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Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii’s Big Island [In-depth Review]

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Chris Hassan
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Chris Hassan

Social Media & Brand Manager

218 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 24U.S. States Visited: 26

Chris holds a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management and managed social media for all Marriott properties in South America, making him a perfect fit for UP and its social media channels. He has a ...
Edited by: Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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There is so much to see and do in Hawaiʻi. When my family and I visited for the first time, we focused on the islands of O‘ahu and Maui, but for our return trip, we knew we needed to add a new island to the itinerary. After much research, we decided it would be the Island of Hawaiʻi — also known as The Big Island.

Once the island was chosen, I moved on to searching for hotels that I could book with points. It was clear that my options were mostly limited to Hilton and Marriott properties. Since I had more Hilton Honors points available, the Hilton Waikoloa Village was an easy choice.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village is a massive property, and I had read mixed reviews, but with a fifth night free and some (limited) elite benefits, I figured it was worth trying out.

Let’s look at how my 5-night stay as a family of 4 with 2 young kids was!

Hotel Location

Hilton Waikoloa Village driveway sign
Hilton Waikoloa Village driveway sign.

The 1,241-room Hilton Waikoloa Village is located on 62 acres of Hawaiian paradise on the Kohala Coast of Hawaiʻi’s Big Island. If you’ve never been to the Big Island, the terrain can be wildly different from what you may have experienced on other islands or even parts of the same island.

The property is about 20 miles from the Kona International Airport (KOA) and took us about 25 minutes in a taxi without traffic. The drive is pretty much a straight shot down the highway with a rolling view of the ocean and sprawling lava fields. The hardened, black lava makes you feel like you are on a different planet, especially coming from places like Maui and O‘ahu.

Big Island Hawaii lava fields
The lava fields looked like the moon!

The resort is located inside Waikoloa Village, which is a massive hotel, residence, dining, and retail development. With markets and restaurants, this is a relatively convenient option when you want to get away from the resort for a bit.

Booking

Hilton Waikoloa Village award rate
Image Credit: Hilton

I had been saving up my Hilton Honors points for a good redemption, and this was a pretty good opportunity.

My wife and I both have the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which is one of my favorite cards at the moment because it comes with a long list of benefits including complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond elite status and up to a $400 Hilton resort annual statement credit — both of which came in very handy for this stay.

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Automatic Hilton Diamond status, an annual free night, and a travel and resort credit make this the perfect card for those who stay in Hilton hotels.

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Automatic Hilton Diamond status, an annual free night, and a travel and resort credit make this the perfect card for those who stay in Hilton hotels.
Earn 175,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 7/31/2024.
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Paying hundreds of dollars for an annual fee on a co-branded hotel card might seem ridiculous, but you should know that the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is much more than your run-of-the-mill hotel credit card.

The Hilton Aspire card is not only a phenomenal card for Hilton Honors loyalists, but even those who visit Hilton hotels just a few times a year can still get excellent value out of all the benefits that are packed into this card.

So let’s have a look at what makes the card so valuable to travelers.

Pros
  • 14x points per $1 on Hilton purchases
  • 7x points per $1 on select travel and at U.S. restaurants
  • 3x points per $1 on all other purchases
Cons
    • High annual fee of $550
  • Earn 175,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 7/31/2024.
  • Earn 14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points when you make eligible purchases on your card at participating hotels or resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for eligible purchases: on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for other purchases on your card.
  • Enjoy up to $400 in Hilton Resort Credits (up to $200 in statement credits semi-annually) on your card each anniversary year when you stay at participating resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Enjoy complimentary Diamond status.
  • $550 annual fee.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 20.99% - 29.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Hilton Honors Points

The Hilton Waikoloa Village, like all Hilton properties, does not have a fixed award pricing. However, there are unpublished caps to standard room prices across different brands. At this location, 70,000 points per night is the best-case scenario. 

Since Hilton offers a fifth night free when paying with points, I booked a 5-night reservation for a total of 280,000 Hilton Honors points. 

I didn’t have all those points in my account, so I quickly pooled points with my wife online, which is a great feature of the Hilton Honors program.

Plus, guests staying on award nights get the $45 daily resort fee waived.

Apparently, I was quite lucky because after I booked, no more award nights were available and even paying cash was only available because of the Diamond status’ 48-hour room guarantee.

Cash rates jumped up to over $1,000 per night during our visit, so that made this redemption even sweeter. It turns out there was a massive convention at the hotel, which was quite rowdy, so it wasn’t that sweet.

Regardless, I got almost 2 cents per point, which is almost 4x what we value Hilton points at, so I was pumped.

For incidentals, we used my wife’s Hilton Aspire card so that we could trigger her annual resort credit as mine had already been used up on a previous trip to the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. That card also earned us 14x points per $1 spent on all of our incidental charges and then they were reimbursed — good deal!

Checking In

Since we were arriving via taxi, the driver knew exactly where to go and we were quickly dropped at the main entrance after cruising through the perfectly manicured Waikoloa Village.

One of the benefits of not having a rental car was that we avoided the $44 self-parking fee and $55 for valet.

The staff was friendly and helpful, grabbed our bags, and even stored our car seats so we didn’t have to leave them in the room. When I gave the bellman my name, he welcomed me with a big smile and told me that I could take the train straight to the Ocean Tower.

Hilton Waikoloa Village lobby
The lobby is big and open-air.

Based on his confidence about my room location, I was impressed that the hotel was waiting for Diamond members, and I started to think I had received a nice upgrade. However, 20 minutes later, when we finally made it to the Ocean Tower, we were told our room was in the Palace Tower (next door), but we still had to go back to the front desk to check in. A long trek.

So, needless to say, the bellman thought I was someone else.

This trek gave us a chance to get a quick overview of the property before arriving in our room, which I suppose could be seen as a positive.

It was immediately clear that this was a huge property; the boat and train transportation leaves little doubt. However, it was surprisingly easy to navigate since it’s pretty much in the shape of a big horseshoe.

Hilton Waikoloa Village boat and bridge
The boat in the middle of the lobby was a big hit with my kids.

But it is big. About 40 minutes after arriving, we finally made it back to the front desk to start the check-in process.

Elite Benefits

As I mentioned above, my wife and I are both Hilton Honors Diamond elite members, which is the top-tier elite status with Hilton.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai key
We were upgraded to the Makai Tower.

Although the program has a lot to be desired, we did enjoy some benefits during our stay.

The Hilton Honors Diamond elite benefits at the Hilton Waikoloa Village were:

  • Room upgrade upon availability
  • 1,000 Hilton Honors points per stay
  • $18 daily food and beverage credit, up to 2 guests
  • Premium Wi-Fi

Since there was no lounge at this property (which is a Diamond benefit, when available), the $18 did not go very far.

Room Upgrade

However, we received a very nice upgrade from a Standard Room in the Palace Tower to a Makai Ocean Front 2 Queen room.

Hilton Waikoloa Village room view
The view from our room.

This upgrade was not proactive, but once Nathan at the front desk learned that we went on a 40-minute self-guided tour to try and check-in, and the fact that we were celebrating my birthday, he put us in this excellent room.

Although it was still a standard-sized room (not a suite), the location was excellent and it was recently renovated.

He also gave me a voucher for 2 complimentary drinks as a hauʻoli lā hānau (happy birthday), which I happily accepted.

Hilton Waikoloa Village free drink
Birthday drinks!

Drinks are expensive at Hawaiian resorts!

Resort Fee

For guests that aren’t staying on an award night, there is a $45 per day resort fee.

Hilton Waikoloa Village leis
Our room came with welcome leis.

The daily resort charge includes:

  • $10 off Hawaii Nautical Sail
  • 20% off toy rentals at the lagoon
  • 4×8 keepsake photo
  • Daily fitness and yoga classes
  • Hula, lei making, and ukulele lessons
  • Kids’ pool activities and scavenger hunt
  • Local and toll-free calls
  • PlayStation 3 movies and game rentals
  • Wi-Fi

This is pretty standard for resorts in Hawaiʻi, with some cultural classes and a list of random perks the hotel can provide for little to no cost — or make money off of, such as the photo session upsell.

Late Checkout

Late checkout is not a guaranteed perk for Hilton Honors Diamond elite members. However, we didn’t need one because the standard 12 p.m. checkout gave us enough time to have a relaxing morning before heading to the airport.

Amenities

One of the biggest attractions, as well as a source of complaints, is the sheer size of the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

There is no sugarcoating it; this property is massive. So big, in fact, that a tram and a boat system are used to shuttle guests throughout the property. That said, is it not as overwhelming as other properties of a similar size.

Within the first day, my family and I had a pretty good grasp of what was at the resort and how to navigate it.

And what was there? A lot!

Pools

At a Hawaiian resort, you expect some pools, and there were some great ones at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Since there was no (natural) beach on the property, which is common on this part of the island, the pools (and lagoon) were the only places to cool off on a hot day.

Kona Pool

The Kona Pool was the main pool at the resort and (technically) is the largest pool on the island of Hawaiʻi.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Kona Pool view
Kona Pool at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

This pool had 3 main sections:

The first section had a 175-foot waterslide and pool area. The minimum height for the waterslide was 42 inches.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Kona Pool
Kona Pool with waterslide.

A long rope bridge crossed over the middle section.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Kona Pool bridge
Kona Pool bridge.

And the final section faded into a sandy beach for small children.

Hilton Waikoloa Village kids sand pool
Kona Pool kids’ beach.

This pool, in general, was an excellent spot to hang out, and it was convenient because it was located right outside Makai Tower, where our room was located.

However, there was a massive 3-week conference at the hotel, and the pool area was quite rowdy.

The Preferred Pump crew certainly knew how to have a good time with a DJ, bellyflop competitions, and their own private bar. They reserved pretty much all of the pool chairs early in the morning, so it was not a very comfortable experience at times for a family.

When I mentioned this to the hotel, they apologized but didn’t offer a solution.

As a former hotel employee, I certainly understand how valuable these types of groups are, but as a guest, they can be frustrating.

Kona Pool was open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the water slide was open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kohala Pool

The Kohala Pool was located near the Ocean Tower and had a more relaxed and secluded vibe.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Kohala Pool
Kohala Pool

Here we found a collection of small pools and a few water slides.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Kohala pool slide
Kohala pool waterslides.

The water slides were more family-friendly, so this was a nice spot for us to hang out. Plus there were some great views of the ocean.

Kohala Pool was open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the water slides were as open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ocean Tower Adult Pool

Tucked inside the Ocean Tower, the adult pool allowed adults to relax without worrying about kids splashing around them.

This adults-only spot was small compared to the other pools but popular with some people.

The Ocean Tower Adult Pool was open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Lagoon

Even though there was no natural beach, there was a lagoon. It was a saltwater oasis with all of the wildlife of the ocean, but in a protected area, so waves were not an issue — which was great for small kids.

Hilton Waikoloa Village lagoon
Hilton Waikoloa Village lagoon.

The 4-acre lagoon was connected to the ocean but had man-made waterfalls and was home to plenty of fish, sea turtles, and more.

Hilton Waikoloa Village waterfall
Hilton Waikoloa Village lagoon waterfall.

Guests could rent kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling gear, and more to explore this fun spot.

Hilton Waikoloa Village lagoon view
Hilton Waikoloa Village lagoon.

The soft sand, and warm (and calm) water, made this one of my kids’ favorite spots at the hotel.

The lagoon was open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Hot Tip: If you prefer to pack your own gear, check out our guide to the best snorkels, masks, fins, and snorkel sets.

Cabanas

Throughout the resort, there were various styles of cabanas available for rent.

Hilton Waikoloa Village cabana
Hilton Waikoloa Village cabana.

From luxury daybeds to super cabanas, you have plenty of options if you want a little bit more luxury by the pool.

Cabanas start at $175 per day and can be reserved online.

Cultural Classes

Cultural classes are some of my family’s favorite activities and memory makers.

Getting hands-on experiences is a great way for parents and kids to learn about the Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures.

The resort offered ukulele lessons, lei-making, and kukui bracelet-making. My wife and daughter took a ukulele lesson one morning and found it a bit more advanced than some of the other lessons they had taken.

You can view the cultural class schedules online.

Kohala Spa

Like any good Hawaiian resort, there was a full spa at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Kohala Spa
Hilton Waikoloa Village Kohala Spa.

The Kohala Spa, in the basement of the Makai Tower, offered plenty of treatments, including private fitness classes, recovery sessions, massages, scrubs, and wraps.

Guests can research and book spa appointments online.

Fitness Center

The 24-hour fitness center was in the back corner of the Kohala Spa. The location was a good indication of how much thought was put into this gym.

Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center entrance
Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center entrance.

There was a damp hallway that led to the fitness center, and the equipment was separated into 2 rooms.

The first room was long, narrow, and stuffed with treadmills and other elliptical equipment. It had no natural light, views, or ventilation.

Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center treadmills
Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center treadmills.

It was no surprise this room was empty each time I visited.

The other room had the same footprint but had free weights and other equipment.

Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center
Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center.

The weights and mirrors were perfectly fine.

Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center weights
Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center free weights.

But the other exercise equipment showed its age and was rusting in many places.

Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center squat
A very rusty squat rack.

Overall, this was one of the worst hotel gyms I have used in recent memory. There’s little motivation to stay in the gym and I just wanted to get my workout done and leave. That probably isn’t a bad thing in Hawaiʻi, I suppose.

There was a third room that was closed and had a Peloton bike in it. It appeared the hotel was getting ready to open or reopen it shortly.

Hilton Waikoloa Village fitness center Peloton
A third, locked room.

Fitness Classes

If you prefer fresh air with your workout, complimentary fitness classes were available throughout the resort.

From paddleboard yoga, sunset yoga, tai chi, and more, there were some great options for moving outdoors.

My wife and daughter did paddleboard yoga early on our last day. It was in the lagoon, and they loved it. They wished they had done it earlier and more often during our visit.

Tennis and Pickleball

Located behind the Kohala Spa and Makai Tower was the pickleball (tennis) court.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Tennis Pickleball
Hilton Waikoloa Village tennis and pickleball court.

With stadium-style bleachers on each side of the court, this looked like a fun place to play.

The court cost $20 per hour or $25 with rental equipment.

Laundry

Parents will appreciate a good laundry facility, especially on an extended vacation.

You won’t find one at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, unfortunately.

There were only 3 machines in our tower, and 1 was broken. A credit card reader wasn’t working (no tap to pay), and the detergent was cash only.

Nowadays, I only carry cash for tipping. I guess I need to add laundry detergent money, too.

Magic Memories Photos

If you have visited a resort in Hawaiʻi, you have probably seen the signs for “free photo shoots” or something along those lines.

After not investigating this on our previous trip, we inquired about the details at Magic Memories at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The photographer told us it was a quick, free, 30-minute scheduled photo session with an upcharge for sunrise or sunset photos, and we could select 1 photo for a free print. We would also have the option to purchase any of the digital photos online as well, with no sales pressure.

We figured 30 minutes for a free photo was a good deal, so we made an appointment for the following day.

Hilton Waikoloa Village photoshoot
Magic Memories photoshoot.

Needless to say, we loved the experience. The photographer was great and took us (quickly) around the best spots in the resort and captured some beautiful family photos that we now cherish.

After the photoshoot, she gave us a code to see our photos online and told us to pick up our print at her desk later that day. Of course, we forgot to grab it.

But we loved the photos so much that we bought all 70+ digital versions for $147, which I thought was extremely reasonable. There was no sales pressure.

Hilton Waikoloa Village family photos
The midday sun was bright, but we loved the photos. Image Credit: Magic Memories

For comparison, the Hyatt Regency Maui wanted to charge over $300 for 3 photos!

Bottom Line: The free photo shoot at the Hilton Waikoloa Village was easily worth it for the free photo, but buying digital photos was a great deal!

Dolphin Quest

One of the biggest attractions at the Hilton Waikoloa Village was Dolphin Quest.

Hilton Waikoloa Village dolphin sign
Hilton Waikoloa Village Dolphin Quest.

As you might imagine, having dolphins in captivity at a resort can be polarizing, but from what we could see (and after some quick research online), the dolphins appeared healthy and well cared for.

Dolphin Quest is the only dolphin interaction of its kind on the Big Island, and it allows for education and study. Guests can pay for encounters, and the funds are used for research.

Hilton Waikoloa Village dolphin habitat
Hilton Waikoloa Village dolphin habitat.

We didn’t participate in any dolphin encounters, but we did hang out by the habitat to see these beautiful animals up close. And, I’m not going to lie; it was pretty cool to see the dolphins swimming and jumping around right from the hotel balcony.

Hilton Waikoloa Village dolphin view
The view of the dolphin pool from our room.

If you are interested, you can reserve a dolphin encounter online starting at $210 per person.

Trams and Boats

If you ask my kids, the absolute highlight of the Hilton Waikoloa Village was not the pool, stunning views, or dolphins and turtles. It was the tram and boats!

Hilton Waikoloa Village tram
Hilton Waikoloa Village tram.

Due to the sheer size of the resort, getting from each end to the other took some time. While arguably not faster than walking if you end up sitting and waiting for a ride, taking the boat or train was a more relaxing (and fun) way to get around. And it is great for those with mobility issues or kids who get tired easily.

Hilton Waikoloa Village map
Hilton Waikoloa Village map.

The tram was air-conditioned and ran from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m. It was easy enough to board with all our luggage at checkout.

Hilton Waikoloa Village boy on tram
My son loved riding the tram.

The boat was a bit slower and had a relaxed atmosphere to it. One evening we took our drinks to go and cruised the resort a bit, and we weren’t the only ones with that idea.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai Tower river
Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai Tower and boat.

The boats ran from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Waikoloa Beach Golf

Golf and Hawaiʻi are a great match. And Waikoloa Beach Golf inside the Waikoloa Village complex makes it easy for guests to get some swings in.

With ocean views and volcanic backdrops, these fairways are beautiful and entertaining for both advanced and intermediate golfers alike.

There are 3 9-hole golf courses to choose from (or combine): Beach Nine, Lakes Nine, and Kings’ Nine — and you can book tee times online.

Museum Walkway

One of the more surprising amenities and design features was the museum walkway.

Hilton Waikoloa Village walking museum walkway
Hilton Waikoloa Village Museum Walkway

Throughout the mile-long walk from one end of the resort to the other, there were over 1,800 pieces of artwork from around the Pacific Islands.

Hilton Waikoloa Village museum exhibit
Hilton Waikoloa Village Museum Walkway exhibit.

With everything from artifacts to statues, we felt like we were walking through a museum each time we passed through the walkway — which was awesome.

National Car Rental

Inside the hotel was a National Car Rental agency.

This was a huge bonus for us because I could not get a rental car at the airport after changing our hotel dates. I consider myself quite travel savvy, but I had no luck and took a taxi to and from the airport.

On the first day at the hotel, I stopped by to inquire about renting a car for 1 day to explore the island. I was told that cars were sold out, but I could be added to a waitlist, which I signed up for.

Hilton Waikoloa Village National minivan rental
National minivan.

The following day, I stopped in again to check the probability, and it wasn’t looking good. I mentioned that I was a National Emerald Club Executive elite member, and the agent told me that if I made a booking via the website (not via the app), it would override their system, and the airport would send them a car.

So that is exactly what I did, and the following morning a nice minivan (upgraded, too!) was waiting for us!

Wi-Fi

A frequent pain point during our stay was the weak Wi-Fi throughout the resort.

We would only get a consistent signal in the room, and although the speed test showed 28 Mbps, it felt fake because nothing would open.

Hilton Waikoloa Village internet speed
Hilton Waikoloa Village wireless internet speed.

My wife and I constantly switched between Wi-Fi and cellular service to get simple tasks done.

Shopping

Whether you are looking for a souvenir from the Big Island or need something to make your trip a bit more comfortable, there are plenty of options at the hotel or nearby.

Inside the hotel was jewelry at Na Hoku, women’s luxury clothing at Journey, snacks and souvenirs at Dancing Dolphins and Big Island Marketplace, and Hawaiian gifts at Things Hawaiian.

And if you want to stroll around an outdoor shopping center, Queens’ Marketplace and Kings’ Shops were just a walk or short drive from the hotel and had plenty of shopping and dining options.

The hotel offered a shopping shuttle to the marketplace and shops for $5 per person each way.

Hot Tip: Grab dinner and drinks at the Lava Lava Beach Club during sunset. The food is ok, but the live music and vibes are excellent! 

The Room

I booked a standard room in the Palace Tower and was upgraded to a Makai Ocean Front 2 Queen room during check-in.

Hilton Waikoloa Village queen beds
Makai Ocean Front 2 Queen room.

This worked out great for us because not only was it a nicer, recently renovated room with a view, but it was also closer to the Kona Pool and Children’s Sand Pool, spa, and fitness center — plus it had a view of the dolphins!

The room was relatively close to the self-parking lot, which would have been convenient if we’d needed to park. The distance from the parking lot was a common complaint we heard from people staying in the other towers.

And it wasn’t as far from the main lobby as the Palace Tower when we didn’t feel like waiting for a tram or boat.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai tower hallway
Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai Tower hallway.

Plus, we got these nice bracelets to identify us as guests, while other towers had to wear uncomfortable plastic wristbands that couldn’t be removed without cutting. Ours became a nice souvenir, too.

Hilton Waikoloa Village bracelet
Makai bracelet.

I was assigned room 4323 on the fourth floor, which was about halfway between the 2 available elevators located on opposite ends of the tower.

Hilton Waikoloa Village room door
Hilton Waikoloa Village room door.

If you are coming by boat, tram, or directly from the pool area, you will likely take the elevator at the far end of the building.

On the website, the room is listed as 530 square feet (49 square meters), which is a decent size for a hotel room, and we were quite comfortable as a family of 4 for 5 nights.

Walking into the room, there was a closet and then a small bathroom on the left-hand side.

Hilton Waikoloa Village room entrance
Hilton Waikoloa Village room entrance.

Between the bathroom and guest room, there was a cabinet with a Keurig coffee maker and an ice bucket on top.

Hilton Waikoloa Village coffee maker
Hilton Waikoloa Village coffee maker.

There was also a minifridge inside.

Hilton Waikoloa Village fridge
Hilton Waikoloa Village fridge.

Bedroom

The bedroom area was comfortable and felt more updated than the photos reflect.

Hilton Waikoloa Village queen beds Makai
Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai queen beds.

The 2 queen beds were perfectly comfortable, and the air conditioning cranked out cold air on demand whenever we didn’t have the balcony open.

Across from the beds was a good-sized desk with an office chair and a lounge chair with an ottoman. Those and the balcony chairs gave us plenty of seating options when we wanted to have a snack in the room.

Hilton Waikoloa Village desk
Makai room desk.

Next to the desk were some drawers and a 50-inch LCD TV.

Hilton Waikoloa Village room tv
Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai room TV.

Balcony

Our favorite part of the room was easily the balcony.

Hilton Waikoloa Village bed and door
A great view to wake up to.

There were 2 chairs, a small table, and many things to look at.

Hilton Waikoloa Village room balcony
Makai room balcony.

Whether just staring out into the ocean, watching the dolphins splash around, or checking to see how busy the pool was, there was always something to see.

Bathroom

The bathroom was nice and well-designed, very similar to other Hawaiian hotels we have stayed at.

The double sinks were open to the rest of the room, and there was a sliding door to give the shower and toilet area more privacy.

Hilton Waikoloa Village bathroom
Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai bathroom.

There was a shower and tub combo, which was nice to have with kids, but it was not a very luxurious experience — especially with a large shower curtain that blocked the only light source.

Hilton Waikoloa Village toilet
Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai room shower.

One thing to note was the excellent housekeeping staff.

The information said that our room would be serviced every 5 days (not ideal, but good to set expectations).

Hilton Waikoloa Village toiletries
Hilton Waikoloa Village Makai toiletries.

However, our room was serviced on the third day, and the staff was available if we needed extra towels, soap, coffee, or other supplies.

Food and Beverage

If my wife and I had to pick one area to complain about at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, it would be the food and beverage offerings — not including the luau, which was simply incredible.

Despite having plenty of dining options, we generally felt they were either too expensive, poor quality, or a combination of the 2. Plus, the weak Hilton Honors Diamond elite benefits meant that breakfast wasn’t included, and there was no lounge to grab snacks from — something we miss when we don’t stay at Hyatt properties as top-tier World of Hyatt Globalists.

We did have some good meals, and the shops were a short drive away, so there were choices available. Here is what you can expect on the property.

Kamuela Provision Company

Kanuela Provision Co. is the fine dining option at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Perched up on lava rocks, this was a beautiful place to enjoy a nice meal and watch the sun set over the ocean.

Hilton Waikoloa Village sunset
Hilton Waikoloa Village sunset.

Reservations and proper attire were required, so we did not have dinner there during our stay. However, bar seating was a bit more relaxed if you want to check it out without sitting for a full meal.

Kamuela Provision Company was open daily from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Nui Italian

Nui Italian & Lounge is an Italian restaurant with a great indoor and outdoor space and a to-go window.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Nui Italian
Nui Italian.

We stopped by 1 evening for a table, but since we were in pool attire, we were asked to change before returning to put our name down for a table. It was quite busy. Instead of making a 40-minute round-trip walk to the room, we ordered some pizza and salad to take back to the room.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Nui Italian grass
Nui Italian lawn.

Everything we ordered was excellent. Our busy schedule meant we didn’t have time to try for dinner again (dressed appropriately), but this restaurant was worth visiting.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Nui Italia pizza
Nui Italian pizza.

Plus, Nui Italian serves coffee, smoothies, and pastries in the morning for breakfast. But since it was on the other side of the resort, we never made it over.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Nui Italian to go
Nui Italian takeout window.

Nui Italian was open daily for breakfast from 7 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Lagoon Grill

Lagoon Grill is your typical Hilton hotel burger spot, but not in a good way.

The location was nice, right near the dolphins, but birds completely overran it. There was poop all over the tables and chairs, and my son lost his hot dog to a bird when he wasn’t holding it firmly enough, and it was snatched.

The staff was friendly enough, but besides the lost hot dog (which was quite good), the rest of the food was not worth it. My wife ordered the burger, which was “meh,” and I got the chicken katsu sandwich that was so greasy I could barely eat it.

Hilton Waikoloa Village bar burger
Lagoon Grill burger and sweet potato fries.

This was our first meal at the hotel, so not a great start, but it did get better.

Lagoon Grill was open daily from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Waikoloa Coffee Co.

Waikoloa Coffee Co. was our go-to spot for breakfast each morning, as it had some great smoothies, croissants, and more.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Waikoloa Coffee Co
The Waikoloa Coffee Co. location in the Makai Tower.

With 2 locations on the property, we visited the one right next to the elevator in Makai Tower, which was quite convenient.

Our breakfast order generally included an açai bowl and some pastries, and we made coffee in the room.

Hilton Waikoloa Village acai
Açai with a view.

The only negative was that we could not charge our order to the room to trigger the daily food and beverage credit.

Waikoloa Coffee Co. was open daily from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Kona Tap Room

The Kona Tap Room is for you if you are looking for a Hawaiian-theme sports bar.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Kona Tap Room
Kona Tap Room.

Located right off the main lobby, the bar serves snacks, appetizers, and plenty of Kona Brewing beer, paired with many TVs. The menu and bar menu are available online.

The Kona Tap Room was open daily from 4:30 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Kona Pool Bar

A good resort pool deserves a good pool bar, and the Kona Pool Bar fits that description.

Located towards the back of the Kona Pool, near the bridge, the Kona Pool Bar is where you go to grab piña coladas, beer, smoothies, and more.

The Kona Pool Bar was open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Orchid Marketplace

If you want quick bites, like sandwiches and salads, to go, Orchid Marketplace is a solid option.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Orchid Marketplace
Orchid Marketplace.

Located right by the Kona Pool, it is probably the best option for affordable pool snacks and meals.

There are plenty of drinks, snacks, and dessert options for the whole family. And prices are somewhat reasonable (check out the menu).

The Orchid Marketplace was open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Legends of Hawaii Luau

The Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau could have fit under the amenities or the food and beverage section, but it was so good that I decided it deserved its own.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau fire
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau fire dancers.

For those who have been to Hawaiʻi or are planning a trip, a luau has probably been recommended. We passed on our first Hawaiian vacation but indulged on our second time to the islands.

A luau is a show, dinner, and experience. But it is a great example of the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” because it was like nothing we had experienced before, in an awesome way.

The Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau told the story and history of the Island of Hawaiʻi, so it was another educational experience — a win as a parent. Plus, my kids keep talking about it.

We arrived around 4:45 p.m. for the 5 p.m. opening and were welcomed with drinks right away.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau drinks
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau drinks.

There was a variety of tropical drinks, beer, and wine to choose from including:

  • Blue Hawaiian
  • Green Gecko
  • Lava Flow
  • Mai tai
  • Piña colada

There were also plenty of non-alcoholic options, including juice and soda. As expected, my kids went straight for the POG (Pineapple Orange Guava) juice.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau menu
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau drink menu.

As guests were finding their seats, there was live music and hula lessons, plus there was a kids’ buffet that was open so that the little ones could eat before getting cranky. Thank you to whoever thought of that!

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau dancer
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau dancer.

Then there was a torch run to the beat of Polynesian drums, a Hawaiian blessing, and the walk-up buffet was opened.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau pig
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau pig.

The food was so good, and the staff was incredible.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau buffet
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau buffet and staff.

From Huli Huli Chicken and fried rice to fish poke and braised short ribs, there was so much good food. And plenty of salad, fruit, desserts, and more.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau buffet salads
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau buffet.

After a quick coconut husking lesson while we ate, the real show began.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau dinner
My first plate at the Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau.

With hula dancers, fire knife dancers, and incredible storytelling, it is hard to describe how beautiful the show was.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau performer
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau performer.

Our 4-year-old didn’t last long after dinner, but our 8-year-old was completely engaged with the entire show. The unlimited POG juice and desserts probably helped with that part, I suppose.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau seating
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau seating.

Like all luaus, the Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau is costly. Adult tickets start at $190, and children at $112. We skipped it on our first visit due to the price, but we are glad we could experience it on this trip.

Hilton Waikoloa Village luau hula dancers
Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau hula dancers.

If you need help justifying the cost (like I do), it will likely create a lifetime memory, the show is incredible, and you can eat and drink as much as you want. The food was excellent, and the mai tais were cold!

The Legends of Hawaiʻi Luau has shows every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday night starting at 5 p.m. and ending around 11 p.m.

Service

Overall, we had very good service from the staff at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Despite a hiccup at check-in, Nathan at the front desk took that opportunity to turn our experience around with an upgrade and some birthday drinks — thanks again, Nathan!

All the staff at the restaurants we visited were great, the bellmen were very proactive in offering to store our car seats, and housekeeping was a pleasant surprise.

Let’s not forget that this is a massive hotel, so I’m not talking about high-end personalized service. But all things considered, we were quite happy with the service we received.

Final Thoughts

Hilton Waikoloa Village checkers
Hilton Waikoloa Village checkers.

After spending 5 nights at the Hilton Waikoloa Village as a family of 4, I am really happy with this Hilton Honors points redemption.

I had read some mixed reviews with many complaints about the size of the property and the old rooms. Fortunately for us, we received a renovated room, and my family and I didn’t find the size of the resort to be a negative aspect. We found the property easier to navigate than some other smaller properties, plus the kids loved riding the tram and boats.

The pools and slides were great, the kids’ pool was perfect for the little ones, the lagoon easily made up for the lack of a beach, and the property was beautiful.

We didn’t love the dining options, but Nui Italian and Waikoloa Coffee Co. served us well, and there were plenty of options at the shops nearby. That is not including the luau, which was incredible.

Our biggest complaint is directed to the Preferred Pump group, which was loud and rowdy. But I can’t blame the hotel for wanting to make money with big conferences. Sometimes you get lucky, and the attendees are in meetings all day; other times, they do shots and bellyflops by the kids’ pool!

Thanks to Hilton’s fifth night free, we stayed at this great resort for only 56,000 Hilton Honors points per night, which is an absolute steal, and I would not hesitate to visit again. You should, too!

The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Hilton Waikoloa Village all-inclusive?

No, the Hilton Waikoloa Village is not all-inclusive.

Does the Hilton Waikoloa Village have a beach?

There is a lagoon with sand that connects to the ocean, but there is no traditional open-ocean beach.

How much is the parking at the Hilton Waikoloa Village?

Self-parking is $44 per day and valet is $55 per day.

How far is the Hilton Waikoloa Village from the airport?

The Hilton Waikoloa Village is about a 25-minute drive from Kona International Airport (KOA).

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About Chris Hassan

Chris holds a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management and managed social media for all Marriott properties in South America, making him a perfect fit for UP and its social media channels. He has a passion for making content catered toward family travelers.

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