Kona with Classic Vacations

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Kailua-Kona and the Kohala Coast is the resort corridor running nearly 40 miles long. The waters here are flanked by some of the top hotel resorts in the state. These include the Fairmont Orchid, The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, and the Mauna Lani BAY Bungalows, The Villages at Mauna Lani, Kona Village, the Mauna Kea Estates and the Mauna Lani Point Estates at the top end. The Hilton Waikoloa, the Hapuna Beach Prince, Kolea at Waikaloa, Waikaloa Colony Villas, Waikaloa Beach Marriott, Mauna Lani Terrace, Outrigger Fairway Villas and Sheraton Keauhou Resort are also in this collection—all included as options in the Classic Hawaii brochure for 2009.

Additionally, among the Kona destination adventures Classic offers in its 2009 brochure is the Hawaii Forest & Trail Tour to the Kohala Waterfall. The soft adventure takes guests to the northeast area of the island between the Kohala Coast and the paniola ranches of Waimea. From a ranch meeting point high in the mountains, guests transfer to comfortable converted former military supply trucks and head into the forests, fording rivers and streams, passing taro farms and cow pastures, and seeing the true and untouched backcountry of the island before setting off on foot for falls and swimming ponds, and a lovely lunch with a view. The half-day trip runs $149 pp and promises experiences one cannot get on one’s own.

to do’s in kona Visitors will find eight outstanding golf courses along the 20-mile Kohala Coastline designed by the likes of Tom Weiskopf, Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Jack Nicklaus, all of whom worked with emerald grass, white sand and crashing surf to create challenges at every level. Because the weather is mostly sunny and dry, cooled by the Trades, players confront nearly ideal conditions for the game with plenty of across-the-water shots and distractions by cavorting cetaceans.

Plenty of mall shopping and dining can be enjoyed, especially at the King’s Shops and Queen’s Marketplace in the heart of Waikoloa Village. Many of the resorts in the area provide complimentary shuttles to these shopping areas where visitors will find a plethora of designer boutiques, jewelry banks and high-end clothing stores, as well as sushi bars and Hawaiian cultural entertainment.

For those who want to get out and explore, Kailua-Kona provides the history, the local color, the shops and markets, museums and monuments that make wandering worthwhile. Located a good half-hour’s drive south from the resort areas along the scenic coast, Kailua is the main town in the area and it finds itself sitting at the bottom of the Hualalai Volcano. Many kings made their homes here, and then later, missionaries built churches and residences, turning the tiny fishing village into a small seaport.

The main street, Ali’i Drive, runs along the oceanfront through the heart of the city from Kailua Pier to the Kuamo’o Battlefield. It’s good sunset viewing from the seawall area, and also good shopping at the local outdoor market, open seven days, where you can find anything from hair ornaments and fresh flowers, to herbal elixirs, coconut purses and tropical plant roots to take home. This is the best place for clients to find farm fresh Kona coffee beans at rates not seen anywhere else. Souvenir shops and cafes also run this route, which is also one of the viewing spots for the notorious Ironman triathlon that takes place every spring.

A tour of this area offered locally through most hotels will present such spots as the obelisk monument to Captain James Cook, the first European to sail this archipelago—discovering the islands in 1778 and then returning to meet his fate off the coast of Kailua-Kona in 1779.

A visit to Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park nearby offers well-preserved insight into the island’s past. Until 1819, vanquished Hawaiian warriors, non-combatants, and kapu (taboo) breakers could escape death by reaching this sacred ground. Visitors will see ancient house sites, royal fishponds, coconut groves, and spectacular shore scenery here, as well as green sea turtles that rest in Keone Ele Cove. Humpback whales pass by in the winter months. The circa-1871 historic trail there is a good mile walk and is filled with archaeological curiosities including temples, ancient tracks, relics of old houses and the opening to a lava tube cave that ends at the face of a sea cliff.