Located south of the Kona Coast, Keauhou is a small Hawaii vacation resort village that draws sun-loving crowds and intrepid water adventurers. And the real charm of this community is its wealth of historic ties with Hawaiian royalty. With most of the condo communities offering a premier place to kick back, this is a vacation opportunity that you will not want to miss out on!
Some of the best hotel resorts and vacation rentals in Keauhou include Keauhou Palena and Na Hale O Keauhou. With amenities like pools, hot-tubs, fitness rooms, and tennis courts these 1 to 3 bedroom condo rentals sleep up to 6 guests. Near Keauhou Bay and Kahaluu Bay you’ll be close to all the swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and sunning your heart desires right from your Keauhou vacation rental.
Also near Keauhou Shopping Village, you’ll have easy access to shopping, dining, and entertainment. Not to mention all the great adventures awaiting you in the area on your Big Island of Hawaii vacation!
The inviting waters off the coast and the sunny weather were the same draws that attracted the islands’ rulers in the past who built some of their summer homes here as well as temples. Marine creatures also flock to the waters just off the coast, lured by the abundance of food that makes it possible to observe them in their native surroundings. And if you love coffee, Keauhou makes a perfect launching pad for you to explore the uphill towns that grow some of the most delicious beans in the world.
And there’s plenty more to see and do, like the ones listed below.
Things to do in Keauhou
See the remains of Big Island's royal slide
Surfing wasn't the only sport Hawaiian royalty loved. Sledding was their favorite pastime too. Keauhou's ties to its royal past remain visible today at the Royal Holua Slide located close to Ali'i Drive opposite the country club.
The slide was commissioned by Kamehameha I and built on grass-covered slopes and stone ramps ('holua') covered with compressed grass stems or sugarcane leaves that became slippery under the noonday sun, so wooden sleds can race down to the shore of the bay below. This National Historic Landmark is not to be missed for its cultural significance and prominence (a mile long before its destruction by various environmental factors) in the landscape of Big Island.
Visit the birthplace of Kamehameha III
Keauhou is an unincorporated community these days, but back in monarchical times, it was surrounded by a populated village. Kamehameha III took the throne at a young age, instituted sweeping reforms in land ownership and literacy, and became the longest-reigning Hawaiian monarch. His birthplace is marked by a stone at the head of the Keauhou Bay.
See King Kalakaua’s Beach House
The Kona Coast brims with the history associated with Hawaiian royalty, including the humble frame beach house (today inside the grounds of a private resort) where King Kalakaua relaxed away from the cares of the royal palace.
Pay respects to fallen warriors at the Lekeleke burial grounds
Hawaii’s ancient kapu system dictated many of the islands' religious practices, social order, and day to day living. This system was abandoned by Kamehameha II after he ascended to the throne on the death of his father, Kamehameha I. The latter bequeathed his temples to Kekuaokalani, his nephew, who, along with other chiefs, rebelled against the abolition of the kapu system.
The ensuing battle between the traditionalists and Christian converts led to one of the bloodiest in the island, and one that changed the island’s civilization forever. The fallen were interred inside many of the rock cairns located in the area. The burial site is at the end of Ali'i Drive.
Swim with manta rays at night
The waters off the Kona Coast have traditionally attracted manta rays, but if you want to have a better chance of seeing them at any given time, the waters off Keauhou are a more predictable pick over the waters north of the coast. Here microscopic marine plankton abounds, which, in turn, feed a population of manta rays. Witness these graceful creatures in their natural habitat on a night dive in and around Keauhou Bay. Outfitters that partner with local conservation groups are available to arrange a diving or snorkeling expedition for you.
Explore the Historic Kailua Village
A short drive to the north, the Historic Kailua Village throbs with seaside charm often associated with the Kona coast. It’s as popular with visitors today as it was well-loved by Hawaiian royalty in the past. After all, King Kamehameha spent his final years at Kamakahonu Bay near Kailua Pier before passing in 1819. It’s also worth visiting Ahu'ena Heiau, seen right across the pier. The house was a refuge and place of ritual prayers for Kamehameha I, and the place where, many thought, he died.
The pier today is the best spot in the area to witness magnificent sunsets. The area was also where Hawaiian royals vacationed in the 19th century when they built the Hulihee Palace in 1838. A museum today, the palace offers a glimpse of royal life during the time of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani with plenty of Victorian artifacts on display. Kailua has a bustling shopping, dining, and nightlife scene so it’s worth lingering for some fun after dinner.
See where Capt. James Cook landed (and died)
If you’re into history and water sports, making that half-hour drive south will be worth it. Kealakekua Bay marks the place where the famous British navigator and explorer landed on the island in 1778. The obelisk is hard to miss as south Kona’s calm and clear water is hard to resist. Make a day out of it with diving, sailing, or snorkeling, or if you prefer to stay on land, dolphin-spotting. Green turtles also make regular appearances.
Enjoy a cup of Kona coffee in Holualoa
Kona’s upland slopes harbor the island’s world-famous namesake crop. Staying in Keauhou puts you within five miles uphill of Holualoa, a coffee-growing town with fertile volcanic soil for growing the all-important Kona coffee cherries. Aside from its coffee-growing traditions, the town lures visitors with its charming appeal thanks to its thriving artist community, old stone walls, and a languid pace of life. Join one of the many farm tours that let you see how the beans are processed from farm to cup, with an obligatory tasting at the end. Plan your trip around the Holualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll held in November.