Hawaii Island’s First Resort

It was while swimming in the turquoise waters of Kauna‘oa Bay, surrounded by a wide landscape of lava rock and ranchland with clear views of the Mauna Kea summit, that American conservationist and venture capitalist Laurance S. Rockefeller decided to build Hawaii Island’s first resort. His inspiration to capture the spirit of this special place and ensure the hotel conformed to, rather than intruded upon, these beautiful natural surroundings, became today’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

1960: Experimenting on the beach

Rockefeller’s original concept was a cluster of individual cottages along the beach, with no televisions or air-conditioning to interfere with the natural environment of the Kohala Coast. Architects Skidmore Owings Merrill produced a dome-shaped model that was almost washed out by a tropical storm, so a single-building design was next refined by lead architect Charles Bassett. Air-conditioning proved to be crucial in the warm, nearly always sunny South Kohala climate. But from 1965 to 1995, the hotel operated contentedly without guestroom televisions as Rockefeller had always intended.

1964Golf First

In 1964, a year before the hotel was ready to receive guests, Mauna Kea Golf Course opened and became Hawaii Island’s first course. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, who had pioneered a technique to create soil from lava rock, the course debuted with a televised “Big 3” match between Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

1965: Great beginnings

When it opened in July 1965 with 154 guestrooms after a $15 million build-out, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was the most expensive hotel ever built. Praised by travel writers and critics worldwide, it was named one of the “three greatest hotels in the world” by Esquire magazine, one of the “10 best buildings of 1966” by Fortune, and presented with an honors award by the American Institute of Architects in 1967. What were viewed as exorbitant room rates started at $43 per night, including breakfast and dinner in the Pavilion, which featured international cuisine.

1968: The New Wing

A new Beachfront Wing was added in 1968, designed by Honolulu architects Wimberly, Whisenand, Allison, Tong and Goo, with interior design by Phyllis Brownlee. Original paintings by John Young were commissioned for the guestrooms, and the Batik restaurant and Lounge was also added.

1994-95: A Sister Property

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel closed for renovation in 1994, a few months before the opening of adjacent Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel that August. Designed by Beachfront Wing architects Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo, Hapuna delivered a contemporary resort experience at the other end of the Mauna Kea Resort property, featuring all ocean-facing rooms, meeting and business facilities, and an exclusive villa. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in December 1995 and the two hotels in tandem comprised a world-class resort and residential experience on the beautiful Kohala Coast.

2008: Next Generation

Following a damaging earthquake in October 2006 and an unprecedented two year, $150 million renovation, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in December 2008. In classic Mauna Kea style, the hotel continues to welcome generations of guests to reconnect with life’s most authentic pleasures.

2015: Marriott’s Autograph Collection

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel became Hawaii’s first Autograph Collection Hotel through a marketing partnership. The Autograph Collection is an ensemble of strikingly independent hotels across the country. Each destination has been selected for its quality, bold originality, rich character and uncommon details.

2016: Historic Hotel

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was inducted as a member of Historic Hotels of America. HHA is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which recognizes and celebrates the finest historic hotels across America.

Photo of a Couple Going for a Beach Jog, Which Just Happens to be One of the Best Beach Date Ideas.

There’s never an offseason for romance on the Island of Hawaii (also known as the “Big Island”), especially along the jaw-dropping Kohala Coast, home to the heavenly Kauna’oa Bay. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel flawlessly hugs the bay, where a silica-based shoreline allures thousands of couples each year. While most beaches on the isle are jagged and rocky, this silica sand is often described as sugary, powdery, and idyllic. Naturally, romance ensues. Thus, the concierge team at Mauna Kea has pieced together 20 playful, passionate beach date ideas.

20 Beach Date Ideas: Kauna’oa Bay Edition

Photo of Mauna Kea Beach. Click Here to Find a Bevy of Romantic Beach Date Ideas.Honeymooners, long-lasting couples, and new duos alike can appreciate the value of a date spent beside the sea. These 20 beach date ideas wholly encapsulate the tantalizing allure of Kauna’oa Bay, where towering palms and dense flora meet the Pacific Ocean’s warm, teal aqua. Per usual, remember to plan well in advance. Many couples cleverly combine two or three beach date ideas into a combo package, particularly if a sunset is on the docket.

  1. Plan a picnic in the sand
  2. Indulge in a cocktail at Hau Tree – it’s five o’clock somewhere!
  3. Snorkel with manta rays
  4. Fly a colorful kite
  5. Watch the golden sunset
  6. Practice beach yoga
  7. Embark on an early-morning beach jog
  8. Try tandem kayaking
  9. Build a sandcastle – it’s OK to be a kid again!
  10. Sip on a bottle of champagne
  11. Savor authentic delights at a beachside lūʻau
  12. Learn to surf
  13. Stand above the Pacific on a paddleboard
  14. Listen to an audiobook together while sunbathing
  15. Stargaze with your backs in the sand
  16. Enroll in hula lessons
  17. Go for a moonlit swim
  18. Slow dance after dark (don’t forget a Bluetooth speaker)
  19. Carve your names into the sand
  20. Sunset photography session so your memories can last a lifetime

Sophisticated “Big Island” Resorts

Photo of Mauna Kea's Campus After-Dark. Click Here to Find Some Fun Beach Date Ideas.Feel free to try a handful of these tantalizing beach date ideas during your next Mauna Kea vacation. Most Kohala Coast properties cannot match Mauna Keach Beach Hotel’s unique blend of Hawaiian cuisines, remoteness, cultural significance, sheer acreage, and sophisticated open concepts. Compiling a list of fun date night ideas comes naturally as this 60-acre estate rests on one of the most spellbinding coastal terrains in North America. Guests will be blown away by the hospitality, cleanliness, and sheer freedom to explore. Please give us a call today at 1-877-880-6524 to speak with a reservationist. Otherwise, book now at MaunaKeaBeachHotel.com.

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