In Kona, life is beautiful. Along the warm and sunny western coast of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, you’ll find incredible vistas: white sand beaches lined with swaying palm trees, dramatic jet-black lava fields, and seemingly endless stretches of blue ocean.

If you’re considering making your home in Kona, we’ll show you everything you need to know to make a smooth, simple relocation. We’ve helped thousands of individuals and families make their move to Hawaiʻi, and we’ll share what we’ve learned along the way.

Let’s start with what brings so many people to the Hawaiian Islands: the weather.

What Is the Weather Like in Kona?

Generally, the weather along the Kona coast tends to be hot, dry, and sunny—as opposed to the Hilo side of the island, which tends to be cooler, damp, and cloudy.

Why? It has everything to do with the predominant northeast trade winds that blow across the Hawaiian Islands and the topography of the Big Island. Those trade winds bring in moist air from the Pacific Ocean. As the air hits the steep slopes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the air rises, clouds form, and rain falls. On the other side of the volcanoes, the descending air is warmer and dryer, so there’s less chance for rainfall.

Kona means “leeward” in Hawaiian.  The leeward side of an island is the one that’s sheltered from the wind. For all the reasons above, the leeward coast of all the Hawaiian Islands tends to be hotter and drier—just like the Big Island’s Kona coast.

So, practically, what does this mean for the weather in Kona?

Expect plenty of heat and sun—especially in the late summer and early fall—and fairly steady weather year-round:

Is Kona Expensive to Live In?

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) consistently ranks Hawaiʻi as the most expensive state to live in. Their index puts Hawaiʻi at the top of the list in terms of grocery, housing, utility, transportation, and health costs.

While the Big Island has a reputation for being one of the cheaper islands to live on, life in and around Kona is still expensive. Data from MIT’s Living Wage calculator offers one a barometer for understanding the cost of living on the Big Island. Below, you’ll see the hourly rate needed to earn a living wage in Hawaiʻi County.

Keep in mind that this “living wage” only covers basic needs such as food, childcare, healthcare, housing, transportation, and other necessities. Things like entertainment, eating out, savings, etc. would be additional on top.


But here’s the good news: Real estate prices on the Big Island tend to be the lowest in the island chain. If owning a place in Hawaiʻi has long been a dream, the Big Island can be a great place to make it happen.

Speaking of places to live, let’s take a look at the neighborhoods in the North and South Kona districts so you can find the one that’s right for you.

What Are the Best Places to Live in Kona?

You’ll find a number of different neighborhoods up and down the Big Island’s western coast. Whether you want a condo right in the middle of the bustling hub of Kailua-Kona or a quiet home in a family-oriented neighborhood, you’ll likely find something that aligns with your ideal lifestyle.

Some of our favorite spots include:

  • Kailua-Kona: Enjoy easy proximity to restaurants, bars, and stores—and the gorgeous coastline.
  • Waikoloa Village: This planned community offers several different housing types, plus shared amenities like a golf course, tennis courts, and a pool.
  • Hawaiian Ocean View Estates (HOVE): Rural and quiet, Ocean View makes the perfect spot for a serene escape.
  • Holualoa: This charming small town has long been an artist’s enclave. Plus, the town’s elevation (1500 feet) means cooler temperatures.
  • Kahaluu-Keauhou: Coastal views and cool breezes characterize this area of the Big Island. Home costs tend to be higher in this area, so bring a healthy budget.
  • Captain Cook: Family-friendly Captain Cook offers more affordable real estate, as well as a quiet setting that’s a bit removed from busy Kailua-Kona.

What Is Vog—and Does It Impact the Kona Coast?

Simply put, vog (volcanic smog) is air pollution that results from volcanic emissions.

If you or anyone in your family has respiratory issues or environmental sensitivities, it’s important to read up on vog before moving to the Kona area.

As you may know, the Hawaiian Islands owe their formation to volcanoes. The island chain lies over what scientists call a “hot spot,” where super-heated magma pushes through cracks in the Pacific Plate. This hot spot is currently under the Big Island, which is why volcanoes like Kīlauea and Mauna Loa continue to erupt.

These volcanoes—Kīlauea especially—release emissions that include sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gasses. The result is a smog-like haze. People with asthma and sensitive respiratory systems may experience symptoms caused by vog such as ear, nose, and throat irritation, difficulty breathing, fatigue, coughing, and more.

Now, remember those northeast tradewinds we talked about? They often push vog west or southwest, which can mean plenty of vog in and around Kona.

Some people feel unaffected by vog. For others, it’s a plague. Make sure you do your research before you commit to buying a place.

What Is There to Do in Kona?

The easy answer is to send you to the beach! You’ll find picture-perfect beaches all along the western coast of the island. Check out Maniniʻōwali Beach and Kahaluʻu Beach Park—two of our favorites. You’ll soon make your own list of favorite beaches as you start exploring.

Of course, there’s plenty more to do in and around Kona:

Can I Bring My Cat or Dog to Hawaiʻi?

Yes! With a little paperwork—and some help from your vet—you’ll be able to bring your cat or dog to Hawaiʻi. If all goes well, they may be able to go home with you right from the airport, through the state’s Direct Airport Release program.

Hawaiʻi is a rabies-free island, and the state is determined to stay that way. As a result, they’ve put a series of strict rules in place for importing animals. You’ll need to work with your veterinarian to ensure your pet has the right vaccines—and clear test results—prior to arrival in Hawaiʻi. Otherwise, your pet may have to go into quarantine.

Keep in mind that pets headed for Kona will need what’s called a “Neighbor Island Inspection Permit.” You’ll need to present this permit before you can board your final flight to Kona.

For all the details, visit the state of Hawaiʻi’s Animal Industry Division website.

Should I Ship My Car to Hawaiʻi?

Maybe! Many of the clients we work with ship absolutely everything they own to their new house in Kona—including their cars.

However, not all cars are worth shipping to the Big Island:

  • If your car only has a few years left on it, you might consider selling it at your current home, rather than investing the money to ship it to the Big Island.
  • If you’ve got a specialty car in pristine condition—such as a historic car or one without a single scratch on it, you might reconsider bringing it with you. Island roads can be tough on a car. Add in the effects of sea spray if you’re near the coast, and you may find yourself lamenting your car’s condition sooner than you think.

However, if you’ve got a truck or a four-wheel drive vehicle, bring it! You’ll find plenty of use for it on the Big Island.

Your New Life in Kona

For most people, moving to Hawaiʻi represents a huge transition. Relocating to Kona means getting used to a different environment and a new lifestyle. With this list of must-knows, you now know a bit more about what to expect from your new life in Kona, paving the way for a smooth transition to your new home.

Moving to Kona—or another Big Island location? We’ve helped thousands of individuals and families make the transition to Hawaiʻi, and we’d love to help you. Just reach out to one of our experts for a complimentary quote for your Kona move.

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