Anyone planning a visit to the Big Island of Hawaii needs to consider staying at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. It is one of the finest properties at which I've had the pleasure of staying. Everything about the place is first class.
From the moment you arrive, the level of personal service is amazing. Guests are greeted at the entrance with a lei (flowers for the ladies, kukui nut for the men) and escorted to the open air lobby which overlooks a perfect white sand crescent beach.
Unlike most check-in counters where guest stand to await room keys and directions, you'll be invited to sit down across from one of the three check-in desks. While you wait, cool washcloths are brought to refresh you and fresh juice is offered. Once check-in is complete, you will escorted to your room getting a mini tour of the property along the way.
The rooms are spacious (at least in the beachfront wing), and the bathrooms are stocked with L'Occitane products.
It's hard to find enough superlatives to describe the beach. I'll just let the picture speak for itself.
At each end of the beach are rocky areas perfect for snorkeling. Coral, fish, and other assorted marine life abound just offshore. Look for the sea urchins and a sea cucumber (right center) in this picture from the reef at the northern end of the beach.
One cool thing about this part of the reef is that at night the hotel turns on floodlights that attract plankton. The plankton attract fish and the fist attract huge manta rays. Watching them "fly" through the water is a fun way to spend a little time after dark.
Another awesome feature of the Mauna Kea is the Asian and Pacific Island art collection. Almost everywhere you look there is another statue. Some are wooden other are stone. All are amazing. I believe a weekly tour is offered just to see the artwork (Saturdays at 10am, I think).
One drawback to the private location is a lack of affordable dining options. The resort has several fine restaurants and an evening shuttle is available to takes guests to the Hapuna Prince Resort next door. Leaving the property means heading south along highway 19 for about 10-15 minutes or driving a couple miles to the north to the small unincorporated community of Kawaihae. In addition to the handful of restaurants, there is a daily farmers' market in Kawaihae. At the hotel, half a papaya will cost about $7.50. At the farmers' market a whole papaya is just $1. I also suggest having breakfast at the Aloha Deli. While not open for dinner or on weekends, it's a great place for an inexpensive breakfast or lunch. Four could eat for the price a buffet breakfast at the Mauna Kea. There is no lack of great food and drink on site. Like everything else here, it's expensive. Try the signature cocktail, the Fredrico, or have a lava flow (pina colada poured over a strawberry puree). There's something wonderful about sitting under a cabana at the beach, sipping a frozen cocktail, and not caring a bit about the troubles of everyday life.
Oh, and don't forget to watch the sunset. Some nights the sun sinks into the clouds on the horizon. Others it just disappears into the ocean. Watch it from your balcony or from right out on the beach. You can't go wrong either way.
Excellent write-up, bejacob!! Thanks for the Inside Scoop!! This property looks amazing, although I can see how the lack of affordable dining options could be an issue but appreciate having a property that is secluded. I guess it all depends on what you are going for. This may be a tough question, but which property did you enjoy staying at most during your trip?
The Mauna Kea was by far the best place on this trip. Loved the view at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. Enjoyed the Maui Ocean Club. Neither measured up (in my opinion) to the Mauna Kea. In fact, on Maui, we found ourselves saying about the MVC property, "it's nice, but it's no Mauna Kea."
One great thing about the Big Island and this property is that there is plenty to do if you want. It's also the perfect place to relax and do nothing.
I'm not a golfer so I can't describe the course except to say that hitting the ball into the ocean is a distinct possibility on a couple holes.
I feel like I just touched the tip of the iceberg on my write up. I'll try to get a few more photos added to my photo album (Mauna Kea Beach Hotel). I've stayed at some nice hotels over the years. This just might be my favorite of all time. Certainly at or near the top in any case.
How is the Maui Ocean Club? I have absolutely no interest in a timeshare but have always wondered what it was like to stay there. Over my 4 trips over the past 10 years I always see the Marriott kiosk at the beach side entrance to Whaler's Village. The guy usually tries to engage me with some cornball line about golf or something and I give the social equivalent to a Heisman style stiffarm. I don't want to engage them as prospective buyers because I am not and don't want to hear a hard sell but the overall cost has been a question of mine for a while simply out of curiosity. How were the rooms? Pools? Overall thoughts?
I 100% agree with your statement, "There's something wonderful about sitting under a cabana at the beach, sipping a frozen cocktail, and not caring a bit about the troubles of everyday life".
I can't wait until the next time I'm doing that!
Thanks again for sharing, so wonderful to hear about your travels, and appreciate the feedback to keep in mind for the day I get to travel to Hawaii!
Sipping lava flows on Mauna Kea beach after a morning of snorkeling from the shore. Oh, and under a cabana. It must have been about 11am, so that meant back home it was 5pm (which makes it okay because normally I don't drink before noon ).
Does it get any better?
Message was edited by: bejacob
That place sure looks amazing, relaxing and of course some of us have rubbed off on bejacob as we've successfully got him drinking before noon local time....AWESOME!
Love the pictures and read about the area, might have to be a go to spot on the Big Island one day in the future.
Also, looking forward to reading about the MVC as our last stay there was quite short lived due to the way we were treated on arrival and the lack of providing us with the room type we had reserved.
Thanks for sharing this with us all and making us so very jealous.