Splish-Splash: The Kohala and Kona Pools at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort

Now while we started our recent trip to Hawaii with something a bit more educational, of course we made time for the pool. Ample time. Tons, actually.

When I blogged about our family vacation in Hawaii last spring, I somehow failed to write about the good times had out at the pools at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort. My bad. The pools there are pretty damn awesome, especially for families.

T and I at the Kohala Pool Spring 2011.

T and I at the Kohala Pool at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort (Spring 2011).

Kona Pool at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.

Kona Pool at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.

There are three pools in all: The Kohala Pool (near the Ocean Towers), the adult-only pool (just means no kids, nothing illicit… well not that I know of, not that C or I have been there given T’s been with us on all three trips to this resort; this is also inside of the oceanfront-most portion of the Ocean Towers), and the Kona Pool (near the Lagoon Tower).

T and C at the "butt cleaner" slide, what we've termed one of two short slides (for obvious reasons from the photo) at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort (taken Spring 2011).

T and C at the “butt cleaner” slide, what we’ve termed one of two short slides (for obvious reasons from the photo) at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort (Spring 2011).

T at the top of one of the short slides at the Kohala Pool (Spring 2012).

T at the top of one of the short slides at the Kohala Pool (Spring 2012).

First, the Kohala Pool is a free-form, river-shaped freshwater pool that at one time actually was a lazy river. However, given the river doesn’t complete a full loop, it would take folks down the river and then, well, leave them there I’m guessing. The lazy river portion of this pool has since been deactivated, but its three water slides remain alive and flowing. Yes, three water slides.

While the sides at the Kohala Pool are not lengthy, they’re very fun for younger-aged kids. Two of the three slides are not monitored by hotel staff, meaning that they are for all-ages (adult supervision recommended for weaker swimmers, of course!) and that you can pretty much do whatever you like to get from the top to the bottom of the slide. Head-first, riding on a floatie, or hooked-up with a buddy, the short slides can be as fun as whatever you can imagine really.

T on his way down the longer of the three slides at the Kohala Pool (taken Spring 2012).

T on his way down the longer of the three slides at the Kohala Pool (Spring 2012).

Splash! T crashes into the Kohala Pool (taken Spring 2012).

Splash! T crashes into the Kohala Pool (Spring 2012).

The third slide at the Kohala Pool is a bit more wet and wild. It’s a steep, straight shot down, and this slide is monitored (meaning, feet-first and independent rides only). Also there is a height minimum of 42″ on this slide; staff distribute wristbands to qualified riders at a desk near the pool bar (this is also where guests can pick up clean towels). A new band is given daily by the hotel to keep track of guests and to ensure height safety on the slides, so always be sure to check in at the desk once-daily to keep getting your slide on.

A wide shot of the Kona Pool at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort (taken Spring 2012).

A wide shot of the Kona Pool at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort (Spring 2012).

The kids' "beach" area of the Kona Pool (taken Spring 2011).

The kids’ “beach” area of the Kona Pool (Spring 2011).

Us in the jacuzzi in the grotto at the Kona Pool (Spring 2012).

Us in the jacuzzi in the grotto at the Kona Pool (Spring 2012).

The Kona Pool looking toward the children's beach pool area.

The Kona Pool looking toward the children’s beach pool area.

The other pool is the Kona Pool. This is located at the exact opposite end of the resort just outside and south of the Lagoon Tower and Dolphin Quest area. This freshwater pool is massive; its comprised of a pebble-bottomed kids’ beach and pool, a snaking, free-form moderate depth swimming and wading area (3.5 ft. in most if not all areas), three hot tubs, and a 180-foot long water slide.

The Kona Pool waterslide winds its way in that rocky structure there in the background.

The Kona Pool water slide meanders through the rocky structure in the background. Underneath in the “cave” is where you can pick up towels and daily guest wristbands for water slide use.

T exits the Kona Pool water slide for the first time on our recent trip to the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.

T exits the Kona Pool water slide for the first time during our most recent trip to the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.

C crashes down into the Kona Pool. At least this time he didn't take out another person (because, yes, that actually happened; remember to clear out once finished with your water slide trip, RMT'ers!).

C crashes down into the Kona Pool. At least this time he didn’t take out another person (because, yes, that actually happened; remember to clear out once finished with your water slide trip, RMT’ers!).

The Kona Pool’s water slide is what I’d call the Hilton Waikoloa’s “big kahuna.” This slide is king. It’s long enough to be interesting and enjoyable to the point you want to do it over and over again, yet it’s not so incredibly twisty and super-fast that it scares off the youngest keiki (Hawaiian for kids). The slide is about three times as fast as the straight-shooter version down at the Kohala Pool, yet about one-third the speed of the exit as aforementioned slide. This slide’s height minimum is also 42″ with the same staff monitor regulations and wristband protocols as the Kohala Pool, and you can find towels and wristbands at the Kona Pool guest services desk nearby inside of the “cave” just to the other side of the water slide area.

Yes, as many of the reports on travel review websites mention, the Hilton Waikoloa’s pools are not heated. All this means is that it’s a bit of a surprise to feel water this cold in a resort setting (as most of the larger hotels do usually heat their pools even if just to take the chill off). Having said that, please man up. It’s Hawaii, and while the tropical ocean waters might be “warmer” ever-so-slightly than that of the hotel’s pools, once you’re in, you’ll stay in because the pools feel refreshing compared to the air temperature after a while. Refreshing. Not cold. See the difference? And if you still think it’s cold, have another cocktail and/or romp about with the kids for a while. You’ll soon change your mind easily regarding those pool temps, I promise.

A view from the Kona Pool area of the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.

A view from the Kona Pool area of the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort.

The views from both pools are incredible, with lounge chairs at each that you can turn to face the ocean if you wish to. Both locations make for incredible wave and sunset viewing. You can also leisurely stroll to and from each pool area thanks to an oceanfront path that winds along the coastline. The walk takes about 10 minutes or so, compared to waiting for the hotel tram or boat that can take a bit longer because of wait times and backtracking on foot. The walk is flat and not terribly long so long as you all are up for it and you’re not lugging a ton of gear with you (ton of stuff and/or whiny kids = please do take the tram/ boat).

If you get tired of the pool (big if, but still), you can go for a game of checkers on the big board right next to the kids' beach area of the Kona Pool.

If you get tired of the pool (big if, but still), you can go for a game of checkers on the big board right next to the kids’ beach area of the Kona Pool.

It’s the pool atmosphere at the Hilton Waikoloa that makes a family vacation here perfect, easy, and relaxing. If your young kids can swim, then you can feel fairly comfortable setting up poolside on chaises with drinks in hand and make a morning or afternoon (or entire day) of watching the wee ones have the time of their lives. Though after a while, trust me when I say that you’ll find yourselves right in there with them because it’s just that much of a good time no matter what pool you choose. And it gets pretty hot if you stay out in that tropical sun ALL day. So dive in… and don’t forget the sunscreen in ample amounts (tons, actually)!

What's your favorite poolside family vacation spot, RMT'ers?

What’s your favorite poolside family vacation spot, RMT’ers?

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One response to “Splish-Splash: The Kohala and Kona Pools at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort

  1. Pingback: Aloha, Take Two! | Real Mom Time (RMT)

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