Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Kohala Coast
Even if you’re not staying at hotel Mauna Kea, you should come to its flagship restaurant, Manta, for dinner. It’s an especially good date-night spot, with stunning views of Kaunaoa Beach and an admirable wine-by-the-glass list. And this is one of those restaurants where you have to order dessert: Make it pastry chef Ross Alaimo's famous chocolate soufflé.
68-1400 Mauna Lani Dr., Kohala Coast
The Canoe House is the excellent oceanfront restaurant of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, complete with an open-air dining room and outdoor patio overlooking the Pacific. The menu draws heavily on local ingredients (nearly everything on the chef’s optional tasting menu is sourced from the Big Island), with dishes like twice-cooked pulehu pork ribs, locally grown beets served with Big Island goat cheese, and seared wahoo with pickled ginger and wasabi soy dressing.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
72-100 Ka`upulehu Dr., Kohala Coast
The seven varied pools at the Four Seasons on the Kona-Kohala coast provide ample opportunity for R&R, as well as fun and games for the kids. The adults-only pool faces the ocean and has a swim-up bar with bench seating. The lagoon-shaped family pool has an infinity edge that seems to bleed into the ocean and is dotted with cabanas big enough for the whole gang. (Next to this is a smaller, freshwater kiddie pool with a sand bottom. And for kids ages 5 to 12 who might enjoy more organized activities, the Four Seasons offers a camp-like program at their Cultural Center—shell necklace making, star navigation, Ukelele lessons, Hawaiian classes are all on offer.) There’s also “King’s Pond,” a 1.8-million gallon pool that combines fresh and ocean water and is home to 4,000 tropical fish for those who feel too timid to snorkel in the open ocean. Plus, a lap pool, an incredible spa, and a fitness complex where they even stage occasional Iron Man workshops. The rooms here, needless to say, are well-appointed, but the private two- and three-bedroom villas are on another level: set in secluded…
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Puako
When Mauna Kea opened in the mid-1960s as part of Laurance S. Rockefeller's hotel group, it was said to be the most expensive hotel ever built, at $15 million. Designed by architect Edward Charles Bassett of the firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the hotel itself is a stunning modernist masterpiece. In the decades since, it’s remained a favorite Big Island hotel—thanks in part to a $150 million renovation in the mid-2000s that helped Mauna Kea keep pace with the newer luxury resorts on Hawaii. The beach here (white-sand Kauna‘oa) is one of the best hotel beaches you’ll find on the island. Mauna Kea is also known for its famed golf course, which was built by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and debuted in 1964 with the Big Three (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player) on the course. Like the hotel, Mauna Kea Golf Course underwent a thoughtful renovation (overseen by Rees Jones, son of Robert Trent Jones) that maintained all its beauty (and challenges). For those who favor tennis, there’s an also an 11-court seaside club at Mauna Kea. The restaurant to dine at here is Manta though they also…
1 N. Kaniku Dr., Kohala Coast
Set on 32 acres along the Kohala Coast, the Fairmont Orchid spills onto a white-sand lagoon beach and the bright blue-green waters of Pauoa Bay. Every room here comes with its own lanai, many with lovely views of the ocean, or the island’s waterfalls and the Fairmont's tropical gardens. The most luxurious rooms and suites are on the sixth floor of the resort’s North Tower, known as “Fairmont Gold.” The spa here has several private oceanfront huts (hale) adjacent to cascading waterfalls (not a bad setting for a massage), as well as indoor treatment rooms, a sauna and a steam room. The resort also plays host to 10 quality tennis courts (with lights for night). And next to the Fairmont is the Francis H. I'i Brown Golf Course, which encompasses two different 18-hole courses.
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