Editors' Picks

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Low-key, old-style, family-friendly

62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Kohala Coast 96743


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At a Glance

Tucked away on a fantastic beach in the northwest corner of the Big Island, Mauna Kea is reminiscent of old-style beach hotels.

Indagare Loves

  • Location by a beautiful beach, with several options for watersports
  • Ground floor rooms on the family wing that open to a lawn, and several other family-oriented features
  • Impressive Asian art collection throughout the hotel, for a bit of culture with your beach vacation


“Every great beach deserves a great hotel,” financier and philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller reportedly said about his decision to build the Mauna Kea on the Big Island in 1965. The resort, with its laid-back, family friendly vibe, prime position on a secluded portion of the northwestern shore and, yes, one of Hawaii’s best beach coves, has long been a multi-generational favorite, with guests coming for decades.

A $150 million upgrade a few years back gave Mauna Kea more vibrant interiors and modern amenities, but with its soul intact. The eight-story structure, which with its adjacent family wing, was not altered, and its colossal, cruise-ship-like architecture remains a case of love-it or hate-it. Rooms were significantly enlarged (while the room count was reduced from 310 to 258), and now have large, sleek bathrooms, cheery fabrics accenting the beds and furniture, and tech-savvy amenities that include flat-screen televisions (well-hidden so as not to disturb the castaway fantasy), iPod docks and WiFi throughout.

On-property amenities include 18-hole golf courses, a tennis center, a small spa and salon and several restaurants and bars, but many of the best-executed extras are geared towards kids (think billiards and a Wii room; complimentary cookies, brownies and soda throughout the day; water sports equipment for the taking; movie night; and a kids’ club). The rooms most requested by those traveling with children are on the ground floor of the family wing, from which the little ones are just a sliding door away from the expansive lawn (during peak season, some clever parents send their kids to reserve one of the double-chaises, of which there never seem to be enough for all guests). Rockefeller’s spirit persists throughout the hotel, not least in the impressive art collection of some 1,660 artifacts from the Pacific Rim and Asia. Chinese dragons and Japanese scrolls may not scream Hawaii, but they are the kind of quirky, one-of-a-kind touches that have made generations of families fall in love with this property. Note: Rooms facing the golf course are half the price of ocean view rooms.

Who Should Stay

Travelers who like the simple, rustic vibe of old Hawaii. Kids will love the laid-back atmosphere and the fact that most everything and everyone caters to them. Those looking for a sexy pool scene, white-glove service and uber-polished design will be happier at the Four Seasons Hualalai.

Written by Simone Girner

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