Explore Holualoa Village in Kona Hawaii

The gorgeous art and coffee town of Holualoa sits peacefully above Kailua-Kona on Hualalai Mountain. Driving by, you could almost blink and miss this small village, but you’d truly be missing a treasure. Holualoa has more to offer than you could possibly imagine.

There are a few different roads leading from “town” up to Holualoa. Generally, in the region of Kona, if someone mentions town, they are referring to Kailua-Kona. The “best way” there changes with every local you ask, but I recommend the quick way up followed by the long way down. Heading south on the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway (don’t fret the pronunciation, even the locals call it the Queen K) out of Kona, keep an eye out for a Chevron station by a stop light at Lako Street. A left up this steep road leads to a T, where you should take a left on Hualalai Road. At the next T, you’ll go for a sharp left onto what the locals call Holualoa Road. A look on google maps will offers a number of different Mamalahoa highways around the Hawai’ian islands, but the locals have much more logical names for these highways that are very helpful to learn. About a mile or so down Holualoa Road pass a school on the right followed by a small bridge and a visitor parking section also on the right.

Around the parking lot there are a few lovely art galleries, including an old ukulele gallery that is overflowing with that “real thing” feel. A short walk north leads to the cutest post office that looks like it was just popped out of a 1950s time capsule. Oddly enough the Holualoa Post Office is the only place on the west side of the Big Island to get your passport. The main office in Kona sent some of their services up the mountain to keep this little gem in operation. Between the post office and the parking lot sits an old theater that is mostly only used for karate lessons these days, but it has a surprisingly delicious, window-service Mexican restaurant built in where I assume the old box office was. Also, there is a great little shop across the highway if you’d rather just grab a quick snack or drink. Paul’s Place has a better selection of both snacks and craft beer than almost any other shop in West Hawai’i, and the owner Paul always made me smile. One word to the wise, save your Kona coffee money for a ways down the road.

However, if you’re interested in a more formal meal, Holualoa Village still has even more to offer just a little further to the north. The short walk up the road may be better as a drive if you’re a little faint of heart. I walked the highway plenty when I lived in the small town, but I imagine some might think of that as a bit scary. Either way you get there, there is fabulous restaurant and cafe just north of the post office called Holuakoa Cafe. The cafe is great spot for a quick, deliciously local coffee, but the food at the restaurant is the kicker. Holuakoa Cafe serves up amazing local and organic dinners and brunches to die for. The ambiance at this place is unbeatable. Brunch on a Hawaiian mountain-side, outdoors surrounded by Buddhist sculpture and a Koi fish pond is about as good as it gets. Needless to say, a restaurant with so much love and effort behind it has no trouble keeping an amazing service staff.

Across the highway from Holuakoa lies the locally famous pink hotel, formally named the Kona Hotel. There is a little gift shop beside the hotel that might be a better place to spend some of your souvenir money than the Long’s Drugs (aka Walgreen’s). The prices at the local shops might be a little higher, but keeping the tourism money on the island that offers so much is key to keeping it the amazing destination it is.

Remember that I mentioned taking the long way home, and then later, holding onto your Kona coffee money? This is where both of those come in, and you have choices on the coffee! There are a plethora of coffee farms scattered throughout the Holualoa area. The largest farms north of the village that offer tours are UCC-Hawaii and Hula Daddy Kona Coffee along the left side of the road, and Mountain Thunder Coffee Company on the right just before Holualoa Road comes to a T at another highway. Call ahead and schedule a farm tour if you’re interested, and you can schedule the rest of your visit around that. Also along the left roadside north of the village, keep an eye out for a deliciousness fresh fruit stand. They use the honor system, so be honorable.

I recommend the north route out of Holualoa because the views above Kailua-Kona, down the mountainside, and out to the ocean are simply breathtaking. Also, because after a lovely day in rural Hawai’ian heaven, a simpler way back to town can be priceless. The highway that Holualoa Road hits near Mountain Thunder Coffee Company actually leads down the mountain (to the left) to eventually become Palani Road which then curves down to become Ali’i Drive, the main drag in Kailua-Kona. A visit to Holualoa can be a great way to break up hectic days of adventuring around the island with a laid back day of relaxation. It doesn’t get much more authentic Hawai’ian than this place.

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