Keauhou Beach Resort
Nice over-ocean hotel with fantastic snorkeling
We have been visiting Hawaii since the 1970’s. The Outrigger Keauhou is our favorite hotel in the Kailua-Kona area because of its wonderful ocean and lagoon views, and its proximity to Kailua town (north) and the Keauhou shopping center (south), with a free hourly shuttle to both. Most important, there is superb and easy snorkeling right next door at Kahalu’u Beach.
On our recent stay in February, 2009, we split our vacation between the Outrigger Keauhou and the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (in the Kohala area, see separate review). The Outrigger has the best snorkeling and access to the south island national parks. The Hapuna Beach Prince has the best beach on the island.
At the Outrigger Keauhou we booked an ocean view room with breakfast buffet for two at $140 (worth the upgrade over the $130 partial ocean view rooms). This was called the “Breakfast with a View” rate, and ironically was $40 cheaper than the “Best Available Rate” on the hotel’s website. The only surcharge, if you have a car, is $7 per day for self-parking, and $10 per day for valet parking.
This rate seemed very reasonable to us, since hotel buffet breakfasts often cost $20-30 per person on the island.
We usually book a condo when in Hawaii because island food is often awful or awfully expensive (or both). This time we needed a hotel, so that we could change or cancel our reservation on short notice without penalty, which Outrigger allows.
Our room was large and pleasant, with a beautiful surf and sunset views over the lagoon and heiaus. There are the usual amenities, including and empty mini-refrigerator and a coffee/tea maker.
The hotel website has a useful photo of the hotel with the location of the room types shown to help you choose. All rooms have balconies. The more you pay, the closer you are to the water (the west-facing deluxe suites are actually over the water). The only rooms I would avoid are the lower stories facing north over the restaurant roof, since this decreases the view.
The hotel staff was very warm and friendly -- the Aloha spirit personified. One of the activity salespeople, Amanda, gave an especially good breakfast talk on island activities -- what to buy and what to do on one’s own.
The breakfast buffet was not elegant, but was delicious. The restaurant and the beachside snack bar were closed during our stay, but the over-water verandah lounge and bar had a reasonably priced sandwich and salad menu (most items under $10).
There is no entertainment except for local music on Friday and Saturday evenings, from about 6:30 to 9:30pm. On Friday it was painfully loud (we ate and ran), but on Saturday it was a joy.
We tended to avoid the “Margaritaville” atmosphere of Kailua town, and shopped and ate instead in the nearby Keauhou shopping center, about a mile up the hill (on the shuttle route). There are a half dozen restaurants there, from cheap to fancy.
We enjoyed the Royal Thai flavors very much (subtle rather than spicy), but their portions are a bit small for the price, and they surcharge a few dollars if you want more than the tiny amount of rice you are given. There is also a large supermarket in the shopping center, with deli items and rotisserie chickens.
The Outrigger gardens are beautifully maintained, and there is a garden gate directly into the Kahalu’u beach (open sunrise to sunset). The snorkeling there is world class -- incredible fish and viable coral. It can be crowded near shore, but is wonderful (crystal clear and protected) near the reef. We left our towels and other beach items on the hotel lawn while we snorkeled. Having this snorkeling next door made our stay.
Being south of Kailua town near the end of Ali’i Drive also gives the Outrigger good access to Volcano National Park and Place of Refuge National Monument (the snorkeling near there is also excellent). The morning traffic in Captain Cook town can be gridlock, so leave early for your south island excursions.
What really helps us enjoy all our Hawaii vacations is Andrew Doughty’s fantastic guide (with maps) Hawaii the Big Island Revealed. It is the best travel guide we have ever encountered anywhere -- just like having a best friend who lives on the island. He has a book for each of the other main islands also.
Aloha and happy travels.
Directions: south end of Ali'i Drive
Where I stayed
This hotel was quite nice, though I was happy to get a discount because of the convention I was attending. It's right on the beach, not far from Kahalu'u Beach Park, famous for its snorkeling. I had a nice view of the beach from my 6th floor balcony. The room itself was spacious, with comfortable beds and a full bath. The lobby is inviting and comfortable, with wireless Internet access. Light meals and drinks are available on the veranda, where you can look across the water, observe the fish, and watch the sunset. Tasty breakfast served, but costs extra: the buffet costs $16, while a la carte items cost $9 and up. If you're trying to save money, note that the rooms have refrigerators.
One pet peeve: parking is limited, and you're sometimes forced to use "valet parking" even if you don't want to.
Unique Quality: - Luxury hotel on the beach
- Tennis courts and swimming pool on the premises
- Exercise room
- Activity desk to book local tours
Directions: About a 25 minute drive south of the airport, on the south side of Kona. To avoid traffic, stay on Highway 11 until you get to Kamehameha III Rd. Turn right on Kamehameha, then turn right again on Alii Drive. Hotel will be on your left.
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