Hawaii bureau chief Doug Oakley spent three days on the Big
Island. His report follows:
Flying into the Kona Airport, I was struck by how the endless
expanse of old lava flows resembles broken brownie crust.
So it was with this image in mind that I set out for the town of
Kona, or Kailua-Kona as it is officially known, to see what a town
set on broken brownie crust is like.
I parked my rental car at the south end of Alii Drive, which
runs through town along the shore, and without any guide or
guidebook to follow, I began wandering.
What I found were plenty of gift shops, bars and
I'm not a shopper and I'm not a drinker, so I wasn't
particularly impressed with the commercial aspect of Alii Drive. It
is a nice walk through town, though.
At the first place I saw, an open-air restaurant called Huggos,
I stopped for a cup of coffee and some breakfast.
Huggos didn't seem to be open for business yet, but a coffee
stand inside, Java on the Rocks, was serving customers.
This place offered some egg dishes, literally cooked on top of
the espresso machine, and coffee.
The eggs and coffee were good enough, but I almost choked when I
had to pay $2.25 for the cup of coffee.
The owner of the place told me he pays $20 a pound for the extra
special Kona coffee grown right here on the Big Island. Frankly, it
didn't taste any better or worse than any other, cheaper
I continued my walk down Alii Drive, and just before I was about
to call this place a bust on the interesting meter,
I found Hulihe'e Palace.
This is about the only place in town I found worthy of a
Shoppers, drinkers and those looking for something to eat will
find plenty to keep them busy, however.
Right across the street from the palace is Mokuaikaua Church,
established in 1820.
It's a considerable sight and stands out from the other modern
buildings surrounding it.
I didn't go in there, but I did visit Hulihe'e Palace.
After paying the $5 fee, I proceeded on a self-guided tour, with
periodic explanations by the helpful museum staff.
What I found were tons of artifacts in pristine shape from the
monarchy period of Hawaii in the late 1800s.
The display rivaled the one at the Bishop Museum in
The museum showcased all types of furniture that belonged to
various royalty and early governors as well as javelins and spears
belonging to Kamehameha the Great.
Other artifacts included eating bowls, stone tools, a shark
tooth knife, drums, poi pounders, portraits of important players in
the Hawaiian monarchy and a teak and rosewood music box given to
Princess Ka'iulani by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Hulihe'e Palace is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, but is
closed on holidays.
Admission is $5.
Call (808) 329-1877 for more information.