Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Mauna Lani Resort, My Idea of Paradise in Hawaii

As a Californian, we are fortunate to be just a few hours plane ride away from the magic that is Hawaii. I have been lucky to have been to Maui, Oahu. Kauai, and Hawaii or the Big Island, as it is known. Each has it's charms and unique beauty. The Big Island, however has become our very  favorite. We love the green sea turtles, unspoiled beaches, wide open valleys, volcanos, rain forests and waterfalls. 

As the Big Island is more spread out than some of the other islands, it feels less crowded. We really enjoy the feeling of being far away from it all and especially like the Mauna Lani a Hawaiian resort that has a laid-back vibe and loads of natural beauty.

The resort's beaches are pretty unmatched as resorts go.

The hotel faces a fantastic reef protected area to swim, paddle board, snorkel or watch turtles bask in the morning and evening. This area is my personal favorite with palm trees and hammocks and copious covered lounges that are always easy to get. I could spend my whole time at the resort here just staring off into the ocean.

Many mornings turtles were hanging out in the waves with us.

Hawaii has rules about going too near these protected creatures and people usually watch from a fair distance and do not try to touch them. However, you may find one body surfing with you as we did one morning and it was amazing!!

 To the left of this expansive beachfront are historic Hawaiian fish ponds which you can cross on little footbridges to another lovely cove beach and amazing snorkeling spot. 

The historic ponds. It's a small, but gorgeous walk through this protected area.

You can see some of the authentic huts.

One of the footpaths across the ponds to the farther beach.

You can spy eels and other fish in the ponds. Behind the ponds, there are condos for those who want a larger place called the Islands at Mauna Lani. 

Boards of all kinds are available at both beaches and they also run a dive operation from this beach.

My kids enjoyed paddle boarding here as well and my husband has used the dive operation for a couple of dive trips and been very happy.

A little cafe is excellent and convenient for lunch or a drink.

Snorkeling at this other beach we saw box fish, tangs, eels, and the day we were there a manta-ray was out too.( More on seeing those on my next post!)

There is also a Popoki ( Hawaiian stray cat) waiting patiently for any dropped food.

My kids were loving him. These little guys can be found all over the islands.

The area that fronts the historic ponds has some rustic beaches which are rarely used, but feel remote and wonderfully far from everything else.

They were stunning.

I can just close my eyes and be there again. (Wishing!) And no you should not be checking your phone here. The only checking you need do is check out. You know. Bring some good books!

To the right of the resort there is another undeveloped area with a path that takes you to the Fairmont Orchid if you are willing to trek there. 

There's also a black sand beach, tide pools and masses of beautiful coral strewn everywhere.

On our first morning we let our boys sleep in and grabbed some outstanding Kona coffee at their coffee bar and took a walk on this path. Great tide pooling and many joggers on this path as well. 

Cruiser bikes are available in the front of the resort to get to the neighboring Orchid for lunch or the cute Shops at Mauna Lani. The Shops have a great grocery, some adorable shops, a new local coffee company and a Tommy Bahama, which has a restaurant and a outdoor terrace for dinner.

If you can't bike or walk, and don't want to drive, there is a little shuttle that runs between the hotels and the shops.

There is excellent buffet for breakfast and we did a package that included 2 buffets each day. So worth doing. It was lovely to sit over this lawn and relax while we watched little mongoose families scurry by and so many beautiful birds.  I loved beginning the day here. The hotel also has a Mountain Thunder Coffee Company which sells breakfast and more throughout the day. My boys like playing chess in there and we also caught a few of the World Cup games as well.

The gorgeous and huge pool. They also have three other hot pools and one has little alternating fountains for small ones to frolic in.

At 3:30 each day poolside, they distribute the most amazing fruit popsicles! Needless to say, my guys figured out how to be there at that exact time, most days!

Max and I enjoyed the Ocean Bar and Grill at the pool which is newly redone. It has the ideal spot to for happy hour with a sunset.

Mojito with a flower anyone?

The kids liked the food there too and it was a casual and more affordable alternative for dinner, especially at Happy Hour, 4-7.

The Canoe House is the Mauna Lani's fancy dining and people come to the resort just for dinner here. There's a good live band nightly and every table has a perfect spot to watch the sunset.

The torch lighter with his conch shell. He runs about nightly lighting all the torches. Kids follow!

They had a Popoki too.

We usually do the Canoe House the last night of our stay.

After dinner, evening walks along the resorts' beaches were one of the highlights of staying here.

The sunsets never fail to wow. We are always trying to see the green flash!

Some turtle friends are still enjoying the beach at night!

...And the hammocks were pretty cool too.

One night we came back to the room to find this on out pillow...

Some middle schooler's idea of a joke. ;) Just had to keep it.

Of course the chocolates on our pillows were taken too! (I don't think I was fast enough to ever get one..I heard they were gourmet, according to my chocolate connoisseurs. Lol.)

The lobby from above. Nightly here there is authentic Hawaiian music and hula! Also a wonderful cultural center is part of the hotel and gives ukelele lessons, art and other classes in all things Hawaiian. 

 I thought I'd let some of the rest of the photos speak for themselves.

There's just a lot to love about the Mauna Lani.

If you want a real Hawaii culture, with luxury, nature and relaxation it's the place.

We are thinking next time we may try renting one of the condos, or perhaps a home. My boys are getting adult size pretty fast here.

I do like very much that the Mauna Lani welcomes families with older kids to share their spacious rooms unlike another very famous resort which I won't name, that we have been to many times. If you have kids over 12, this other resort wanted you to have 2 rooms, which is ridiculous. At their prices that was not going to happen, so we went with the Mauna Lani and it really did exceed expectations in service, food, rooms and location.

 The Mauna Lani is not the kind of resort where you have to worry about dressing up or what kind of beach bag you have. No Kardashians will make an appearance here. Yet it's luxury without pretense. It's a gem and  why so many families have been going for generations.

We traveled at the end of June and they said that was a quieter month. Highly recommend that time. We have also been there in April for Easter (a fun bunny hunt when my kids were small) and in July. All as relaxed. On July 4th, the resort hosts a special releasing of their baby turtles and also a big party. After, nearby there is a huge rubber ducky race. Everyone says that is also a fun time, but busier time to go as well.

I'm wondering who out there has other favorite places to stay on the Big Island? 

I have one more post to come with all some super spots to dine and other cool activities to do around the island!


This trip was not a sponsored stay and all expenses and opinions are my own, as usual!


  1. Anybody's idea of Paradise ! I'm sure I'll never go there so thanks for sharing ! xxx

    1. Love to get to your seaside by Deauville. Looks so charming and pretty!


  2. I was 12 when I visited and it still remains vivid in my head. I think the light in Hawaii seems even more golden than in your California pics!mthose turtle pics are outstanding and they are quite big or is that optical illusion? But even that cat looks so chilled and much more spoiled than a kitty over here. In fact I thought if it were possible the cat looks stoned ;p xx

    1. Naomi, The turtles are very large and bigger than they appear in the photo! The light in heavenly in Hawaii and everything looks so pretty...Too funny about the cat. Everyone is on Hawaii time and very chill!

  3. Kim you capture your trips with such grace and ease! Such a transporting post my dear! Kudos!

  4. Hi Kim,

    We have been to this resort a couple of times and it IS beautiful. I'm glad you had fun and it looks like the weather was perfect. I never tire of the gorgeous sunsets each night, the incredible food, relaxed vibe, AND the cocktails:)

    I'm way behind on blogs .. it's been a challenging summer with the house construction and I can focus on little else. Things are scheduled to calm down in a month or so and I will look forward to starting back to blogging in a month or so. In the meantime have fun with the kids for the remainder of your summer! xxleslie

    1. Leslie, Cannot wait to see all you've done with your home. I'm sure it will be gorgeous!

  5. A beautiful post Kim. I hope you tweet it to The Mauna Lani and the Hawaiian tourist board because I already want to visit. Your photgraphs are stunning. How cute are the Popoki. It must have been amazing to surf alongside a turtle, what an incredible treat. Too bad you weren't fast enough for the chocolates, I think I can guess which little ninja sneaked those out from under your nose. You look so relaxed Kim. I just know that you keep all your Pineapple accessories in that beach tote.

  6. We have never done the Big Island but this makes me want to try it! I am definately checking out their website!

  7. We love the Big Island and love Mauna Lani. However, the last time we were there, we stayed at the Hali Kai condos and fell in love! They are new, spacious, and beautifully appointed. Plenty of room for a family of four. Love your pictures - so beautiful!

  8. Sounds and looks AMAZING! Love the pic of you and Max by the pool! Looks like the boys had a blast too!
    Dawn Lucy

  9. How fortunate you are to live relatively close to the natural beauty of The Big Island. It's worth going just for the sunsets! Your resort has so much to offer for all ages and a variety of places to eat is always a good idea. Mojito is a favourite of mine too - love the flower!

  10. Gorgeous photos Kim! I feel as though I just spent a moment in the islands. You captured a memorable family time beautifully. This post sparkles!

  11. I so enjoyed reading about the hotel and your trip to Hawaii. I've never been and would love to go some day.

  12. beautiful pictures,super relax.....http://bastonidifashion.blogspot.it/2014/08/malcesine-monte-baldo.html

  13. Looks....well amazing!! Hawaii is so far from here, that is the one downside. Is that note from your son?? How darling! What a wonderful sense of humor!

  14. Your boys are so sweet looking. Those are such great ages for Hawaii trips. Thanks for sharing your stunning photos. Our fav spot is on Maui at the

  15. Oops my comment disappeared... Just to finish ...our spot is at the Fairmont Kea Lanai. Sounds a lot like your spot.

  16. I have never been to Hawaii, living in Ontario I have been to Florida and the Caribbean many times but the flight to Hawaii is so long it always seems like a dream vacation! This resort looks amazing and I love that the sea turtles are right there with you. Totally have to get to Hawaii with the kids when they are a bit older!