(888) 340-5662 or (808) 325-8000
72-100 Ka’upulehu Dr, Kailua-Kona

This resort shines, even among its superb competitors: 37 one- and two-story bungalows in several crescents with six to eight rooms per building, including a few golf course buildings. They used a lot of local materials, giving the resort a very Hawaiian feel. All units (even golf course units) have nice ocean views. (Building 25 is closest to the water.) Second-floor rooms have better ocean views, but first-floor rooms have a pleasant garden on the other side of the bathroom glass with a second private outdoor lava shower where water gurgles over a short lava ledge. What a great place to have your morning shower! (A handful of first-floor rooms don’t have the lava shower—so be sure and ask.) This makes the first floor a better value than the higher-priced second-floor rooms. Overall, rooms are of average size, nicely furnished with cool slate floors and understated but tasteful furnishings.

If you can dream it, you can do it at this resort desperate to treat you like royalty. They’ll even let you bring in your service mini-horse (that isn’t a punchline; it’s reality) or rent a marine biologist for the day. They also offer a huge range of on-site activities from spin class (for a fee) to cultural classes like ukulele (for free).

One feature we’ve never seen anywhere else is a large, lava anchialine pond with 1.8 million gallons of fresh and saltwater. Connected to the ocean, its level rises and falls each day with the tide. Inside are 40 species of fish, including a spotted eagle ray. You won’t find a safer place to snorkel in the state. It’s great to be there when they feed the fish. The resort fronts a sandy beach, but the swimming is mostly poor due to a lava shelf. They do have a manmade quasi tide-pool at the shore for wading. However, just a short stroll south is Kuki‘o Beach with somewhat better swimming.

The swimming pools are scattered around the resort. The adults-only Palm Grove pool has a swim-up bar and serves cocktails you can make extra local by adding shave ice. If you have kids, the Seashell is the semi-circle you want; honeymooners (or those who want the quietest region) should choose the Palm Grove. Cabana chairs are free around the pools. Services here are extraordinary, even for a Kohala resort. (Examples: chilled towels at the pool, Evian spritz service, sunglasses cleaning, fresh fruit kabobs, sunscreen—but you have to apply it yourself. How’s that for pampering?)

If you bring your keiki, you’ll find a free, licensed children’s program for young’uns 5–12. They also have a free teen center with game consoles. Their sand-lined kids’ pool even has kid-sized lounge chairs and free beach toys. The resort is the only one with a semi-private golf course. Guests and residents of the development are allowed to play, so tee times are spaced farther apart. It’s a very nice, player-friendly, Jack Nicklaus course for about $295. The same goes for the day spa, which offers enough luxuriating decadence to melt your toenails. Their restaurants are excellent. No surprise there.

Rooms of 635 sq. ft. are $840–$1,895. Suites (1,050–4,900 sq. ft.) are $1,790–$18,995. (That is not a typo.)