Crusin’ Kailua-Kona with Tita Nui

April 27, 2016, 4:47 PM HST
* Updated April 27, 4:30 PM
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Photo credit: Christensen collection NHERC Heritage Center.

Photo credit: Christensen collection NHERC Heritage Center.

Crusin’ Kailua-Kona offers a person a chance to learn about some of Hawai’i Island’s important history. Strolling along just one mile of Ali’i Drive starting at Kailua Pier gives you some pretty impressive information about historic events that took place not just on Hawai’i Island, but events that impacted the history of the state as a whole.

Once a quiet fishing village and a place for Hawaiian royalty to get away, Kailua Village, also known as Kailua-Kona, is now a busy little town on the sunny Kona coast of Hawai’i Island. It offers not just great shopping and ono places to eat, but an amazing place to witness world-renowned Kona sunsets, not to mention the world-famous Ironman World Championship Triathlon every October. There is a sign posted near the pier that marks the official starting and finish line of this competition.

On the grounds of the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Resort, you will find the Ahu’ena Heiau, which was built by King Kamehameha. The Ahu’ena Heiau is the religious temple that served him upon his return to Hawai’i Island in 1812. It was here on May 8, 1819 that King Kamehameha I died. It was here that he met daily with his kahunas and closest advisers.

Kailua Pier construction began in 1900 and was completed in 1918. Once the center of transportation and shipping for the Kailua area, this is where Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys) loaded cattle on to offshore ships. It now serves as a gathering place for fishing and ocean recreation activities.

About midway between the pier and Hulihe’e Palace is a very small point of land known as Pa o ‘Umi. This location is said to be where the famous King ‘Umi-a-Liloa first came to by canoe when he left his ancestral court in Waipi’o Valley. Over the years, the development has led to this area being almost completely covered. However, if you look closely, you can still see a bit of the area in the water.


Steeped in rich Hawaiian history, Kailua Village is home to Hulihe’e Palace, where you can step through the doors on a guided tour and travel back in time to the days of the Hawaiian monarchy. It was once the summer vacation home for Hawaiian royalty built in 1838. Today, Hulihe’e Palace is a museum that showcases Victorian artifacts from the era of Queen Kapiolani and King Kalakaua.


Across the stree,t you’ll find the Moku’aikaua Church. It is the oldest Christian church in the state of Hawai’i. In 1835, with King Kamehameha II’s permission, the church’s construction began. It took just two years to build and was completed in 1837. It is said that the stone used to build this church was taken from a nearby heiau (Hawaiian temple) and the lime used to bind the stone is made of burned coral.

So the next time you are in Kailua-Kona, park your car for a little while and take a short stroll along Ali’i Drive and learn a little history while you’re at it…

This article is part of a weekly BigIslandNow.com series by KAPA Hawaiian FM personality Darde Gamayo.

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