Updated: May 21, 2015
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on Big Island HawaiiIf you are planning a vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii, you probably already know that the Kohala Coast area offers the very best resorts and hotels on the island. The two best beaches are Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna Beach, both located right next to each other. There are 2 hotels here, the Mauna Kea and the Hapuna Beach Prince, both considered to be among the finest on Hawaii (see also our map of Hawaii resorts). This review will cover the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort from our stay in 2009 (UPDATE: and 2013). Below we will go over pictures of the hotel, grounds, rooms, pools, and beach, along with detailed comments about our stay on the property. Heck, we even throw in a video clip to give you a little more idea what the place looks like. The Hapuna Prince opened in 1994 and is a contemporary style hotel situated on over 30 acres, offering more than 350 rooms. There is also an 18 hole golf course ($125 for hotel guests, $165 others -- includes cart) on the property.
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel - Getting ThereWhen you leave the Kona Airport, you'll head north on Hwy 19. It's about 20 miles up to Hapuna Beach. Be prepared for lots of lava fields and desert-like conditions as you head north -- the only trees you'll see are the artificial oases created by the ocean for these resorts -- this is a hot, dry area of the island, and pretty far from things to do. You'll first see signs for Hapuna Beach State Park on your left -- keep going a little further. You're actually going to turn in on your right when you see the sign for Hapuna Beach Prince Resort. You'll then loop back around and under the highway to get back towards the beach and the hotel. They offer valet parking, while self parking is $15 per day. They have underground parking which helps keep your car cool. When you walk into the lobby, you are greeted by an amazing view from their multi-storied, open-air atrium. While you are checking-in, they offer a glass of cold fruit juice, then off to your room.
The map below shows the layout of the hotel property. There are 3 main guest wings, with Building 3 being closest to the ocean (and slightly down the hill), and Building 4 and 5 connected to the main building and lobby. If you are in Building 3 (we were), it can be a LONG walk to the parking lot -- this is a fairly big property, so be prepared for that (though in fairness, it's the same at all these large resorts -- when you are that spread out, you can't avoid having to do a lot of walking to get around). The ocean and beach is just beyond the pool at the top of the map. Their official website is here.
Hapuna Prince Hotel Big Island Hawaii RoomsAll of the rooms here face the ocean -- some have better views depending on how high up they are and how much tree cover is in front of you. Tower 3 sits slightly away from the beach and has grass in front of it, leading to a rocky shore (20 second walk to beach). We were on the 3rd floor of Tower 3, just a few doors down from the very north end. Again, this meant a long walk to the car. Rooms here were very nice overall (see photos below). Rooms come with a small refrigerator, coffee maker, and microwave. Rooms have standard amenities -- 2 beds, table and chair, desk, armoire. Bathroom was very nice, all marble, with tub (handheld spray included, perfect for cleaning up after beach) and shower, 2 sinks, plenty of counter space, and a separate commode room. Most high-end resorts in Hawaii have nice bathrooms -- this was one of them. Our lanai had a lounge chair and table and chairs, with an obscured view of the ocean and beach (trees blocking some). There are no ice machines, but the staff will deliver a nightly bucket of ice during the turn down service. Overall, room was clean, air conditioner ran a little loud, refrigerator was nice for keeping a few cold drinks and snacks on hand to save money. One big complaint -- Internet access for $15 per day! Ouch -- never knew it cost $450 per room per month to use the Internet. You'd think they were manually bringing you webpages and delivering your emails by hand. Come on guys, people staying at an expensive resort are probably accustomed to having Internet access -- this should be no charge.
In terms of price, rack rates for 2009 were from $400 to $615 for towers 4 and 5, and $725 for oceanfront rooms in tower 3. We had a special 3 for 2 pricing that brought our room rate down to $359 (before $45 in taxes and $15 daily parking fee), but we heard they were accepting bids from Priceline and letting rooms go for less than $175 -- maybe worth a shot if you are trying to save some money (in fact, wing 5 was closed when we were there due to such a lack of guests). None of these rooms at large resorts are cheap -- you're paying for the fancy grounds, access to the nicest beach, onsite restaurants and salons, etc.
Other amenities include access to tennis courts at their sister property, the Mauna Kea Beach Resort (there is a free shuttle every 20 minutes). They have a full spa and salon, a keiki (kids) club for kids 5-12 ($60 per child all day, 9-4), and several restaurants. The Coast Grills sits above the pool Beach Bar and serves dinner nightly, with indoor and outdoor seating. We paid $45 for a not-so-great lambchop - ambience and view were spectacular, though. The Hakone Steak House and Sushi Bar were closed when we were there. The Ocean Terrace (bottom level of atrium/lobby) serves a buffet breakfast. The Cafe Hapuna is in the lobby on the opposite side as the registration desk, and offers simple food you can eat there or take with you. The Reef Lounge serves cocktails each night, perched above the pool and beach, nice place to relax and listen to live music each night. Overall, dining options were adequate -- we opted for light snack for breakfast, lunch by the pool (Beach Bar, about $20 for a sandwich and drink).
Hapuna Prince Resort and Pool PhotosThe pool at the Hapuna Prince is pretty large. We happened to be there during the great recession of 2009, so the pool lounge chairs were 90% vacant, which is outside the norm. But there is generally ample seating space around the pool, and the pool is large enough to accomodate a crowd. It's only 4-5 feet deep, so there is nowhere to dive, no slides, etc. But the water is warm for lounging and relaxing, not so warm that you can't cool off from the hot sun. A shallow end offers steps for getting into and out of the pool. Towels are handed out at the activity booth there, they will ask for your room number and have you sign out for your towels -- when you return them, they rip up the card. They also offer rental equipment -- boogie boards, snorkel sets, etc. There is a poolside bar and grill here for lunch, drinks, or snacks.
While the pool is great, you probably came to Hawaii for some white sand beaches, and Hapuna Beach is one of the best. The beach here is very deep, plenty of sand and space to play and relax. The Hapuna Prince offers free lounge chairs that are set up for your use on the beach each morning. There is a state park at the southern end of the beach (to your left when facing the ocean), and this popular beach sometimes gets a little crowded. There is pretty good snorkeling along the right hand side -- you can enter from a small cove just beyond the main beach, and work your way up and around the lava flows -- lots of fish and dramatic rock formations. Swimming is good and boogie boarding can be terrific with right wave conditions. It takes about 5-8 minutes to walk from one end of the beach to the other -- a few laps in the morning makes for a good workout.
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel Review and SummaryWe stayed at 3 different resorts during our visit -- all had their own unique feel and style. We loved the pool area at the Hapuna Prince, and the beach and ocean were the best we encountered. Service at check in was a little slow, maid service was good and reliable, dining was adequate, room and bathroom were both very good. It was very quiet during out visit since tourism was down due to the recession, so our impression of a non-crowded pool and non-crowded restaurants are probably not the norm. We also liked being right next door (a little too far to walk, but an easy drive or shuttle trip) to the Mauna Kea resort, with full privileges and access there as well. They offer additional restaurants to choose from, and another nice beach to explore. We'd give the Hapuna Prince a 90 out of 100, and would recommend it to those who can afford it. Again, if money is tight, consider trying your luck with Priceline and see if you can get into the Prince at a reduced rate. In terms of other things nearby, Waikoloa Village is about a 10 minute drive (heading east towards Waimea), which offers a full grocery store. Also, about 8 minutes back towards the airport is another shopping center and grocery store at the Mauna Lani.
Below are more pictures showing you what the resort look like. Enjoy. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
|Here is a shot of the lobby/atrium area of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. This multi-story area is very impressive, with great views looking out to the pool and beach area.
|Another shot looking out from the lobby towards the beach and pool.
|The view from the Coast Grille restaurant above the pool.
|The view from our lanai looking towards the beach. We are on the 3rd floor of tower 3.
|Another view of the pool at the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort.
|Another view of the room...
|This is from the walkway down below by tower 3, looking back up at the main building.