SWEET: We celebrated the Fourth of July at one of our favorite white sand beaches on the sunny Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, Hapuna Beach! The Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is the second nicest beach we have visited on the Big Island. This beach is outfitted with BBQ grills, restrooms, and covered pavilions making it a hot spot for the locals too.
We paid a less expensive rate at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, and were granted full access to its more expensive sister property, the understated luxurious Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (Hapuna Beach Prince shown left, Muana Kea Beach Hotel shown below).
The Muana Kea is the only resort on Kaunaoa Beach, a quarter-mile long, crescent-shaped, palm tree lined paradise. This is the nicest white sand beach on the Big Island, and arguably one of the nicest beaches in the world!
Sour: The water is warm, clean, and perfectly clear at both Hapuna and Kaunaoa Beaches; but, the privacy and seclusion of Kaunaoa Beach adds to its exclusivity. We were told about this gem by a local on our last visit to the Big Island.
In Hawaii, all beaches are public, and even the Muana Kea resort provides parking for 20 vehicles per day. We found that these spaces fill up fast, and realized we needed to stay somewhere with direct access to the two sister beaches.
SWEET: The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel’s large open-air common areas allow for relaxing sunset views. We enjoyed tasty handcrafted mai tais on the patio of the Reef Lounge, situated just below the lobby. The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is surrounded by rolling lawns, and a championship golf course, this allowed us to spread out and to view the fireworks that were put on by the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
Sour: We walked through the pool area, and were not impressed with the spring break styled contests and debauchery that was occurring. I don’t understand why a hotel of this kind would allow this. The music was loud and the guests were sloppy!
Sour: We viewed the Fourth of July firework display from the front of the Hapuna Prince Beach Hotel and headed to the Reef Lounge for drinks. The bartender was very rude, and did not think that we were dressed appropriately. I was dressed in cargo shorts with a red tank top for the holiday, and my girlfriend was wearing a sarong with a purple top. He informed us that there was a dress code, and that men could not be sleeveless, and that women could not show a midriff. My girlfriend’s shirt did not show her stomach, it touched right at her skirt. I also had a sweater which I was able to pullover. Upon seeing that we were indeed dressed appropriately (and probably by realizing that we were not just visiting the hotel to attend the Bacardi party) he went on to serve our drinks. However, by this point I had a very sour taste in my mouth.
That night I stayed up pondering the bad service that we had received and the unwelcomed greeting that we felt. I visited the hotel website and found that although resort attire is needed for most of the restaurants, it is not required for the Reef Lounge. The next morning I spoke with a manager about our experience, who upgraded our final night stay to an oceanfront suite, and also took care of our resort fees. The gesture was appreciated, as the suite was more spacious, however the bathroom and furnishings were slightly dated, as was our regular balcony room.
SWEET: The large infinity pool at the Hapuna Prince Beach Hotel is just steps away from Hapuna Beach and it was easy to meander over the lounge chairs and umbrellas on the beach that the resort provided.
Sour: We spent one afternoon relaxing at Kaunaoa Beach. The Muana Kea Beach Hotel provided towels, beach lounge chairs and umbrellas, kayaks and paddle boards, and features the Hau Tree bar right at the beach, which is perfect for a light lunch and drinks. The resort is decorated with numerous Asian influenced sculptures.
Muana Kea Resort’s pool is not as close to the beach as Hapuna Prince’s but the beach and dining options at Muana Kea Beach Hotel more than make up for that! We always enjoy lunch at the beachside Hua Tree Café!
We enjoyed plenty of fresh seafood including crab, shrimp, clams, and fish along with stations of dim sum and desserts at the Hakone Buffet at the Hapuna Resort. Each morning we were provided with two cups of Kona coffee from Café Hapuna (which was basically a snack shop). I recommend stopping by early to grab spam musubis because they sell out well before lunch time!
Sour: Aside from what’s offered at the resort, there’s nothing around the resort, so we mostly ventured off of the property for restaurants and shopping. Each time we arrive to Kona, we first stop at the large farmers market in town and stock up on exotic fruit, then Wal-Mart and Costco for snacks, and finally hit up Da Poke Shack for the best poke and Lau Lau plate (The #1 restaurant on Yelp! http://www.yelp.com/biz/da-poke-shack-kailua-kona).
The Plantation Grill was a fun local find for dinner, just a few miles up the road in Kamuela. Since we rented a car (recommended!), we drove up the north coast to Hawi and enjoyed views of the stunning Pololu Valley Overlook and savored Tahitian Vanilla Bean ice cream at Tropical Dreams Ice Cream!
Sweet: Each trip out to the Big Island we learn something new, and while we enjoyed The Hapuna Prince Beach Hotel, we look forward to staying at the Muana Kea Beach Hotel for our next visit!