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Hapuna Beach and Kauna'oa Bay, HI

These extraordinarily beautiful white sand beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii have been enjoyed by the great Hawaiian kings of yesterday as well as numerous wealthy celebrities of today. Selected as two of the most spectacular beaches in the world year after year, these two picture perfect strands are family favorites for a Hawaii beach vacation.

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is the largest on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. The beach is more than a half mile long, and at some places 200 feet wide. Palm trees line the landscaped park area, there are restrooms, showers, picnic areas, walkways, and some camping facilities. The water is usually calm, making it ideal for wading with younger kids.

Kauna'oa Bay's waters are clear and calm, and the surrounding beach is absolutely stunning. The protected waters allow for easy snorkeling on the edges of the bay. One can float along on the clear bay all day, just relaxing and watching the fish swim by. You might even catch a glimpse of a sea turtle or a Manta ray. Because of the calm waters, we think this is the ideal beach for families with smaller children. The sand is very soft and fine, unlike some of the more coarse sand on other areas of the coast.

Nearby Anaeho`omalu Beach Park is a haven for active families who love watersports. Conditions are ideal for canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, fishing. In good weather, swimming is safe. There is no lifeguard, so parents should keep a close eye on the kids. There are restrooms, showers, picnic tables and food is available at nearby resorts.

This area contains some of Hawaii's most beautiful, family-friendly resorts. Some of those with the best beaches include:

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel: This spectacular beachfront property offers luxurious hotel rooms, suites and villas for family rentals. Overlooking beautiful Kauna'oa Bay, the resort offers a perfect white crescent beach with calm waters for swimming, a year-round children's program for kids ages 5-12, world-class golf, tennis, watersports, a helipad for flightseeing excursions operated by Sunshine Helicopters, and more. Dining options are sure to please the most discriminating palate, and the Tuesday Luau and Saturday clambake should not be missed. Children who stay at Mauna Kea Resort receive a special gift bag at check-in, with age-appropriate amenities chosen just for them. Guests at the Mauna Kea also enjoy the use of the facilities and signing privileges at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, also located on the Mauna Kea Resort property. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is sure to be a favorite for beach lovers who enjoy exceptional natural beauty, exquisite surroundings, and fine dining in a relaxed setting. For more information, call (866) PRINCE-6 or (808) 882-7222, or visit the resort's website: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel: This modern beach hotel was built along one of the world's finest white sand beaches - named the "Number One Beach in America" by Conde Nast Traveler. The family-friendly resort features large oceanview guest rooms, a large swimming pool overlooking the beach and ocean, championship golf, a spa and fitness center, a year-round children's program for kids ages 5-12, watersports, and other activities. Children who stay at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel receive a special gift bag at check-in filled with age-appropriate amenities chosen just for them. Guests at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel also enjoy the use of the facilities and signing privileges at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, so families can stay at one and play at both. A convenient shuttle links the two properties, or one can walk between the two. For more information, call (866) PRINCE-6 or visit the resort's website: Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel.

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort: This moderately-priced hotel with 523 rooms and 22 suites offers a great value for the family vacation dollar, and is also a good choice for beach lovers. Situated on the beautiful white sands of `Anaeho`omalu Bay, the fifteen acre property offers guests a wide variety of options for family fun, learning, and relaxation. Take a whale watching trip, splash in the pools, test your skills on two 18-hole golf courses, wander along petroglyph trails and explore ancient fish ponds, or just relax on the crescent-shaped white sand beach. A variety of dining options are available, both at the resort and at the nearby Kings' Shops. Both children's programs and childcare services are available. For more information, visit the resort's website: Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort or call 1-888-236-2427.

If you're craving a beach experience that is more exclusive to Hawaii, try out the salt-and-pepper strands and black sand beach accessible only to guests at the Kona Village Resort. This 82-acre all-inclusive resort offers world-weary families the chance to escape the hassles of modern life and enjoy their vacation in these beautiful, peaceful surroundings. Guests stay in individual thatched roof, Polynesian-style cottages with no in-room phones, televisions or radios. (It should be noted that cellular phones work very well at the resort if one needs to receive messages, but cell phone usage in highly frequented public spots is discouraged.) Cottages are scattered throughout the property, and feature a variety of styles, layouts, and number of bedrooms. In addition to excellent children's programs, the resort offers a wide variety of watersports and activities, an exceptional Friday night luau, and a full American plan sure to satisfy the most discriminating palate. Beach lovers, be assured that some Hawaiian natives love these sands just as much as you will -- sea turtles regularly flock to Kona Village's main salt-and-pepper beach to sun themselves to the delight of visiting children and their families. For more information, visit the resort's website Kona Village Resort or call 800-367-5290 or 800-432-5450 within Hawaii.

In addition to relaxing at the beach, families will enjoy exploring Volcanoes National Park, horseback riding in the upcountry, going on snorkeling or diving cruises, taking family hikes to exquisite waterfalls, thrilling helicopter rides to view the volcanic activity and the island's breathtaking scenery, and a host of other activities. You'll find nighttime luaus, Hawaiian entertainment and hula performers dominating many of the evening's activities. Shoppers should make sure to visit the King's Shops in Kamuela at the Waikoloa Beach Resort.

For more information on this area, contact the Hawaii Visitors Bureau at (800) GOHAWAII or (808) 923-1811 and the Kona Kohala Resort Association at (808) 886-4915.



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