turquoise waters, or snorkel below the water to observe life undersea.
Makalawena/Pu’u Ali’i Beach
Makalawena/Pu’u Ali’i Beach is another prominent place in Kailua Kona located off the hiking trail near Kona Coast State Park. It has been called a place of nirvana. Although a bit challenging to get to, the reward far exceeds its strains. Here, you will enjoy pleasant moments while witnessing stunning views as well as the beautiful turquoise waters that are always breathtaking in Hawaii. Along with its marvelous wonders, you will also observe sea turtles lounging on rocks and welcoming the sun's rays.
Why You Should Visit the Kailua Kona Area
The Big Island has so much to explore, and Kailua Kona is at its heart. In Kona, there is never a dull moment as it is always bursting with liveliness. Its warm weather continually provides the perfect weather for adventures. Tourists and individuals alike will find its surge of activities to be exciting and unquestionably thrilling. Every memory made here is remarkable as Kona's exceptional views, and powerful energy makes it the perfect hub for vacationers.