Where to Stay on The Big Island: The New Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

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My wife Kelly and I are big fans of Hawaii. We’ve been there half a dozen times over the course of just a few years!

But, we’ve always struggled to find where to stay on the Big Island.

On our last trip, that all changed.

Just recently, we took a big trip to the Big Island, spending our time at the Westin in Hapuna Beach.

Out of all our visits to the Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island keeps calling us back.

The Big Island is often overlooked for spots on Maui and Oahu, but hiding among the stark, desolate landscape of the leeward side of the Big Island is a tropical paradise:

Hapuna Beach.

Here is where you should stay on the Big Island for an amazing Hawaiian getaway.



The New Westin Hapuna Beach Resort Hotel Remodeled

In 2018, the former Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel was re-branded under Westin to The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort.

With millions of dollars in renovations, everything from the lobby to the guest rooms and pools were revamped, and we experienced it first-hand both before and after the new renovations.

Located on the Kohala Coast, Hapuna Beach is often ranked amongst the top beaches in the entire world, and for good reason:

Hapuna Beach during a tropical storm

Hapuna Beach during a tropical storm

Does it get better than that??

This newly remodeled resort is sure to please any visitor. Kelly and I have loved the Hapuna Resort for years both before and after the remodel.

In this review, we’ll cover all of the key reasons why we love this resort and share photos we’ve taken along the way.

Westin Hapuna Beach Room Guide: Newly Remodeled Rooms

Since this resort is newly renovated, you can expect everything to be in mint condition.

On our latest trips, we’ve stayed in the Premier Ocean View Room, and it’s been nothing short of beautiful.

The Premier Ocean View Room ensure you are on a high floor, providing picturesque views of the sunset from your balcony.

Sunset views from the balcony

Sunset views from the balcony

The Premier Ocean View Room is met with Westin’s signature “Heavenly Bed Mattress” -- and yes, it’s truly heavenly. If you struggle to fall asleep (and stay asleep) like me, you’ll get the best night’s sleep of your life:

Probably the best night of sleep I had in a long, long time.

Probably the best night of sleep I had in a long, long time.

The Premier bathroom is complete with a Jacuzzi tub and separate, glass-door shower and rain-shower head.

Lovely bathrooms at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

Lovely bathrooms at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

The vanity is bright and wood-stained, offering a double-sink to provide enough space for endless toiletries.

Clean, fancy bathrooms with double-sinks to keep your marriage alive and well. :)

Clean, fancy bathrooms with double-sinks to keep your marriage alive and well. :)

While you might not spend much time in your room at a place like this, it’s nice to kick back at the end of a long day in the sun in a comfortable, air-conditioned room with wonderful amenities.

Fitness Center and Gym at Hapuna Beach

Let’s face it: most fitness centers and gyms at hotels are very limited.

They are often small, crowded, and lack equipment variety needed for an enjoyable experience, especially if you are staying more than just a night or two.

As a fitness enthusiast myself, finding a gym that “has it all” is almost impossible at a resort.

At the newly remodeled Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, the brand-new, state of the art fitness center blew me away.

If you are into strength training, powerlifting, bodybuilding, CrossFit, or just looking to work up a nice sweat before hitting the beach (or buffet 😎), this gym has it all.

The new remodel brings the gym at Hapuna Beach from the Golf Course straight onto the fourth floor of the resort.

When you walk in, you’re instantly met with pristine Rogue fitness equipment, including a giant power rack, two barbells, Olympic weightlifting plates, kettlebells, and more:

Hammer Strength Power Racks, Barbells, Olympic Plates, and more.

Hammer Strength Power Racks, Barbells, Olympic Plates, and more.

This section of the fitness center is perfect for an intense workout.

On the other side of the gym, the Westin provides TRX training systems, a full cable machine, step-up machine, punching bag, and countless bodybuilding machines for your legs, back, chest, and more.

The machines and cardio equipment available at Westin Hapuna Beach

The machines and cardio equipment available at Westin Hapuna Beach

Just to the left in this picture are about a dozen cardio machines, including basic treadmills, stair-climbers, stationary bikes, ellipticals, and even two Peloton bikes.

Prefer using dumbbells for your workouts? Not a problem. This resort gym includes dumbbells that range from 5 to 50lbs (max) in weight:

The dumbbell section of the gym at Hapuna

The dumbbell section of the gym at Hapuna

If you need anything heavier, load up the barbells right behind you and perfect your squat with direct views of the ocean:

Getting a workout in with a prime view of the waves

Getting a workout in with a prime view of the waves

It’s safe to say that anyone can have a stellar workout here, and your fitness goals don’t have to be put on hold for vacation.

Pro tip: to beat the crowds, avoid using the gym first thing in the morning. When we stayed here, almost every piece of equipment was in use before breakfast. If you can, hit the gym anywhere from 2-6pm. Take a break from the heat and sun and you’ll have the gym all to yourself!

On-Site Food and Drink at Westin Hapuna Beach

On location at the resort is a plethora of food and drink options:

Room Service: In-Room Dining, 24 hours a day.

Buffet Breakfast: every morning at the Ikena Landing restaurant in the hotel is a wonderful breakfast buffet. It’s possibly one of the best Kelly and I have ever had.

It includes an omelet / egg station, fresh fruit, yogurt, juices, pastries, local cuisine (like loco-mocos), and more.

Formal dining: If you are looking for more formal, romantic settings, the Meridia is the spot to go to on-site. It’s a Mediterranean restaurant that serves island-inspired dishes.

Beach-Side Grub: If you prefer grabbing a bite near the pool or taking your food to the beach, you can hit the Paupaka Beach Grill, complete with salads, burgers, tacos, sandwiches, and more.

Drinks: At the Paupaka Beach Grill, you can get any drink you fancy at their bar and have it delivered pool-side. On the upper levels, grab a bar stool at Piko, a full bar and barista complete with 100% Kona coffee.

Big Island Location Guide

The Big Island’s leeward side isn’t exactly known for its vibrant city life like the streets of Waikiki Beach at night.

But for Kelly and I, that’s perfect.

While touristy, trendy spots can be enjoyable, we prefer to interact in areas that real locals enjoy and love themselves.

And on the Big Island, you’ll get plenty of that. But, even if you prefer the more touristy options, there are plenty nearby as well:

 

Just minutes down the road at the Waikoloa Beach Resort are the Kings and Queens shops, with everything from gift shops to grocery shopping, fast food, and formal dining:

If you prefer more locally trafficked spots as we do, here are some of our favorite spots to go.

Breakfast:

For breakfast, swing by Island Lava Java for a fresh stack of banana macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup.  

Banana macadamia nut pancakes at Island Lava Java Cafe — YUM

Banana macadamia nut pancakes at Island Lava Java Cafe — YUM

Lunch:

When the mid-day hunger hits you, fill up on fresh, local grass-fed beef burgers at Kohala Burger.
Craving something sweeter? Head to Tex Drive-In and grab a fresh, piping hot Malasada:

Fresh, fruit, jelly, and cream filled malasadas — the key to a balanced breakfast ;)

Fresh, fruit, jelly, and cream filled malasadas — the key to a balanced breakfast ;)

You’ll thank me later. And yes, it’s worth the drive!

Dinner:

For dinner, Kelly and I love to frequent the Lava Lava Beach Club for live music at sunset:

Sunset dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club

Sunset dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club

Which Side of the Big Island Has The Best Beaches?

The Big Island isn’t all beach paradise. In fact, tons of it is covered with lava rock instead of white-sand beaches.

If you are trying to decide which side of the island to stay at based on it’s beaches, look no further than Hapuna Beach.

Hapuna Beach is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches on earth.

While Hapuna Beach is also a state park, it’s divided into two distinct sections:

Half for public access and a half for resort access.

This ensures that the often crowded public access side doesn’t disturb the peace and quiet at the resort.

On the half a mile long Hapuna Beach, you can snag lounge chairs with umbrellas right on the beach, just steps away from the mostly calm water.

Relaxing at Hapuna Beach under the shade of umbrellas and the comfort of nice lounge chairs

Relaxing at Hapuna Beach under the shade of umbrellas and the comfort of nice lounge chairs

Depending on what season you visit, the waves may or may not exist. During the winter, swells can slam Hapuna beach, closing it down.

Most other parts of the year, Hapuna is a calm, protected beach with the occasional set of 2-3 foot waves to body-surf.

Pro tip: before you head to the breakfast buffet, check to see if the chairs and umbrellas have been set up. If they have, it’s first to come first serve, so be sure to grab the prime real estate!

As for the pools, the Westin’s new remodel brings both a kid-friendly and adult pool:

View from Ikena Landing out to both the kids and adult pools and the pristine Hapuna Beach

View from Ikena Landing out to both the kids and adult pools and the pristine Hapuna Beach

This is one reason why we love this resort. Want to splash around, jump in the pool, or bring a family of kids? You have a massive pool to do just that.

Want some romance, quiet time, and a secluded spot with a perfect view? Head to the adult pool and order a Mai Tai.

While Kelly and I personally don’t spend much time in the pool, as we prefer the ocean, they are both refreshing and well-maintained.

Westin Customer Service Rating

Customer service is a big deal for Kelly and I when traveling.

It’s critical that the staff are welcoming, friendly, open, and helpful.

Personally speaking from our experiences, customer service can make or break your stay.

And at Westin’s Hapuna Beach Resort, we’ve always experienced stellar customer service.

Here we will break down the pros and cons we experienced with customer service, housekeeping, and general staff!

Westin Hapuna Customer Service Pros:

  • Front desk employees are extremely welcoming and helpful

  • Bags are taken promptly to the room upon check-in and can be transported to your vehicle when checking out

  • Upon check-in, you receive fresh Hawaiian flower leis and freshly squeezed juice, along with a refreshingly cool towelette

  • Room services will complete nearly any request in minutes for new towels, shampoos, and more

  • The front-desk managers are always looking to provide a better experience. We’ve received upgrades on every stay simply by asking!

Westin Hapuna Customer Service Cons:

  • Room cleaning service can sometimes be unpredictable, even when calling ahead

Our Final Take: Is This Where You Should Stay on The Big Island?

If you are staying on the leeward side of the Big Island, the Westin Resort at Hapuna is hard to beat.

It’s got everything from pristine fitness equipment to friendly staff, large pools for both kids and adults, and one of the top rated beaches in the entire world at your feet.

So, what is our final take?

Yes, we highly recommend this resort for families, couples looking for a romantic getaway, or adventure lovers looking to take part in the fun activities on the Big Island.




Adventure For Less