Exploring the Kohala Coast's Best Beaches: Sunkissed Hapuna + Pololu Black Sand

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 third part of our Kohala Coast travelogue, a version of which was published by JustLuxe.IMG_2284Next door to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is sister property Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, the second phase of Rockefeller’s Big Island fantasy resort. This hotel is home to one of the best reasons to visit the Kohala Coast: Hapuna Beach, a natural white sand beach that stretches generously and is considered one of the best beaches in all of Hawaii. Fortunately for beach-eager travelers, you can stay at the Hapuna Beach Prince and be just a few barefooted steps away from all the sand-and-sun glory.IMG_2314Spend the afternoon out by the beach basking underneath a vivid blue umbrella and with your toes buried in the easy sand. Then take a stroll all the way to the public section of Hapuna Beach for some quality people-watching, from young guns body surfing in the ocean to dreadlocked fellas practicing martial arts in the sand.IMG_2304Towards the evening, head up to the alfresco Coast Grill where you can catch a blood-orange sunset as you enjoy the restaurant’s signature Seafood Trio dish, consisting of grilled mahamahi, sautéed ahi and seared ono with wasabi sweet chili aioli.IMG_2162The large Hapuna resort itself, however, has seen better days. Its grandiose has lost a little bit of its luster since it opened in 1994. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It makes this resort an affordable option in the area, with access to a beach you couldn’t have manmade. And it has reciprocal resort privileges with the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, there’s even a shuttle that goes back and forth. It’s certainly the Kohala Coast’s best value.IMG_2170For a half-day trip, drive north half an hour to Hawi, a charming town with art galleries and handcraft boutiques housed in abandoned sugar plantation buildings. The Bamboo Restaurant and Gallery is a locals’ favorite serving all-things-passion fruit, like margaritas, mojitos and martinis. Continue on your adventures around the coast through winding roads, tropical scenery and one-road bridges to quite literally the end of the road: the Pololu Valley Lookout and its black sand beach.