Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

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Kailua (Hawaii County)
Kailua-Kona from Holualoa
Kailua-Kona from Holualoa
Kailua-Kona is located in Hawaii
Coordinates: 19°39′0″N 155°59′39″W / 19.65000°N 155.99417°W / 19.65000; -155.99417Coordinates: 19°39′0″N 155°59′39″W / 19.65000°N 155.99417°W / 19.65000; -155.99417
 • Total39.9 sq mi (103.3 km2)
 • Land35.6 sq mi (92.3 km2)
 • Water4.2 sq mi (11.0 km2)
7 ft (2 m)
 • Total11,975
 • Density336/sq mi (129.8/km2)
Time zoneUTC−10 (Hawaii–Aleutian)
ZIP code
Area code(s)808
FIPS code15-23000
GNIS feature ID365355

Kailua, a town on the island of Hawaiʻi, is also known by its post office designation Kailua-Kona[1] to differentiate it from Kailua located on the windward side of Oʻahu island. ("Kona" is the Hawaiian term for "leeward," and all of the Hawaiian Islands have a Kona district, though on some islands the term has fallen out of common use. Kailua-Kona is sometimes erroneously referred to by the name of the district, Kona, in which it is the largest town.) Kailua-Kona is an unincorporated town (Census Designated Place) in Hawaiʻi County, Hawaii, United States, in the North Kona District of the Island of Hawaiʻi.[2] The population was 11,975 at the 2010 census,[3] up from 9,870 at the 2000 census. It is the center of commerce and of the tourist industry on West Hawaiʻi. Kailua-Kona is served by Kona International Airport, located just to the north in the adjacent Kalaoa CDP.[4] Kailua-Kona was the closest major settlement to the epicenter of the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake.


King Kamehameha's court at Kailua-Kona, receiving Otto von Kotzebue in 1816

The community was established by King Kamehameha I to be his seat of government when he was chief of Kona before he consolidated rule of the archipelago in 1795. It was later designated as the capital of the newly unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The capital was later moved to Lāhainā, and then to Honolulu.

Royal fishponds at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park were the hub of unified Hawaiian culture. The town later functioned as a retreat of the Hawaiian royal family. Up until the late 1900s, Kailua-Kona was primarily a small fishing village.[5]: 58  In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the region has undergone a real estate and construction boom fueled by tourism and investment.


Kailua-Kona is located at 19°39′0″N 155°59′39″W / 19.65000°N 155.99417°W / 19.65000; -155.99417 (19.649973, −155.994028),[6] along the shoreline of Kailua Bay and up the southern slope of Hualālai volcano. There are no major rivers or streams in Kailua-Kona or on the Kona side of Hawaii.[5]: 26 

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Town has a total area of 39.9 square miles (103.3 km2), of which 35.6 square miles (92.3 km2) are land and 4.2 square miles (11.0 km2), or 10.67%, are water.[3]

Kailua-Kona is bordered to the north by Kalaoa, to the south by Holualoa, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean from Kailua Bay in the south to Honokohau Bay in the north. The Kailua-Kona postal code is 96740 (post office boxes – 96745).


Kailua-Kona has a tropical, semi-arid climate (Köppen BSh) with warm temperatures year-round, typical of its latitude in the tropics. It is the warmest place in the United States of America in January on average. The coolest month is February, with an average high temperature of 81.2 °F (27.3 °C), while the warmest is August, with an average high of 86.9 °F (30.5 °C). In addition to being the warmest place in the United States in January, it is also the city with the highest record low in the United States with an all-time low temperature of 56 °F (13 °C). Humidity is generally between 50% and 70%.[citation needed] Kailua-Kona is generally dry, with an average annual precipitation of 18.93 inches (481 mm). Mornings are typically clear, while thermal clouds created in the day raise the temperature during the day.[5]: 26 

Climate data for Kailua Kona, Hawaii (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 90
Average high °F (°C) 81.6
Average low °F (°C) 68.2
Record low °F (°C) 56
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.41
Source: WRCC/NCDC[7][8]

Vog can cover parts of the Kona coast from time to time depending on the activity of the Kilauea volcano and the island winds. Kailua-Kona is located on the leeward side of the Hualalai Volcano, sheltering the town from wind and rain.[5]: 58 


2000 Census data[edit]

Kailua from southern shore

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 9,870 people, 3,537 households, and 2,429 families residing in Kailua-Kona. The population density was 278.0 people per square mile (107.3/km2). There were 4,322 housing units at an average density of 121.7 per square mile (47.0/km2). The racial makeup of the City was 38.7% White, 0.5% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 18.3% Asian, 13.2% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from other races, and 27.07% from two or more races. 10.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,537 households, out of which 35.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.6% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 22.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.26.

In Kailua-Kona the population was spread out, with 27.3% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,874, and the median income for a family was $46,657. Males had a median income of $30,353 versus $26,471 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $20,624. 10.8% of the population and 6.5% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 11.9% of those under the age of 18 and 3.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Kailua Inn Shopping Village

Kailua-Kona saw an economic downturn during the 2008 national financial crisis but in the early 2010s has seen significant growth and economic development.[10] Tourism also saw a downturn in the late 2000s but has since seen some resurgence.[11] Visitor air arrivals alone increased about 160% from 2010 to 2017.[12]

The University of Hawaii held its first classes at the new Hawaii Community College Palamanui Campus in 2015.[13][14][15]

Since the early 2000s the Kona side had seen significant amounts of vog from Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Kīlauea, but that changed in May 2018 when Kilauea largely ceased its emissions. The air in Kailua-Kona is clearer than it has been in decades.[16]

Attractions and events[edit]

Kailua-Kona is the start and finish of the annual Ironman World Championship triathlon,[17] the annual Kona Coffee Festival, and the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.

Kona coffee is the variety of Coffea arabica cultivated on the slopes of Hualālai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts. The Kona Historical Society manages two coffee related historical sites: the Kona Coffee Living History Farm and the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum just south of Kailua-Kona.[18]

Ali'i Drive along Kailua Bay

Ali'i Drive, Kailua's oceanfront downtown street, starts at Kailua-Kona Pier. It has also been given the designation as a Hawaii Scenic Byway called the "Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast".[19] This byway features archaeological sites that have survived for hundreds of years.

North of the pier is the Kamakahonu royal residence and Ahuʻena Heiau, and nearby now stands the King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. Another royal residence is Huliheʻe Palace, used by members of the Hawaiian royal family until 1914.[20] The Historic Kona Inn and other shops are on the street.

Churches on the drive include Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaiʻi's first Christian church built in 1820, Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, and Living Stones Church, a historical structure built after Mokuaikaua and used as a Christian Missionary landing location in the 1800-1900. Parks include La'aloa Bay (also known as Magic Sands or White Sands Beach) and Kahaluʻu Bay, which is a popular snorkeling location.

Old Airport Beach, north of Kailua

Boat tours which allow tourists to swim with dolphins, watch whales, and fish in the ocean usually depart from Honokohau Harbor.


Kailua-Kona is served by television station KLEI and by the newspaper West Hawaii Today, which is owned by Canadian publisher Black Press Media (Black Press Group Ltd.)––also known simply as Black Press––whose headquarters are in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.[21]


The Hawaii Department of Education operates public schools. Kealakehe Elementary School, Kahakai Elementary School, Kealakehe Intermediate School, and Kealakehe High School are in the Kailua CDP.[22]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kailua-Kona Post Office
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kailua City
  3. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Kailua Town (Hawaii County), Hawaii". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 30, 2017.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Kalaoa CDP, Hawaii Archived 2009-07-23 at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d Doughty, Andrew. Hawaii the Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook, 4th ed. Lihuʻe: Wizard. ISBN 978-0-9717279-4-6. ISBN 0-9717279-4-5.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  7. ^ "Station Name: HI KAILUA KONA KE-AHOLE AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
  8. ^ "Monthly Normals Kailua Kona Int'l AP, Hawaii". WRCC/NCDC. Archived from the original on September 22, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  9. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  10. ^ "Hawaii's Big Island economy improving despite tourism slowdown". Pacific Business News. 26 September 2014. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-01-03. Retrieved 2015-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Chun, Jennifer. "Annual Visitor Research Reports". State of Hawaii, Hawaii Tourism Authority. Archived from the original on April 20, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  13. ^ Gill, Lorin (August 25, 2015). "University of Hawaii's New $27M Kona campus begins first classes". Pacific Business News. Archived from the original on August 31, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  14. ^ "Palamanui may offer marine science degree". West Hawaii Today. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  15. ^ "UH heads lay out vision for Hawaii Community College — Palamanui". West Hawaii Today. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  16. ^ Armstrong, Jason (January 2, 2019). "Big Island: The VOG I Gone - For The First Time in Decades". Civil Beat. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  17. ^ "Ironman World championships". Ironman.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-18. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
  18. ^ "Kona Historical Society-Preserving Kona's Stories". Kona Historical Society. Archived from the original on April 20, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  19. ^ "Hawaii Scenic Byway – Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast". Archived from the original on 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  20. ^ Kona Historical Society, 1997, A Guide to Old Kona, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-2010-7
  21. ^ "Official website". West Hawaii Today. Archived from the original on July 5, 2015. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  22. ^ "Kailua CDP, Hawaii Archived 2009-06-04 at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.

External links[edit]