Apr 122013

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.

mauna lani courtyard

Mauna Lani Courtyard2

mauna lani interior pond

Mauna Lani Courtyard

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…

Green Sea Turtle Program

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!

Mauna Lani Sign

Juvenile Honu in Mauna Lani Pond

Juvenile Honu in Mauna Lani Pond

honu at mauna lani2

Mauna Lani Sign Sea Turtle

Honu Head Out

Hawaiian Saltwater Fish Ponds 

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.

Saltwater Pond at ML

mauna lani grounds pool area

mauna lani grounds waterfall

Solar Energy Program

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.

Honu on Beach

Kona Palms

The food was excellent.  Each morning I devoured an Acai Berry Parfait at breakfast, along with a strong Kona coffee.

Coffee Shop

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.

View from room Mauna Lani

View of Mauna Kea from our Balcony

View of Mauna Kea from our Balcony – The World’s Tallest Mountain when Measuring from the Sea Floor

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.

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  6 Responses to “Whales, Waves and Wonder on the Kohala Coast- Mauna Lani Bay Hotel”

  1. Did you snorkel over at the beach club and go out to deeper water near where Winona moors? There is great reef there, better than close in due to sandy bottom and better than the lagoon at the hotel.

  2. Great photos, it reminds me how windy it was when we were there. Here on STP it is not windy, not a breath! Very hot and humid. I’d forgotten how this felt!

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