Staying at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel: Everything You Need to Know

Hawaii has always been one of my favorite destinations. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve come to Hawaii, and have had some of my absolute best memories here. And recently, we made new ones with my baby boy in tow! We hopped over to the Big Island to experience the famous Mauna Kea Resort that I had heard SO much about for years! I was excited to see if it lived up to its hype, and I’m happy to report that we had the best time as a family relaxing on the gorgeous Mauna Kea beach, playing with Harrison in the pool, and watching the sunset over the waves in the evenings. It was such a relaxing getaway, and I learned so much about Mauna Kea – and why it has the cult-like following it does. Planning a trip to the Big Island and wondering about this hotel for your stay? It’s a GREAT option, and I get into why below. Here is everything you need to know about staying at Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii!

Check rates for your dates at Mauna Kea Resort here!

JETSET TIP: Mauna Kea is an Autograph Collection hotel within the Marriott family, so if you have Marriott points, you can definitely use them here!! And, as an added bonus, there is no resort fee at Mauna Kea, which is pretty unheard of these days in Hawaii!

The Rich History of Mauna Kea Resort

Mauna Kea is one of Hawaii’s most iconic properties. Back in the 1960s, American businessman Laurance S. Rockefeller built this dreamy escape overlooking one of the best beaches on the island. At the time, it was the most expensive resort that was ever built in the world!! The art and attention to detail throughout the property were unmatched, and it truly set the standard for luxury resorts around the world, and put Hawaii on the map!

Today, Mauna Kea’s low-key-luxe vibe still feels like a boarding pass straight back to “Old Hawaii” – a magical feeling so often lost with newer, more modern resorts. The timeless vibe here is largely “no-frills.” You’ll find many affluent families and couples (proudly clad in their head-to-toe bright orange Mauna Kea branded gear) seeking their favorite Hawaiian hideaway. Many of them have been vacationing here for DECADES!! It feels a little bit like a secret society – a club that you don’t really “understand” until you stay there once, and then you get it. And before you know it, you’re wearing a bright orange plumeria logoed hat on your flight home, and checking your calendar to book next year’s stay. Call it the “Mauna Kea effect.”

Mauna Kea’s Rooms and Suites

Photo courtesy of Mauna Kea Resort

Upon arriving at Mauna Kea, you will be greeted by a gorgeous open-air lobby surrounded by koi ponds. If you are a fan of architecture and design, you are in for a treat! You can truly feel the history and grandeur of this place in its colors, textures, and overall design of the East-meets-West style resort. 

There are a few different choices when it comes to rooms and suites, but if you can, I highly recommend that you book oceanfront!! One of the things that Mauna Kea is most known for is its beach, so you’ll definitely want that view to wake up to each day.

No matter which room you end up choosing, you are sure to be welcomed to the resort the Mauna Kea way – with leis and possibly even homemade banana bread!! I love the way that Mauna Kea treats their guests like family. It’s so special.

The contemporary design of the ’60s has remained intact in Mauna Kea’s rooms and suites. Your room will likely have brightly colored decor, and although much of the design of the rooms is original from when the resort opened in 1965, it has been very well maintained and is quite comfortable! Once you are settled, you can enjoy your private balcony (which comes with every room) and 24/7 room service (such a lifesaver for parents like us who are, well, not exactly getting a full night’s sleep!).

Traveling With Kids to Mauna Kea

If you are traveling with kids, be sure to check out Mauna Kea’s complimentary kids’ programs which include beach and lawn activities as well as arts and crafts (like lei-making!! SO cool!). For parents traveling with infants/toddlers, cribs are available by request. Just call the hotel in advance to request that a crib be put in your room upon arrival!

We found that staying at Mauna Kea with Harrison was an absolute breeze. And we will definitely be back! He absolutely loved the view from our room (we would catch him just watching the sunrise in the mornings from his crib!), and he even learned to “surf” on a boogie board in the pool! So so adorable – definitely a core memory of ours now.

Shop Harrison’s swim trunks and bucket hat here!

Restaurants at Mauna Kea Resort

Mauna Kea offers several dining options for their guests. Manta Restaurant is the resort’s fine dining restaurant (which is also open for breakfast). And was the highlight of our trip! Here, you will find decadent dishes featuring locally-sourced ingredients as well as an award-winning wine list. This restaurant has some of the best views on the property, so be sure to soak it all in (and book your dinner for sunset for the best experience!). 

If you are looking for a more contemporary and laid-back dining option, head to Copper Bar! Copper Bar has an absolutely stunning view of Kauna’oa Bay, and to top it all off, they serve creative cocktails and fresh food daily. They also have one of my all-time favorite wines, Du Mol chardonnay, on the menu. So grab a glass and think of me!

For lunch, grab a bite to eat at Hau Tree, which is a beachside restaurant serving American cuisine. The Poke Bowl is absolutely the move – it is SOOO GOOD.

And if you find yourself out on the golf course in need of some sustenance, stop by Number 3 Restaurant for a grass-fed burger and an ice-cold beer! 

JETSET TIP: While dining at Hau Tree for lunch, try a “Fredrico”! This is Mauna Kea’s signature cocktail. 

Mauna Kea also offers an authentic luau experience every Tuesday evening, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly!! At the luau, you will enjoy a performance by authentic Hawaiian hula dancers who move to the rhythm of steel guitars as the sun sinks over the ocean. Such an incredible experience that you absolutely cannot miss!!

What to Do at and Around Mauna Kea

The amenities at Mauna Kea are exactly what you would expect from a beautiful resort. The property features a relaxing spa, a partially open-air gym, and a historic trail that stretches the entire length of the resort. For those of you who love to veg out on the beach with a book and a piña colada in hand, you’re in luck! Mauna Kea is known for its stunning, secluded beach. The pool is a great place to lounge or play with the kiddos as well.

If you are seeking a little more adventure, Mauna Kea offers paddle boarding, kayaking, beach volleyball, and snorkeling. There is a beautiful piece of coral just off of the resort’s beach, so you don’t even have to leave the property to see the Hawaiian snorkeling sites! And if you’re even more adventurous, try manta ray night snorkeling!! This is done right at the resort and is such a cool experience. 

Looking to stay active on vacay? Mauna Kea has you covered!! Not only does Mauna Kea have a tennis garden with more than 11 full-size courts available to use, but they also have two championship 18-hole golf courses that have unbeatable views. These courses were ranked number 12 overall in the Top 100 Golf Magazine, so you know they’re good!! Whether you decide to hit the court or the course, be sure to pack your Kenny Flowers Country Club looks (might I recommend one of these stylish polos with this cute white skort?! So fab!!). 

JETSET TIP: I have an entire blog post on what to wear on the golf course (that is actually cute), so be sure to check that out if you need some ideas!! 

Outside of the resort, I’d recommend a snorkeling trip, and seeing the Volcanoes National Park! 




What to Wear at Mauna Kea Resort in Hawaii

Here is what you should pack for your vacation to Hawaii – and what to wear at Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii!

JETSET TIP: If you want even more outfit inspo, check out my Hawaii packing list here!

What to Wear Around the Resort in Hawaii

Loooove this top! So cute! Highly recommend getting the matching pants as well to complete the look.

What to Wear for Dinner in Hawaii

Pair this top with some high-waisted jeans or linen pants!

What to Wear at the Beach or Pool in Hawaii

The most perfect look for the beach in Hawaii IMO!

This has to be one of my favorite bikini cuts to date, and the comfortable crinkle fabric just makes this set 1000x better! Here’s the link to the top and bottoms!

What to Wear on the Golf Course in Hawaii

This white skort goes with everything! It’s a staple in any golfer’s closet.

I’m obsessed with our new Copacabana print!!

And you can’t forget about your man!

The Best Accessories to Pack for a Trip to Hawaii

Imagine this tropical handbag with this scarf tied to it!! So cute!


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Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.