I’m a wanderer. When I go to a new place I have fun exploring even the smallest nook and cranny. The same thing goes when I check into a new hotel. The only difference is, exploring hotels typically don’t take as much time. That is unless you’re checking into the 62-acre oceanfront Hilton Waikoloa Village set on Hawaii’s sunny Kohala Coast. It’s the largest resort on the Big Island and you could make a vacation out of exploring the grounds and still not take advantage of everything the resort has to offer.
It’s hard to envision how large the property is until you actually arrive. After checking in, making your way to your room is an adventure in its own right. You’ll get a map with your keys. Hold on to it, you’re going to need it for awhile. There’s no walking down dark, dreary hallways to reach your room. You hop aboard a Swiss-made air-conditioned tram that shuttles guests throughout the property. It’s like riding the monorail at Disney.
The resort’s three towers are home to 1,241 guest rooms. The rooms have an old-school Hawaiian feel with some modern perks like walk-in closets, mini refrigerators and HD LCD televisions with PlayStation3/DVD players. Unlimited complimentary movie and game rentals are available from automated machines on the property. It’s a nice perk if you are traveling with kids and need a pre-bedtime, way to get everyone in the room activity.
But my guess is that most folks don’t spend much time in their rooms watching movies. Along with two championship links-style golf courses and a seaside putting course, there are eight tennis courts and three pools.
The largest, the Kona Pool has a waterfall, 175-foot twisty waterslide (for kids and kids at heart), a rope bridge and hot tubs tucked away in caves. The Kohala River Pool is actually four pools connected to each other with waterslides. And then there’s the quiet adults-only Ocean Tower Pool.
You can use the trams to do a pool tour, or float your way from one end of the property to the other on Disney-engineered mahogany canal boats. It’s Hawaii’s version of the Jungle Cruise, but the animals you might catch a glimpse of are real. Approximately 50 species, not including the tropical fish and Japanese koi, call the resort home. Even the landscaping has a story to tell. Among the hundreds of varieties of tropical plants are rescued coconut trees flown by helicopter to the resort from Kalapana to escape volcano flow.
A four-acre lagoon sits in the center of the Hilton Waikoloa Village. It’s protected, making it a nice spot to swim, kayak or go paddle boarding. Since it is ocean-fed, guests happily share the water with visiting fish and green sea turtles. Masks, snorkels, fins and an assortment of water toys are available for rent on the lagoon beach.
Just next door, Dolphin Quest Village offers another good reason to get wet. For an additional fee, folks can swim, feed and play with dolphins in the 2-million gallon, ocean-water lagoon. For those who prefer to stay dry, there’s a nice grassy hill to sit on and just watch the antics.
If you want to get in some beach time, a complimentary shuttle runs to Anaeho’omalu Bay. It’s less than a five minute drive, but if you’re not in a hurry, the walk along the beach offers great views and one of the best beach ocean front swings I’ve ever swayed on. You can do the walk in flip flops, but it’s rocky so a sneaker-type of shoe will be more comfortable.
All of the moving and shaking around the property can work up an appetite. With 14 restaurants and lounges, even the pickiest of eaters shouldn’t go hungry.
Rates for Resort View Accommodations with a king bed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village range from $179 to $559 per night, plus a $25 resort fee and tax. Book directly online with Hilton or try comparing rates and making a reservation through Expedia, Travelocity or Priceline.
Dana received a media rate for her stay at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.