Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is one of the most popular Big Island resorts. One look at the crescent white sand beach and it’s easy to understand why! Not only is Kauna'oa, or Mauna Kea Beach, one of the finest Big Island beaches, the prime location of the hotel makes this the best beach location of any resort on the island.
The Mauna Kea Resort was the first resort on the Kohala coast and set the standard for those that followed. Designed by Laurance S. Rockefeller, his hope was to create a hotel that would reflect the spirit of the great mountain Mauna Kea. When it opened in 1965 it was the most expensive hotel ever built. Esquire magazine called it one of the "Three greatest hotels in the world."
Heavily damaged in the 2006 earthquake, the hotel reopened in 2009 following $150 million in renovations, ten times the original cost to build the entire hotel! Much of the understated elegance of the original 1960’s hotel remains intact. Guest rooms are on the smallish side, though many rooms are larger now with much improved bathrooms and LCD flat-screen TV’s. There is an extensive Pacific and Asian art collection displayed throughout the hotel.
The four restaurants are very good. They offer a daily breakfast buffet, traditional Sunday brunch, a Clambake on the beach, and their weekly luau is one of the better Big Island luaus.
The pace is a little slower here than at many of the other resorts and most guests appreciate the restful, relaxed atmosphere. The pool is small but the beach location more than makes up for it. You can start your day with a yoga class on the beach.
Even if you aren't staying at the hotel, it's well worth the drive north just to explore this beautiful area (27 miles north of Kona International Airport and 33 miles north of Kailua-Kona). Kauna'oa Beach is one of our favorites on the Big Island, a quarter-mile ribbon of soft sand that is rarely crowded. If you go, plan to arrive early in the day, as the small beach lot only accommodates 40 cars.
Enjoy a game of tennis on one of the 12 tennis courts, work out in the spacious fitness center, or relax with a spa treatment. Or perhaps you came for the golf. The award-winning Robert Trent Jones, Sr. golf course at Mauna Kea Resort is one of the most scenic and favored courses on the island. Greens fees can be as low as $150 if you are willing to wait for an afternoon tee time. A kids camp is also available seasonally for $90/day. Call ahead for availability.
There are numerous shops at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, but you are a long way from the conveniences of Kailua-Kona, so plan accordingly.