While Kona, Hawaii, boasts its share of upscale, pricey hotels, guests seeking a more low-key level of accommodation will find several suitable choices in the form of economy, drive-up lodging. You don't have to settle for a place located far away from the ocean either. Some places right in town offer the same surf and sunsets you'd be paying a fortune to have at one of the resorts.
The Tiki is a Kona-style tradition and a favorite of returning guests as well as local residents wishing an affordable, clean getaway. While not offering the most glamorous or luxurious rooms, the property is situated directly oceanfront on Ali'i Drive. Kona Tiki offers kitchenettes in some rooms and free breakfast daily. One disadvantage is the huge room deposit required ($350), but this is refundable upon acceptable check out. At the Kona Tiki, you can enjoy views of the surf and sunsets lit by tiki torch after spending a day in town shopping, strolling or hitting the beach. No phones or TVs here, but you can get Wi-Fi. The hotel provides barbecue and pool facilities on-site as well as parking. It books up solidly, especially in the high season of winter, so plan far ahead and make your reservations early.
Located in up-country Kona, the Manago Hotel has been family-owned and operated since 1917. You can rent rooms by the day, week or month. In the older wing of the hotel, which comprises the original building, the cheapest 22 rooms offer shared bath. The new wing's 20 rooms feature private bath. The second-generation, Japanese owners' ancestors first opened the inn with a futon and cot for the reprieve of passersby making the long journey around the island in the early 1900s. Using pigs from their own ranch, the hotel's family-style dining room serves excellent pork chop dinners, thought by many residents to be the best anywhere on the island. The grounds are landscaped with traditional Japanese gardens and koi ponds. Free parking is available.
As of November 2010, a stay at the super-budget Kona Seaside Hotel starts from $88. Right in the heart of the quaint and historic downtown Kailua, the seaside offers an outstanding view from some of its rooms (you can request oceanfront) while other rooms are located across the street. Somewhat dilapidated in sections, the Seaside is nonetheless a good location for the price if you can look past some rusting railings, dated furnishings or faded linens. Steps away, enjoy a calamari sandwich and chips at the famed Kona Inn fronting a large lawn and sea wall.
Kona Islander Inn
The Islander offers outstanding value for the money. Across the street from the ocean and right in town on Ali'i Drive, the gated property features a swimming pool, barbecue area and kitchenettes in all studios. Air conditioning, TV, phone and Wi-Fi come standard in every room. Parking is free for guests. Walk to town for dining, dancing and shopping or to the small sandy beach right across the street.
- Kona Skies image by Rick Chesler from Fotolia.com