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Three Perfect Days on the Kohala Coast

The Big Island is big fun.

Officially known as Hawaii, it is by far the largest of the Hawaiian Islands — but there’s so much more to it than size. With volcanoes and black-sand beaches, sparkling coves and majestic mountains, world-class golf courses, and top-notch luxury resorts, there’s something for everyone. Here we show you how to spend three magical days in paradise.

Day 1

7 a.m. Rise and shine! The first thing you should know about Hawaii? This is an island of early risers. After all, there is so much to do and no time to waste — when the sun rises, the fun begins.

8 a.m. Breakfast on our lanai is a beautiful spread of local fruits — papaya, mango, pineapple — along with toast, eggs, and, of course, Hawaiian coffee, all sourced locally by our Exclusive Resorts concierge. 

Fresh food awaits at every meal
Try typical Hawaiian cuisine when on island

9 a.m. We’re ready for an adventure today, starting with the picturesque waters of Pauoa Bay, just steps from our Exclusive Resorts residence. The Fairmont Orchid offers stand-up paddleboarding, outrigger canoeing, and snorkeling right off the crescent-shaped beach. Those who prefer chlorine to sand can post up at the pool at Pauoa Beach Club overlooking the bay — Exclusive Resorts guests have membership access to the picturesque spot.

11 a.m. Time for a stroll along the coast. From Pauoa Bay, verdant trails pass by lagoons (where we spy a giant crane) and golden beaches (where resting sea turtles are a regular sight on the sand). By the time we arrive at Mauna Lani, an Auberge Resort, we’re famished. Time for some tacos and poke bowls at the Surf Shack overlooking the beach.

1 p.m. There’s so much culture and history to explore on the Big Island. First, we visit Mauna Lani’s Hale 'I'ike (meaning House of Knowledge), the resort’s cultural center where guests can learn to string ukeleles and make lei, as well as attend lectures, read books, and view artifacts like ancient lei and specters. On the day we visit, local artisans are sharing their knowledge in the art of feather weaving — the ancient craft used to create lei and capes for their royal ancestors. 

Our next stop is just a five-minute drive away: the Puakō Petroglyph Park, one of the largest in all of Hawaii, home to more than 3,000 petroglyphs dating back to 1200 A.D. Though the true meaning of the petroglyphs remains a mystery, we certainly can use our imagination as to their significance: warriors in crouching fight stances or shooting bows and arrows; giant sea turtles and their hatchlings; and figures raising oars over their heads in triumph — or perhaps, conflict.

Time for a quick moment of relaxation on the water
Take a mid-day pit stop at Mauna Lani

3 p.m. We’ve earned some R&R! The Auberge Spa at Mauna Lani has just what we need: a lomi lomi massage blending rhythmic wave-like strokes with herbal oil infusions. After 90 minutes of the traditional Hawaiian therapy, we feel the transcendent feeling of mohala (blossoming and growth).

7 p.m. Utterly relaxed, we can think of no better place to be than our Exclusive Resorts residence. Tiki torches and the barbecue grill are lit as the sky turns purple and we toast an active first day with grilled seafood and vegetables for dinner.

Day 2

8 a.m. We’re out the door early today, and we’re on a mission: To conquer Kohala Mountain. But first, coffee! We stop at the Shops at Mauna Lani for a cuppa at Mauna Lani Coffee Co. and acai bowls (and energy bars, for later) at Juice 101.

9 a.m. The views at the bottom of Kohala Mountain are spectacular — we can only imagine what they’ll be like from the top! We start on our way and find that, every mile or so, the temperature drops as we ascend into the cloudforest. By the time we reach the edge of the woodland, we’re towering over the breathtaking coastline. (Though the mountain goes even higher, we’re told hunting season makes it dangerous to enter the forest.) The descent is a sweet relief — and the views are just as rewarding.

11a.m. We’re in luck! Just a few miles away in Waimea, the Waimea Town Market (open Saturdays from 7:30 to noon) is in full swing. We pick up all the essentials — and some not-so-essentials: fresh pastries, handmade soaps, fruit and nuts for later, and some Hawaiian pink sea salt to take home as a souvenir.

Beautiful scenery is around every corner
Explore the natural wonders of Hawaii

12 p.m. A short drive away, we quickly find the local lunch spot: The Fish and The Hog is packed wall to wall, and the tables are just as full, with Hawaiian favorites like fish tacos, pulled pork, and grilled pineapple.

3 p.m. Back at our Exclusive Resorts residence, we have a tough decision: Lay by our private pool, or head to the Paoua Beach Fitness Club for a tennis match. We decide on the latter!

6 p.m. Dinner at CanoeHouse is a special occasion every time. The restaurant on the edge of Makaiwa Bay is more than 30 years old (in its early days, it was a favorite of Hawaiian surf legend Duke Kahanamoku) and today is one of the top spots for Big Island fine dining. We order the poke-style sashimi, fresh catch of the day (ona, also known as wahoo), and, at our server’s recommendation, the savory-yet-slightly-sweet garlic fried rice.

Day 3

7 a.m. An early tee time at Mauna Lani’s South Course is a must — not because the exclusive course is crowded, but because the views over the mountains and ocean are especially breathtaking in the morning hours. Built on the prehistoric Kaniku lava flow, the course snakes through rugged black rock and tropical flora making for a beautiful — and challenging — day of play.

12 p.m. Lunch at Napua is more than a great meal (though the seared ahi and barbecue ribs are to die for); the restaurant is set in the heart of the Mauna Lani Beach Club, with a deep stretch of sand and a fascinating ecosystem that features ocean marine life on one end and freshwater estuaries on the other. You’ll glimpse puffer fish, eels, and the Hawaiian state fish, Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (also known as the reef triggerfish).

Catch early strokes on the resort's beautiful seaside course
Or rest and relax poolside with a drink and a book

3 p.m. Time to explore another part of the island: legendary Kona, a vibrant area where history, culture, and plenty of buzzing tourist activity collide. In-between shopping for vintage-inspired Hawaiian Ts and other souvenirs, we tour Huliheʻe Palace, an extravagant estate built in 1838 for Hawaiian royalty where the Victorian architecture and antiques remain beautifully intact. We stop at Ululani’s next for passionfruit and mango shave ice with macadamia-nut ice cream.

6 p.m. Our last Hawaiian supper is one to remember: Moana, located in the heart of Kona Village, boasts a sustainable Pacific Rim–to-table menu that honors the historic fishing culture that once thrived in this area. Nearly everything on the menu is sourced from the ocean (or, moana, in Hawaiian) from the Kumamoto oysters and grilled octopus to the Kona Kanpachi and Hawaiian snapper. We toast our final evening on the Big Island with Mai Tais and Banana Daiquiris.


8 Residences
Kohala Coast, Hawaii

Pauoa Beach Club

8 Residences

Pauoa Beach Club