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Lacking the resort filled beaches of Maui and the crowded streets of Honolulu and Oahu, the Big Island of Hawaii is an alluring place for many adventure tourists searching for a bit of solitude and the chance to commune with nature. Prior to Hawaii’s annexation by the United States, Kailua-Kona was the vacation home of independent Hawaii’s royal family. In the period since the monarchy, Kailua-Kona has transformed into a thriving artist’s enclave. With several great beaches within a short drive, it’s also popular with those searching for outdoor recreation; kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling – it’s all possible here.
It should be noted that many of the roads around Kailua-Kona, and the Big Island in general, are quite narrow. When you book an RV in Kailua-Kona you’ll need to remain vigilant as you traverse the two-lane roads that crisscross the island but also remember to enjoy the slower pace of life here.
Obviously, you’ll probably spend a considerable amount of time at the beach during your Kailua-Kona RV rental vacation. Your first stop should be Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park just north of town. The park provides easy access to the beach and the chance to observe sea turtles in their natural habitat. The park’s visitors center also has lots of interesting information about the history of the beach and how the Polynesian people made a living there.
Animal lovers will want to check out the Kanaloa Octopus Farm. It’s a chance to swim and interact with these intelligent animals and understand their unique role in the ocean. If swimming with the octopi is a little bit too much, visit the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, which is near the airport and allows for a fascinating hands-on experience with the magnificent little creatures.
If you’re a hiker, climbing the Mauna Kea volcano should definitely be part of your itinerary when you rent an RV in Kailua-Kona. The six-mile-long trail climbs 4,600 feet to the summit – a rather difficult feat that necessitates being in at least moderately good physical condition. At the mountain’s summit are the Mauna Kea Observatories, one of the world’s premier astronomy centers. While the main telescopes are not open to the public, there are telescopes available for use near the trailhead after the sun has gone down.
You can also branch out a bit with the Kailua-Kona RV rental and take the two-hour drive to the eastern side of the island near Pāhoa, home to the active volcano known as Kilauea. From here you can also venture out to see the dark shores of Kehena Black Sand Beach.
As is the case throughout the Hawaiian Islands, flat ground comes at a premium and that means there aren’t a wide variety of places to park your travel trailer rental near Kailua-Kona. One of the closest places to park is at Kiholo State Park Reserve, about 20 miles north of Kailua-Kona.
Another option is about 20 miles to the south at Ho’Okena Beach Park, near the town of Captain Cook. The park offers outdoor showers, Wi-Fi, and a variety of equipment for rent to use at the beach (kayaks, snorkels, etc.). Sites have no hookups, but there are restrooms nearby.
While not particularly close to Kailua-Kona, it should be noted that one of the dedicated RV parks on the island is Hedonisia Hawaii Eco-Community, a two-hour drive away, near the town of Hilo, on the island’s eastern shore. Hedonisia offers an array of amenities including a kitchen, yoga space, and a community of like-minded campers that want to protect the beauty of the island.
As the former vacation home of the royal family, one of the must-see stops in Kailua-Kona is Hulihe’e Palace. The mansion is now a museum and one of the best places to learn about Hawaii’s history as an independent nation during the Victorian Era. Kailua-Kona is also the site of the state’s oldest Christian church, Mokuaikaua Church, dating back to the 1830s. Its congregation still meets there, but it’s also open for tours when there are no services are taking place.
The city is also famed for the number of artists making their home there, so it makes sense that there are quite a few art galleries and shops worth browsing when you rent a motorhome in Kailua-Kona. Specialty stores in town showcase inexpensive pieces of jewelry and home goods that would be sure to add some island flair to your home. The Kona Oceanfront Gallery is a bit more upscale and has many beautiful carvings and metal sculptures on display. If you’d prefer to use your own body as an artist’s canvas, you may want to pop for a temporary henna tattoo.
If you’re searching for souvenirs to take home to your friends and family, wander down Ali’I Drive, which has a large open-air bazaar filled with trinkets, native Hawaiian foods, and also a beautiful view of the beach.