Visiting the Big Island or need a staycation? Check out a few places to stay
December 29, 2023, 12:00 PM HST
Looking for a fun getaway for the family? Are you a solo traveler looking for a quiet space after a day of exploring? Or are you a Big Island resident looking for a getaway?
From resorts to boutique hotels, the Big Island offers a unique experience for visitors and residents alike. Listed below are just a few locations in West Hawai‘i that might entice a stay.
Kona Tiki Hotel
At the Kona Tiki Hotel, “ocean views” is an understatement. “It’s like a ship on land,” said Joe
Schneckenburger, who bought the boutique hotel on Ali’i in 2018. “Some people need earplugs
because the surf is so loud, it’s that close to the ocean.”
The three-story hotel, tucked away behind a group of palm trees on Ali’i Drive, provides an oasis for guests who stay there. The hotel overlooks Kahului Bay, where one can find yellow tang fish, dolphins, turtles, eels, crabs and manta rays. The hotel pool, separated by the sea wall, is often times flooded with ocean creatures.
“Sometimes, folks like to go fishing when they come to Hawai‘i. Sometimes, they can catch
something right in our pool,” Schneckenburger laughed.
The building painted “Tiki blue” with white panels, offers a calm and relaxing atmosphere for
guests, along with cozy and luxurious amenities. Each room has a balcony (and balcony seating) perfect for drinking morning coffee or watching the sunset.
Hotel managers Derick and Michelle Dumont, a couple who moved to Big Island this April, can
be found sitting in the small lobby, out front, crammed with beach chairs, sunblock, pool floats,
lifejackets, snorkeling gear, maps and big island books.
“I have the coolest job in the world,” said Michelle Dumont. “There’s dolphins out there. Each
morning I sit and look out, and I usually see, two, maybe three dolphins swim by.”
Dumont noted that the area (located between two white sand beaches: Honls and Magic
Sands) felt safe and friendly.
“If you drive down the road you see community,” she said. “There’s people gathered at the beach. There’s families barbecuing. There’s Aloha. People are health conscious here as well. You see people running, jogging and walking Ali‘i Drive. It’s rejuvenating.”
About 5 minutes South is Green Flash Coffee, a coffee shop that serves Kona Coffee, smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, paninis and more. The small cafe closes at 11:30 a.m., so get there early to jumpstart your day. For lunch, right up the road is Christine’s Deli, a small sandwich shop with exquisite sandwiches you can order to go (no inside dining available).
Schneckenburger, who purchased the Kona Tiki Hotel for 4.2 million, said that the hotel needed a “facelift” when he first bought it.
“The seller called in 1980s modern,” he joked. “The bedspreads were hideous. I’m not great on
taste but they were definitely from the 80s. It was pretty good. The rooms were carpeted instead of tile, there were huge dressers, you used to not be able to see the ocean through the rooms, so we took out the old doors and put in glass doors instead.”
“People say they feel at home here,” Dumont said. “And oftentimes, they come back for
weddings, anniversaries, special occasions, etc.”
One guest, who asked that her name remain private, got married on the sea wall after visiting the hotel over half a dozen times. Another guest, a CPA who checked in during the COVID-19
pandemic decided to live and work at the hotel. “She had the whole place to herself,”
Schneckenburger remembers one family who stayed, and each day, their kids went out fishing.
“Finally, on the last day, the little boy caught a fish. And it was in our pool. It washed over the
sea wall. I’ll never forget it.”
Rooms average about $300 per night, and guests can enjoy 10% off most rooms up until the new year.
PACIFIC 19 Kona- Adventure Traveler’s Paradise
There’s no denying it, PACIFIC 19 Kona, a boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown
Kailua-Kona, is chic.
You can tell the moment you walk into the lobby, with its dark green walls, grey sofas, dimmed
lights, dark wood floors, hanging orb lights and tropical plants (including a giant monkeypox
tree). Hotel staff are there to greet you in white shirts and blazers.
Marketed as an island-urban hotel for independent travelers, PACIFIC 19 Kona prides itself on is serving as a “basecamp” for guests, solo travelers and adventurous alike.
“PACIFIC 19 Kona is focused on providing adventure travelers with the tools needed to
experience the best of Kona” said James Evans, managing partner, Nine Brains, which owns the hotel, in Hawaii Magazine.
“Guests will have access to custom-tailored island itineraries to explore the 4,000 square miles of Hawai‘i Island. We’re putting a lot of effort into building a curated travel guide and custom
itineraries, including being able to book adventures right from the website with hand-picked
local outfitters,” he continued.
There are no TVs in any of the hotel rooms. Instead, there are “macro bars,” which consist of dry bags, sunscreen, facial products, microfiber towels, even journals and colored pencils. The field notes journal is $5, the Sun Bum sunscreen lotion is $18 and the dry bag is $12.
“It’s all fun stuff for the adventure traveler,” Katharina Findlay, the hotel’s previous general
The rooms, with their sandy taupe, palm green, black lava and whitecap color palette were
designed to encourage guests to get outside and adventure. More, the furniture was designed
specifically for the hotel – from the wooden credenzas to upholstered headboards.
Hotel rooms start at $299 a night, with kamaʻāina rates available as well. They also offer
amenities such as yoga classes, Waimea Coffee Co., pool access, parking, special events and
The Hilton Waikōloa
With its 62 acres of amenities and activities and 647 rooms that hold up to 2,500 guests — this South Kohala resort is sure to entertain the whole family.
The Hilton Waikōloa offers a wide range of activities, including multiple pools and water
features (water slides, hot tubs, kiddie pools), golf courses, tennis courts, a spa, saltwater lagoon, etc. The resort also has several restaurants and bars, from casual to fine dining.
“Everything you need is within the resort,” said a spokesperson for the Hilton. “Guests can enjoy everything without leaving the property.”
More, the Hilton also has an electric boat that traverses through the property’s boatway, along
with a tram/ train to get to all the different places. “It’s a fun and convenient way to get around,”
Hilton Spokesman continued. “The boats were custom designed and built at Disney World in
Florida for Waikōloa, then shipped to Hawaii for the resort opening in 1988. Recently, the boats
were converted from gas to electric power.”
“We had a really good experience at The Hilton when we stayed,” said Erin Kristek, a local
resident in Kailua-Kona. “We selected the location because our 2-year-old was coming with us, and her favorite thing to do was ride the tram around to different spots and explore.”
“My husband and I found a secret spot: the pool bar,” Kristek laughed. Notably, The Hilton Waikōloa also offers 24 hours a day text support for any guest questions or concerns, along with a well-trained 24-hour safety and security team. And, 24-hour Hawai‘i State certified security guards on duty. All are trained in CPR and emergency response.
The large resort just welcomed a new chef, Robert Love, to their restaurant Kamuela Provision
Company. Love has revamped the menu to include a farm-to-table dining experience.
“It’s about harvesting local food,” Love said. “Our ingredients come straight from the earth.”
“Staying here was definitely an experience you wouldn’t find at a smaller hotel or Airbnb. It was
totally worth the little splurge and a nice change of scenery for us all,” Kristek concluded.