Hawaii is one of the 50 United States. However, the Hawaiian culture is like no other. It is like Paradise. I loved Hawaii so much that I jumped at an opportunity to transfer job locations and to actually live on Oahu. I naturally took advantage to go island hopping and to thoroughly enjoy all the islands. My two favorite islands turned out to be “The Garden Island,” Kauai, and “The Big Island,” Hawaii. During my travels I discovered the Hilton Waikoloa Village to be my all-time favorite resort and my recommendation for the ultimate romantic honeymoon get-away. During the 20 years I have been married, we’ve stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village at least five times, and it never ceases to amaze me.
The hotel was built in 1988 at a cost of $720 million, when adjusted for inflation. During the past 30 years the vegetation has matured and the resort has assumed a timeless quality, as though the lagoons, vegetation, and especially the flowers have always been there. The Hilton entrance is so grand that when you enter the lobby you have the sensation of stepping into open space. The architecture is airy and open to the world; gentle breezes are tugging at your cheek. Two large parrots mounted on stands greet arriving guests emphasizing the impression of being outdoors.
The hotel grounds are appropriately designed to create an air of tropical paradise. They are so extensive that two separate people-moving systems are available, without cost, to move guests from place-to-place. One system employs a picturesque tram. The sprawling
grounds incorporate an elaborate interconnected system of lagoons, so a fleet of water taxies is also available. No matter where you are, you are only a short walk from a boat landing or tram stop.
On our trip last year we stayed in the recently renovated Makai Tower, which faces the ocean on one side and the lagoons on the other. The room was beautifully remodeled with a gorgeous bathroom and shower area. “Makai” is the Hawaiian word for “towards the sea,” which is appropriate to its location.
We were on the sixth floor and when we walked out onto the lanai (balcony), the view over the grounds and the ocean was like a vision of paradise — a view that I wished I could enjoy for the rest of my life. The scene below was dominated by the lagoons that spread out like an inland sea.
Whenever I go to Hawaii, I love the adventure of seeing new things, but I also love times for relaxation. While at Waikoloa I made sure to schedule downtimes for relaxing by the pools and lagoons and indulging in a massage.
Times of relaxation play an important role in strengthening us to fully engage in the numerous activities available to guests. And I did them all. For example, I squealed like a little girl coming down the water slides at one of the pools. We rented paddleboards and had a great time exploring the little inlets and bays off of the lagoon system. We could see brightly colored fish swimming beneath our feet and numerous sea turtles, including a number of them gathered around a picturesque waterfall.
Fine dining, of course, is one of the central activities of any resort experience, and we’ve hardly feasted better anywhere than at Waikoloa Village. Each morning we ate breakfast at the Water’s Edge, which is an aptly named breakfast buffet on the shore of a lagoon. The still waters and an adjoining waterfall offer an unimaginably picture-perfect dining environment. I always begin with a steaming cup of the native Kona coffee, which has a deserved reputation as one of the world’s best. We dined on fried rice with a Portuguese sausage (or linguica).
I always treat myself to fresh papaya when I am on the Islands. The sweetness of all the fruit is extraordinary. Another item was unbelievably yummy muffins. I usually try to avoid carbs, but it was time to indulge so I got two of them — pineapple and toasted coconut. I shared them with my son and husband, but if I were skinny they wouldn’t have gotten a bite.
We became friends with a Water’s Edge waiter named David, who took us under his wing and, after the first morning, became as much tour-guide and docent as table-server. David provided us with helpful insider information about what to order and personally mixed passion, orange, and guava juices together into a custom blend that he promised would be delicious. (It was!) He provided us waffles on a morning when waffles weren’t on the official menu.
The Kamuela Provision Company offers an elegant dining experience overlooking the ocean and illuminated by flaring Tiki Torches and breathtaking sunset views. Like all fine dining areas in Hawaii, the Kamuela mood is one of casual elegance. My guys were wearing aloha shirts, and I was wearing a tropical looking dress with a fresh flower in my hair that I had picked from one of the plants on the grounds. I’ve never witnessed a more beautiful sunset on the ocean than we had from that restaurant.
I would recommend the following adventures when traveling to the Big Island. You must enjoy a luau, even if you think this is a corny touristy thing to do. It really is a must-do for me. You will love the one on Waikoloa Village. The food is excellent, and the show is non-stop entertainment. Visiting the Volcano National Park is well worth the time it takes to get there. Boat tours and snorkeling are a must. I met a man that snorkeled for the first time at age 60; it’s safe and almost anyone can do it. Take time to visit Kona and Hilo. Both places are distinctively different, with so much to see and do. Drink the Kona coffee, eat the Hawaiian ice cream and shaved ice, and if the opportunity arises, eat a malasada!
We tried to be “in the moment” during the entire time we were there, so we could slow time down and extend the days for as long as possible. On the final day of our visit we were eating shaved ice when my son Jordan said, “Mom, I came up with a new flavor: Vanilla Tears.” That was so funny to me because we all were feeling sad at the thought of leaving this paradise.
It would have been nice to have extended our visit, but the fact is that no matter how long we stayed we would simply be postponing the poignancy of our departure. I can’t imagine ever leaving that magical place without regrets.
I can’t wait to go back. And I will.