Above: An outrigger off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii - GETTY IMAGES

A Day in Kailua-Kona

An outrigger rowing along the ocean at Kailua-Kona at sunset, Big Island, Hawaii - Getty Images

Downtown Kailua-Kona, a town on the Big Island’s west coast, offers several notable cultural attractions, including Hulihee Palace, a historic royal residence, and Mokuaikaua Church, established in 1820 and Hawaii’s oldest Christian place of worship.

Room, Hulihee Palace - Getty Images

We decided to overnight at Pacific 19 Kona, a 150-room property opened in April 2023, operating within a freshly renovated portion of what was formerly the Kona Seaside Hotel. My hopes of finding a high-end lodging option downtown quickly evaporated as we looked around our Partial Ocean View room, the hotel’s highest accommodation category. The lodging presented plastic storage bins, motel-quality bedding, black-and-white pictures of tropical plants printed on cheap paper and views of telephone lines. Pacific 19 does offer a picturesque turquoise pool and a charming retro canary-yellow coffee truck, but the cons outweighed the pros (see the Hotel At a Glance below).

While Kona still lacks a luxury hotel of note, it makes up for it with its excellent restaurant options. Papa Kona Restaurant & Bar has long been a member favorite, with its oceanside setting and Hawaiian-fusion cuisine. But on this trip, we dined at two other establishments of note.

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Above: An outrigger off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii - GETTY IMAGES

Read More from Our Trip:

Best Resorts on Hawaii’s Kohala Coast The Big Island’s Best Resorts Artisanal Shopping in Kona Exploring the Kona Coffee Belt