The resort is beautiful, massive, and expensive. Did I say expensive? Because it is. Extremely expensive. You don’t want to feel like you lit money on fire if your kids don’t enjoy it. Is Hilton Waikoloa Village worth it for families?
Is Hilton Waikoloa Village Worth it for Families?: Things to Consider
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.
Is Hilton Waikoloa Village Worth it for Families?
1. Where is Hilton Waikoloa Village?
Hilton Waikoloa Village is located on the Kohala coast on the Big Island of Hawaii. The island is fairly spread out. You will need a rental car to see it, but that will be the case anywhere you stay. You have easy access to off-property restaurants and shopping from the resort. Traffic is rare.
Kona International Airport is less than 30 minutes away.
2. The Property is Massive
This property is huge. Like 62 acres and over 1,000 guest rooms huge. It is so large that it offers both a tram and boat to transport guests throughout it. If you have young kids, it is not walkable. You need a stroller.
3. Every Inch of the Ground is Beautiful
Why stay at Waikoloa Village? Because the property is gorgeous. Hard stop.
This hotel, from top to bottom, is stunning. Every inch of the property is beautiful. There are amazing water views, sea turtles, fish, dolphins, artwork, and well-maintained structures. No words can do it justice.
4. Parking Costs Are Obscene
You need a rental car to explore Hawaii. The hotel knows this. As of this writing, self-parking is $48 per night and valet is $55 per night.
If you don’t think you will use a car often, National Car Rental has a location at the resort. You can rent one for the day and not pay to park.
5. The Rooms Are Spacious
The property has two towers, Makai and Palace. Both have sizable rooms. Makai is more expensive, but it has larger rooms and a better location. It is worth the upcharge.
Pro tip: There are cute refillable water bags and a beach tote in your room.
Bonus pro tip: Check out our free Hawaii packing list.
The Palace Tower is close to the Lagoon and Nui Italian Restaurant. The tram is your best transportation option to the lobby.
The smallest rooms are 422 square feet and sleep four. You can get a view of the resort, golf course, or ocean. Suites are available.
The Makai Tower is located near the pool, Lagoon, spa, and luau. You can take a boat from the lobby area to the rooms if you don’t want to walk.
The smallest guest rooms are 530 square feet and sleep four. You can get a view of the ocean/Lagoon or resort. If your kid doesn’t plan to go to college, suites are available as well.
6. There is a Luau
There is an insanely expensive luau offered on select nights. Plan to drop almost a thousand dollars for a family of four. If this interests you, be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time. This sells out.
7. The Main Pools Are Pretty and Also Annoying
The pools on the property are beautiful, expansive, and unique. The main pools, Kohala and Kona, have a waterslide, a section with sand at the bottom, a grotto, hot tubs, and a bridge to allow you to walk over the top.
With that said, I have a few complaints:
There Are No Lifeguards
The pools have no lifeguards. I’m sure this was an intentional decision, probably to save money or insulate itself from liability. However, the pools need lifeguards.
At one point during our stay,
morons trying to impress girls they just met and will never see again teenagers were jumping from the bridge into the shallow water below. It was just a matter of time until they paralyzed themselves or someone else. Security came, and asked them for their room numbers, said teens refused to provide said room numbers, and security did nothing else.
You Have to Pay Extra for Most Loungers
The pools have a lot of seating, but not enough if you arrive in the middle of a crowded day. Meanwhile, a million loungers near the pools sit empty because no one wants to pay for them. Guests have already spent several hundred dollars per night to be there. Let them sit down.
The Waterslide Closes Well Before the Pools
The waterslide has limited hours. Guests who explore the island during the day and swim at night won’t be able to use it.
There is No Lazy River
The hotel’s website advertises a lazy river. There is no such lazy river.
The Hotel Sells Day Passes to the Pools
The pools get crowded during the day. Seating is limited. If the hotel is interested in maximizing the guest experience, packing the pools with more people who aren’t staying there doesn’t seem like the way to go.
The Towel Situation is Weird
There are machines that dispense towels that are not of high quality. The machines warn that if you do not return the towels, you will be charged. However, you scan your room key, open the machine, and take as many as you want. I’m not sure how they could be tracking towel returns. The consensus among the guests was that they weren’t. I don’t know this for sure.
The towel machine makes one feel nickeled and dimed. Guests pay a lot of money to stay at the hotel. Is a probably empty threat to charge them if they don’t return one low-quality towel really necessary? It would be nice to walk back to your room and leave the towel for housekeeping without fear of an extra charge.
8. There is No Beach
The property has a view of a gorgeous beach, but you can’t swim in it. It is filled with giant rocks. If you want to play in the sand, you are limited to the Lagoon.
9. The Lagoon is Amazing
Can you swim in the Hilton Waikoloa Lagoon? You sure can.
You can’t access the beach naturally, but there is a manmade Lagoon that is nothing short of amazing. It has a waterfall, tons of fish, and giant sea turtles swimming freely. Here, you can rent several things including pedal boats, kayaks, snorkel equipment, and paddleboards.
There is a very small amount of sand to play in near the water, but this is not a beach. Visit this area to splash in the saltwater and see the turtles.
10. You Can Swim with Dolphins
The resort has dolphins on the property. You can meet and swim with them. Be sure to book ahead of time.
Pro tip: The dolphins enter the Lagoon a few times a week to put on a short presentation for guests. If you have a Lagoon view room, you will be able to see it from your balcony. Check the schedule at the time of your visit.
11. Classes Are Included
The steep resort fee ($45 per night) includes classes. Check the activity schedule at the time of your visit. Options may include lei-making, spin class, and paddleboard yoga. Kids are allowed to attend.
12. Hilton Waikoloa Village Restaurants Are Expensive
The resort has several dining options. The fast food is cheaper than the table service, but none of it is overly cheap. If you have a resort credit because of your Hilton Honors status, you can use it everywhere except Waikoloa Coffee Company.
If you have access to a car, there are plenty of dining options off the property.
Pro tip: The resort has communal microwaves in several locations.
Kamuela Provision Company
Kamuela Provision Company is an expensive table service restaurant with an ocean view serving things like steak and seafood. Do not visit with kids.
Kona Tap Room
Kona Tap Room is largely a bar that also has a small appetizer menu. None of the items scream “kid-friendly.”
The Lagoon Chill is a quick-service restaurant near the Lagoon that serves ice cream and Dole Whips.
Lagoon Grill & Bar
The Lagoon Grill is a quick-service restaurant near the Lagoon that is open for lunch. It serves things like burgers and poke bowls.
Nui Italian is a table service restaurant that serves pizza and pasta. You can take food to go and also get it delivered to your room. Gluten-free pasta is available.
Pro tip: You can order half pizzas.
Orchid Marketplace is a quick-service restaurant in the pool area serving things like pizza and salad.
Shaka Cones is an ice cream parlor near the pool that also makes breakfast shakes.
Waikoloa Coffee Company
Starbucks Waikoloa Coffee Company is a quick service with coffee, breakfast bowls, and pastries.
Note: You cannot use a resort credit here.
Water’s Edge Breakfast Buffet
There is a breakfast buffet near the lobby at Water’s Edge. Spoiler alert: It’s not worth it. At all. The food selection is limited. Nothing about the experience justifies the $50 per person cost.
13. There is Onsite Laundry
The resort has laundry facilities. You don’t need to leave to wash clothes.
14. There is Plenty to Do Off-Property
The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places we have ever been. You must, I repeat MUST, have a rental car to fully experience the island. You can drive around the island in a day, but some attractions are as far as a couple of hours away. Try to stack activities to minimize driving throughout your trip.
Some highlights include:
Volcano National Park
Volcano National Park has volcanoes, complete with lava depending upon the day. It will take you the better part of two hours to get there from the hotel, so plan to commit the majority of the day to this excursion.
Night Manta Ray Snorkeling
You can snorkel with manta rays at night. The lights shined upon them make the manta rays look like they are glowing in the dark. The manta rays get so close that you are likely to kick one on accident. It is awesome, with a few caveats with kids:
- The seas are rough. Seriously consider Dramamine ahead of time.
- There are no life jackets. You read that right. No life jackets. Instead, you hold onto a platform with your hands and place a noodle under your legs. I spent the entire time squeezing my kids’ hands on the platform terrified that they would somehow slip away.
- This excursion takes place late at night and in the dark.
This experience was like nothing else I have ever done, but if I had the decision to make again, I would have probably skipped it with kids.
Mauna Kea Volcano
You can drive to the visitor center which is a decent distance up the volcano. You can drive to the summit in a four-wheel drive car, but it is a long ride on a dangerous road. The visitor center should be sufficient. You can visit during the day or stargaze at night.
You can zipline through the jungle. Check weight requirements to ensure your kid will make the cut.
Punalu’u Beach is on the opposite side of the island. It will take you over two hours each way to visit from the hotel. However, this beach was the single best thing we did on the island. The sand is black and sea turtles are everywhere. If you can stomach the drive, this is a must-do.
Kula Kai Caverns
Kula Kai Caverns is a lava tube system. You must enter with a tour group. You cannot go on your own. It is almost two hours from the hotel, but if you are interested in lava tubes, it is worth a visit.
Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls is a relatively easy hike in a circle with views of waterfalls. There is a per car charge to enter, $30 as of the time we visited. Do not waste money on a tour. You can do this on your own. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the park from the hotel.
Rainbow Falls is a large waterfall that is free to visit.
15. There Are Ways to Save
This hotel is expensive, but there are ways to save. Do not pay full price.
The hotel runs regular promotions. Check the offerings at the time of your trip.
Pro tip: Hilton offers military discounts.
Note: You typically will not earn points with Hilton when you book this way, but you may be able to collect points from the third-party site.
You can sometimes find hotel deals through Groupon. It isn’t always the best deal, so compare prices before booking.
Join the Free Hilton Honors Program
Hilton Honors is Hilton’s program designed to reward guest loyalty. Perks vary based on status, but at a minimum, you can get discounted rates and free Wi-Fi. If you take out a credit card or stay a few nights, you can also get free bottled water and an $18 dining credit for up to two guests ($36 total) per night.
Use Miles and Points
Miles and points will save you a ton of money on travel. If you haven’t started collecting them, you should seriously consider it.
Hilton Honors Credit Cards
American Express has a line of Hilton credit cards that earn Hilton Honors points and free night certificates. The Surpass gets you automatic Gold status, which comes with a dining credit, and the Aspire gives you Diamond status, which gets you a dining credit and more.
Pro tip: If you are a little short on the Hilton Honors points you need to reserve this stay, you can purchase them. This is generally not the most cost-effective decision, but it is something to consider if you are close.
Bonus pro tip: If you stay with Hilton points, you do not have to pay the resort fee.
American Express Membership Rewards Points
Membership Rewards are American Express points. You can earn them through several different cards.
You can either book this hotel directly through American Express’ travel portal or transfer your points to Hilton and book directly with the hotel. Do the math to determine what makes more sense, but transferring is almost always the way to go.
Use the American Express Travel Portal
Hilton Waikoloa Village is part of American Express’ Hotel Collection. As of the time of this writing, if you book through the American Express travel portal, you will get a $100 experience credit per night that can be used toward food and a room upgrade (subject to availability).
You can book this hotel through Chase’s travel portal using Ultimate Rewards points. These points can be earned with the Sapphire and Freedom lines of cards.
Note: Chase has a 5/24 rule. If you have taken out or been listed as an authorized user on five or more cards in the last 24 months, you may be declined.
Pro tip: You can earn bonuses on the same card more than once. You qualify for a bonus every 48 months as long as you don’t have any Sapphire card open at the time you apply.
You can book this hotel through Citi’s travel portal using Citi ThankYou points. These points can be earned with multiple cards with a variety of annual fees.
Capital One Venture cards earn Rewards Miles. You can book through the Capital One Travel Portal, or book directly with the hotel and then erase the charge from your statement using your Rewards Miles.
Pro tip: If the price is the same, booking directly with the hotel is better than through a travel portal. You will earn loyalty points with the hotel.
Final Thoughts – Is Hilton Waikoloa Village Worth it for Families?
The resort is expensive. Is Hilton Waikoloa Village worth it for families? Without a doubt, it is. It isn’t perfect, but the pools, rooms, Lagoon, activities, and beauty of the resort justify the price.
Hawaii is expensive. You committed to a long flight to get there. You might as well spend a little more to stay somewhere amazing. Search for the best deal and enjoy your trip.
Visit Hawaii with kids. You will not regret it.