Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii

Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii

Plans For Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii

We spent a great week relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Our luxury stay at the Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort provided the perfect pampering experience on our visit to Hawaii.

One night we planned a treat and got to experience an authentic Hawaiian luau.  And on another day we took a helicopter tour over the Big Island for some great sights along the Kohala Hamakua Coast.

We learned a good lesson about checking out big events before we locked down our travel dates.  When we arrived we found out why the Big Island was so busy during our stay in low season.

Planning A Stay On The Big Island In Hawaii

When we planned our trip to Hawaii, we wanted to be relaxing on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  We had a lot of accumulated Marriott Bonvoy points and wanted to save some money on this trip by booking this stay on points.  Luckily we found that a 7 day stay at the Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort provided great value for our points.  

The Westin Hapuna was located in a more remote area on the Big Island.  When we planned our stay we considered a 7 day car rental but we were surprised when we found the car rental rates very high.  We ultimately decided we probably only needed a car for a few days to do some day trips.  But when we later went to get a car rental there was nothing available on the island at any price!  We knew car rental agencies were hit hard during the pandemic but were surprised about the low car supply.  

It was not until much later that we figured out why the car rental supply was an issue. It turned out that the Ironman Competition was on when we visited.  So this impacted car rentals.  But also made getting around the island very tough for many of the days we visited.  When we left the Big Island we departed with many of the Ironman competitors and the airport was a crazy place.  It was a reminder that we needed to do better at looking at local events when we planned our travel timing!

With no rental car, we then had to worry about how to get to the remote resort.  We finally booked an airport pickup through the hotel.  And used the same service to return us to the airport.

Flying Into The Big Island

We flew from our stay on Oahu to the Big Island of Hawaii with Southwest Air.  It was relatively cheap to book and there were several flight options.  

As we approached the Big Island, we got our first view of the coastline and the Kohala Volcano with clouds moving over.  We were excited with the sights we would find on this visit.  As we arrived at the Kona International airport, we were surprised when we saw large lava fields between the taxiways.  

After we picked up our bags, we found our driver.  The scenery was great as we drove along the main road.  But soon we saw the large lava fields that came down right to the road.  We passed the heliport and saw the helicopters taking flight.  It got us excited for our planned helicopter tour over the Big Island

Lava by Roads - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Lava by Roads Blue Hawaii Europcopter

The drive was about an hour to our hotel.  We were happy to start our stay relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii.

A Pampering Stay At The Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort

We arrived at the Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort and were delighted when we got an upgraded room for the room we booked on points.  The room was on a high floor and had a great view out over the resort.  When the sun went down, the views were magical.

Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort Room - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort Room View

When we arrived we saw a great amenity waiting for us.  This was a nice treat and always a great Marriott Bonvoy Elite status perk.

Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort Amenity - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii

With the resort being so isolated and with the roads shut on many days for the Ironman Competition, we figured we would eat most of our meals at the hotel.  An amazing continental breakfast was included free with our Elite status.  There was far more food than we could eat and most days we even saved a snack from the breakfast served.  When we wanted more to eat or needed some protein, it was easy to order an extra dish to share.

Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort Breakfast
Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort Breakfast - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii

We ate lunch at the pool bar and were surprised by the healthy fare we found.  Even if we did splurge for dessert.  And the pizza bar in the evening was great when we only wanted a light dinner.  For a treat we had dinner on the patio at the Meridia Restaurant.  We had a delicious selection of foods at every course.

It was easy to enjoy a visit relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii when we stayed at the Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort.  

Enjoying Lazy Days On The Resort

We found lots of places around the resort to relax.  There was an abundance of green space.  And the lily pads on the koi pool was a favourite spot – day or night.

Koi Pond - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Koi Pond Night

We were happy when we found that there was an adult pool with an infinity edge that gave us a view to the beach in the distance.  Beside the adult pool we enjoyed a large hot tub.  Cabanas were available to rent.  Lounge chairs in the shallow end of the pool were a perfect spot to sit with a drink.  We found the larger pool on the lower level much noisier.

Adult Pool - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Adult Pool

The soft sand beach stretched across the resort and down the coast.  We found a gentle entry into the water.  And the rocky end on one side was a great spot when we headed out with to snorkel.

Hapuna Bay Beach - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Hapuna Bay Beach

We found lots of outdoor spots to enjoy.  And if we wanted out of the sun, there were many open-air lounge areas around the resort for us to settle in.  Spots for relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii were not hard to find at the Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort.  

Westin Hapuna Bay Beach Resort Lobby

Visiting Hapuna Mauna Kea Resort For A Hawaiian Luau

When we looked for something iconic to do when relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii, we were delighted to plan an evening at the Hapuna Mauna Kea Resort for an amazing luau experience.

Our luau started with a view of the traditional kalua pig in the hot rocks in the underground imu oven.  After cooking for several hours, we found the pork smoky, juicy and so tender it fell off the bone.  The buffet offered a huge variety of foods including local dishes.

Luau at Hapuna Mauna Kea - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Luau at Hapuna Mauna Kea

The luau show in dance and chanting provided an interesting review of Hawaiian history.  We then learned more about the evolution of the hula dance.  And the show finished with a stunning fire show.

Luau at Hapuna Mauna Kea
Luau at Hapuna Mauna Kea - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii

We were so excited when got to experience a great Hawaiian luau.  We would have hated to leave Hawaii without this treat.

Exploring Hawaii From The Air

One of the top things on our list of things to do in Hawaii was to see the islands from above.  When we visited the Big Island, Mauna Loa was very active and we we thought a helicopter tour would be an amazing experience before the expected eruption.  We booked our helicopter tour of the Big Island with Sunshine Helicopters.  We wanted the full island tour that included both Volcanoes National Park with the Mauna Loa volcano and a tour along the Kohala Hamakua Coast.

Sunshine Helicopters Heliport

Unfortunately weather was not in our favour and the tour over the volcanoes was not available.  But we still booked a tour and got some amazing sights along the coast.  And saw many views that were not visible in another way.

Hamakua Coast Paokalani Mokupuku Pa'Alalea islands - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Hamakua Coast Waipio Valley

The scenery of the Big Island was quite stunning from the air. We got a much better perspective on this volcanic island.  

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site - Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii
Gully Rift In Earth

Seeing the Big Island on a helicopter tour was something we were glad we booked.  It was a fun way to get a little adventure when relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Enjoying Our Time Relaxing On The Big Island Of Hawaii

Without a rental car and with the Ironman Competition shutting down some roads on the Big Island, we stayed close to our hotel for most of our visit.  It was a good thing we booked a great resort for relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii.

We were happy that we managed to have a great luau experience during our stay.  And while we did not get the helicopter tour we wanted, we got some great views of the Big Island from the air.

We wanted to enjoy more of water activities on our visit.  And were sad we missed the chance to scuba dive with the Manta Rays.  When Mauna Loa erupted just after we returned home, we were sure disappointed we did not get to see the volcano when it first started to rumble.  But we know we will go back to Hawaii and have more chances to explore the Big Island.

From the Big Island we headed for a week on Maui. We had many more adventures planned for that visit. And we had a rental car booked!

Have you spent time relaxing on the Big Island of Hawaii?  What should be top of our list for a return visit?

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  1. This sounds like an amazing trip! My friend is visiting Hawaii right now and having a wonderful time. There are so many neat things to see and explore. I would love to see the beautiful water and beaches, and the lush tropical areas.

  2. This looks like the perfect club vacation! I’ve only been to Oahu and we were not too lucky with the weather so I do not have that dreamy memories. Anyway, since a trip to Hawaii is so very long from Europe, I wouldn’t pick it for a beach vacation as I can have a great stay on an European beach where I can be in three to five hours. However, sometimes I regret it that Hawaii is so very far – I’d like to visit again and explore some of the other islands, too.

    • It took us a long time to get to Hawaii. But it was a shorter trip from the west coast of Canada when we visited. Great to enjoy all we found on the Big Island in Hawaii.

  3. Great blog post! It is important that we should relax and enjoy some good things of life in our retired life rather than always be up and running to do new adventures. Marriot Bonvoy points did a good job. The hotel looks classy and the breakfast yummy. The views from the helicopter ride look awesome. I haven not been to Hawaii yet, but will remember this place for my future visit.

    • It was great to have several days to just relax and enjoy our pampering stay at the Westin Hapuna Resort. But we were happy we got to head off for some fun too!

  4. Wow I’d love to go to Hawaii, there are some good tips here. Also, love those photos from the air, and good you still got to get a cool perspective without a rental car & while having a more relaxing holiday!

  5. Sometimes you just need to chill! This looks perfect. I have only been to Oahu and that was years ago. I loved it, but we were only there for a week and it was full on. I could certainly have done with some down time! What a shame you missed the excitement of the volcano. Still, could have been scary too.

  6. I have been to Hawaii multiple times and I now compare the Polynesian culture there with what I have experienced in New Zealand and I have seen on other South Pacific islands. There are plenty of similarities (including language) along with many differences. Still, relaxing on a tropical island is a fantastic plan.

  7. Sounds lovely to relax and experience the culture on the Big Island of Hawaii. I think it’d been amazing to see the cliffs along the coast.

  8. It seems you have had a great time in Hawaii. I have not been there yet still I feel it’s amazing place to be for a relaxing trip. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hawaii is way up there on our bucket list. Was unfamiliar with Big Island so found this post very helpful. I can see so many similarities between Hawaii and our landscape and Maori culture here in NZ. I think we would feel right at home in Hawaii 🙂

  10. That’s so nice that you could stay with points and that it was a good value for you. I love that you did some of the traditional stuff like the luau, and I think that a helicopter ride would be so stunning. Seeing everything from above would be so gorgeous! I’ve never been to Hawaii, but your trip seems so perfect and makes me want to book a trip to the big island STAT.

  11. What a lovely vacation you had, Linda and David – despite the triathlon event crowd! The luau must have been fantastic – the food, the music & dance, the history, the fire show… what an experience – your awesome pics tell it all! And combining it with the helicopter tour of the island makes for a great cultural + adventure experience, indeed. There are lots of good practical advice in this blog entry too – very useful for anyone planning to visit Hawaii!

    • It was great to have a relaxing stay at the Westin Hapuna Resort on our visit to the Big Island. But we were so glad we also got to have some of the iconic experiences on our stay.

  12. Thanks for this interesting post about the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii has been on our wish list for ages. I read that Big Island is very good for hiking too. Your food pictures are mouthwatering, as always. Would love to see a luau, especially the dancing and show part. As a vegetarian I am not so much interested in the pig….

    • Unfortunately we were stuck on the resort more than we original thought. Good thing it was a great resort for relaxing. But it was good to enjoy the luau and helicopter tour to see more of the island and its culture.

  13. We have been to Big Island twice because we really loved it there. Volcanoes National Park was at the top of our list as well as seeing the green sand beach. So sorry to hear that there were no rental cars. I will definitely make sure next time we go, that it will not be during the ironman. I read that after covid restrictions the rental car supply was low and people even rented trucks from Homedepot to go around the islands.

    • We were glad we chose a great spot to relax and chill out. But still got to see some interesting things. Next time we will definitely spend time on the volcanic sites and in the water.

  14. It looks like you had a very relaxing trip on the big Island in Hawaii. I could tell your excitement from the first lines, when you passed by the lava fields on your way to the resort. I think it was still a great idea to go on a helicopter tour of the island, even if the volcano part wasn’t available. The views are still incredible! The hotel room looks very nice, and what a warm welcome! The luau ceremony is so unique, I’d love to witness that someday. The underground cooking of the pork reminded me of several places around the world where they do the same technique. It’s amazing how so many nations started cooking underground and are still doing it, as part of their tradition.

    • We were glad we added the Big Island to our plans for Hawaii even if it did not work out exactly as originally planned. We had a relaxing stay and still got to enjoy some local traditions and great sights.

  15. It pays to have a comfortable resort to stay in – and it was a good thing your stay was in the Westin Hapuna Bay Beach. Those views alone are worth it. You are right – I often forget to check the local events happening around and end up in a similar situation like yours: with expensive accommodation and lack of cars and blocked roads too. The Westin sounds perfect as a hanging out place with good food options and Hawaii itself is such a perfectly beautiful location

    • The Westin Hapuna Resort was indeed a great spot for a relaxing stop on the Big Island in Hawaii. We were glad we still got to see some of the island even as restricted as we were.

  16. Not that I don’t like children, but it’s wonderful that the hotel has an adult-only pool for you to relax in. The whole luau package experience looks great. I imagine how tender and juicy was the pork. The coast views from your helicopter excursion were amazing! I hope on the next visit you will get to do the helicopter ride you wanted to do in the first place.

    • We too were very glad to have an adult only spot to relax when we were a bit stuck on the resort. But were so happy we did get off to enjoy some of the great things the Big Island had to offer.

  17. Sign me up for a relaxing stay on the big island! I have never been to Hawaii but it looks incredible. The luau looks like so much fun and educational too. Your hotel was a great choice especially with the adult only pool and the pizza bar. It’s beautiful to see the scenery here, the lava fields are mesmerising to me.

    • We were glad we picked the Westin Hapuna for our stay on the Big Island. Lots to do on the resort and it was great to have access to the hotel next door for our Luau experience.

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