Having a tropical climate, the town of Kailua-Kona, on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a relaxed place that receives many tourists, eager for the warm temperatures, scenery and dramatic coastal driving and views. The area's main product, the aromatic coffee known as Kona, is world famous. Meeting venues in Kailua-Kona are part of the larger Kohala Coast, which contains most of the island's resorts and golf courses.
Eight miles north of Kailua-Kona, Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) serves the area and connects it to mainland U.S., especially its western states. A second runway is planned but several years away. All this said, many visitors fly to Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu and then transfer to a flight here.
There are no stand-alone convention venues in Kailua-Kona; instead, hotels offer substantial meeting space. These include the 350-room Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel at Mauna Kea Resort, which has seven meeting rooms and an 8,428-square-foot ballroom; its sibling 258-room Mauna Kea Beach Hotel at Mauna Kea Resort, which has 4,074 and 43,000 square feet of interior and exterior meeting space, respectively, and the 343-room Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, which has eight meeting rooms and a 4,810-square-foot ballroom. Two additional, wonderful properties are the 309-room Keauhou Beach Resort, with 6,900 square feet of meeting space, and 243-room Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, with 6,175 square feet of meeting space.
All Hawaii is unique, so it should come as no surprise to know that there are unique venues in Kailua-Kona for groups. Interesting choices include Rockstarz, a nightclub and venue that can be rented in its entirety; Blue Sea Cruises, which has two boats, the Spirit of Kona for 150 persons and the Makai for 70, especially popular for whale-watching; Aloha Performing Arts Center, which has 302 seats; the not-surprisingly lush, tropical Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which has spectacular outdoor event space for up to 70 persons overlooking Onomea Bay, and, very popular, a luau (an open-pit fire with roasted pig (cooked underground and Polynesian song and dance) at the 555-room Waikoloa Beach Marriott.
Dining is superb here and features slow-cooked meats and tropical fruits. Maybe the best view in the area is from the Don the Beachcomber Restaurant at the 436-room Royal Kona resort, where the curved outdoor dining area stares right out to sea; formal, surf n' turf Huggo's, which opened in 1969; Island Lava Java Bistro Grill, also oceanside, which specializes in home-grown produce and also has a shop connected to it; Kona Brewing Co., which has its own brewery, as well as 4,000-square-foot outdoor lanai with 175 seats, and Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill, often missed by tourists and with beautifully presented, tasty food and space for groups of up to 100 persons.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user: Travisthurston
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA)
Approximate taxi fare: 40 USD
Photo by Flickr user : brewbooks
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