Holualoa Bay is located between Keauhou and Kailua-Kona on the western shore of the Big Island. Uphill from the bay is the community of Holualoa.
Holualoa means “Long slide” in the Hawaiian language and refers to a trail that once stretched from a forested area on the slopes of Hualalai volcano near the village to a place where the large trees were fashioned into canoes and then to the bay where a complex of royal buildings was located.
These structures, dating to at least the seventh century, included homes as well as heiau (sacred places of worship). The area where these structures were located uphill of Alii Drive was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Holualoa 4 Archaeological District.
On the south side of Holualoa Bay to the west of Alii Drive is the Kamoa Point Complex where the surfing heiau called Haleaama Heiau was located. Nearby was a large sports complex where warriors honed their fighting skills.
A terraced grandstand at the site provided a view of the surfing contests that took place offshore. It is believed that this is where the young Kamehameha learned to surf before going on to rule all of the Hawaiian Islands as King Kamehameha I.
Kamehameha later ruled from Kailua-Kona just to the north where his residence of Kamakahonu was located alongside Ahuena Heiau. The king also maintained a heiau near Holualoa Bay called Hale O Kaili which was dedicated to his war god Kukailimoku.
The surfing break on the north side of Holualoa Bay is known as “Banyans” and is generally for very experienced surfers only. On the south side of the bay is the surfing break called “Lyman’s” which is also for experienced surfers.
On the northern side of Holualoa Bay is the “Living Stones Church” which was restored in the 1990s. The small Christian church was originally built in the 1800s and was known as Hale Halawai O Holualoa, which means “Meeting house near the long slide” in the Hawaiian language.