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Strolling along Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island, my wife and I were seeking a little solitude, perhaps some serenity amid all the hustle and bustle surrounding the beaches, shops and restaurants.
Without a care in the world, local kids whizzed by on skateboards and a throng of tourists pedaled past us on multi-colored beach cruisers. When we walked by Mokuaikaua Church, we thought “what the heck, it’ll be quiet in there.”
When we tiptoed inside the empty church, we soon discovered we were walking on hallowed ground. This wasn’t just another place of worship, but a virtual museum of rich cultural history dating back to before it became the first Christian church in Hawaii in 1837.
History buffs will appreciate Mokuaikaua’s free tours, where they can learn about the religious transition from old Hawaiian beliefs to Christianity and the arrival of the first American Christian missionaries from Boston in 1819. Architectural enthusiasts will admire the New England style of architecture built with Big Island materials consisting of crushed pink coral, lava stones and ohia and koa wood, some of which were taken from destroyed temples. At the back of the church, we found ancient artifacts dating back to Hawaii’s King Kamehameha, who united the islands in 1810.
In direct contrast to Mokuaikaua’s size, Kona also lays claim to Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, more affectionately known as the Little Blue Church.
It appeared out of place on the famous strip of Alii Drive, but it’s been there since 1889. Outside, my wife and I stood motionless for several seconds marveling at this tiny, picture-perfect church. We swung open the door to find 12 empty pews inside. We sat in the first row and gazed at the simple pulpit and the beautiful, detailed, etched window in the rear of the church.
Quaint, colorful and exuding an old-country feel, the Little Blue Church just begs to be photographed. In fact, it’s one of the most photographed sites on the Big Island. There isn’t a bad composition for making images of this diminutive Big Island gem. One photo op not to be missed takes place at sunset, when the warm glow of the sun beams through an etched glass image of Saint Peter standing in the ocean, overlooking Kahaluu Bay.
For recently engaged clients, the Little Blue Church is ideal for intimate weddings of any denomination, and for honeymooners, it’s a terrific locale to reflect on one of the most romantic times of their lives.
Mokuaikaua Church75-5713 Alii Dr. Kailua-Kona 808-329-0655 www.mokuaikaua.org
Open daily from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Little Blue Church Alii Drive, just north of mile-marker no. 5 in Kailua-Kona
Open from dawn to dusk
Note: No designated parking; clients should park carefully along the side of the road.