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Cruises to Kona (Kailua Bay)

4 Awards
Kona (Photo:Ed-Ni Photo/Shutterstock)

About Kona (Kailua Bay)

While cruise ships call it "Kona," this stop on the western part of the island of Hawaii is actually a region rather than an actual city. Ships anchor in Kailua Bay and tender their guests to the Kailua Pier, which is right in the middle of Kailua Village, the historic heart of Kailua-Kona.

Kona's sunnier and dryer than Hilo to the east -- it almost never rains -- and features the island's best beaches, snorkeling and surfing. (The east coast is more tropical, with waterfalls and mountainous regions closer to the town of Hilo. Believe it or not, the island has 11 climatic zones!)

Coffee grown in the hills above Kailua-Kona (the one place where it rains more in the summer than in the winter) is very delicious and highly prized. Beaches in the area range from black sand to sugar white, with sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins and -- in season, November to May -- humpback whales visible from the surf or the shore.

Whereas Hilo is the business anchor of the Big Island (with a more authentic, local feel), the area just north of Kailua-Kona -- the Kohala Coast -- houses the island's most desirable resorts, with renowned restaurants, spas and golf courses.

  • More about Kona (Kailua Bay)

  • Why go to Kona (Kailua Bay)?

  • Kona (Kailua Bay) Cruise Port Facilities?

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Pride of America
Pride of America alongside at Kahului on Sunday, April 10, 2022 (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

7 Night
Hawaii Hnl Inter IslandDetails

2,273 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Pride of America
Pride of America alongside at Kahului on Sunday, April 10, 2022 (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

7 Night
Hawaii CruiseDetails

2,273 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Pride of America
Pride of America alongside at Kahului on Sunday, April 10, 2022 (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

7 Night
Hawaii Hnl Inter IslandDetails

2,273 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Royal Princess
Royal Princess

15 Night
Hawaii CruiseDetails

1,714 Reviews
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Circle HawaiiDetails

801 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Apr 13, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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16 Night
Alaska - OtherDetails

2,072 Reviews
Leaving:Honolulu
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Apr 24, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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16 Night
Hawaii CruiseDetails

2,166 Reviews
Leaving:Seattle
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
Sep 30, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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15 Night
Hawaii CruiseDetails

1,714 Reviews
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

36 Night
Grand World VoyageDetails

1,006 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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34 Night
South Pacific CrossingDetails

794 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Oct 8, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Circle HawaiiDetails

801 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 31, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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17 Night
Circle HawaiiDetails

801 Reviews
Leaving:Vancouver
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Oct 7, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

128 Night
128-day Grand World VoyageDetails

1,006 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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48 Night
South Pacific Crossing & New Zealand CollectorDetails

794 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Oct 8, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Hawaii - OtherDetails

2,072 Reviews
Leaving:Tahiti
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Oct 22, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Kona (Kailua Bay)

Why go to Kona (Kailua Bay)?

Pros:

The weather lends Kona its unparalleled water sports and coffee beans

Cons:

As appealing as the ocean is here, conditions change swiftly; practice the utmost water safety

Bottom Line:

Kona is a gorgeous region; leave time to plan an active excursion and also wander Kilauea Village

Kona (Kailua Bay) Cruise Port Facilities?

Just across from the tender pier is the King Kamehameha Hotel, a historic Hawaiian temple and a small beach with water sports rentals. Head right for a quick walk to restaurants and cafes, souvenir shops, the farmers market and a few historic sites; head left and up the hill for more restaurants and shops, as well as the larger stores like Hilo Hattie's and Long's Drugs.

Good to Know?

Ocean safety is a top concern. The water might look calm and peaceful, but conditions can change quickly. Never turn your back on the ocean and obey all signage or official warnings about beach and water use. If you don't see locals in the water, it might be best to stay on dry land, and don't disobey posted regulations just because someone you meet tells you it's no problem to go swimming.

Getting Around?

On Foot: If you're just going to visit Kailua Village, you can easily do it on foot. It's small and compact.

By Bus or Shuttle: Shuttles at the pier will deliver you to Hilo Hattie's, Kmart, Wal-Mart and the Kona International Market. The Keauhou Trolley is a local area shuttle that makes two alternating loops around Kona area attractions for a couple of bucks. It picks up at the pier and does a shorter loop to retail/restaurant areas and a longer one to nearby beaches; service is limited, so make sure you have a copy of the schedule, available from the tourist reps at the pier.

By Car: You can take advantage of the easy accessibility and reasonable prices of Kona's car rental agencies. Just be savvy about which agency you choose; some have in-town branches, while airport locations might not provide courtesy shuttles for cruisers. (If not, you'll need to hire a cab for the seven-mile ride.) It's best to book ahead, if you can, because if the cars sell out, last-minute rentals can increase the price exponentially. Discount Hawaii Car Rental is one great source for discounted rentals and information on pickup service.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Local currency is the U.S. dollar. There are plenty of ATMs around the little city, including at the Courtyard King Kamehameha Hotel, retail stores on Alii Drive and at the Lanihau shopping center. An American Savings Bank is located at the corner of Kuakini Highway and Palani Road. Almost all shops, restaurants, car rental companies and tour companies take credit and debit cards.

Language?

English, but try your hand at any Hawaiian phrases you pick up. Aloha means hello and goodbye, mahalo means thank you, and aloha ahiahi means good night. If you hear Aloha, e komo mai, don't panic. It means "Welcome!"

Where You're Docked?

Tenders arrive in the middle of downtown Kailua Village. Shopping shuttles will pick you up at the pier, as will rental car company shuttles. Local tourist representatives set up a small table with brochures and maps and can answer questions.


Kona (Kailua Bay) Cruise Reviews
We decided not to book any excursions at this port. We purchased wristbands for the “Hop on Hop off” air conditioned bus and enjoyed seeing some of sites that were a little further out than we wanted to walk. The weaRead More
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Tlack65
Tender process was easy. We didn't rush so waited for the open tender times which probably happened quickly with only 40% passenger capacity. Lots to do close to the pier. Somewhat steep roads so my short legs got wiRead More
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hero78
Best - really the only - port for just getting off the shi and walking around. Beautiful little beach right by the pier. Nice shopping and little restaurants right on the bay. Read More
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bwaz
Met a friend that lives in Kona. Hate tenders, and with corona virus scare, very close quarters.Read More
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mikewehs

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