We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Big Island trip Q’s for Feb. 20-27, 2018

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
211 posts
16 reviews
Big Island trip Q’s for Feb. 20-27, 2018

Hi awesome forum friends!

Flights are booked for Feb. 20-27 and I’m already getting excited!

I booked the Ocean Tower at Hilton Waikoloa, and I’m aware construction starts this month. I called the hotel yesterday, and they advised this will be a 10-year construction project! Yes, that’s what they said.

A bit of background: we stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa in March 1990 and really liked the experience. Since then, we’ve vacationed in Hawaii a few times, usually staying in Maui at condo rentals.

I could really use the expertise of the forum members on the following:

- Hilton Waikoloa stay: I read the hotel is getting a bit long in the tooth and in need of a general refresh. Any feedback on the overall condition of the property is greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone had the inside track on the extent of the upcoming construction, it is greatly appreciated.

- Other Kohala coast properties recommended vs. the Hilton Waikoloa?

- Local knowledge of great shore-accessible snorkeling sites is greatly appreciated! I’m an early morning person, so driving to a place for an early morning snorkel excursion is definitely on my to do list. Who is willing to share their awesome snorkel spots?!

Thanks everyone!

3 replies to this topic
Big Island, Hawaii
Level Contributor
31,162 posts
1. Re: Big Island trip Q’s for Feb. 20-27, 2018

Yes, the Hilton is starting to show its age. I'll be honest, I loathe the property. You've stayed there and enjoyed it so you may not share my preferences and priorities, but the pools are so cold as to be often unswimmable in winter, the slave dolphins are tragic and depressing, the food is mostly just bad and expensive, there's no beach or open ocean access, it's completely lacking in Hawaiiana, service and the rooms are nondescript, and it's a difficult property to easily get out of. It's the one hotel on the Kohala Coast I never recommend.

The deal with the Ocean Tower is that they are converting it entirely to timeshares, but they're doing it in phases. They've started with taking one quarter of the rooms out of operation, some for conversion and others as a buffer. The construction is significant and noisy.

I would recommend any property on the Kohala Coast over that one. Each has its pros and cons. Taking the Four Seasons Hualalai out of the equation since I assume it's not on the budget radar - I prefer the Mauna Lani resort area to Waikoloa Beach for superior snorkeling, beaches, less development. It has both the Mauna Lani and Fairmont hotels. The latter is in need of maintenance and tends to cater to groups and conventions, but is a decent hotel. The Mauna Lani hotel is the most Hawaiiana in the state, IMO.

Mauna Kea hotel is on the best beach on the island and has the nicest rooms of all the options (not including Hualalai). But there's nothing else on property, no non-hotel restaurants or shops, unlike at the Mauna Lani and Waikoloa beach. It does have a decent beach bar/restaurant. Hapuna is undergoing major construction as well, adding a new pool, restaurants, and spa, and is rebranding as a Westin, but it's supposed to be complete in February. But that's always a crap shoot.

The Marriott Waikoloa is ok, but has the smallest rooms and lanais of any of the Kohala Coast options.

There's a good Top Question on the right hand side of the main Island of Hawaii forum that covers all the snorkeling options. Since it's a priority for you, I'd take a hard look at the Mauna Lani, where there are several sites right on property that has some of the best snorkeling in the state. You could consider a condo within that resort which will be less expensive, no resort or parking fees, offer triple the space, more privacy, full kitchens. The Mauna Lani Terrace is walking distance to several good snorkel sites as the Mauna Lani Point.

Level Contributor
9,528 posts
47 reviews
2. Re: Big Island trip Q’s for Feb. 20-27, 2018

You are most likely going to be quite surprised by the dramatically changed landscape in South Kohala since your last visit 28 years ago!

As you mention that you have enjoyed condo accommodation on Maui....I will suggest checking out King's Land which has an affliation with the Hilton Waikoloa ( shuttle, use of pools etc) King's Land is a modern property with terrific heated pools(which you will want in Feb)

We just love the Hali'i Kai Resort in Waikoloa beach resort which is oceanfront and directly beside the Hilton property. Their ocean club views are really spectacular. HK has a bar and restaurant poolside/oceanside,which is unusual for a condo property.

The number of dining and shops has definitely increased since you last visit...to the area. You may be hard pressed to recognize much of it from back then.

We give the Hilton a pass, as there is just so many more spacious, spectacular, modern properties in the area these days.

Big Island, Hawaii
Level Contributor
31,162 posts
3. Re: Big Island trip Q’s for Feb. 20-27, 2018

I stayed at Kings Land last weekend and my issue with it is that you really will want to drive to get to anywhere. It's kind of a huge and impersonal complex. The pools are nice, but busy. You don't say who you're traveling with, but it wouldn't be a great choice for a solo traveler or couple IMO, it's better suited to families. The big downside to Halii Kai is no beach or ocean access (it's cliff side ocean front), you'll also have to drive to get everywhere. I prioritize at least the option to easily walk to get in the ocean and swim or snorkel. That may not be a necessity for you, however.

Reply to: Big Island trip Q’s for Feb. 20-27, 2018
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Kailua-Kona
Recent Conversations