Let’s face it: You probably flew long enough that you’d like to minimize travel time to the water once you’re in Hawaii. Here are the best hotels right on the best beaches, all on the Big Island’s Kona (west) side, heading north to south.
Feature Photo: Mauna Kea Facebook
TIP: Most hotels have 4 pm check-in. Ask for an early check-in.
If they can’t accommodate, they will let you store your bags so you can head to the beach!
There’s so much to love about this 32-acre oceanfront resort along the Kohala Coast. A sheltered cove, fringed by soft, white sand, offers calm seas for swimmers of all ages and photogenic Hawaiian sea turtles. The massive oceanfront pool provides ample room for guests to make a splash or simply lounge about. Then there’s the spa’s oceanfront massage offerings, Hawaiian cultural activities like Hula lessons and outrigger canoe outings, multiple tennis courts, and half-dozen restaurants; the list could go on and on. The Fairmont Orchid feature 540 guest rooms — certain areas will always be bustling with activity — but gurgling waterfalls and ponds of mesmerizing koi fish combine to create peaceful nooks to relax and call your own.
- The Daily Resort Experience Fee includes things guests actually use like: self-parking, Wi-Fi, snorkeling equipment rental, and early morning coffee and tea service in the lobby.
Water lovers will want to take a look at the resort’s Fun & Sun Activity Pass. Good for the duration of your stay, it covers beach toys like boogie boards, snorkel equipment, personal floats, kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Equipment can be checked out for one hour increments, throughout the day.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
- Spacious rooms have a subtly Japanese aesthetic, with natural wood and lots of the hotel’s signature orange. Take advantage of the free beach services, from lounge chairs to stand-up paddle boards. Don’t miss sunset hula and cocktails at the Copper Bar, or dinner at Manta restaurant, named for the graceful manta rays that can be observed below it at night.
Westin Hapuna Beach Resort
- In calm conditions, look for sea turtles while snorkeling around the rocky point at the northern end of the beach. The resort sets up first-come, first-serve lounges and umbrellas on the northern end of the beach, which is part of a state recreation area that has a concession stand, restrooms and picnic pavilions on the southern end. In calm conditions, look for sea turtles while snorkeling around the rocky point closest to the hotel; you can also pick up a coastal trail there for a scenic, 1-mile hike to Kauna‘oa Beach (a/k/a Mauna Kea Beach.)
Mauna Lani, an Auberge Resort
- Don’t miss one of the frequent cultural experiences offered by the resort’s revered expert, Danny Akaka Jr., who also supervises the long-running monthly concert and storytelling series (virtual during the pandemic era) amid the resort’s historic, oceanfront fish ponds. Follow the short shoreline trail past the fish ponds to a great cove for swimming and snorkeling.
Lava Lava Beach Club
- Complimentary bikes and stand-up paddle boards are at the ready for you to explore the resort or the bay, while lunch and dinner at the restaurant with your toes in the sand make restoring your energy easy and delicious. Sunsets are gorgeous here, especially accompanied by a cocktail on your private lanai.
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
- The oceanfront Sunset Luau is one of the best on the island, with an inviting atmosphere, delicious cuisine and spirited dancers. The beachfront concessionaire offers kayaks, hydrobikes, standup paddleboards, boogie boards and snorkel gear to rent, plus Hawaiian Ocean Sports concessionaire, plus all sunset, whale-watching and snorkeling cruises.
Four Seasons Hualalai
- Ground-floor rooms boast large, outdoor showers with lava rock walls and tropical foliage. Snorkeling amid rays and tropical fish in the saltwater-fed, carefully monitored King’s Pond is a magical experience, which you can now extend by basking in the new infinity-edge pool or lounging areas next to it.
Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
- The friendly staff at the Kona Beach Boys concession will get you in the ocean with all kinds of gear. Afterwards, enjoy a drink and burger with a view from Billfish Poolside Bar & Grille. Sports fishing, sunset, snorkeling and seasonal whale-watch cruises depart regularly from Kailua Pier. The oceanfront luau is entertaining and reflects the area’s history, starting with a royal procession that arrives by outrigger canoe.