Get ready to see the largest, most magnficient hotel in Hawaii.
The island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is almost twice the size of the other Hawaiian islands combined. It has a climate ranging from tropical to subarctic and the geography of a mini continent. Hawaii has desolate lava flows, lush coastal valleys, high sea cliffs, rolling pastures, deserts and rainforests.
It is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands and thanks to Kilauea, the most active volcano on earth, it is still growing. The latest series of eruptions which began in 1983 has added 222ha of coastal land. It is also home to Madame Pele, Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, and Ku, god of war.
Here you will find mountains rising more than 4200m above sea level and that is just the tip, as they are mountain masses rising 10,000m from the ocean floor. They block the moist north-easterly tradewinds, making the leeward side the group's driest region. The Kona and Kohala coasts on the sunny western side enjoy the finest beaches and water conditions.
On the northern tip of the island is the Hilton Waikoloa Village, opened in 1988 at a cost of $US360 million. It is on 25ha and as there was no beach there, they built their own, as well as a 1.6ha saltwater lagoon stocked with tropical fish, a dolphin pool, a river with current for rafting and sprawling pools with cascading waterfalls.
Guests move around the grounds in canopied, mahogany boats which cruise along artificial canals, or they take modern, air-conditioned trams to get around.
There is a walkway running 1.6km with a multi-million-dollar art display. Museum quality exhibits include extensive works from Melanesia, Polynesia and Asia, with a strong emphasis on wonderful works of art from Papua New Guinea.
The resort has 1242 rooms and suites divided among three low-rise towers. The Ocean Tower has a flora-filled atrium, the Boat Landing Food Pavilion and adults-only pool The Palace Tower has a splendid entrance, accented with art treasures from around the world. The Lagoon Tower has a selection of galleries and boutiques, the Kohala Tennis Garden, Kohala Spa Café and Kohala Spa. The Kona Pool and Dolphin Quest are close by.
There are 57 suites to choose from bay, palace, royal and presidential.
Eating is wide and varied. The Boat Landing Pavilion is open all day, eat-in or take-away, Donatoni's is Italian, Lagoon Grill is a snack bar and Imari serves Japanese cuisine. Kamuelal Provision Company serves Hawaiian regional meals, Kirin is Chinese, Kohala Spa Café serves organic food, Legends of the Pacific has a luau with dinner and show, the Orchid Café is for breakfast and lunch and Palm Terrace has international buffet.
In 1988 the independently owned and managed Dolphin Quest opened, creating a place where people and dolphins could share close interaction. They are devoted to the public education and conservation of marine wildlife and are world renowned for their creative approach to education, commitment to ocean wildlife research, animal health care and successful breeding programs.
Sessions are for children from five to 12 years of age and last for 90 minutes, the first 30 being a shallow-water encounter full of fun, education, hands-on contact and adventure with the dolphins. Children are divided into small groups with a trainer and dolphin of their own. After the wet portion of the program, the children are treated to an hour of fun, games and activities revolving around Hawaii's marine life and conversation in the Sea Lab.