The great venture capitalist Laurance S. Rockefeller could have developed a hotel anywhere he wanted in the Hawaiian islands and he chose Mauna Kea’s Kauna’oa Beach as the location for what would become the most expensive hotel ever built when it was opened in 1965 at a cost of $15M, with the undeniable most beautiful beach of our island. He constructed the first golf course on the Big Island, designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior who pioneered the seemingly impossible technique of growing delicate golfing grass out of inhospitable lava rock! The course was debuted on television with a match between The Big 3 Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and my favorite, Arnold Palmer. Until 1995 the hotel didn’t even offer televisions in the room as Rockefeller always believed this special place was meant to be enjoyed outdoors!
Today, the resort is home to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, a Marriott Autograph Collection property, the Westin Hapuna Beach Hotel, the Mauna Kea and Hapuna Golf Courses and a wide array of real estate options from the classic Mauna Kea Villas to the brand new, beach front Hapuna Residences. What hasn’t changed are the incredible 5-mountain views, ideal daily weather and the two best beaches in the state!
Real estate synopsis:
Condos prices start at approximately $800K to several million, with nightly vacation rentals allowed in most communities. Single family homes range from $3M to $40M+ and there are new properties currently being developed in the highlands of the resort with the first ones expected for completion in late 2021.
My favorite restaurants:
Manta – my favorite ocean front fine dining restaurant on the coast where you can watch the manta rays from your table or down at the coastline.
The Copper Bar – truly the best Mauna Kea Mule I’ve ever had because they make their own
My best Mauna Kea memory:
Being with my mom on Mauna Kea Beach drinking their famously potent Fredericos on her birthday when I had finally convinced her to move to the Big Island from Miami with my 92-year old grandmother!
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