The Big Island’s Kohala Coast has become an enclave for Hawaii’s top-notch beachfront resorts, which provide travelers with fine dining options, superb spa treatments and world-class golf courses.
But don’t expect to have to put up with a pretentious or stuffy ambiance. Even the finest resorts have adopted the region’s love for laidback luxury. Here’s the second part of our Kohala Coast travelogue, a version of which was published by JustLuxe.Fifteen minutes-drive north of the Fairmont Orchid is the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Financed by a Rockefeller who believed every great beach deserved a great beach hotel, this resort was once the most expensive ever built. Half a century after it first opened, the recently-redesigned Mauna Kea remains an icon of Hawaiian luxury meets stylish old-Hollywood influences.The hotel has made its key feature, the Kauna‘oa Beach, even more striking by placing cloud-white umbrellas across the deep beige sand, as bold orange towels cover the padded chaise lounges. And don’t be surprised if on windy days the ocean waves flood inland and reach your chaise lounge to make this truly an oceanfront resort. There is no additional fee to reserve these cabanas.
Poolside, it’s easy to see how the Mauna Kea is still doused with California cool. The sparkling blue pool is lined with palm trees, and sunset orange towels add the perfect balance for an Instagram moment, especially if you’re wearing Ray Bans. For more picture-perfect activities that don’t involve getting wet, the seaside tennis club offers a brisk pastime surrounded by endless ocean blues.The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is eight-stories high, meaning that you can get ocean views that are literally on another level. The deluxe ocean view rooms on the top floor have a wide-sweeping lanai with a breathtaking view of everything that makes the resort so splendid: the cove-like sun-kissed beach, all the poolside colors and tropical greenery as far as the eye can see. The view takes you in from the second you step in the room. And it accompanies you as you step into the expansive white bathroom — past the bathtub and the open shower there’s a smaller private lanai. That’s right, you don’t have to give up this ridiculous view even when you’re taking a bath or a shower.
Every Tuesday and Friday to give guests a taste of Hawaiian culture, the Mauna Kea hosts a quaint sunset luau near the ocean. Make a reservation ($96 for adults) for this buffet-style dinner and performances, including steel guitar players, Polynesian dancers and a hunky fire-breather.