If you are lucky enough to be heading to the Big Island in Hawaii and staying on the gorgeous Kona-Kohala Coast, here are a few recommendations for family-friendly beaches and dining options. If you are looking for a place to stay, check out my review of Kings’ Land in Waikoloa Village, a new, family friendly town home resort just twenty minutes from the Kona airport.
Beach and Lunch Day 1:
Visit the public beach near the Four Seasons. You have to get a pass at the security gate at the Hualalai entrance and park in a designated beach area. The beach is a few minute walk from the parking lot, over a bridge and some tide pools. The beach itself is pretty shallow, but long, and full of nesting honu – ginormus turtles right there on the beach snoozing away. It’s important not to disturb them, so be sure to marvel at them from a safe distance. The boys thought they were cool, but it was Brian and I who were really mesmerized. I guess to the boys turtles are everywhere in their books, on TV, etc., but we know how rare and endangered they are. They are so funny – they look so old and grumpy! Just beautiful. Back to the beach: the water was pretty gentle the day we were there, but there is a surf, so be sure to keep an eye on the littles. When you’re ready for lunch, load up the kids in a stroller, and take a 15 minute walk along the boardwalk overlooking a breathtaking view of the ocean to the Residents’ Beach House. This place is simply amazing! We had the sweetest server who was so kind to our boys. She is Japanese spent a few minutes at our table teaching Bennett a few words (he’s currently interested in accents and languages, so he had asked her where she was from after he heard her speak). We enjoyed dining outside, watching the ocean, and enjoying the fresh, organic salads. The boys shared a kids’ meal which included a dessert “trio of treats”, a cookie, ice cream, and a huge plume of handmade cotton candy. Even though the boys shared a meal, our server brought out a dessert plate for each of them. It was the cherry on top so to speak.
Beach and Lunch Day 2:
As you can see, we are fans of the beach-and-lunch routine. The boys wake up so early in Hawaii because of the time change, so getting up and out early is fun for the whole family. We also find that an early lunch is just the ticket to a nice, long nap afterwards. Our second beach-and-lunch combo recommendation is to visit the public beach at Mauna Loa. The beach is both long and wide, so there is lots of water to play in and full of powdery sand. The water was definitely a little rough, so we kept the boys at our side the whole time, but it is calm enough to do some water sports. Several people are kayaking or paddle boarding all along the shore. We enjoyed a great lunch at Hau Tree at the Mauna Loa resort just a few steps up from the beach. We stayed in the sun a little too long and the boys were starting to melt down, that is until their Ovaltine shakes arrived. Instant smiles! Brian and I each got an order of the fish taco lettuce cups, and we agreed that they were the best fish tacos we had all week.
Beach and Lunch Day 3:
OK, so confession time: I’m not 100% sure that this is a public beach. We were told that all beaches in Hawaii are public because “the beaches belong to all the people”, but it felt a little like trespassing when we first arrived. However, we were warmly welcomed and not asked to leave, so I’m assuming the advice we received was correct? Anyhow, the beach is at the Fairmont resort, and overall was our favorite beach in the area. It’s in small rock enclave (see pic above) so the water is sheltered from big waves, so we felt comfortable letting the boys wade in the water and play at the shore line. We had lunch at Hale Kai at the Fairmont. The setting for the restaurant is awesome, right on the rocky shore line with a beautiful sea breeze. The menu is big and full of fresh and healthy options, including several gluten-free and vegan items. In general, we felt all of the restaurants in the area use fresh and local ingredients, but Hale Kai really stood out with their number of healthy dishes.
The last night of our stay was the absolute highlight of our trip, and the best meal hands down. We headed back to Hualalai and had an early sunset dinner at the Beach Tree at the Four Seasons. After spending a week in Hawaii, we were completely relaxed, slow, happy, and grateful for each other’s company. The Four Seasons Hualalai is such a beautiful property, and the Beach Tree restaurant sits right on the edge on the ocean. We arrived at the magic hour, and it almost felt as if we were in a movie. The perfect sunset lighting, the waves crashing on the rocks, the two-man band playing easy and soft Hawaiian music…it was the perfect setting for our last night in Hawaii. We treated ourselves to the special Tuscan tasting menu and enjoyed every bite. The wine pairings suggested by our server were fantastic, and the service was top notch, as expected. After the sun went down, the band picked up a little bit and tons of kids started to dance on the lawn to the music. Someone handed all the littles some glow stick bracelets and it was so sweet to watch all the kids dancing their hearts out under the starts. The entire experience was a night for the memory books, indeed.
Mahalo, Hawaii! See you soon…