Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area
Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area is a park built on the site of an old landing strip just North of Kailua, Hawaii County, Hawaii.
During World War II, a small landing strip was cleared near the end of Kuakini Highway. In 1947, the state approved a small terminal to be built for tourist flights, which was dedicated in 1949. In 1950, 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of fencing was added to keep out cattle which would wander onto the site. The 1960s brought development of several larger hotels and resorts. Larger aircraft could not take off from the short runway. When the much larger Kona International Airport was built further North at Keahole Point in 1970, the old landing strip was used for drag racing before being turned into a park in 1976.
The facilities on the 103.7 acres (42.0 ha) of the old airport are run by the County of Hawaiʻi. These include baseball and soccer fields, the Kona Community Aquatic Center, and Kekuaokalani Gym, located at 75-5530 Kuakini Highway. A 217-acre (88 ha) marine preserve was created off shore in 1992. A day use boat mooring is near the prominent "Shark Rock" toward the northwestern boundary. Water depth at the mooring is about 40 feet (12 m). A reef shelf East of Shark rock creates a small surf break. Snorkelrs and Scuba divers usually enter the water at a protected cove at the Northwestern end of the beach. On Kukaʻilimoku Point Southeast of the park sits a lighthouse to guide ships into Kailua Bay. North of the park is Papawai Bay (meaning "water layer" in the Hawaiian Language). The land there is owned by the Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust, which also leases some of its property to two large shopping centers, the Kona Commons which opened in 2008, and the Makalapua Center in 1994.
The old 3,800-foot-long (1,200 m) runway is now a large parking lot, and the old terminal building, located at 75 Kuakini Highway, is a public use pavilion. There is a flat walking trail parallel to the runway, restrooms, showers, and picnic facilities. There are some patches of sand, but the shore is rocky, so care should be taken when entering the water except in calm conditions. No lifeguards are on duty.