Big Island of Hawaii – Kohala Coast Rentals – Waikoloa to Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea Resorts

Big Island of Hawaii – Kohala Coast Rentals – Waikoloa to Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea Resorts

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Kohala Coast Rentals – Waikoloa to Mauna Lani & Mauna Kea Resort

Driving from Kailua-Kona airport on the Big Island of Hawaii north up the Kohala Coast reveals a rugged and arid landscape of dry grasses and vast fields of black lava rock on either side of the road.

To your right, the island climbs to its incredible heights; Mauna Loa is said to be taller than Mount Everest if measured from its base on the seafloor. While just under 14,000 ft. may be revealed above water, its vertical is impressive since it starts at sea level, not some high mountain plateau, and rises majestically into the sky. To your left, you will see the blue Pacific Ocean, with green vegetation ringing the shoreline.

Most Exotic Estates' vacation homes north of Kona on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island are clustered in resort areas. Driving north on Hawaii 19, Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, you will see turn offs to the resort areas on your left, starting with Hualalai, followed by Waikoloa, Mauna Lani and then Mauna Kea. All of these resort areas feature nice hotels, beaches, and, of course, fabulous vacation villas ringing world-class golf courses.

Because they are located in resorts, many of these vacation homes come with optional resort privileges, which can be a real benefit for beach access and other services like day care and dining. My last post was dedicated to Mauna Kea and the upcountry town of Waimea. This post will cover the resort areas and coast between Waikoloa and Mauna Lani, located to the south of Mauna Kea, closer to Kailua-Kona.

Big Island of Hawaii Map with Resorts

Waikoloa Resort Area - Kohala Coast, Big Island of Hawaii

The Waikoloa Resort, like the others, offers vacation homes and villas, hotels, golf courses, an oceanfront (rocky but beautiful), and a couple top-notch shopping centers that provide convenient services.

The Queens’ Marketplace is the first one you encounter upon entering the gates of the resort from the highway. It has a gourmet supermarket with lots of prepared items (ideal for grabbing dinner ingredients or a quick lunch), as well as well as personal care items and other essentials. You’ll also find a Starbucks and restaurants.

However, a fun, cheap lunch or dinner can be found in the food court, which has an Asian fusion-type restaurant, a DQ and a decent place for local food, with teriyaki chicken plates and the other regular Hawaiian BBQ plate lunch options.  If you’re on your way back home from a long day of touring and just want to eat something unfussy and crash, this is a good place to stop.

Further down the road, the Kings’ Shops are filled with more upscale stores, including Tiffany’s. There’s a good spot for souvenirs as well.

The Anchialine Ponds - Waikoloa, Big Island

If you keep driving down Waikoloa Beach Drive, and take a left towards Anaehoomalu Point, just before Keana Place, you will find the Anchialine Ponds.

The Anchialine Ponds are part of a very beautiful oceanfront park inside the Waikoloa resort. It looks man-made but it’s not, they are brackish water  (mixture of saltwater and freshwater) ponds formed in the lava rock that penetrate into the water table and butt up against the rugged, coral-strewn coastline.  The have no above the surface connection to the ocean, only below the ground via lava tubes! The ponds are maintained by the University of Hawaii.

The entrance can be found at the gates to the Hilton. This is a gorgeous place for a twilight stroll, and you’ll see fish swimming in the blue-green water as you walk the meandering path out to the coral beach. You can’t swim there and the beach is not good for swimming because it is so rocky, but it’s a pretty place to enjoy a quiet, reflective moment.

This is a terrific spot to experience the simple joy of a lazy vacation read in relative privacy. There was just one person out on the beach when I was there, a content-looking gentleman who was reading the paper under a shade tree. 

The Lava Lava Beach Club - Waikoloa Hot Spot

Here in Waikoloa, you also have easy access to the Lava Lava Beach Club, which is located on a spit of land that offers excellent sunset viewing and a nice swimming beach. The Lava Lava Beach Club is a restaurant, not a club, and the vibe is similar to that of Duke’s.

The restaurant is on the beach and affords guests a great view of the ocean along with a cold beverage. At sunset, you’ll find a live band creating a festive vibe. Parking is in the adjacent lava field, which is a bizarre sight in and of itself.

When I was walking out to the parking lot after sunset, a striking full moon was rising over Mauna Kea in distance.

3BD Hali'i Kai (12G) at Waikoloa Resort

This beautiful three-bedroom, townhome-style property enjoys the prime location in Hali‘i Kai, with million-dollar views of the Pacific, the Kohala coastline, tropical sunsets, and the golf course from two lanais, as well as the primary suite, living room, dining room, and kitchen. Only eight of the 44 Hali‘i Kai Resort properties can claim such an ideal location, also just steps from the fabulous oceanfront resort facilities, including a lagoon-style saltwater pool, sand-bottom hot tub, fitness center, and the Ocean Club Bar and Grill.

Mauna Lani Resort

Further up Hawaii 19, before Mauna Kea, we run into the Mauna Lani resort area. This area has a more upscale feel than Waikoloa, and features excellent golf courses and vacation villas. Mauna Lani also has a beautiful beach area, Holoholokai Beach Park, which is adjacent to the Fairmont Orchard Hawaii. There are many wild kitty cats hanging around the parking lot there, which seem fairly friendly for feral cats.

Mauna Lani also has shopping centers, including one with a Foodland, which is very convenient if you want to stock up your vacation home or pick-up prepared snacks.

In the same shopping center is a Tommy Bahamas restaurant, as well as a variety of shops and galleries. The night I was there, there was a hula performance as part of a community fundraiser. It was definitely touristy, but still fun and lots of locals turned out to cheer on their friends.

I toured several of Exotic Estates’ Mauna Lani vacation villas, but here follows just three that will give you an idea of the quality of the homes and the incredible setting. Most of the homes I toured were in the beautiful Champion Ridge neighborhood.

Pauoa Beach Oceanfront Villa

Set within the prestigious confines of the gated Pauoa Beach enclave in the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island, the Pauoa Beach Oceanfront Villa offers a refined and sophisticated vacation rental experience. This distinguished property is ideally positioned for travelers in pursuit of a luxurious retreat, complete with exclusive access to the private Club amenities and convenient proximity to one of the Kona Coast's most renowned beaches.

This expansive four-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot villa has been thoughtfully designed to maximize ocean views from various perspectives. With a dignified yet tropical aesthetic, the villa has been integrated into the landscape to ensure both privacy and unobstructed vistas.

Hale Honu

Hale Honu, a 3-bedroom villa at Hali'i Kai within the Mauna Lani resort on Hawaii's Big Island, offers a private and upscale retreat. This spacious villa features an open-concept interior and an inviting outdoor living area, where you can take in views of the island's mountains.

Just a short walk from the villa lies the beach and the clear turquoise waters of the ocean, inviting you to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. Situated within a gated community, Hale Honu ensures your privacy and tranquility during your stay, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a serene Hawaiian escape. Your path to island relaxation begins here, where luxury and peace harmonize seamlessly.

Puako and Beach 69

Continuing our drive up Hawaii 19, before we reach Mauna Kea resort area, there is the town of Puako and a great beach park known as Beach 69. This beach is a popular spot with locals and offers bathrooms and showers. There are plenty of shade trees along the shore, as well as rope swings, and spots that are good for swimming. It’s a quiet place, with homes butting up against the sand, making it feel like a private beach.  

Up the road, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is another great spot to spend a lazy beach day, and it is well appointed with showers and changing rooms. Both of these places are easily reached from Mauna Kea (to the north) and Waikoloa and Mauna Lani (to the south). 

Mauna Kea Resort - the Beginning of It All

The development of the Kohala Coast began back in the 60’s, with the Mauna Kea Resort – still a gem offering one of the best beaches in Hawaii. Interestingly, the hotel was founded by the Laurance S. Rockefeller company; we are told he scoured the Hawaiian Islands by helicopter until he found the perfect spot for his hotel, a fun visual.

Exotic Estates Big Island Mauna Kea Resort Villas, Kohala Coast Vacation Rentals, Exotic Estates, Vacation Rentals

The hotel has stood the test of time and maintains the now classic open-air design that allows breezes to blow freely through the structure. However, as nice as the hotel is, the amazing vacation homes that surround it are the real draw for our clients.

The first homes were built in the 70s, but they are all beautifully maintained and luckily we have some gorgeous ones on offer at Exotic Estates. Many people in the know have been renting Mauna Kea villas for years, but we can tell that the Big Island is taking off as a destination, as people look for new ways to experience Hawaii. However, for now, you can still rent first-class homes there at a lower price point than Maui and Oahu.

Mauna Kea Resort Bluffs 22 - The Beach House

Nestled within the exclusive Bluffs area of the Kohala Coast, this remarkable luxury estate spans an impressive 8,141 square feet and is valued at $15 million. Tucked away on a secure cul-de-sac, the Beach House at the Bluffs is a masterful display of award-winning green design, adorned with original artwork and an unwavering commitment to meticulous craftsmanship.

From the four opulent bedroom suites to the gourmet chef's kitchen, from the capacious great rooms to the state-of-the-art home theater, every facet of this residence exudes sophistication and attention to detail. The jewel in its crown is the expansive infinity pool, accompanied by a serene Zen water pond, providing an oasis of calm and relaxation.

Both indoors and outdoors, there is an abundance of space to unwind. Whether you choose to bask in the front and back gardens or retreat to the elegantly appointed interiors, this property offers a first-class retreat. Located just minutes away from the pristine beaches, exceptional dining options, and world-class amenities of the Mauna Kea Resort and the Westin Hapuna Resort Hotel, it affords the utmost in privacy and luxury, making it a truly exceptional destination.

This home effortlessly combines indoor and outdoor living, inviting ample natural light into its spacious living area. Whether you're in the mood for games, reading, or even playing the baby grand piano, there's room for it all.

Start your day by pouring a cup of coffee and stepping out onto the charming lanai, where you'll be greeted by the tranquil surroundings of tropical landscaping, the sweet scent of plumeria in the air, and the soothing sounds of birdsong. The outdoor furniture is as comfortable as the cozy indoor seating, making it the perfect spot to soak up the sun, dine al fresco, or witness the breathtaking sunsets. As night falls, light up the tiki torches and fire up the barbecue to create a captivating evening atmosphere.

Access to the Mauna Kea Hotel 

What is wonderful about staying in a vacation home on the Mauna Kea Resort, or its sister property, the Hapuna Resort, is that guests get access to the incredible, fully serviced beach at Mauna Kea Hotel, as well as the pool, for just $65 a day. This is a no-brainer considering the incredible facilities and amazing sandy beach, which is ideal for swimming due to its sandy bottom, a plus on the rugged and coral-heavy Kohala Coast. The beach is accessible to the public, but on busy days access is limited and having a resort pass will ensure you have a place in the sand!

Mauna Kea Hotel Beach View

Also, like many of the resort areas along the Kohala Coast, there are excellent golf courses to be enjoyed here, and many of the homes look out unto the greens and fairways.

These gorgeous resort areas are all beautifull designed and offer excellent conveniences. You will find excellent services, ocean activities and world-class golf in each. 

You can read a more general Big Island Guide for additional information on this incredible island. 

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