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.

Sunset at Mauna Kea on the Big Island

The “Big Island” remains one of Hawaii’s favorite tourist destinations as it’s known for its colorful sunsets. It’s home to Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the highest peak in Hawaii. With such elevations, you can get sunset views from the summit down to the beach at the volcano base. The Mauna Kea sunsets will truly take your breath away with the picturesque scenery and color-changing sky. These are the best places to watch the sunset at Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea is actually the highest summit in the world—higher than Mount Everest if you include the section underwater. Watching the sunset from the Mauna Kea Summit will give you a breathtaking vantage point above the clouds. The summit of Mauna Kea is a popular tourist destination where you’ll also find the Maunakea Observatories. You can take the Mauna Kea Trail to hike to the peak or drive up. 

It’s a surreal experience seeing the sunset at Mauna Kea as the sun falls below the clouds. Set up your camera for an incredible time-lapse video of the sky. Hang around for a fantastic dark sky viewing experience at night.

Kauna’oa Bay (Mauna Kea Beach)

There’s nothing better than a sunset on a beach in Hawaii. The Big Island is full of great beach locations—the best is Mauna Kea Beach. Mauna Kea Beach sits at the foot of Mauna Kea Volcano as it slopes gently into Kauna’oa Bay. It’s a secluded beach giving you a serene environment to enjoy the sunset. It’s a picturesque, crescent-shaped beach with white sand, blue water, and palm trees.

Get there early in the evening to get a good spot. Then, pick a place on the beach and sit and watch as the skies transform into vibrant colors of red and orange during the sunset at Mauna Kea. 

Lake Waiau

You’ll encounter many interesting natural occurrences during your hike up Mauna Kea. One of the more picturesque areas is Lake Waiau. It’s one of the only lakes on the Big Island and is located nearly 4,000-meters above sea level on the volcano. Lake Waiau is unique since its size changes drastically throughout the year.

If you’re looking for a beautiful sunset, visit the lake during the spring when it’s at its full size. It creates an amazing setting of clear water and a mountainous backdrop. You’ll get an excellent view of the sun setting between the mountain slopes as if it’s falling directly into the lake. It’s truly a sight to see if you time your visit perfectly.

Mauna Key Beach Hotel is a great location to watch the sunset at Mauna Kea

Seeing the sunset at Mauna Kea is an experience that you don’t want to miss. Stay near Mauna Kea during your vacation to Hawaii to have easy access to these locations and can enjoy the beautiful sunsets every night of your stay. 

Thanks to its location right on Kauna’oa Bay, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is the best place to stay. You can reserve a beachfront room to see the sunset over Mauna Kea Beach from your balcony. These rooms are very popular, so call 1-808-882-7222 today to check availability on your travel dates.

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