Kailua-Kona, or simply “Kona,” as the locals sometimes call it, was once a residential fishing village. In recent years it has transformed into a tourist boomtown for adventure-seeking tourists looking to snorkel, hike, explore, and enjoy the sun. You can't say the word Kona without thinking of world-class coffee, and you can taste the freshest Kona coffee at the region's renowned coffee plantations.
Ali'i Drive offers a lot of entertainment right in the heart of the city, from souvenir shopping and dining to beaches and snorkeling. Popular beaches nearby include Kamehameha (King Kam) Beach, Mauna Kea Beach, and Hapuna Beach, each famous for white sand and azure waters.
A visit to Hawaii is not complete without a day trip to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. From Volcano Village to Mauna Loa and the formidable Kilauea Volcano, you'll travel through old koa forests and cross over old and new lava flows, craters, and petroglyphs, enjoying panoramic views on the Chain of Craters scenic drive along the way.
In the Southern region, see the spot where famous navigator Capt. James Cook first encountered Hawaiian natives. Here in coffee country near Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park, you can also visit the vibrantly painted St. Benedict's Catholic Church (also known as the Painted Church), whose quaint interior depicts a rainbow landscape of Biblical scenes in a heavenly Hawaiian landscape.
When to Visit Kailua-Kona
Scenic drives are a favorite activity in and around Kailua-Lona, whether you'd rather spend time in the lush jungle south of the city or the dry northern lands leading into the lava fields and craters. Kailua-Kona is sandwiched in the middle, so it enjoys the beautiful tropical palm trees but also the largely dry, pleasant weather. Mornings are typically sunny, while afternoons may be cloudy with the occasional rain shower. You can enjoy swimming, hiking, boating, and other watersports throughout the year in Kona.
Winter months and summer months are the peak tourist season here, so you will see higher hotel rates at those times. Be sure to plan around popular events such as the Ukulele Festival in March and the Lighted Boat Parade in mid-December. This festive parade of boats is something you won't want to miss, so be sure to book early to secure your accommodations.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Kailua-Kona, HI:
Kailua-Kona, HI: Prices by Star Rating Class
Below are 3 charts illustrating avg. rate trends by star rating class in Kailua-Kona, HI. Browse these charts to determine the least expensive time period to stay in Kailua-Kona for any future trips.
Luxury Hotels in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
4 Star Average Prices: $197.94
Check into the 5-star Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, just 13 miles from Kailua-Kona, and you will be checking into your own Hawaiian paradise. This resort property is designed like a gracious Asian-inspired plantation. Its grounds offer myriad forms of entertainment and pampering, from the golf course to the full-service spa, seven outdoor pools, and private beach. Families enjoy the dedicated children's pool and babysitting services (available for a surcharge).
Guests enjoy many room layout options, all equipped with private balconies — or lanais, as they are called in Hawaii — that overlook the lush hotel gardens. Select ground-floor rooms also pamper guests by providing them with their own private outdoor showers. In the guest rooms, plush beds, jetted bathtubs, refrigerators, and 42-inch flat-screen televisions take luxury to the next level.
The Four Seasons' world-renowned customer service carries on at its Hualalai property. You can indulge in 24-hour room service, coordinate limousine service with the concierge, or plan a special event or intimate outdoor dinner on the beach. Whatever your needs, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is ready to fulfill them.
If you prefer the intimacy of a bed-and-breakfast experience, Ohi'a Park Estate in Kailua-Kona earns near-perfect marks for its cozy yet luxurious accommodations. Four guest rooms welcome guests with tasteful decor, private balconies, and luxury amenities like rainfall showerheads. Guests enjoy the free daily breakfast, served from 8-11 a.m., that includes fresh juices, omelets, and of course, Kona coffee locally sourced from nearby coffee plantations.
Affordable Hotels in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
3 Star Average Prices: $204.82
When you want to be near the water but don't want to pay luxury hotel prices, consider a value vacation property like the Kona Seaside Hotel. This hotel projects a warm vintage vibe that is matched only by its friendly customer service. Its immaculately maintained guest rooms are comfortable and efficient for a short stay or longer, with air conditioning, refrigerator, flat-screen television, and free Wi-Fi. With roll-in showers, this nice property is also accessible. Small balconies enable you to catch the evening breezes with a glimpse of the waterfront, just one block away.
Guests love the Kona Seaside Hotel's on-site dining options, including a restaurant (beloved for its fish tacos), a bar and lounge, and a coffee shop. The outdoor pool is another highlight you must experience during your stay.
Where are the real discounts in Kailua-Kona
If you're a member of AAA, head to the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Kailua-Kona, and you'll enjoy discounted rates on a property that's convenient to the airport and downtown. This hotel is the ideal launchpad for your adventure on the Big Island. Breakfast is available daily, free of charge, and you can also take advantage of a generously sized outdoor pool and fitness center during your stay.
AAA members and government and military employees will also find discounts at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay in Kailua-Kona. This oceanfront resort offers amazing discounts on a resort experience that includes a tennis court and 24-hour health club access, two outdoor pools, and private lanais. Be sure to take advantage of the hotel shuttle to get around during your stay.
Best Hotel Values in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Close to the airport and the Kailua-Kona city center, the Royal Kona Resort offers convenience, value, and mid-century style on the waterfront. This resort's low nightly rates are not reflective of the service and amenities you will enjoy here. Over 400 guest rooms and ample event space make this a great hotel for large groups or wedding parties. Guests can head to the outdoor pool or spend some relaxing alone time in the full-service spa.
The outdoor bar offers an incredible sunset view that's the perfect setting for a mai-tai. The Royal Kona Resort also presents a well-received luau, known for its delicious food and family-friendly entertainment. The property is close to wonderful shopping, including local handicrafts and souvenir shops.
Experience the World's Best Snorkeling in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
You may choose to rent snorkeling gear, but with the many bays and tidal pools on the southern side of Kailua-Kona, you may wish to invest in your own gear to explore them all. When you snorkel in these bays and coves, you get the chance to observe fish, dolphins, and sea turtles at close range in a coral reef setting, often in water no more than 20 feet deep. If you prefer to stay close to Kona, King Kam Beach just off Ali'i Drive offers a convenient snorkeling spot.
Though not much to look at above the water, Kahalul'u Beach Park at Kahalu'u Bay is one of the best spots for beginning snorkelers. The shallow tide pools teem with tropical fish during low tide. Sea turtles also favor this beach. There are restrooms, picnic tables, and pavilions for larger group functions. Parents also love the security of having lifeguards stationed here.
If you want to do some dolphin spotting, head 17 miles south of Kona to Kealakekua Bay, also known as Captain Cook. The famed captain was killed here in 1779, as noted by the large monument erected on the shore. Snorkeling here is fantastic, but the area is remote. The easiest way to get there is to book a snorkeling cruise.
You can also rent a kayak to get to Kealakekua Bay, but be sure to go through a registered kayak rental company and ask for a permit. Since the area has rapidly gained popularity, the local ecosystem has suffered, and the Division of State Parks has instituted this measure to protect the reef and shore from damage.
Twenty-two miles south of Kona, you'll find Pae'a, also known as Two Step because of the easy access to the water. This beach has earned The Travel Channel's designation as one of America's best beaches. Not only will you enjoy an exceptional view above and below the water, but it's easy to navigate for beginners. The water is 20 feet deep on average, easily entered via a lava step. Turtles and dolphins hang out in these placid bay waters.
Adventurous snorkelers can also embark on a nighttime snorkel adventure. In Kailua-Kona, you can swim with the mantas under the moonlight. Manta rays as large as 12 to 18 feet come out to bask in the moonlight (or flashlight, if you're carrying one.) You're guaranteed never to forget this wildlife encounter.
A trip to sunny Kailua-Kona will be an adventure you'll always remember. From lovely beaches to golf courses to delectable cuisine and so much more, you'll enjoy sunny days as well as pleasant nights in your comfortable accommodations.