Kona royal and red-letter – The Big Island’s historic west coast offers more than just scenery
Over the past 600+ years West Hawaii has been a focal point for many touchstone events in the history of the archipelago State.
Famous for much more than just coffee, the Kona-Kohala Coast is the birthplace of many history-making icons and celebrities alike. Among them, Hawaii’s first astronaut, Ellison Onizuka, actress Layla Roberts (Beowulf, Armageddon), actor Micah Sherman (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, My Best Friend’s Girl), and the late pro-wrestler Brian “Crush” Adams.
Over the years it has also become the adopted home of countless other glitterati.
Royal stomping grounds
It’s not just Hollywood luminaries who’ve called the Big Island’s West Coast home. Not least among its most famous residents was Hawaii’s greatest ruler. Kailua-Kona was once a sprawling royal compound, with homes for the wives, children and extended family of the great King Kamehameha.
Kamehameha I was called “the Great” for a reason: he united the island chain for the first time under a single government, creating the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. Nowhere is his legacy more keenly felt, let alone celebrated, than on the Kona-Kohala Coast, his birthplace and home.
Settlement and exploration
The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers, who some historians say may have arrived as early as 300 A.D.
The British explorer Captain James Cook – not to be confuse with the more infamous “Captain James Hook” of Peter Pan fame – famously landed at Kauai in 1778, opening the way for European settlers. A year later, warriors at Kealakekua Bay killed Cook after he attempted to kidnap and ransom their king, Kalaniʻōpuʻu. Remarkably, though the relationship between the Europeans and the indigenous people was contentious, to say the least, Cook was – and is to this day – held in high esteem. The island chain is littered with monuments to him.
It was after the great King Kamehameha’s death, in the 1820’s, that Kona-Kohala Coast became the landing place of the first Christian missionaries to the once Island Kingdom. One of Hawaii’s oldest churches survives today in Kailua-Kona.
Points of Interest
Hawaii’s west coast boasts numerous historical and cultural sites. These include archaeological sites such as Mookini Heiau in Kohala, Hulihe’e Palace, Mokuaikaua Church, Waimea’s Parker Ranch, and the modern Ellison Onizuka Space Museum at Kona International Airport.
If you’re visiting the Big Island’s west coast and you’d like more information, or you want to plan your itinerary around historic points of interest, your best resource is going to be The Kona Historical Society in Kealakekua. They offer a number of “living history” programs and curate a several museums historical sites. Visit them online at www.konahistorical.org or call 808-323-3222.
Make the Big Island your home
If you’ve visited before and you’re enchanted – and let’s face it, who wouldn’t be? – and now maybe you’re looking to explore some Big Island real estate, real estate expert Annette Mejia offers hundreds of available listings and resources for relocating! Around this site you will find articles, reviews, and helpful links to help you get acquainted with the area. For more information, you can reach out through our Contact page, email Annette directly at [email protected] or call (808) 217-8500.
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