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Cruises to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Kona (Photo:Ed-Ni Photo/Shutterstock)
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.

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DAY 1: Honolulu

7 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Maui, Hilo ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Honolulu

14 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Maui, Kauai ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Honolulu

11 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Maui, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Tahiti

14 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Bora Bora, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Maui, Hilo ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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14 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Bora Bora, Raiatea ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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13 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Kauai, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kauai ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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50 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
San Francisco, San Diego ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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45 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Hilo, Honolulu ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Hilo, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Honolulu, Maui ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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35 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Brisbane
Visiting:
Suva, Pago Pago ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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18 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Vancouver
Visiting:
Hilo, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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24 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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25 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Honolulu, Maui ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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17 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Kona, Hilo ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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17 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kauai ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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25 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kauai ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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18 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Kauai, Honolulu ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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56 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kauai ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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25 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Kauai, Honolulu ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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111 Night
Cruise to Kona (Kailua Bay)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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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.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations
  • 2016 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations
  • 2015 Top-Rated Hawaii Destinations

Kona (Kailua Bay) Cruise Reviews

Carnival Splendor
SuperCruiser Man
Sail Date: Dec 2018
Kona: In Kona we had to take a tender (small boat) from the ship to the island because the ship was too big to dock there. It was quick and well organized and the great thing about it was as soon as we got off we... Read More
Norwegian Jewel
VictoriaBC cruiser
Sail Date: Oct 2019
We had a great time at Kona. Snorkelling was the highlight of the day and the city had many interesting and historial sites to see.... Read More
Pride of America
steverk
Sail Date: Oct 2019
Kona was the only harbor on our itinerary that actually had a pretty place for use to come ashore. It was a very picturesque place. However, it was very, very crowded! It turns out that we were there 3 days before... Read More
Pride of America
msnyder7
Sail Date: Mar 2019
We walked around the shops in the area and had lunch. Kona Brewing Company has a really great atmosphere.... Read More
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