A Tropical Travel Blog
by Cate Lincoln

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There are many reasons why I love Hawaii, but high on the list is that good beach resorts are plentiful. Yes, I love to snorkel colorful reefs, hike to waterfalls, and stargaze atop volcanoes, but to me nothing says vacation like laying around the resort pool/beach eating guava popsicles, working on my tan, and reading the day away.

That’s why on my most recent trip to the Big Island, after snorkeling Kealakekua Bay, trekking to waterfalls in Hilo, and exploring the summit of Mauna Kea, I was beyond thrilled to check into the Fairmont Orchid for three days on doing absolutely nothing.

The Fairmont Orchid is a relaxed five star resort situated on 32 ocean front acres about 20 miles north of the Kona airport. With plenty of amenities including a pristine pool complex, golf, tennis, a spa, a sandy beach with good snorkeling, resident sea turtles, a handful of restaurants, and numerous cultural activities, it’s possible to be “busy” just taking advantage of everything the resort has to offer.

In this post, I’m going to share a travelogue of my stay at the Fairmont Orchid, give you a list of 15 things to do at the resort, and finish up with tips for enjoying your stay.

My Travelogue

This trip to the Big Island was a mother/daughter trip with my mom, my aunt, and my cousin (and extra special because we were celebrating my cousin’s high school graduation).

We checked into the Fairmont around noon on Saturday and they had a room already set for us. We had signed up for the Fairmont President’s Club and had received an email/text asking when we would arrive, so it was super nice having our room ready and waiting since we were itching to hit the pool!

It was a little overcast, but that didn’t stop us from finding some chairs at the pool and wasting the day away until sunset. I mostly spent the day reading, but I did take a few breaks to swim, and wonder around to check out the beach and the sea turtles. They come up on the beach to rest right in front of the pool.

RELATED: Not very familiar with the Big Island? Read up on the lay of the (is)land and my favorite beach resorts, budget hotels, condos, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels.

We had dinner near the pool at Hale Kai (we ate here a few times and the avocado toast, margherita pizza, fish and chips, and lobster fried rice were all VERY good).

After dinner, we ventured out of the resort for the only time the whole three days we were there…for a Target run! I know. We needed some more books and sunscreen plus it’s always fun to see what a local Target has. Kind of a side note but the Target in Kona is great! They stock a lot of cover ups and dresses that most Targets don’t have, and I found a line called “Aloha Royale” with an awesome romper that I wore for the rest of the trip.

We arrived back to our room to a special surprise! We all LOVE chocolate covered strawberries so this was a huge treat.

We got up pretty early the next morning (I can never sleep late in Hawaii), and headed down to the Orchid Court to try their breakfast buffet. I loved it. First off, I love a buffet in general because I like to try a little bit of everything and be a bit more adventurous than I would if I was ordering off a menu. Also, there was POG (pineapple, orange, guava) juice and I have a tiny obsession with guava so I was happy. All of the American breakfast favorites were well-represented (eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, potatoes, etc.) plus some Asian favorites (I’ve never had noodles and pot stickers for breakfast!) and a very exotic looking Asian condiment section. There was a continental section with breads, bagels, muffins, pastries, etc. and a lot of fruit options.

After breakfast I stopped into the resort store to check out their swimsuits (so many cute ones!) and pick up a new sunscreen that I wanted to try. I highly recommend Coola if you’ve never used it before. 70% of the ingredients are organic (although it’s not reef safe) and it smells amazing!!

Next up I headed down to the pool deck to settle in for the day. I pretty much passed the day by reading, swimming, checking for turtles, strolling down to the beach, and hitting up Brown’s Deli for snacks (they had amazing locally made guava popsicles!).

We made dinner reservations at Brown’s Beach House for a special celebratory dinner. Here’s a tip: when eating at open air restaurants, I like to make reservations about 30 minutes before sunset so not only do you get dinner with an (even better) view, but it’s also not dark the whole time you’re eating dinner.

I’d wanted to try the lilikoi (passion fruit) margarita since I arrived and it was so good! Bread service was delicious and we all had various seafood entrees. I did a mix and match of a couple of side items (lobster tails and truffle mac and cheese).

We had a great meal and sunset along with the live music did not disappoint. The setting at Brown’s Beach House really is one of the best on the island. And to top it all off, our server Janice (who was so sweet!) brought out a celebratory dessert for us to share! It was the perfect last night in Hawaii.

And to cap it all off, we had this sweet surprise waiting for us in our room!

On our final day, our flight didn’t leave until 9:40 PM so we pretty much had the whole day to hang around. When we checked in, we were approved for an extra late check out (we got to stay in our room until 7PM for an extra $120) and it was sooooo nice!!

We just woke up and headed out to the pool/beach like it was another day. We had breakfast sandwiches from Brown’s Deli, and I finished off my fourth book of the trip.

We had a quick dinner at Hale Kai before getting cleaned up and heading off to the airport. We were all so sad to leave Hawaii, but especially to leave the Fairmont Orchid. Every trip to Hawaii is special, but ones where I get to spend quality time with my family and friends while resting and recharging are my favorite.

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15 Things to Do at the Fairmont Orchid

1.Snorkel: There’s pretty decent snorkeling right around the beach. You can either pick up a complimentary snorkel set and head out on your own or you can go on a guided adventure with a Hui Holokai Ambassador. There’s also an intro to snorkeling and reef etiquette class offered on Sunday mornings.

2.Stand up paddle boarding: Either rent a board for an hour to paddle around Pauoa Bay or take lessons! If you’re planning to use a lot of water and beach gear during your trip (boogie boards, floating mats, paddle boards, kayaks, etc.), consider getting a Fun & Sun Activity pass. It’s $75 for your stay and includes unlimited rentals.

3.Fishing Adventure: Try shoreline fishing or paddling out in a canoe with a Hui Holokai Ambassador who will explain the cultural significance and Hawaiian fishing techniques.

4.Ride in an outrigger canoe: On select days, it’s possible to take a sunrise or sunset voyage in a traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe.

5.Sunset torch lighting ceremony: The blowing of the conch shell and lighting of the tiki torches every evening before sunset signifies the ending of another day in paradise.

6.Spa without Walls: The Fairmont’s gorgeous outdoor spa is open air but still feels secluded in a lush jungle like setting. Try a traditional Lomi Lomi massage.

7.Floating yoga: Take your yoga practice to the next level by trying in on a paddle board anchored in the lagoon.

8.Get a private cabana: Oceanfront and poolside cabana rentals start at $55/day.

9.Play a round of golf: Nearby in the Mauna Lani Resort area you’ll find a championship course as well as a par 3.

10.Work on your backhand: Get a court time or a private lesson at the 10-court full service tennis center.

11.Drop the keiki off a kid’s camp: Sign the kids up for half or full day camps designed to get them out exploring the tide pools and petroglyph fields around the resort.

12.Hike the petroglyph fields: Either take off on your own, or go on one of the guided complimentary hikes with a Hui Holokai Ambassador. They also have daily cultural and historical hikes that may take you to the tide pools and caves.

13.Learn about sea turtles: The rocky beach in front of the Fairmont pool is a popular resting ground for honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles). You can usually spot at least a couple during the day and many more at sunset. You can also catch a “turtle talk” session with a Hui Holokai Ambassador several mornings.

14.Try some Hawaiian crafts/cultural activities: Ukulele, hula lessons, coconut leaf weaving, lei making, and Hawaiian tattoos…try your hand at all of it!

15.Just chill: My favorite thing to do! Camp out in a plush chair by the pool or in the sand and just spend your day reading, sleeping, swimming, snacking, sipping mai tais, playing Jenga on the lawn. Whatever.

Tips for Enjoying Your Stay

  • Join the Fairmont President’s Club. Just for signing up you’ll get expedited check in, premium internet, and 10-20% discounts on beach gear rentals, cabana rentals, tennis lessons, purchases in the resort store, spa services and products, fitness classes plus complimentary golf club rentals.
  • If you’re going during a busy time, or you won’t be hitting the pool until the afternoon and you’re worried about being able to find chairs, you can reserve special shaded loungers for an extra fee.

  • If your flight home doesn’t leave until late, you can either apply for a late check out (usually 6PM) for an extra fee (we paid $120), but you don’t know until you check in if it’ll be approved or not. If you don’t get late check out, there are shower/locker facilities to use so you can still enjoy your whole day at the resort.
  • While there are plenty of restaurants at the resort, you’ll find a couple more options (including Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Ruth’s Christ Steak House, the Blue Room Brasserie, and Monstera Noodles and Sushi) at The Shops at Mauna Lani just up the road. There’s also a Foodland (grocery store) there. You can catch a complimentary on demand shuttle there from the Fairmont.
  • It’s also just a couple of miles south to Waikoloa where there are two larger shopping centers and quite a few resorts. One of my favorite restaurants on the island, Lava Lava Beach Club, can be found there. Go for sunset!

  • I can’t imagine coming to the Big Island without renting a car. There’s just so much to see and do! Plus if you need anything from Target, Walmart, Costco, etc. it’s quite a trek into Kona. Self-parking is included with your resort fee ($30/day) but you can upgrade to valet parking for an extra $10/day.
  • Sometimes it’s possible to book a promotion that includes free breakfast at the Orchid Court everyday. That’s a great deal if you can get it! The buffet is $32/person.
  • Be sure to take a look at the activity schedule when you check in. Sometimes there are seasonal offerings. For example, during the summer months there are often special activities offered for kids/families like stargazing, movies by the pool, etc.
  • If you can’t afford to stay for your whole trip, (or your planning to be out about doing a lot of exploring and don’t want to pay top dollar for a place you’re just going to be showering and sleeping), I would recommend just staying your last 2-3 nights here and saving up your beach/pool time (actual vacation!) for once you check in.

I really can’t recommend staying at the Fairmont Orchid enough! It’s a top-notch resort with impeccable service and stellar amenities, but it never feels stuffy or snooty. As you’d expect in Hawaii, the Fairmont Orchid has created an upscale but completely relaxed atmosphere where you can experience aloha at its finest.

Read reviews and check rates here.

RELATED: 15 Things to Do on the Big Island

25 Things to Do in Kona

25 Things to Do in Hilo

What to Know Before You Go to the Big Island

20 Great Big Island Restaurants

Best Snorkeling Spots on the Big Island

Sunset & Stargazing at Mauna Kea Summit

5 Day Trips on the Big Island

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