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enthusiast, I was happy to see that much of the original design concept has been retained, even if it may seem outdated.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.
- 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