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Half a day is plenty of time to explore Kailua-Kona; most of the town's sights are located in or near the downtown area. Still, if you add in a beach trip (Kahaluu Beach has some of the best and easiest snorkeling on the island), it's easy to while away the bulk of a day. Another option for making a day of it is to tack on a short trip to the charming artists' village of Holualoa or to the coffee farms in the mountains just above Kealakekua Bay. There are a few great restaurants here that are far more affordable than those on the Kohala Coast and in Waimea. The town closest to the Kona International Airport (it's about 7 mi away), Kailua-Kona is a convenient home base from which to explore the island.
The easiest place to park your car is at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel ($15 per day). Some free parking is also available: When you enter Kailua via Palani Road (Hwy. 190), turn left onto Kuakini Highway, drive for a half block, and turn right into the small marked parking lot. Walk makai (toward the ocean) on Likana Lane a half block to Alii Drive, and you'll be in the heart of Kailua-Kona.
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