Occupying a magnificent site in Kailua-Kona between Ali`i Drive and Kailua Bay, Hulihe`e Palace is a simple rectangular building containing a basement, two stories, and an unfloored attic. It is constructed of rubble lava rock and is approximately 62'x 32' with a 13' lanai extending from the rear. It is of mixed architectural style, but is most influenced by New England architecture adapted to Hawaii's warm climate.
The lava rock walls and foundation are no longer visible due to the extensive renovations undertaken by King Kalākaua when he turned Hulihe`e into his summer residence. The exterior walls are now finished with scored stucco dashed and Victorian decoration has been added to doorways, windows and eaves. In addition to the rear lanai, there are small entrance porches on the east and south and a stoop on the north.
The floor plan of the house is very simple. There are three rooms on each floor, the center one on each floor serving as an entrance way and hall. The staircase is located in the central room and is made of native koa wood. Doorways doors, paneling and decorative trim are likewise of native koa wood.