If you only have a few days to spend on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kohala Coast is most likely where you’d want to be. Just north of Kona International Airport on the coastal Queen Kaahumanu Highway, the Kohala Coast is home to long stretches of pristine white sand beaches, luscious green landscapes and ash-black lava rock caves. From here, you can even see Maui rising at the end of the horizon.
The Kohala Coast is close enough to the Big Island’s artsy villages, plunging waterfalls, valley lookout points, black sand beaches and a one-of-a-kind petroglyph preserve that it makes it the perfect place to check in, unpack and unwind in between each sun-kissed adventure.
To read more about the Kohala Coast, check out our story on JustLuxe. To see pictures and watch videos, check out our four-part travelogue. In the meantime, here are ten reasons to start planning your getaway to this hidden travel gem.
1. Tip toe your way to one of the best beaches in the world
Hapuna Beach, a natural white sand beach that stretches generously and is considered one of the best beaches in all of Hawaii. Fortunately for beach-eager travelers, you can stay at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and be just a few barefooted steps away from all the sand-and-sun glory. Take a stroll all the way to the public section of Hapuna Beach for some quality people-watching, from young guns body surfing in the ocean to dreadlocked fellas practicing martial arts in the sand.
2. Snorkel with tropical fish without leaving the resort
Most of the resorts on the Kohala Coast have swimming pools, but only one has an exclusive snorkeling pond carved out of natural lava rock. The King’s Pond at the Four Seasons Hualalai resort is filled with over 75 different species of tropical fish, including one fearless but friendly spotted eagle ray. This all-natural snorkeling pond is open to all guests and snorkeling gear is provided at no extra cost.
3. Ease your sunburn the all-natural way
If you ask a staff member at the Four Seasons for aloe vera to alleviate your sunburn, don’t expect them to come back with a bottle. They will literally break off fresh leaves from the aloe vera plants on the property and bring them over to you — the fastest way to get your skin to heal. Afterwards, how about rinsing off in an outdoor shower walled by lava rocks?
4. Take a dip in crystal-clear waters
Head to Makalawena Beach and Manini’owali Beach, both local favorites in the Kekaha Kai State Park. The water at these secluded coves is so crystal-clear you’ll think for a second after you get in that you’re swimming in gin.
5. Relax and float freely in the open sea
Most beaches on the Kohala Coast tend to get a pretty decent surf, making them excellent surfing spots. But what if you just want to swim in the ocean without worrying about losing your shades? The Fairmont Orchid has an oceanfront lagoon. This aqua-colored lagoon is protected from the ocean surf by a barrier of black lava rocks, making it the ideal body of water for a sheltered, peaceful swim. You can rent equipment from a nearby beach shack to go snorkeling or stand-up paddle boarding. There is even a floating yoga, or flo-yo, session practiced on an anchored paddle board in the calmness of the ocean.
6. Drink top shelf booze for a reasonable price
The Fairmont just recently renovated the 45 guest rooms on the 6th floor of the North Tower and named it the Gold Floor. This “hotel-within-a-hotel” concept offers a private reception desk, complimentary breakfast (eggs benedict, lox bagels, guava juice), afternoon hors d’oeuvres (sushi), valet parking, high-speed Internet and an honor bar with Domaine Carneros champagne.
7. Travel back in time
For a short, half-day excursion, next door to the Fairmont is the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve. The outdoor historic site has thousands of centuries-old carvings etched into the lava rock field. Think of them as native Hawaiian graffiti art.
8. Never miss the sunset, even if you’re in the shower
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 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.
9. Break a sweat in paradise
Had enough of pools, beaches and ponds? Want to work out but not have to be stuck in a gym during your vacay? Here’s an activity that will get your heart beat up, it doesn’t involve getting wet, and the best part you won’t have to forget you’re in paradise. The Mauna Kea has a seaside tennis club that offers a brisk pastime surrounded by endless ocean blues.
10. And did we mention?
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Kohala Coast gets less than nine inches of rain a year. That makes it one of the sunniest destinations on Earth, and reason enough to start packing.