With a town center that hosts the Kona Community Hospital, a state courthouse, a post office, and other places of business, Kealakekua is South Kona’s motor. But the region’s mauka roads dotted with coffee farms also showcase communities adapting the old to the new, from the enduring old-time main street of Kainaliu at its north end to the famous, dolphin-studded bay to the south.
Catch a show at historic Aloha Theatre, which hosts theatrical productions, comedians, and dance troupes in its circa 1932 pink building. 79-7384 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-322-9924; apachawaii .org.
Travel back to the 1890s at H.N. Greenwell Store Museum, where costumed interpreters help you gather supplies for a typical mauka journey. 81-6551 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-323-3222; konahistorical .org.
Discover the history of the island’s largest natural sheltered bay at Captain Cook Monument and Hikiau Heiau in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. 82-6044 Pu‘uhonua Beach Road. tinyurl.com/kbshp.
Arrive by foot along Ka‘awaloa Trail or via a guided kayak and snorkel tour by permitted companies such as Kona Boys. 79-7539 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-328-1234; konaboys.com.
The 92-year-old H. Kimura Store on Kainaliu’s main street draws quilters and sewing fans from around the country seeking precision-cut Hawaiian and Japanese fabrics. 79-7408 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-322-3771.
With three rooms of artisan-made ceramics, hand-painted silk designs by the owner, and other treasures, colorful Blue Ginger Gallery is an essential stop. 79-7391 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-322-3898; bluegingergallery .com.
Explore eclectic finds at Discovery Antiques, though some people visit just for the Tropical Dreams ice cream. 81-6593 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-323-2239.
Great eateries are often clustered together. To the north, The Strawberry Patch serves creative curry dishes, pastas, and salads. 79-7491 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-322-9060; thestrawberrypatchhawaii .com.
Next door, charming ‘Iwa Arts and Café is perfect for a game of dominoes with coffee or sides of house-made soup or pastries. 79-7491 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-731-6582; iwacafe.com.
In town, Caffe Florian is a casual respite with simple breakfast and lunch dishes, abundant coffee drinks, and an ocean view from the balcony. 81-6637 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-238-0861; caffefloriankona.com.
Farther south, Gypsea Gelato scoops inventive and classic flavors, from creamy liliko‘i to matcha. 79-7460 Māmalahoa Highway. 808-322-3233; gypseagelato.com.