A four-star hotel set on 62 oceanfront acres on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. The resort is big, but not overwhelming. If you don’t feel like walking, the three towers are connected by trams and boats (which traverse canals full of yellow tangs, angelfish, and even barracuda). Animal-loving kids will be in heaven: the hotel has flamingos, nene (the Hawaiian state bird – a sort of goose), all kinds of tropical birds, and tortoises around every corner.
The Lagoon Tower is best for families, since it’s near the dolphin lagoon, the water slide, and the children’s pool. Beaches are rare on the Big Island, but we didn’t miss it at all. An enormous saltwater lagoon full of tropical fish and water sports kept us more than happy.
24 miles north of the Kona airport on the reliably warm and dry Kohala Coast.
2-5 in standard rooms.
The hotel’s manmade four-acre swimming lagoon is the perfect place for beginning snorkelers to get their fins wet. It’s warm, shallow, and full of green sea turtles. You can rent everything you need to enjoy the water (and some things you don’t, such as aquabikes) right there. We spent a pleasant afternoon kayaking under the waterfall where a dozen gentle turtles feed on algae.
Even if you don’t splurge on a dolphin swim, it’s mesmerizing to watch the dolphins frolic with their trainers in their enclosure. It’s amazing how close you can get. We stayed in a room overlooking the dolphin lagoon, and still couldn’t get enough.
Consider beaching yourself and drying off for the lavish Sunday Brunch at Water’s Edge. Kids can choose from the keiki buffet while adults sate themselves on smoked salmon crostini with wasabi cream cheese and prime rib. Le yum. You won’t be hungry for another 12 hours at least.
Good to know
Myna birds are very common in Hawaii, and squawk their heads off at dawn and dusk for about an hour. If you don’t want to wake up at 5am, consider packing earplugs. Like all resorts in this part of the world, the restaurant prices aren’t cheap. Pick up some provisions at the Safeway six miles south of the airport in Kona on your way here and store them in your room’s small fridge.