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“Full Package Resort” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
4.5 of 5 Hotel   |   62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743   |  
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Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Puako
GreenLeadersGold level
San Francisco, California
18 reviews 18 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Full Package Resort”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2013

We chose Mauna Kea for the tail-end of our trip on the Big Island, primarily because it had a tennis facility, golf course, and beach access. We don't typically stay at resorts, so we had to get ourselves accustomed to the expansive property. As a design and architecture enthusiast, I was happy to see that much of the original design concept has been retained, even if it may seem outdated. The breezeways and open architecture allow one to appreciate the surrounding environment while still housing a full-service resort. We were greeting with hospitable drinks and refreshing towels while checking in, and were instantly pleased to walk into our ocean-view room. The renovation was well-done, with comfortable bed and seating appointments, a well-stocked wall unit with flat-screen TV and typical hotel magazines, and a modern bathroom sink area with double vanity. We were especially tickled to see some of our favorite bathroom amenities fully stocked. Having an ocean view room meant that we could assess the beach and determine the best time to head out for snorkeling. We have been to other snorkeling destinations, and it was great to find plenty of fish nestled just off the beach, safely within view and without having to arrange for a tour, etc. The beach itself is well manicured and maintained, with our only complaint being that beach umbrellas can only be used within a certain zone. This is to allow for the lifeguards to have adequate view of the entire beach. There is plenty of snorkeling, kayaking, and other beach equipment available, although typically with a rental fee. Beachside drinks and food service is excellent, and the beachside cafes/restaurants are a perfect place to enjoy a burger in between swimming and tanning. We also arranged for two sessions at the tennis facility, which is beautifully situated right next the shore, offering some of the best sunset views we have ever seen. Although there is a court fee, it is well worth it, to play tennis in such a gorgeous setting, and it is a full-service facility. We also enjoyed 18 holes of golf, and although we are novices, we felt that we had adequate time to enjoy the scenery and practice our shots.
Dining at Mauna Kea is not what we would call world-class, but considering the options on the island it is probably the most efficient way to enjoy dining while on this vacation. We tried the buffet one evening, mainly because it was available and we were hungry. We spent two dinners at the Manta Restaurant, and found it slightly overpriced while lacking service, but we enjoyed sitting outside and hearing the lightly crashing waves. At some tables, you could probably see the manta rays approaching the bright flood lights place over one of the lookouts. They have a reasonable wine selection, but not as good as top restaurants. Also, some of the meals might be over slightly salted. Lunchtime at the beach or golf resort is probably more reliable. For one of our meals, we headed south to one of the larger resorts where they have a small strip of shopping and restaurants and found a surprisingly freshing Sushi joint.
Overall, the resort felt relaxing, partly because the property is indeed so expansive and there were not too many patrons, but also because the layout of the property allows you to get lost in your own nook or cranny and just enjoy the beauty of the rugged coastline, crisp lawns, or sprinkling native tropical plants. It still maintains some of its old glory, but gives you the chance to retreat to your air-conditioned room to just lounge about until you are ready to once again explore the grounds.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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675 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (183)
Date | Rating
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English first
Wooster, Ohio
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
137 helpful votes 137 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2013

Having known this hotel since it first opened in the '60s (when it had fewer storeys~~and rooms, and was the only resort on the Kohala Coast), I knew it could never compare in 2012 with the exclusivity and elan it once had. However, the beach still has the soft sand that Laurence Rockefeller imported, and the Kohala Coast is still beautiful, albeit too popular and overbuilt. Staying here is nothing special; now the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is just a carbon copy of any other large, touristy beachfront resort anywhere in the world, a shadow of the former grande dame that once set the standard for oceanfront luxury in Hawaii.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
15 reviews 15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2013

we came back for the second year in a row -- this time we did fewer activites and stayed more around the property -- discovered how amazing the snorkeling is right at the hotel. I love this place and can't say enough good things about this beautiful, elegant, peaceful, classy place.

Room Tip: we have a child and love the plumaria beach club. we have stayed in 4 different rooms in plumaria a...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Crestline, California
Top Contributor
138 reviews 138 reviews
85 hotel reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
100 helpful votes 100 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2013

The rooms are more spacious, huge walk in closets with , Big screen TV, Entry Halls, Huge bathroom with double raised basins. Whirlpool Bath, walk in doorless shower with rain head. and separate adjaecnt balconmy with longe chair, over;looking Mauna Kea Beach. There is a main balcony off the main room.The grounds are flawlees an wrought with antique historic Artifacts. 3 restaurants. world class Golf Course, with restaurant. Terrace restaurant on the beach. More and extensive in house Logo and golf shops. Clothing and sundries.

Room Tip: BEACH VIEW in the Main Building.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Menlo Park, California, United States
18 reviews 18 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2013 via mobile

Took my family here in July because we heard the tennis was great. We stayed in a home on the property through VRBO that came w access to the resort and allowed us to bill things to the hotel. Our 3 kids loved the tennis facility and so did my wife and I. They have a sure kids clinic every day and the pros are amazing. They set up matches for me every day and the courts by the ocean are stunning. We did not use the resort much save for tennis and beach and the beach grill. We will go back for sure.

Stayed July 2012
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new york city
Top Contributor
223 reviews 223 reviews
220 hotel reviews
Reviews in 138 cities Reviews in 138 cities
473 helpful votes 473 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

Apart from the beautiful landscaping and architecture, on several levels the hotel is overrated. Andrew Harper gives this resort 3 humming birds which is his highest rating and we didn't agree. Our room was at ground level and offered easy access to the beach. It wasn't renovated as the tower rooms are, but I actually liked the older style and found it more unique. Food was average for resorts of this kind, but we had hardly anything during our 4 days that said "Gotta have another one of these..." Smoothies were consistently watered down. The Italian buffet offered make your own ice cream sundae as its sole offering for dessert, which we thought was really lame. The ice cream bar at the beach ran out after not having been serviced for 2 weeks and they told us they'd be without ice cream for several days -- that's just not acceptable at a fine resort. Maybe it is just Hawaii but we felt that the attitude of a good number of staff people was somewhat lackadaisical; as an example: my wife wanted a chaise lounge close to the ocean so that we could watch our small kids play in the water and the person said there was no room there -- he was too lazy to move a chaise lounge up two rows, plain and simple. When we checked in we wanted to know when our rooms would be ready; the person at reception wanted to please but was afraid to commit to anything because he was afraid of over-promising and under-delivering -- probably a reaction to some of the earlier reviews I've read. Our main beef here is that the resort is sorely lacking in terms of its offerings for kids; parents have to care for them virtually the entire day. Most of the children's planned activities were being held around 9am and nothing after noon.There was a "scavenger hunt on the beach" at 11am -- one day the person who was supposed to run it wasn't there, and the next day they just handed kids a sheet with clues and told them to go find things themselves. The hotel advertises more than that and the assistant manager told us that the third party provider of the day camp service pulled out in early December leaving the hotel without a day camp. It's an excuse but not really acceptable in the middle of the Christmas season in a hotel filled with families. If it's a bad beach day, you're in bad shape here. Also, beware of coming here without a rental car. We did and basically found ourselves confined to the property for 4 days which turned out to be not so bad because the kids loved the ocean and we were happy not to do anything else. The volcano is nearly 3 hours drive away and there wasn't anything else in the surrounding area that we really found compelling with our 5 and 7 year old kids. The Friday night luau was very good; the gym is great; the spa was fine. The hotel gave us a 5pm late checkout. We were able to take out a golf cart and drive around the golf course with the kids at the end of the day. While we were there, the rest of the islands were being rained on; this desert area was spared. This may be the best reason to choose this area if you are visiting Hawaii. If the hotel had a better children's program, we would be more likely to return there without hesitation. We might go back but, as it is now, it would not be our hands down choice.

Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Evanston, Illinois
20 reviews 20 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2013

This resort is a little piece of heaven. Spectacular location, gorgeous views, unrivaled beach, highest possible amenities, wonderful staff, it has it all. The accommodations could not be better, the dining options are plentiful, the breakfast buffet is amazing. This is the best resort I have ever stayed in & I cannot wait to go back.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Address: 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Puako, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Kohala Coast > Puako
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Green Hotel in Puako
#2 Spa Hotel in Puako
#2 Luxury Hotel in Puako
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Puako
#3 Romantic Hotel in Puako
#3 Family Hotel in Puako
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Mauna Kea Beach Hotel 4.5*
Number of rooms: 252
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Hotel located on Hawaii Island's Kohala Coast. Legendary, timeless hospitality. Exceptional value. No mandatory resort fees. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mauna Kea Beach Kamuela
Hotel Mauna Kea Beach

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