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A Little About Kona

The Kona District is one of the two major population centers on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Kona District extends along most of Hawaii Island’s western coast, encompassing a large number of population centers. Together, the North and South Kona Districts include communities such as Kailua-Kona, Honaunau, Honalo, Lealakekua, Keauhou, Honalo, and Kealakekua. When translated from Native Hawaiian into English, the term Kona refers to the leeward side of the island. Like the Leeward sides of the other major islands, the Kona District sees substantially less rainfall than the windward side of Hawaii Island. Kona is a worldwide destination for water sports, and is also known internationally for its high quality coffee. In fact, Kona coffee is sold widely and considered a high quality export in many coffee houses throughout the country. Kona coffee is a product of the unique climate of the Big Island. Kona coffee is grown on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, both of which offer rich volcanic soil. Coffee cultivation requires relatively little rainfall, making it perfect for the Kona climate, which offers more than three hundred days of sunshine every year. Visitors to and residents of the Kona area can enjoy some of this outstanding coffee in towns such as Holualoa, which offers sampling facilities and gift shops dedicated to the product.

The Kona district has been central to Hawaii’s history for more than a century. Historians suspect that the first Native Hawaiians arrived from Polynesia sometime around the eighth century A.D., and gradually expanded their reach over the entirety of the archipelago. Kona was the site of an unfortunate incident of early European-Hawaiian interaction in the late eighteenth century, shortly after Captain James Cook first sailed through the Sandwich Islands. In 1779, Cook was killed by Hawaiian warriors in Kealakekua Bay after a disagreement over a rowboat. Kealakekua Bay is located just a short distance from an even older historical landmark, the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Puuhonua o Honaunau is a restored city of refuge – a religious site to which violators of taboo and criminals would flee to find absolution. Similarly, the Kona district is also home to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, which covers more than a thousand acres of land north of Kailua-Kona. Kaloko-Honokohau is a great place to witness ancient Hawaiian culture firsthand, as the area is home to a considerable number of temples, petroglyphs, and fishponds.

Kona is home to its own airport, Kona International Airport, as well as historic sites such as Hulihee Palace and Mokuaikaua Church. Kona is home to a considerable number of fine dining options and shopping centers as well as fast food restaurants and souvenir shops. The Kona district regularly hosts some of the state’s premier athletic competitions, including the Ironman Triathlon World Championship and the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament. The region is also a hub for water sports such as boating and fishing. Many of these activities are centered on the hubs of Kailua Pier, Keauhou Bay, and Honokohau Marina, which are the starting points for whale watching, sightseeing, and fishing tours. Residents of Kona send their children to public schools in the region, including Kealakehe and Kahakai Elementary Schools, Kealakehe Intermediate, and Kealakehe High School. Kona is home to Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, and is served in print media by West Hawaii Today. The Kona District boasts some of the most impressive beach parks on Hawaii Island, including Laaloa Bay and Kahaluu Bay. These two beaches are outstanding destinations for snorkeling and swimming as well as sunbathing. There are even more beaches along the coast in either direction, as well as a number of world class golf courses.

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