Published: December, 2017
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Kohala Coast, Hawaii (Big Island)

Everyone is happy when we are at the beach!
— Courtney Leary
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, Group getaway, Beach
  • Activity level: easy
  • Ideal length of trip: 5-7 DAYS

to & from

United direct flight from SFO to Kona. Unless you have access to a private option, direct is the way to go, be sure and fly into Kona and not Hilo.

Where to Stay

  • A house in The Fairways at the Mauna Kea allowed us to use the amenities of the resort and the amazing beach but have the privacy and flexibility of a house.
  • A less expensive alternative are the condos at Mauni Lani Point. These do not have access to the Mauna Kea beach but there is a smaller beach club within walking distance and almost all condominiums have an ocean view.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • The Mauna Kea beachfront restaurant, Hau Tree for lunch… order a famous Frederico at the beachfront bar.
  • The breakfast buffet at the Mauna Kea's upscale restaurant, Manta Restaurant is a must do at least once every trip.
  • For date night, venture off “campus” to CanoeHouse at the Mauna Lani Hotel. Also recommend a trip to any of the restaurants at the Four Seasons Hualalai.
  • And our favorite meal of all, picking up fresh fish to grill at home from Da Fish House just down the road in Kawaihae.

What to Do

  • Beach beach and more beach. The beach at the Mauna Kea is among the best on the island for families. It is big and long and protected.
  • The Mauna Kea offers morning yoga on the beach for adults… a perfect way for mom and dad to start the day.
  • The Big Island Luau held on the Mauna Kea Property was a favorite evening outing.
  • Play Tennis on the Mauna Kea Courts, some even have an ocean view. Lessons and clinics available.
  • The Mauna Kea Golf course is world renowned. Try it out.
  • Shop the shops at The Four Seasons. Truly an incredibly curated assortment of apparel and accessories for both men and women.

inside scoop

  • If renting a house or condominium, be sure and rent a car and stop at the grocery store on your way in, Foodland Farms in The Mauni Lani or Waikoloa Village Market.
  • Stay within the Mauna Kea, Mauni Lani or Four Seasons resorts so that you have access to amenities. All offer hotels, condominium and home rentals.

What to Pack

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Kohala Coast, Hawaii (Big Island) - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Courtney Leary Says

    From Oliver Guide Alex Jennings


    Hale I’A Da Fish House – a fish market with insane poke. They get the fish in daily and make the poke all day long. There’s a great authentic shaved ice and ice cream place in the parking lot across the street…but it takes forever so be patient. (the fish house is closed on weekends)

    Canoe House at the Mauna Lani (def book in advance)

    Ha Bar- more casual restaurant at Mauna Lani, perfect for a family dinner (make resis here, tell the manager, Kalei, that the Jennings say hi!). We went here 3 times, def our favorite restaurant.

    The beach front restaurant at the Fairmont was good for a casual dinner and sunset was spectacular

    Lava lava beach club in Waikoloa village – casual waterfront lunch or early dinner

    The Mauna Lani shops area has a great grocery store to pick up lunch or dinner (Foodland), also a yummy juice place and boba place


    Snorkeling: Snorkel trip booked though Mauna Lani concierge was really fun. Saw a ton of whales breaching, turtles, octopus etc…Leaves from Waikoloa beach. You need to bring your own mask & snorkel.

    There is also good snorkeling at the little beach that is part of the Mauna Lani beach club (not hotel). It’s a pretty walk down the path. You can rent snorkel gear at the beach hut by this other beach. Mauna Lani will not rent snorkel gear b/c of covid. Or you can purchase / bring your own.

    Beaches: Mauna Kea beach is a must. Get there before 10/10:30am to get a parking spot. If its full go to Hapuna beach next door, but be aware the waves at Hapuna are usually huge.
    This is from my friend Emily: Black sands beach is really pretty and right on the Mauna Lani property. Makalawena beach is beautiful,
    White sands beach and kahalu’u beach have awesome snorkeling but it was sort of crowded. Kua bay beach also beautiful.

    Surfing: The lesson we did at the beach club (down the path from Mauna Lani) was fantastic. We booked a 1 hour private but the teacher “Uncle” had them out for 2 hours and they had the best time. Our other friends said surfing lessons at the Mauna Lani are great, and the surf shack guys and girls make it super fun. At both of the beach huts you can rent kayaks or SUP, the morning water is very calm.

    Pololu Valley hike was a super fun excursion. There are a ton of rope swings at the bottom and the views are gorgeous. (beach at bottom is not for swimming). In Hawi (en route to Pololu) there’s an incredible wooden bowl store.

    Golf: There is a 9 hole pitch and putt at Mauna Lani – really fun for the kids. We were able to rent clubs. The 18 hole golf course there is also really nice.

    Apparently there is one of those little ponds down the path from the hotel where the fish eat your feet like a natural pedicure (we found out about it on our last day there and didn’t have time to investigate)

    There is a turtle sanctuary at the Mauna Lani, its so cute. A naturalist gives talks while he feeds them every morning.

    Our friends did the Kohala Zip Line and said it was super fun.

  • Courtney Leary Says

    Update– Resorts are being restrictive during holiday periods as far as taking dining reservations from guests staying elsewhere. So, if you are staying at the Mauna Kea you may not be able to dine at Canoe house and vice versa. We have been enjoying The Copper Bar at the Mauna Kea as a good teenager dinner option recently– they have sushi, pizzas and other food the kids love and a more relaxed vibe than Manta.

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