Kona town and restaurants

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The Big Island, HI
Kona town and restaurants
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Kona, or Kailua-Kona, is a fantastic place to visit to get that vacation feeling! It reminds me of Waikiki (minus the amazing beaches) back in the 80s, before it got so crowded and built up with new highrises. The main strip, Alii Drive, runs along the crystal clear water, and has touristy shops, casual oceanfront restaurants, and historic buildings. Check out the ABC stores, which have super books, toys, clothes, jewelry, and snacks, all in the Hawaiian tradition. You will also find stands offering touristy activities like helicopter rides or scuba tours. Check out the shopping center with Wyland Oceanfront Gallery, where the waves crash on the rocks right by the railing, the breeze is lovely and cooling, and you can see a dozen yellow fish swimming in each crystal clear wave! The gallery has some inspiring ocean-themed art and carvings.

After, walk down to Huggo's on the Rocks, where you dine right on the water. While the food is just average, you don't want to miss the wonderful experience of dining here! Come for lunch or an early dinner so that you can get one of the tables by the railing. The tables are situated in yellow sand, brought into the restaurant. Huggo's on the Rocks has a rare location directly on the ocean shore. Nowadays construction so close to the ocean is not allowed, but Huggo's on the Rocks secured its amazing location years ago, and you are the one to benefit! Sit back in your chair, and listen to the ocean pounding against the rocks below. Watch swimmers snorkel in the perfect aquamarine water, and feel the wonderful sea breeze brush past your shoulders. 
For a coffee shop with a view, check out Kona Haven Cafe, a nice place to sit in the morning across from the water in an attractive Hawaiian Plantation style development with palm trees everywhere.
Between Wyland Oceanfront Gallery and Huggo's on the Rocks, on Alii Drive, there are gorgeous little coves and rocky beach parks, where you can stop and take in the lovely views and listen to the ocean crashing on the rocks. 
If you walk all the way north on Alii Drive you come to historic Hulihe'e Palace, with its lovely architecture, and across the street, Mokuaikaua Church. Both can be visited (see hours below). 
Continue north and you come to the pier and harbor, where people snorkel in the clear water. It's so tempting to jump in! Here you can enjoy wonderful views of the church steeple and the high mountains backing the bay. On the north side of the pier is the Kamakahonu (King Kamehameha) Beach, a magical area with a hei'au, Hawaiian holy temple, right there in the water, palm trees galore, and lots of kids playing in the calm waters. This is a wonderful place to swim in the late afternoon, and then catch some snippets of live music from the luau that takes place on the lawn. 
Like most of Hawaii, Kona has old, unattractive buildings, but it also has some lovely newer Hawaiian-style buildings with colorful red or green roofs. Kona gets a bad rap because the hot, windstill days on Oahu are said to have "Kona winds." Kona is indeed very hot (and the airport is the hottest ever), but it does have good breezes on the water. Kona sometimes suffers from vog, when the volcano is active, but most days it is still in the green or yellow safety range, which is fine. When we were there, the air was only hazy with vog for one day of our vacation.
While on the leeward side of the island, check out the Kohala coast (Highway 19) and the most gorgeous beach on the island, Mauna Kea Hotel Beach, and a delightful beach for snorkeling, 69 Beach, both about 45 minutes drive north of Kona.
Kona is dry with lots of lava fields with amazing bougainvillea plants, and some lush landscaping in the tourist and residential areas, while Hilo is very lush and incredibly green. Sunny weather, a nice main strip with oceanfront cafes, and great snorkeling are the reasons to go to Kona and the Kohala Coast, whereas lush, gorgeous scenery, swims in natural seaside springs, and lovely mistings of rain are the reasons to go to Hilo. It's fun to stay in both towns for a few days each, and also check out Waimea on the drive across (Highway 19).

Continue to directions...

Fishing near the pier.

Amazing views from Daylight Mind Coffee, which has a faster service coffee counter at the front.

Wonderful slanted palms, as seen from the waiter service patio of Daylight Mind Coffee.

Kona Haven Cafe, in a pretty development with yellow building and turquoise roof.

Hulihe'e Palace in the evening.

Amazing tree and road curving around by the pier.

Bougainvillea and lamppost.

Lamppost and amazing tree branch.

I love this island-style view.

Canoes on the beach by the pier.

Kamakahonu (King Kamehameha) Beach, and its hei'au on the water.

I love this tree! Kona is like a smaller Waikiki.

I love the Norfolk pines and bougainvillea! Incredible amounts of bougainvillea!

The lava along the road in Kona. So strange!

Red ginger in Kona town.

Plumeria flowers!

Orange flowers, in August.

Flowering tree.

Yellow hibiscus.

Mokuaikaua Church, on Ali'i Drive.

Hulihe'e Palace.

Pink hibiscus flowers.

Wyland Oceanfront Gallery.

Lovely views near Wyland Oceanfront Gallery.

Palm trees and strange white plants.

Amazing sunset with foamy waves.

The shopping center where Wyland Oceanfront Gallery is located.

Little cove next to Wyland Oceanfront Gallery.

Tiki torches on the water near Wyland Oceanfront Gallery.

Table on the water.

Nighttime view of Ali'i Drive, from Wyland Oceanfront Gallery.

Clear water and tiki torch.

View of King Kamehameha Beach from our hotel room.

View of the harbor and King Kamehameha Beach from our hotel room.

Cute church steeple in the distance, as seen from the pier.

King Kamehameha Beach- a paradise.

Heiau in the middle of the ocean, at King Kamehameha Beach.

Heiau in the water at King Kamehameha Beach.

Sunset view from Highway 19.


The main strip of Kona is along Alii Drive, between Kamakahonu Beach in the north and Huggo's on the Rocks in the south.
Wyland Oceanfront Gallery, 75-5770 Ali'i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740. Parking in the structure below the shopping center costs $5.
Huggo's on the Rocks, 75-5828 Kahakai Rd, Kailua-Kona HI 96740, call (808) 329-1493. Off Alii Drive in downtown Kona, near the Royal Kona Resort. There is usually a lunchwagon parked across the street. Park in the stalls along the road. Open for lunch and dinner. Happy hour is 3-5pm and often includes live music. Around $15 for a burger or tacos.
Kona Haven Cafe, 75-5801 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.


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Sam K

Wed, 07 Jul 2010

i love this place cant wait to come back again next summer!!!

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Tue, 06 Oct 2009

Great to see Huggo's good name being spread!

Last Updated: Tue, 15 Oct 2019 17:12:59 GMT

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