On a recent sojourn to the Big Island of Hawaii, I found myself checking into the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel for five days of
doing whatever the heck I want unscheduled relaxation (much needed after a four day business event, which was fun but tiring).
Prior to the trip, I researched all of the Kohala Coast hotels, and none seemed to have the right low-key “vibe”. One had a
dolphin prison captive dolphin program, so it was immediately off the list. Others seemed too corporate-y, too large, too impersonal or too crowded. Once I started reading about Mauna Lani Bay, I knew I had found a winner.
Upon first entering the resort, I felt a sense of tranquility while gazing at the breezy open-air courtyard and verdant Hawaiian foliage.
It’s not just the abundance of foliage that makes this hotel green. It’s eco-friendliness and awareness was one of the top selling points for me. Here’s why…
Since 1989, Mauna Lani has raised over 200 juvenile Green Sea Turtles (Honu – in Hawaiian) in its own saltwater ponds. They feed, care for and nurture the baby Honu until they are fit for release into the ocean. Each July 4th is Turtle Independence Day at Mauna Lani for the Honu that are large enough and healthy enough for release. This hotel respects the Honu!
Within the grounds, there are 7 saltwater fish ponds that date back to 250 BC. The original purpose of these ponds was to raise fish to feed the Ali’i (Hawaiian royalty). Mauna Lani preserved the ancient ponds and continues to nurture them. The ponds are stocked with Hawaiian fish, including my favorite – the Humuhumunukunukapua’a.
The resort has a 3-acre solar energy system – one of the largest and most powerful resort-based systems in the world.
The rocky beach was beautiful and uncrowded. We watched humpback whales breach from our shaded cabanas while wild Honu sunbathed on the lava rock.
The food was excellent. Each morning I devoured an Acai Berry Parfait at breakfast, along with a strong Kona coffee.
The spa was a tranquil oasis, nestled in the greenery among palms and manicured grounds. I had the Hawaiian Hot Stone massage, which melted away all traces of stress and tension. I highly recommend this treatment.
And while our room was quite nice, the views from our (wind whipped) balcony were even nicer.
The only area where I was slightly let down was the quality of the shore snorkeling. It just wasn’t what I expected. The wind was fierce during our stay, so I’m sure that affected the visibility. Thankfully, I had plenty of other amazing underwater experiences in Kona.
Have you been to the Big Island? What did you like most about it? I’m already dreaming of going back…
edited to add: I’m told by reader Tasha that there is great snorkeling by the beach club in the deeper water where the Winona moors. Thanks Tasha for this useful information.