Spanning 4,028 square miles and still growing, the Island of Hawai‘i is the largest and youngest of the Hawaiian Island chain – hence its frequently-heard nickname, “Big Island.” Believed to be the first Hawaiian island discovered by the Polynesians, Hawaii Island was the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, the unifier of the Hawaiian Islands. Formed by five volcanoes (Kohala, Hualālai, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kīlauea), the Island is a place of extremes – from fiery active volcanoes to snow-capped mountain peaks, acres of green pasturelands to vast ebony lava deserts, lush tropical rainforests and verdant valleys to white, gold, black, and even green sand beaches.
Four Seasons Resort Hualālai at Historic Ka‘ūpūlehu, set on the picturesque Kona-Kohala coast of Hawaii, the Big Island, is a magnificent work of destination art. Built into its natural surroundings, the resort combines history, culture, pure pampering and true aloha to all who visit.
Located on a stunning one-half mile stretch of beach on the Northwest Kona Coast, Four Seasons Resort Hualālai is a tropical oasis that captures the essence of Hawai‘i as it once was. The contrast of ancient black lava rock with towering coconut palms, white sand beaches and azure sea creates opportunities for memories and photographs at every turn. With the Hualālai volcano behind it and the island of Maui in the distance in front, the resort is situated on sacred grounds on one of the world’s most beautiful and mystifying islands.
Here are the Top 10 Things to Do at Four Seasons Resort Hualālai in Hawaii:
1) Posh Pad in Paradise
Surrounded by lush vegetation, sparkling ocean waters and stunning white-sand beaches, the comfortable and spacious accommodations at Four Seasons Resort Hualālai are housed in intimate two-story bungalows arranged in small crescents along the beachfront and golf course.
The 243 expansive guest rooms, including 51 suites, feature private furnished lanais, slate floors and natural hardwood trim to complement the palette of the surrounding environment, while walls are adorned with local art. Full granite bathrooms offer a deep soaking tub, dual vanity as well as a separate glass enclosed shower.
2) Rest and Relax at Hualalai Spa
The 28,000-square-foot Hualalai Spa integrates tropical gardens with cool interior spaces and feels distinctly Hawaiian. Enjoy relaxing by a quiet stream in the open-air Waiea (Water of Life) garden. Or savour the lap pool, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and cold plunges, all set amidst lush greenery.
If you’re traveling with your honey bunny, be sure to unwind in a couple’s hale, which features dual outdoor showers, a hinoki (Japanese cedar) soaking tub and a private garden for dining. You’ll find yourself purring as skilled massage therapists perform traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi, a sacred healing art passed down from generation to generation by kupuna (elders). Techniques are rhythmic, integrating use of palms and forearms, an excellent full body wellness massage which is sure to lick your jet lag as warm ocean’s breeze whistles through the palms above.
3) Sunset Sips at Beach Tree Bar
The most picturesque spot for toasting the sunset is at the resort’s Beach Tree Bar. Set along the sand and overlooking the ocean, Beach Tree Bar is the Big Island’s most sought after spot to sip a sundowner. Each evening palms gently toss in the wind as a local band romances the crowd with traditional Hawaiian ballads.
Cocktails here feature tropical ingredients, fresh fruit and original combinations. Don’t miss Freddy’s Broken Flipper, which mixes gin, cucumber, lime and Indonesian lime leaf, or Tom’s Pink Shirt, featuring guava liqueur, fresh Waimea strawberries and house-made sweet and sour prepared with agave nectar and fresh lime juice.
4) Fish Feeding at King’s Pond
In the northernmost crescent of the resort sits King’s Pond, a 1.8-million gallon “aquarium” carved out of the natural lava rock. With over 4,000 tropical fish from more than 98 species swimming freely (including a spotted eagle ray) this is the most lively pool on the property.
Fresh and ocean water combine via subterranean channels to fill the pond, which moves along with the tide. Snorkeling equipment (including waterproof fish ID cards) are available, and guests can enjoy scheduled activities such as ray and fish feedings (which we enjoyed in the early morning), touch tank exploration, sand castle building and popular “fish circus,” demonstration.
5) Sun Soaking
If you’re looking to laze the day away you’ll find plenty of opportunities to sip and soak. Tan fans really are spoilt for choice here! If you’re an early riser be sure to enjoy a foamy latte while relaxing on a beach chair or covered chaise lounge. The calm lap of waves on the shore and early bird tweet harmony is a perfect way to wake up to the world.
If poolside pomp and panache is more your thing you’ll find a handful of cool pools dotted throughout the property. The centerpiece of the resort is the Beach Tree Pool, a rectangular pool comprised of mosaic tiles of varying shades of blue and surrounded by wooden pool deck, teak chaises and breezy cabanas. Located oceanfront, beside the Beach Tree restaurant and lounge, it’s the perfect spot to sip umbrella adorned tropical cocktails and nibble through a pretty platter of sushi.
6) Ukulele Lesson at the Hawaiian Cultural Center
The Ka‘ūpūlehu Cultural Center is designed to be interactive, fun, and educational for all ages. It’s an interpretive center that provides guests and locals alike with an opportunity to further understand, appreciate, and respect all things Hawaiian. Cultural values, practices, heritage, tradition, and arts are shared through inter-active experiences.
Upon arrival I slipped my head through a beautiful black nut necklace and grabbed a wee ukulele. I perched on a petite wall made of volcanic rock and crooned away my morning in an attempt to entertain the golfers desperately chipping out of the sand trap below.
7) Kona Brewing Company
If you’re a craft beer fan looking to sip the island’s best suds enjoy a short drive south to Kona Brewing Company. The wildly popular restaurant, bar and brewery packs to the brim over the lunch and dinner hour so be sure to book a reservation in advance if you’re looking to enjoy a sud-sloshed meal.
Kona Brewing Company began brewing and packaging beer in February 1995. Since that first year, beer production at the Kona facility has increased every year by a total of 585 percent. Several tanks and other brewing equipment have been added through the years to enable increased production. Today, the brewery consists of a mash tun, brew kettle, whirlpool, 10 fermenters, five conditioning tanks and two grain silos. A staff of six pumps 310,000 gallons of beer each year, filling the 4,000 kegs kept in circulation throughout Hawaii. Be sure to sip through my two favs: Big Wave Golden Ale and Castaway IPA.
8) Greenwell Coffee Farm
Continue driving south along the highway in search of one of the world’s most famous coffee growing regions. Greenwell Coffee Farm is famous for producing award winning Kona coffee and offers visitors fantastic farm tours continuously from 8:30am to 4pm Monday through Sunday.
Join a 30 minute tour to learn about each stage of the production of Kona Coffee which includes a wander through lush coffee fields, bright greenhouses and state of the art processing facility. The tour finishes at the gift shop where you can sample up to twelve unique roasts.
Be sure to sip through a wee cup of the farms signature Elizabeth J (the 12 oz bag sells for $75), comprised of carefully selected beans from the Pacamara coffee variety. The coffee offers a very unique experience with a bright, sweet, and fruity cup with good acidity and notes of clove, plum, raisin, apricot, passion fruit, strawberry, and silky chocolate.
9) Pu’uhonua O Honaunau
From the 11th century on, social interactions in Hawai’i were regulated by the kapu (taboo) system. Violent death was the consequence of infractions, which ranged from stepping on a chief’s shadow to women eating bananas. Lawbreakers could escape punishment, however, by reaching pu’uhonua (place of refuge). The greatest of these was at Honaunau, a six-acre temple compound dating from the 16th century that offered absolution to all who managed to run or swim past the chief’s warriors. The sanctuary was stripped of power in 1819, after the fall of the kapu system. Partially restored, it now proviades a glimpse into precontact Hawai’i.
Stroll through sky-high Halau (thatched A-frame structures used for storage and work sheds) and head to Hale O Keawe Heiau where the pu’uhonua’s spiritual power resided in this temple compound built in 1650. Now reconstructed, the heiau (temple) once held the bones and therefore the mana (sacred power) of great chiefs. It’s a great spot for a photo op as crashing waves splash before smiling wooden Ki’i.
10) Volcano Adventure with Paradise Helicopters
I don’t often suggest waking up at the crack of dawn but can’t urge you enough to set your alarm before sunrise to enjoy an unforgettable tour of the Big Island with Paradise Helicopters. After a quick 10 minute drive from the resort to the airport we soon found ourselves strapped in and floating above the coastline on the three hour Volcano and Kohala Landing Tour.
After departing from the airport, we flew over the Kona coffee district on our way to explore the activity at Kīlauea crater. If Pele is willing, you’ll get a peek into the molten heart of Hawai‘i in the form of hot lava. Then, turn your attention north to Hilo town and the lush rainforests of East Hawai‘i.
We then flew deep into Kohala for an exclusive landing. Even though the area is normally only accessible by hours of grueling hiking, we got the opportunity to walk the same fertile valleys that King Kamehameha I did as a child. Relax at at scenic overlook while sipping a cup of Kona coffee before hopping back in the chopper to view the dramatic landscape change from windward to leeward. You’ll be mouthing the words “oh my God,” as you swoop along the Hamakua Coast where hundreds of waterfalls froth through enchanting rainbows.