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This town and resort region on the sunny, lava-topped Kona Coast is the hub of activity for Big Island visitors and residents alike. It’s home to restaurants and shops as well as a boat-lined marina—the spot to join a group excursion of fishing or diving and snorkeling, including a night swim with the giant manta rays that frequent the area. Also worth noting: The cooler, fertile slopes that rise up from the coastal Kailua-Kona region are populated by coffee plantations, and the rigorous annual Hawaiian Ironman triathlon begins and ends here.

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