Kailua-Kona, also known as ‘Kailua,’ ‘Kona Town’ and sometimes just ‘Town,’ is a love-it-or-leave-it kind of place. On the main drag of Aliʻi Dr, along the shoreline, Kailua works hard to evoke the nonchalance of a sun-drenched tropical getaway, but in an injection-molded, bargain-priced way.
But we like it. Spend enough time here and you'll scratch past the souvenirs to an oddball identity built from a collision of two seemingly at-odds forces: mainlanders who want to wind down to Hawaiian time, and ambitious Big Islanders who want to make it in one of the few local towns worthy of the title. Somehow, this marriage works. Kailua-Kona can be tacky, but it's got character.
At the end of the day, Kailua is a convenient base from which to enjoy the Kona Coast’s beaches, snorkeling, water sports and ancient Hawaiian sites, so you'll likely spend at least a day here.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Kailua-Kona.