Thursday, June 20, 2013

Accidental Tourist in Kailua Kona

Last week I found myself in Kailua-Kona without a car during an all day wait for a brake repair job.  I had a leisurely breakfast at Island Naturals buffet and walked over to the Kona Coast Shopping Center to wait for the stores to open.  When I saw the olive colored Keauhou Honu Trolley arrive, I pulled out $2 and got on the bus to see what it was like.  Though I have seen the Trolley on Ali’i Drive providing visitors a way to get to Kailua pier, beaches, vacation rentals, hotels, restaurants, and businesses in Kailua Kona without needing a rental car or dealing with the parking shortage or walking in the hot sun, I have never before had the time to ride it.

The Honu Trolley starts at the Sheraton in Keauhou at 9AM and drives the route until 9:15PM  where it stops at the Sheraton. The route from the Sheraton to Kailua Pier takes approximately 40 minutes with stops at the Kona Country Club, Keauhou Shopping Center (at Longs), Kahalu’u Beach (Bus Kiosk at the crosswalk), Magic Sands Beach, Kona Bali Kai, Aston Kona By The Sea, Royal Sea Cliff, Royal Kona Resort (across the street), Coconut Grove Marketplace, St. Michael’s Church (Water Front Row), and Kona Market Place.  From there, the Trolley drives another route to shopping centers and businesses in Kailua including Hilo Hatties,  Walmart, Macy’s, Kona Commons Shopping Center, Kona International Marketplace, Kona Brewing Company, and Kona Coast Shopping Center which takes it approximately 40 minutes before returning to Kailua Pier.  The Trolley then returns the Sheraton in Keauhou, again stopping all along Ali’i Drive.

After I boarded, the Trolley stopped at Kailua Pier where I was entertained by all the activity along the seawall  while parked in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel.  It then proceeded slowly down Ali’i Drive. My seat was up much higher than a car so I could see over the sea walls and bushes and enjoy the sweeping views of the turquoise water and coastline. I got off at Keauhou Shopping Center and enjoyed sitting in a tree shaded area with cool ocean breezes,   The Kona Stories bookstore, which I love partially because they sell our books, was very fun to browse. I walked up the hill to have lunch at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai and check out the panoramic view that our friends have raved about.  

After lunch, I walked down to where the Trolley had dropped me off in front of Longs Drug store and waited for it to return. I found a comfortable bench and enjoyed conversations with visitors also waiting for the Trolley about how much fun they were having in Hawaii.

When the Trolley arrived, I paid my $2 and it proceeded to the Sheraton Hotel where it  turned around and headed back to Kailua Pier stopping all along the way. The day was sunny without VOG and I marveled at the great views.  I never realized how much I was missing by being a driver and always having to look at the road and the other cars. Having a day off in Kona and riding the Honu Trolley turned out to be quite a treat!


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