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62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr, Kohala

This was the first resort to grace the Kohala lava desert area, and a large part of their business is repeat customers. Built by Laurance S. Rockefeller in 1965, it set the standard for all that came afterward. The Mauna Kea has traditionally been one of the most popular resorts on the island, and it’s a grand place to stay. The resort is very restful and pleasing, and the staff is top-notch. Many people like the slow pace here. They are now getting fourth-generation guests who often have such an affection for the place that before the hotel remodeled the rooms, they asked the guests for input about what they would like to keep and see added. There are 1,200 pieces of art from the Asia-Pacific region, and tours are given to learn about the outstanding collection. The rooms in the main tower are modern and clean with the touches of teal and orange, the hotel’s trademark colors. Bathrooms in the deluxe units in this tower are smashing with a deep soaking tub and open shower next to a full glass window looking at the ocean. The Plumeria Beachfront rooms latest renovations are stunning. Those rooms are the place to stay if you want to be in the action and have kids. Connecting rooms are in this tower as well. First floor rooms in this tower open right onto the lawn so you can be on the beach in seconds. The pool is small for the resort, and you won’t find waterslides or rope swings there—most people opt for the beach. However, there is a room with pool tables, darts and video games for the young-at-heart. Many cultural activities are available. Casabella chairs (two chairs with a retractable cover) are $50 by the beach, and the cabanas are $125 by the pool and include some drinks and snacks.

They have the best beachside location on the island, with the marvelous Kauna‘oa Beach (usually called Mauna Kea) right at its doorstep. This beach alone qualified it for a real gem, as far as we’re concerned. The lu‘au is the best in Kohala, and their restaurants are what you’d expect from a resort of this caliber. There is also a weekly clambake on the beach. Rooms (400–880 sq. ft.) are $675–$1,275; suites (1,100–1,207 sq. ft.) are $1,300–$4,000.