Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii, the Big Island, is a BIG property; it’s a 1,240-room hotel on 62 sprawling acres, complete with its own activity-filled lagoon, multiple pools and even a monorail. If your family prefers intimate lodging where the front desk folks know your name within a day, the Hilton Waikoloa most definitely isn’t it. However, if you’re looking for plenty of entertainment for your family, plus multiple on-site dining options that appeal to kids, by all means, put the Hilton Waikoloa on your short list for family-friendly Hawaii Island accommodations.
Here’s a peek at some of the amenities and services at the Hilton Waikoloa:
Saltwater lagoon: This man-made lagoon is a hotbed of activity at the Hilton Waikoloa. Here, youngest guests can wade into the calm water from a white-sand beach; older kids can rent paddleboats, hydro-bikes, kayaks, snorkel gear and stand-up paddleboards. Note that the Hilton Waikoloa is an oceanfront property, but it doesn’t have a sandy beachfront; the only place you can swim in saltwater from the resort is in the lagoon. The rocky coast isn’t meant for lounging or swimming.
Dolphin Quest: My kids didn’t swim with the dolphins here, since we’d done such an activity in Puerto Vallarta, a couple years prior, but we watched a lot of guests play with and pet the marine creatures at the Hilton Waikoloa. A variety of experiences are offered through Dolphin Quest, from the Wee Tots photo op (10 minutes with a dolphin) to Trainer for a Week, where kids 10 and up work with dolphins for 7 hours a day over 5 days! The Vacation Gals’ cowriter Jennifer Miner recommends the 45-minute Encounter Deluxe at Dolphin Quest for families staying at the resort.
Pools: Two pools serve the two different large towers of guest rooms on the property. The Kona Pool is the larger of the two, near the Lagoon Tower, with a swinging bridge, water slide and loads of lounge chairs for parents to perch. A “children’s sand pool” here has “sandy beach” leading to the pool water; a nice feature for toddlers. Also nearby: an interactive fountain and giant checkerboard.
The Kohala Pool near the Ocean Tower is smaller and decidedly more mellow, also with a water slide. The Ocean Tower Pool is an oasis of calm for adults only; somehow I missed this little slice of heaven when we visited… Both pool areas have pool bars.
Dining: A variety of restaurants are found at the Hilton Waikoloa — from fine Japanese dining to casual poolside grills. Children’s menus are individualized at each, which is nice for kids who don’t want to eat chicken nuggets or mac n’ cheese at every meal; for example, at Imari, which offers traditional Japanese cuisine, children 12 and under can order off of the “keiki menu,” which has udon noodles, California roll and cucumber rolls.
If you’re on property long enough, your children just might beg you to try several restaurants so they can earn a rainbow of differently colored bracelets. Collect six and get a free ice cream cone! Of course, I’m also a fan of checking out area restaurants; we dined at Eddie Aikau one night in the nearby King’s Shops, and loved our meal.
Monorail, water taxi and turtles: The Hilton Waikoloa feels a little Disney-esque, with its tram that whisks guests to each side of the property (the Lagooon Tower and Ocean Tower). A slower ride, though no less fun, is the water taxi that makes a loop between the two towers. Each is complimentary, and for younger kids especially, it’s a kick to ride the “train” and open-air boat. Another fun activity for kids (and adults): spotting the many sea turtles that make their home on the grounds
The guestrooms at the Hilton Waikioloa are pretty standard, with nothing out of the ordinary to report. family and I were perfectly comfortable in our double-bedded room in the Lagoon Tower. We did have a view of the parking lot and tennis courts, but we were also close to a laundry facility, which I used, and steps from the Boat Landing Coffee Shop — convenient for good morning coffee.
Other amenities here include an on-property luau, the Kohala Spa, tennis courts, putting green and kids’ club ($90/day). Plus, there are loads of scheduled activities, such as hula classes, lei-making, fish feeding and star gazing (some are fee based).
Overall, I think the Hilton Waikoloa offers a good value to visiting families; current rates start at $209/night for a double-bedded room. My family’s personal preference is smaller, more boutique accommodations; we were at first overwhelmed by the massive lobby and the volume of people on property during spring break in March. But if you’re keen to have loads of amenities and activities right outside your guest-room door, I’d absolutely consider the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii’s pretty Kohala Coast.
Thanks to the Hilton Waikoloa for hosting my family at a discounted media rate.
For more help in planning your family trip to Hawaii’s Big Island, visit the official Hawaii Visitor & Convention Bureau website, chock full of information.