Waikoloa Beach Resort: Gateway to the Kohala Coast
There is a little bit of something for everyone here in the popular 1,350-acre Waikoloa Beach Resort. Located on the dry, sunny coast of Hawaii’s South Kohala District, 18 miles north of Kona International Airport, Waikoloa Beach Resort lies in a historically significant region that was once the site of a fishing village. Its warm Pacific Ocean breezes, great shopping and dining, cultural interests, proximity to fine beaches, and variety of vacation condominium properties make it the ultimate Big Island visitor’s destination.
Ancient Royal Retreat. Waikoloa Beach Resort’s valuable historical sites offer a glimpse into early Hawaiian life along the Kohala Coast, such as the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve along Kings’ Trail. The royal fishpond and surrounding Anchialine ponds at Anaehoomalu Bay, once used for raising mullet, are treasures that today are still active and well-maintained.
A Gentle Bay. Anaehoomalu Bay is the sheltered Pacific Ocean inlet bordering the Waikoloa Resort region along Hawaii’s South Kohala Coast. The area contains numerous attractions that are culturally and environmentally significant, including a series of ancient freshwater pools. This is also a good spot to view the occasional wetland bird or Hawaiian green sea turtle. A-Bay beach’s mild aqua waters provide a haven for swimmers, snorkelers, divers, kayakers, wind sailers and others, and are suitable for children. The beach’s soft white sand lined with coconut palms is a favorite retreat for both sunbathers and sunset viewers. Many weddings and photo events are held on this scenic Waikoloa shoreline. Beyond the beach are various secluded coves and a coastal trail. More great beaches lie within a short drive north along the Kohala Coast.
Shopping and Dining Options. A unique set of shops at the resort’s Kings’ Shops and Queens’ Marketplace feature clothing, beachwear, surfing gear, Hawaiian gifts, sunglasses, jewelry, fine art, and more. A selection of dining choices ranges from formal entrees at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar or the prestigious Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill, to casual plates at Island Fish & Chips or Subway Sandwiches. The Island Gourmet Market, located at the Queens’ Marketplace, has a full-service deli with a daily spread of outstanding hot or cold take-out meals, as well as a bakery. Both centers are common venues for festive events, such as the annual 4th of July Rubber Duckie Race and the Waikoloa Ukelele Festival.
The Finest in Hawaii Golf. Also among the primary resort attractions are two famous par-70 golf courses. The Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed Beach Course winds alongside the bay on a bed of lava rock surrounded by palms and terrific ocean views. The Kings’ Course was designed in a typical Scottish format by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. The courses’ two excellent dining establishments include Mai Grille which features enticing regional cuisine that utilizes fresh, local ingredients. And Tropics Ale House, situated on the Beach Course side, serves a variety of pizza, sandwiches and appetizers and presents live music.
Anchialine Ponds. An intricate fishpond system weaves from the ocean’s tides through the surrounding lands. This Waikoloa Anchialine Pond Preservation Area has several ancient pools in which fish were harvested for Hawaiian chiefs and noble voyagers. Fishermen who lived in the region kept the ponds clean and protected them from poachers. The preserved aquaculture site is still a haven for numerous marine species, including indigenous red shrimp and certain types of estuarine snails. The ponds combine seawater with the fresh spring waters that flow from the mountains. Young fish enter the ponds from the sea through a grate of poles and are nurtured here. The name Anaehoomalu comes from the mullet (‘anae) that were once protected (ho’omalu) for the rulers of this Waikoloa region.
Green Sea Turtles are often seen in Waikoloa Bay or basking on the sands of A-Bay beach. The green sea turtle, or honu, is the most common of the four types of turtles found in Hawaiian waters. These reptiles evolved from their original land species over 150 billion years ago. Their shells, having adapted to the ocean, are lighter than those of other turtles, and their limbs act as flappers to help them swim. The carapace and plastron shells protect them from predators. Green sea turtles shed salts accumulated from seawater through special glands behind their eyes. Adult sea turtles have an efficient oxygen storage system that allows them to remain under water without breathing for more than two hours. Female green sea turtles migrate hundreds of miles from their feeding areas to reach their natal beach in order to lay eggs. Green sea turtles eat only plants and are commonly seen along the shoreline’s coral reefs where algae, or limu, can be found. They can weigh up to 500 pounds. The type of green sea turtle found in Hawaii is under threat of extinction and is protected by a Hawaii State law.