Of the three hotels we stayed at during our family trip to Hawaii Island over spring break, the Keauhou Beach Resort was the most budget friendly. That is, it didn’t have the luxe vibe of the beautiful Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, where we spent four nights at the start of our vacation. Nor did it offer all the bells and whistles (dolphins! paddleboats! cereal bar!) of the sprawling Hilton Waikoloa. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the Keauhou Beach Resort and all that is included in the nightly rate — with no resort fees. Plus, the location of the property is excellent.
Here in this Keauhou Beach Resort review, four reasons to book your family vacation at this Outrigger property on the Kona side of Hawaii Island:
Stellar location: The 309-room Keauhou Beach Resort sits right next to Kahaluu Beach Park, which is one of the best snorkeling sites on the entire “Big Island.” It’s a bay that’s open to the public, so the close-to-shore snorkeling spots and the small beach area can get quite crowded (try to go early morning). However, it is an excellent place to introduce young children to the activity. Even preschoolers can wade in a bit and see colorful fish just by dunking their masks into the water while standing.
My kids took surfing lessons on a break that is also in Kahaluu Bay. I highly recommend Ossian Farmer’s FBI Surf School if you are staying at Keauhou Beach Resort and have children interested in sampling the sport. This surf break is one of the very few areas of the island that is good for beginners, so it’s quite convenient to book a surfing lesson while staying at the resort — no driving required. Plus, surf-school owner Ossian (pronounced “ocean”) is patient and so friendly; he taught his own three kids to surf!
Now, the hotel doesn’t front a sandy beach (there’s a good-sized pool, and kids’ wading area, for swimming and sunning), but it does boast some amazing coral reef and tide pools. We had fun watching the turtles from our oceanfront room; from our top-floor balcony we had a bird’s eye view of turtles, schools of fish and even eels in the shallow, clear water.
Also, the Keauhou Beach Resort is within walking distance to a nearby grocery store (yes, it’s up a steep hill, but I found it great morning exercise when I needed additional sunscreen and snacks). The hotel is also about a 15-minute drive to “downtown” Kailua-Kona and its plethora of restaurants and shops.
Breakfast is included: Moms know that having breakfast included in the room rate is a godsend. Well, it is for me anyway. I like nothing better than to start a vacation day by fueling up with a filling morning meal – and I love not having to cook it, not having to drive to a restaurant for it and not having to pay an arm and a leg for hotel breakfast-menu prices.
The included buffet breakfast at Keauhou Beach Resort features hot dishes, such as pancakes, eggs, sausage, as well as plenty of fresh fruit, cereals and pastry. Yes, it was a bit crowded in the morning in the open-air restaurant — additional round banquet tables were set up to manage the overflow outside the Kamaaina Terrace — but we certainly appreciated the included meal.
Cultural activities for free: Lei making, Hawaiian language lessons and beginning ukelele are among the quality, hands-on cultural activities scheduled throughout the day, five days a week at Keauhou Beach Resort. Children are welcome to attend the casual lessons overseen by cultural supervisor Rolinda Bean, who is, in fact, a cultural treasure. She grew up on the Kona Coast and recalls fishing in the waters just off the shore from the Keauhou Beach Resort; she is well schooled in Hawaiian culture, language and heritage.
Any guests who stay at the resort for three nights or more can enjoy a complimentary Huakai Alii Tour (normally $20 per person). Led by Rolinda, this tour of the property highlights all of the historic sites at the hotel… and there are many. On the hotel grounds are remnants of two ancient Hawaiian temples, painstakingly restored, stone by stone in recent years. There are also two fishing stones, where ancient residents left offerings and prayers in the hopes of bringing local fisherman home safely. With Rolinda, guests walk through the fragrant gardens of indigenous plants and visit a replica of King David Kalakaua’s summer cottage built on the original site. It’s quite a moving experience to hear about the events and activities that took place on the property 500 years ago. I highly recommend for adults and perhaps mature children as young as 11. (Rolinda says she’ll adjust her 60- to 90-minute tour to accommodate children if they are part of the group.)
Two-room family package special: Now through December 21, 2012, families can book two connecting standard guest rooms starting at just $209/night. That’s two rooms for up to six people, plus buffet breakfast for all, included in-room Internet, use of the fitness center, in-room coffee and all of the free cultural activities I mention above. I think that’s a great deal for extra space. Now, the price goes up a bit if you prefer a partial ocean view or better (the $209 rate is for standard rooms facing the street, not the water); still, if you’re looking for a way to vacation in Hawaii at a reasonable price, this two-room package might be the way to go, especially if you’re a family of six!
Thank you to Outrigger Hotels & Resorts and the Keauhou Beach Resort for hosting my family’s stay. For more scoop on what to do on Hawaii Island, check out the Big Island Visitors Bureau’s chock-full-of-info website.