Kohala Coast Travelogue: Basking with the Green Sea Turtles at the Fairmont Orchid Resort

The Big Island's Kohala Coast has become an enclave for Hawaii’s top-notch beachfront resorts, which provide travelers with fine dining options, superb spa treatments and world-class golf courses. But don’t expect to have to put up with a pretentious or stuffy ambiance. Even the finest resorts have adopted the region’s love for laidback luxury. Here's the first part of our Kohala Coast travelogue, a version of which was published by JustLuxe.IMG_2032Our first stop was the elegant and contemporary Fairmont Orchid resort. Because it’s all about the first impression, the open-air lobby at the Fairmont gives incoming guests an expansive view of the pool, the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the resort grounds shaded by soaring palm trees. Walking around this resort, you’ll be serenaded by trickling waterfalls lining your path. Take a leisurely stroll through the manicured lawns until you reach the white wooden gazebo, perfect for wedding days.The Fairmont Orchid is a so tranquil that even the curious neighbors come here to relax. In the afternoon, the green sea turtles swim up to the beach to soak up the radiant sun. And at night near the ponds, you’re likely to catch sight of a lonely toad ribbit’ing in the moonlight.IMG_2054Not far from the large pool is an oceanfront lagoon, for your best chance to swim safely in the sea. The aqua-colored lagoon is protected from the ocean surf by a barrier of black lava rocks, making it the ideal body of water for a sheltered, peaceful swim. You can rent equipment from a nearby beach shack to go snorkeling or stand-up paddle boarding. There is even a floating yoga, or flo-yo, session practiced on an anchored paddle-board in the calmness of the ocean. Or you can spend the day just gazing around the resort, picturesque all around, while basking in your private beachside cabana ($55 a day). And if you’re feeling frisky by the time the sun goes down, get lost in bushes behind the pool where you’ll find a tucked-away heated whirlpool.The Fairmont just recently renovated the 45 guest rooms on the 6th floor of the North Tower and named it the Gold Floor. This “hotel-within-a-hotel” concept offers a private reception desk, complimentary breakfast (eggs benedict, lox bagels, guava juice), afternoon hors d’oeuvres (sushi), high tea, valet parking, high-speed Internet and an honor bar with Domaine Carneros champagne. All the rooms on this Gold Floor have a private lanai and marble bathrooms, and it’s where you’ll find the property’s Presidential Suite.IMG_2139For a short excursion, next door to the Fairmont is the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve. The outdoor historic site has thousands of centuries-old carvings etched into the lava rock field. Think of them as native Hawaiian graffiti art.