Overflowing with culture, beautiful scenery, ecotourism opportunities, and historical significance, Hawaii's Kohala Coast is a remarkable meeting and travel destination. Located along the western shore of Hawaii's Big Island, the Kohala Coast is the epicenter of the Big Island's large resorts, golf courses, and luxurious spas, restaurants and shops. The Kohala Coast's share of resorts brings a number of meeting facilities and unique venues to the 40,298-square-mile island – which can be explored coast-to-coast in less than three hours. The Kohala Coast's numerous resorts, restaurants, unique venues and proximity to international transportation makes the area a premier meeting destination – with a tropical flair.
The Kohala Coast is served by the Kona International Airport (KOA), located in Keahole, just 20 miles south of the resort area. Kona International serves international and interisland flights, averaging 400 operations and 9,000 passengers daily. The Big Island is also served by the Hilo International Airport (ITO), located on the eastern side of the island about 70 miles from the Kohala Coast. Hilo International services interisland operations. Once on the Big Island, visitors can use the Hele-On Bus system, which runs 15 routes throughout Hawaii County, including the South Kohala Resort bus route. Most visitors to Kohala Coast choose to rent cars to get from place to place; both Kona International and Hilo International offer a number of on-site rental car counters.
The beauty of Kohala Coast – beyond the breathtaking scenery and fantastic beaches – is that many of the area's meeting venues and facilities are within the resort district, meaning meeting participants don't have to travel far from the beach to the boardroom. Located on the white sand of Hapuna Beach, the luxurious Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel offers more than 85,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including a 900-person ballroom, six conference rooms and 43,000 square feet of gardens. The hotel spans 32 oceanfront acres and offers 350 guest rooms, six on-site restaurants, golf course, water sports, on-site shopping, business center and many other amenities. The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel's neighboring sister hotel, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, offers an additional 58,000 square feet of meeting space and 258 guest rooms.
Kohala Coast business travelers also frequent the Hilton Waikoloa Village, which is situated on 62 oceanfront acres and features 1,240 guest rooms and 235,000 square feet of meeting space. The Hilton Waikoloa Village features a 24,120-square-foot Grand Ballroom, as well as the 14,000-square-foot Water's Edge Ballroom, overlooking the Lagoon Lanai and waterfall. Outdoor meeting spaces include the 22,180-square-foot Kona Pool area, while hotel amenities include a full-service business center, mahogany canal boat rides, Zen garden, resort shopping and eight on-site restaurants. Located on the grounds of the Hilton Waikoloa, Dolphin Quest Hawaii features a number of dolphin interactions and programs, as well as a 4,000-square-foot private events space overlooking the main lagoon.
For smaller group functions, the Kohala Coast is lined with a variety of historical attractions, restaurants and tour opportunities designed for private events. The Hawaiian Vanilla Company – the only commercial grower of vanilla in the United States – offers regular vanillery tours, tastings and luncheons in its beautiful rainforest dining room. The Hawaiian Vanilla Company also partners with a number of island-wide culinary tours specializing in corporate tours and horticultural experiences. Groups can tour the Kohala Coast by luxury catamaran, thanks to Body Glove Cruises, which offers a three-hour-long Historical Sunset Cruise along 12 miles of Kona coastline, as well as private charters and excursions. Groups can view the Kohala Coast from a different vantage point aboard Paradise Helicopters chopper tours, leaving daily from both Kona International and Hilo International. Local favorite Huggo's restaurant in Kailua-Kona hugs the curve of Kailua Bay and features nightly live entertainment, fresh seafood and a private terrace for group events.
With the Kohala Coast's numerous resorts, restaurants and tourism hotspots, it's no wonder that the region's economy is centered in tourism. However, the Big Island enjoys a solid industry of ecotourism and agricultural tourism, thanks to the island's unique conditions that allow for the production of cacao, vanilla, macadamia nuts and other culinary delights. As a result, Kohala Coast's industry is also built upon agriculture and ranching, as well as science and technology.