"Massive and gorgeous resort the entire family will fall in love with. "
If you are looking for a resort with incredible views, spacious rooms, fabulous pools, safe salt water swimming for kiddos, a variety of activities, and even dolphins to play with, then look no further! Located in the resort area of Waikoloa Village on the Island of Hawaii’s dry Kohala Coast, Hilton Waikoloa is a mega resort built for guests who love to experience as much as possible without having to get leave the property. How big is big? Well the resort is set on 65 acres, has over 1200 rooms, and has a monorail designed to get guests from one area of the resort to the other!
The resort has three room towers- lagoon, ocean, and palace- and we had the pleasure of staying in the Ocean Tower. Sometimes large resorts have smallish rooms but I was amazed at how spacious ours was. At 525 square feet it was about 150 square feet bigger than a standard room at most places. We loved the mini fridge, comfy bed, and convertible couch, but were most impressed with the incredible views. Ours included the pool below, the ocean, and the lagoon in the distance. I spent every morning of our stay sitting on the lanai and soaking it in. I especially loved watching the African crowned crane, which resides on an island in the middle of the canal, put on a show for passing boats. Rooms feature Playstation 3s for games and movies so if you are looking for a way to entertain your kids while you nap, you’ve got one! Those with small children will be happy to know cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request. I suggest calling ahead. Room service is available.
Note: A Daily Resort Charge of $25.00 plus tax applies per room, per night and includes: High-Speed Internet and Wi-Fi access, Local & Toll Free Calls, Hula, Lei Making, & Ukulele Lessons, PlayStation 3® with Unlimited Movies and Games, 20% Discount on Lagoon Beach Toy Rentals & 10% Discount on Ocean Sports Cruises.
There are several different ways to get around the resort. A monorail runs along the edge of the resort, making stops at all the room towers, the convention center, and the shopping area/main pool. The monorail is really slow moving and my husband and I realized we could walk at about the same speed. That being said, it is nice for when you need to move your luggage or are just feeling lazy. Kids will adore the boat ride. It essentially follows the same route as the monorail, but on the canals inside the resort which makes for a much more scenic ride. I loved taking the boat to the Boat Landing Cantina at night. The most obvious way to get around the resort is on foot. During the first two days of our stay, we walked the long walk from the Ocean Tower to the lobby through the long halls filled with artwork. On the third day, we realized it was much faster to cut across the resort via the various bridges and pathways, especially when heading over to main pool area, lagoon, dolphins, or luau.
The pools at Hilton Waikoloa are incredible. The Kohala River Pool is actually four pools connected via waterslides and lazy river. The slides are very tame and water is pretty shallow, making it great for younger kids. If your kids are older and you are looking for a break from the general noise and rambunctiousness that kids offer, head over to the Ocean Tower Pool which is for adults only. The granddaddy of all the pools is the Kona Pool. This behemoth is like several different pools in one. There is a beach entry, massive waterfall, grotto (with its own spa), and a great waterslide. A pool bar, lounge chair service, and pool rental shack and amazing landscaping round out the experience. Various scheduled activities take place poolside so be sure to check the activity sheet in your room.
Lagoon and other activities
How many hotels have their very own lagoon? The Hilton’s lagoon is fed by the ocean, with fish and turtles coming and going as they please. Since the ocean shore along Waikoloa is nothing but lava rock, Hilton Waikoloa developed its own beach at the lagoon, complete with powdery white sand. Ocean Sports has a shack on the sand where guests can rent snorkel gear, paddleboards, hydro-bikes, paddleboats, kayaks, and boogie boards. Ocean Sports is also the place to go to sign up for offsite boat tours and more. If you do snorkel in the lagoon (which I especially recommend for those new to snorkeling), be sure to check out the underwater displays which talk about the different types of fish you will see swimming by. We opted to rent stand up paddleboards and cruise around the lagoon. We saw all sorts of vibrant tropical fish and a few different sea turtles! I spent about 5 minutes silently paddling alongside one turtle. I felt grateful to spend so much time alongside the peaceful fella and he didn’t seem a bit bothered by me!
Tennis lovers will feel right at home at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. There are eight hard surface courts and one stadium court. Tennis clinics are offered daily at all skill levels. There is even a daily keiki (Hawaiian for kid) clinic at 3:00pm. There are two golf courses at Waikoloa Resort (best suited for adults and older children with appropriate skill) as well as an oceanfront putting course which is perfect for kids. The resort features a full service spa and fitness center but I did not get the chance to experience either.
Note: If you do want to hang out at an ocean beach, the hotel does offer complimentary shuttle service to Anaeho'omalu Bay which is a 5 minute drive away.
Dolphins and more
Never mind lagoons, how many hotels have their very own dolphins?! The Hilton Waikoloa has several, including one little baby dolphin that happened to be born while we are there! I have seen baby dolphins before there is something extra adorable about a 6 hour old dolphin swimming around with its mama! Anyone can head over to the dolphin lagoon to watch them swimming, playing, and learning but those who sign up for Dolphin Quest experiences actually get in the water to interact with, touch, and even kiss the dolphins. There are various programs available for a fee, including programs designed for little kids. I participated in an encounter where I was able to watch a one month baby swim within about a foot of me! Pretty amazing. You can read more about it in my Dolphin Quest review.
Beyond dolphins and all the sea life inside the lagoon, the resort has birds aplenty. There are cockatoos, macaws, flamingos, nene (the Hawaiian state bird), swans, exotic pheasants, and the African crowned cranes. Six tortoises dwell on property, as do hundreds of beautiful Japanese Koi.
There are many different dining options at the Hilton Waikoloa Village including sushi, Chinese food, a casual cantina, breakfast buffet, and fine oceanfront dining. As with most resorts in Hawaii, dining onsite is pricey. I ordered a mocha from the coffee stand and it cost $7! For this reason, we opted to pick up snacks at the store in Queen’s Marketplace (a 15 minute walk or 3 minute drive) and eat at offsite for a few meals. We did enjoy eating at the casual and less expensive Boat Landing Cantina and found the nachos big enough to share. When you do dine at various spots on property, be sure to have your kids collect a waterproof wristband from each spot. If they collect six, the get a free ice cream and if they happen to collect all seven, they get a free 4x6 photo of them posing with the resort’s parrots.
If you are looking for a night of food, fun, and Polynesian culture, check out the Legends of the Pacific Luau. I have experienced a few different luaus and this one was great. For $109, adults receive two cocktails (I recommend the mai tai and pina colada), dinner buffet, and a show. For $26 more, you can enjoy an all you can drink seat near the front of the stage with table service and food served at your table, family-style. I think the extra $26 is worth it if you can afford it. Ages 5-12 are $54 and teens are $89. Children under 5 are free. You can pay to watch the show only for $60 but I think you would be missing out on much of the fun of the luau experience. The entire experience is about 2 ½-3 hours in length from door opening to the end of the performance. I suggest getting in line a couple minutes early because you will get the best seats. There are Polynesian “tattoo” artists to give the kids some tribal artwork on their arms and poi balls to play with before the food is served. Singers entertain while you dine (prepare to eat well) and then comes the real fun, the main show featuring plenty of amazing dance and thrilling performances by extremely talented locals. You can read more about it in my review of Legends of the Pacific Luau.
The resort has a kids camp, Club Keiki open to children ages 5-12. It is offered as a full day camp or a night camp and meals and activities are included in the fee. Day camp is from 8-4 and is $90 for the first child, $75 for each additional. Night camp is from 4:30 – 9:30 and is $60 for the first child and $45 for each additional. Each day of the week has a different theme based in Hawaiian culture such as Tuesday which is dedicate to Pele the Volcano Goddess. On this day they will learn about lava rock, go on a hike in search of petroglyphs, and make a clay volcano. Nights are themed out too, such as on Saturday, Camping Night, when they will pitch a tent, go on a scavenger hunt, roast S’mores, and play flashlight tag.
Bottom line: Hilton Waikoloa is an amazing resort. The setting is absolutely gorgeous and there is so much to do and experience while on property. I have to admit that at times, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the size of the property and concerned that those staying at the resort weren’t ever actually leaving the property to explore the Big Island which would be a shame. That being said, I could spend an entire week at the resort and be very happy the entire time. My kids could spend an eternity in the pools alone. It is no wonder that my uncle who travels extensively to Hawaii for work, love Hilton Waikoloa above all the rest. I whole heartedly recommend this resort.
Disclosure: I received a discounted stay at Hilton Waikoloa, complimentary luau, and Dolphin Quest experience in order to review the property for Trekaroo. The resort did not request that I express any particular opinion. All are my own.