Although you can comfortably drive the entire circumference of the island in about a day, there is still enough air traffic to sustain two airports. The one on the eastern side of the island is Hilo; on the western side, in Keahole, is the other. Here, passengers can arrive from/depart to the western seaboard of the continental United States, as well as destinations in Canada and Alaska.
The Keahole Airport looks nothing at all like a traditional airport. It more closely resembles a chalet-style resort or a night club or restaurant, with open-air buildings decorated with numerous palm trees. As quaint and charming as it looks, it really is a fully functioning airport.
The district has a suburban residential feel about it instead of a bustling tourist spot with bright lights, noise and crowds. While there is sufficient availability of accommodation, it is easy to blend in with the local residents. There is a special shrimp restaurant situated right on the coastline overlooking Kailua Bay, where diners can watch swimming humpback whales and body-boarding humans hurling themselves into the waves.
The dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, is also within comfortable driving distance. One million years old, and rising 14,000 feet above sea level, it is taller than Everest and the tallest peak in the state. The Mauna Kea Observatory is the biggest such facility on the planet.
If you feel like an adventure and can summon the nerve, try parasailing. Basically, this involves you strapped into a parachute, a speed boat and a length of very, very strong rope. Many people allow themselves to dangle 800 above the crystal blue sea, while others signal a desire to go as high as 1,200 feet. If you don't mind your tummy tickling you to distraction, the views are tremendous and when the boat stops and you are allowed to free fall, it really is amazing.
Those who don't care to toss their lunch a quarter of a mile down into the sea can still enjoy a boat trip. There are dolphins to discover, rafts to cruise and diving to be done. Whatever type of marine adventure you are after, you should certainly be able to find it here.
What makes staying in Kona great is its atmosphere of suburban independence. You have access to whatever you need in terms of food, shopping, and sight seeing but without the crowds and high prices. If you are lucky enough to find accommodation with your own balcony or patio, you can pretend that you really live there and have your own apartment. It makes you feel like you belong there.
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