We stayed here for a week for spring break with my 14 and 10 year old kids. The resort is about 20 to 30 minutes from Kona airport.
It's a very large resort and takes about 15 minutes to walk from rooms in Ocean tower to the lobby and another 5 minutes to the parking lot. They have a train that takes guests from the hotel buildings to the lobby, they have valet if you don't like to walk to the parking lot. An artificial canal on the property has boat rides as well in the evenings, it runs parallel to the trains.
We stayed in the ocean tower, and was able to see a whale breach a few times in the ocean the first morning we were there. It never showed up after that. There is an adult pool as well as kids pool with slides near this building. There is also a laundry near the pool entrance.
The larger pool, dolphin quest and artificial lake is near the lagoon tower (at the other end of the resort). That pool has a big slide, a hanging bridge, water falls as well as a smaller area with sand that makes it look like a beach. The artificial lake has a kiosk where you can rent kayaks, pedal boat, snorkeling equipment and stand up paddle. Kids loved the stand up paddle. There is an artificial water-fall, some turtles and fishes in the lake. The lake is connected to the ocean, but protected from waves and currents.
The dolphins have a smaller pond, felt they were crammed in there, not a happy scene, we stayed away from that activity. Another low-light was the boat ride, the boat attendant, (an older gentleman said he was from Raleigh NC, and worked there for 20 years) appeared to be a bit grumpy. I noticed that on both days we took the boat ride, he does interact with some guests, but shun some others. [I was going to give this hotel a 5 star rating if not for the boat ride]
Food inside the resort is expensive. There are a few nice restaurants close by in Queens and Kings market. The Mediterranean restaurant at Kings market has excellent food.
We rented an SUV from the airport, this was a good decision as there are a lot of things to do outside the resort. There is a national car rental in the property, make reservations in advance. We rented a 4 wheel drive for a day to drive up to the observatory (our main rental was a two wheel drive).
If you are driving, google maps and Garmin gps may not be very accurate - it misses parts of the saddle road that goes across the island. Add an extra half hour to your plans if you are driving across the island.
Places we visited outside the resort area:
* Mauna Kea Observatory : By the time i called up tour operators, they were all booked up. We rented a 4x4 at the hotel and drove up to the observatory. It has some of the best telescopes on earth, and Mauna Loa is the tallest mountain if measured from the sea floor. There is a visitor center at around 9,000 feet where volunteers set up telescopes for visitors at night. We were able to see Jupiter and it's 4 moons. This was my highlight of the trip. Paved road ends at the visitor center, and it's not advised to take kids above that point as the air gets very thin (40% thinner than at sea level). Left my 10 year old and wife at visitor center and drove up a 4 mile gravel road and another 5 miles of paved road to reach the observatory. There was snow and ice at the submit, the road was clear so no problem driving with a 4x4. The observatory sits above the clouds, so watch out if you end up driving thru the clouds, it can be scary as visibility is about 1 to 2 feets and you have to drive very slowly.
* Volcanoes national park - stayed there for a day. Took saddle road, which goes thru the middle of the island. It takes about 2:30 hours to the national park from the hotel. It was very foggy for a few miles on that road at high elevation, and it is not advised to drive on that road after dark. We were able to see the 'glow' from the crater at night. The best spot to view the glow at night is at Jaggar Museum on Rim road. The crater lodge is over-rated, one can stay at a bed and breakfast in the Volcano village, which is just outside the national park and drive over to the park at night to see the crater glow. We hiked the Kīlauea Iki Trail, which takes you to a lava flow. We turned back after reaching the lava floor, as it was a hot day and we were not fully prepared for the hike thru the open area. Visited Thurston lava tube, which is near the IKi Trail. We took a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian, lava from the crater was visible from the sky.
* Black Sand Beach, Green Sand Beach - both on the way back from Volcanoes National park to the hotel. It's a 3 hour drive and takes you thru the western cost line. Green Sand Beach is not accessible by 2 wheel drive. It's a 2.5 mile hike each way. There are locals on 4 wheel drive who are more than happy to drive you there and back for a fee.
* Umauma Zip Line & Botanical Gardens : These attractions are near to each other. We drove over the north shore to get here. The drive is beautiful, we also stopped by Waipio valley on our way. Kids loved the Zip lines.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hilton Waikoloa Village is located within the Waikoloa Beach Resort area on the sunny Kohala Coast on Hawaii's Big Island - just 18 miles from the Kona International Airport. It is a unique 62 acre oceanfront resort with trams and canal boats transporting you throughout the resort. Enjoy a serene snorkeling lagoon, interactive dolphin encounters, spectacular pools with waterslides, the Kohala Spa, exciting shopping and dining, and golf at one of two championship golf courses. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hilton Waikoloa Village Hotel Waikoloa
- Hawaii Hilton Waikoloa Village
- Hilton Village Hotel Waikoloa
- Hilton Village Waikoloa
- Waikoloa Hilton
- Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort