The Port of Kailua Kona is located in a popular resort area on the western shores of Hawaii island. The Port of Kailua Kona is about 33 nautical miles (47 kilometers or 29 miles by air) south-southwest of Kawaihae Harbor and about 113 nautical miles (97 kilometers or 60 miles by air) west of Hilo Harbor, both of them also on Hawaii island. The whole western coastline of Hawaii island is called Kona, and the largest town in the area is Kailua. The region is called Kailua-Kona. The 2010 US Census reported a population of almost 12 thousand residents in the Port of Kailua Kona.
The Port of Kailua Kona is a popular destination for big-game fishers and outdoor lovers who want to visit area beaches and surrounding waters. The Kona district is the base of the State's coffee industry and has given its name to one of the world's most popular coffee blends. In 2006, the Port of Kailua Kona was the closest city to the epicenter 6.7 Hawaii Earthquake.
The future Port of Kailua Kona, built around Kailua Bay, was the location for some of the first contacts between Europeans and Hawaiians. Captain James Cook landed here in January 1779 and was killed on Kealakekua Beach in February.
King Kamehameha made the area Port of Kailua Kona his capital in the early 1800s after he had conquered competing chiefs across the Hawaiian islands. Today, a hotel is located on the site of his home and council area.
When Kamehameha died in 1819, conflict erupted over who would succeed the King. Kamehameha II defeated Kekuaokalani, and the current Burial Grounds, located about 11 kilometers (7 miles) south of the city, commemorate that battle.
Hawaiian kings after Kamehameha I made their summer residence at the Port of Kailua Kona's Hulihee Palace, which is now a museum. In the mid-1800s, the Hawaiian capital was moved from the Port of Kailua Kona to Honolulu. Kailua continued as a fishing village until the late 20th Century.
The 21st Century has brought a construction and real estate boom to the Port of Kailua Kona in response to increasing investment and tourism.