I was talking to someone about Hawaii recently and the only way I could describe it is “magic”. There is just something in the air in Hawaii that makes me feel easy and peaceful. Our family has made the trip across the Pacific several times, and each vacation is one for the memory books.
We’ve been to most of the islands, and we like each of them for different reasons, and our current family favorite is the Kona side of the Big Island. We love that we can fly direct to Kona and within twenty minutes be at our destination on the Kona-Kohala coast. Even though this section of the island has several resorts, it remains quite pristine and uncrowded. It’s full of black lava rock (feels like you’re on the moon!), and there are several points where you can access a sandy shoreline. There is one road that takes you just about everywhere, so it is incredibly easy to get around.
We stayed at Kings’ Land – a Hilton Grand Vacations hotel. It’s a new development of town homes that are sold as timeshares and affiliated with the Hilton Waikoloa which is just down the road. We love these town homes and highly recommend them for families traveling with children. They are brand new, very well appointed, and most importantly, extremely family-friendly. We rented a two bedroom, two bath. The master bedroom has a king bed and a massive bathroom; the second bedroom has two double beds and a full bath. There is a washer and dryer (a must for traveling with small kids), a fully stocked kitchen, a living room with a flat screen TV and blu-ray player, and a spacious lanai. On special request, they will also furnish your town home with a crib and highchair for your stay.
You also have resort privileges at the Hilton Waikoloa. It’s fun and easy to go there as it’s only about a 5 minute drive down the road to get to the resort. It is huge! There is plenty of shopping, several restaurants, and an entire area where you can pay to swim with dolphins called Dolphin Quest. Pretty cool overall. Although it is ocean front, there is not a beach on the ocean, but instead a large lagoon that is fed from the ocean, and several pools, including a zero-entry kids pool. Although the boys loved riding on the tram, the boat taxi and on a paddle boat on the lagoon, the resort in general feels a little old and tired to me. We spent a few mornings at the resort and enjoyed our time very much, but I was very happy to return to our retreat at Kings’ Land. It’s just a very different vibe and speed at the resort.
In fact, even though they are simpler and smaller, I prefer the pools at Kings’ Land. There are several areas of the pool, including a quiet, adult only section that we just peeked at once. We spend the majority of our time at the small kids pool – a rocky/sandy bottomed zero-entry pool with a small but SUPER FUN water slide. Bennett was a champ on that slide! There are several other water slides, known to us as the “big boy slides” as Bennett and Graham are too small still, but no worries, Brian tried them out for us, hee hee. It’s big and there is plenty of room to spread out and explore, but doesn’t seem too expansive or overwhelming.
Right next to the pools is the only bar/restaurant option at Kings’ Land. The service is quick and friendly, and the food is passable poolside fare. It’s not gourmet, but it will hit the spot when you are looking for a quick bite. The fish tacos and cheese pizza are particularly good. The drinks from the bar are GREAT! They have daily happy hour specials, and I highly recommend you treat yourself to a Mai Tai come 4pm.
Also next to the pool is the kids’ play area called the Keiki Club. There is a schedule of events and they offer several activities for a range of ages of children. There was a craft hour every day which we were happy to participate in, although I’d recommend it for children ages 5 and up. We made a pretty cool bead buddy that Bennett now proudly displays on his backpack.
Full disclosure: this is a timeshare facility, and it is very likely you will be invited to a 90 minute presentation to learn more about ownership. We are not timeshare owners. We stayed at Kings’ Land on a special rate that required us to attend a presentataion. They are good sales people. Very good, in fact. I’m not here to tell you what to do about purchasing or not, but you may want to do your own research before you go so you are prepared.
Here are some tips for your to get the most out of your stay:
1) Request a ground level room. This is a must for families with small kids. Opening the door to the lanai and huge lawn and just letting the boys RUN was honestly one of the best parts about staying at Kings’ Land. The lawn is a secure distance from the parking lot, and surrounded by a golf course, so you can feel safe letting them run. The buildings are low-rise, so the highest level you’ll be on is the third floor with a nice balcony, but again, the lanai on the lawn is the way to go!
2) Try to book a later flight home and enjoy the day in Hawaii. If you can’t secure a late check out (you have to call the day before your departure to request a late check out), ask about the hospitality suite. We were able to use this small room for one hour to shower and change before our flight. It’s nothing fancy – a couch, TV, and bathroom, but it’s so much better than freshening up in the bathroom before a long flight back to the mainland.
3) Pass on the luau tickets at the Hilton Waikoloa resort that they offer you for “free” and instead as for a resort credit. We were able to turn ours into a $120 credit – that bought us several poolside lunches and happy hour Mai Tais. Instead, enjoy the Hula Night at Kings’ Land. Be sure to check the activity schedule when you arrive as it is only one night a week. Get to the courtyard early and try to nap a table near the action. They have a special menu full of yummy pupus and special drinks. And best of all, the entertainment is top notch! The show lasts almost an hour and you and your kids will love listening to the music and watching the dancers spin fire sticks and hula. It’s a carefree, fun night you are all sure to enjoy.
4) Looking for a couple day excursions? Read my post here about some beautiful beaches and nearby restaurants for lunch and dinner.