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Best Places to Stay in Kona: Royal Kona Resort Review

Are you looking for the best place to stay in Kona for families with kids of all ages? Keep scrolling to read my honest Royal Kona Resort review.

Are you planning a trip to the Big Island with kids?

The Big Island of Hawaii is an amazing place for families. There are so many fun things to do and see on this island, but it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why I’ve written this honest review of the Royal Kona Resort – one of the best places to stay in Kona, Hawaii!

You won’t find another hotel that offers as much value for your money as the Royal Kona Resort. It’s got everything you need for a great family vacation at an affordable price point.

Plus, they have some really cool amenities like an on-site luau and a fabulous spa! This hotel has something for everyone – whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure!

Keep scrolling to read my Royal Kona Resort review to see if it’s one of the best hotels on the Big Island of Hawaii!

Ready to book? Get the best rate HERE.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Big Island Itinerary, complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Where is the Royal Kona Resort?

The Royal Kona Resort is located right in the heart of Kona on the famous Ali’i Drive. It’s really easy to walk to tons of restaurants and shops.

Their address is 75-5852 Ali‘i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.

Honest Royal Kona Resort in Hawaii Review

It’s always hard to tell what a resort is like when you just see photos on its website. The Royal Kona Resort was different than I expected in many ways.

It was definitely a bit older than it looked in the photos. The pool area is also really small and fills up quickly. While it is an older hotel, it has been recently renovated, and they are making exterior renovations, so this might have changed now. Currently, the Lagoon Tower is being renovated and is to be finished by June 2023.

Image of a large sign that says Aloha with stone pillars on each side.
Main entrance to the Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We were in the Lagoon Tower, and all the rooms there face an outdoor courtyard. This means that you access your room from outside like you would a condo or motel.

The ground floor of the Lagoon Tower had a laundry center where you could wash/dry your clothes. You need to download an app in order to pay for it, but it’s not too tricky.

Fun fact: there are two radio stations located on the ground level of the Lagoon Tower, and you can watch the DJs from the big windows.

What was our room like?

We got a room on the 5th floor of the Lagoon Tower overlooking the parking lot and right next to the elevator. It had two full-size beds, a wet bar with a mini-fridge, and a desk.

Image of a hotel room with 2 full beds, a large desk, and a large lanai.
This was what our room looked like. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The bathroom was pretty standard, but it does have a bathtub. This is always helpful to have when traveling with little kids.

Our favorite part of the room was actually the lanai. It had a set of cocktail chairs and a cocktail table out there, and it was perfect for eating outside.

The room felt really spacious. We had plenty of room for our luggage, and it didn’t feel like we were tripping on things moving around the room.

Image of the sunrise over a parking lot on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Sunrise at the Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

And the views of the sunrise every morning were incredible! It was definitely one of the more comfortable places to stay in Kona, Hawaii.

Other Room Options

There are three towers, Ali’i, Lagoon, and Bay, each offering spacious rooms to enjoy. All three towers have an ocean view room with a king bed to enjoy. They have partial ocean-view rooms as well.

You will find air conditioning in all the rooms, as well as coffee makers with complimentary Kona Coffee, private lanais, new furnishings, clean rooms, and more.

They do accommodate bedding requests and have a rollaway bed if you need it. The entire property maintains great service throughout, which is a big deal for me.

What did we think of the dining options?

Image of a wooden sign with a tiki on it with text that reads Don the Beachcomber Tiki Grill.
Don the Beachcomber sign. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Don’s Mai Tai Bar & Restaurant

We tried eating here for dinner one night, but it was a 2-hour wait. Supposedly, this is where the Mai Tai was invented, so I really wanted to try it.

They do have an option where you can order your food ahead of time and pick it up. We didn’t realize this until we were checking out.

The Beachcomber Restaurant offers some of the best ocean-view dining options in Downtown Kailua-Kona.

Don’s Breezeway Lounge

We also didn’t have a chance to eat here or even grab drinks. It’s located right next to the pool, and we saw tons of people going to get fancy cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks there.

Nearby Dining Options

Since the hotel is located on Ali’i Drive, there are tons of places that are within walking distance. The most famous are Huggo’s and Huggo’s on the Rocks. They have an amazing selection of freshly made poke, meat items, and they even have a kid’s menu.

There’s also Island Ono Loa Grill which has the 9th best cheeseburger in the nation according to Yelp. They have an easy kids’ menu and super tasty fish tacos. There are so many restaurants nearby; it’s great to have so many great options!

Royal Kona Resort Pool Area

The pool area at the Royal Kona Resort is a lot smaller than other resorts. It’s a simple pool surrounded by chairs.

Image of a small pool with pool chairs next to the Royal Kona Resort.
Royal Kona Resort pool area. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

There’s actually a kid’s pool right next to the main pool on the upper deck. This pool is only 2 feet deep. It’s also really small and we found that a lot of adults like to just lounge there.

One cool thing about the pool area is that it’s right next to where they do the luau. So, in the evenings you can listen to the music and see part of the show right from the swimming pool.

Is it worth renting a cabana?

The cabana rentals at the Royal Kona Resort are pretty affordable. It’s either $100 for 4 hours or $175 for the entire day. That’s one of the cheaper cabana rentals in Hawaii.

Image of three cabanas facing the ocean in Hawaii.
Cabanas at the Royal Kona Resort. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

They have some that face the pool area and some that face the ocean. They are mostly grouped together in areas, so it’s great if you want to rent out a couple for extended family or a big friend group.

You can choose to rent a daybed or a full cabana.


Before we arrived here, I thought the lagoon was just something in front of the hotel we could walk to. I was totally mistaken.

Image of a bunch of pool chairs on sand next to a lava rock wall and lagoon.
Royal Kona Resort lagoon area. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s actually part of the hotel property, and it’s located right next to the Lagoon tower. They have lounge chairs and umbrellas set up, so it’s an easy place to play in the ocean with kids.

You will definitely want to wear reef shoes here. One of my friends suggested that before we arrived, and I’m so glad I packed them. It’s all lava rock, so water shoes will protect your feet. Plus, the rocks are extremely slippery.

What’s cool about the lagoon is that it’s a great place to snorkel. There are lots of tropical fish, and some people mentioned even seeing sea turtles there.

Voyagers of the Pacific Luau

One of the perks of staying at the Royal Kona Resort is that you can just walk to their on-site Voyagers of the Pacific Luau. It’s located right next to the hotel entrance between the pool and the Lagoon Tower.

Check out this honest review of the Royal Kona Luau on the Big Island by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of male and female Tahitian dancers on stage at night.
Voyagers of the Pacific Luau. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The food at the Royal Kona luau is AMAZING! It’s seriously some of the best luau food in Hawaii. Plus, there’s a complimentary bar with tasty mai tais and other tropical drinks.

The show is also really nice, and they include many Polynesian islands, including the Cook Islands, Tuamotus, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, and Hawaii.

You can read my full Royal Kona Resort luau review HERE.

Other Resort Amenities

There are a few other amenities worth mentioning.

Fitness Center

At the resort, you can enjoy the fitness center throughout the day. They also offer daily yoga and fitness classes you can enjoy during your stay. You just need to sign up at the front desk.


The Lotus Center Spa is in the Bay Tower. Here you will find massages, facials, body scrubs, chiropractic care, and even Psych-K sessions!

Choose from an oceanfront massage or get an in-room one as well.

Tennis courts

There are also private tennis courts to enjoy! You can get complimentary rackets and balls, included with your resort fee.

Cultural Activities

The Royal Kona Resort also has fun cultural activities you can do during your trip. From learning how to make a lei to playing the ukelele and even hula lessons, there is something fun to do for everyone!

Are there any things we didn’t like?

The walls were pretty thin, so we could hear our neighbors as soon as they woke up each morning. And their light came into our room under the adjoining door.

A super weird thing we discovered is that there’s a Hawaiian burial ground in the parking lot. There’s signage, so you know it’s there. I’m a bit curious about how they were able to build a parking lot on a Hawaiian burial ground, but mainly it made me feel a bit sad.

Would we recommend the Royal Kona Resort?

We spent 5 nights at the Royal Kona Resort, and I can honestly say that we really enjoyed our time there. I appreciated how easy it was to get to from any direction in Kona. Plus, we always found parking.

The location was fantastic. It was so easy to walk along the coast to see sweeping sunsets and hear the waves crashing. Plus, there are lots of places to grab a coffee, shave ice, snacks, meals, and even pick up souvenirs.

We definitely felt the aloha spirit on the whole property here and did NOT have a negative experience.

Our room was fairly large, and there was a bathtub plus, we loved the mini refrigerators to keep our drinks cold. And the sunrises were amazing. I think it’s one of the top resorts in Kona, Hawaii. Check the latest rates and more information.

Where to Stay in Kona FAQs

Is it better to stay in a condo or resort in Kona, Hawaii?

It really depends on how you like to travel. Condos are great if you plan on cooking a lot of your own meals or would like separate bedrooms. Otherwise, there are lots of great Kona resort options located on Ali’i Drive, so you can easily walk to shops, restaurants, and attractions.

What are some of the best places to stay in Kona, Hawaii, for families?

The Royal Kona Resort is a great option because of the on-site luau, close distance to Huggo’s, and their on-site laundry. Another option for Big Island Hawaii hotels is the Courtyard by Marriott’s King Kamehameha Beach Hotel, on the other end of Ali’i Drive.

What is the best area to stay on the Big Island?

The Big Island is HUGE, so I always suggest people stay in a few different places if they plan on exploring the island. Kailua-Kona is a popular option because it’s near a ton of Big Island attractions. There’s also Waikoloa which is just north of Kona. This is great if you want a resort vacation. There’s Volcano House or Volcano Village near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park if you’d like to fully explore Hawaii’s volcanoes. Or head to Hilo if you’d like to see some amazing rainbows and waterfalls.

When was Royal Kona Resort previously renovated?

The Royal Kona Resort was recently renovated in 2020 and 2021. The pandemic helped speed up the project completion date, and now the resort has new room furnishings as well as exterior renovations that make the resort modern and completely updated. Currently, they are renovating the Lagoon Tower in 2023.

Does Royal Kona have a beach?

Yes, there is a private lagoon and beach area at this resort. It is located oceanfront by Kailua Bay, making it have stunning ocean views and a great beach to visit during the day.

How far is Royal Kona Resort from the airport?

It takes about 20 minutes to get from the Kona airport to this resort, making it a great location to stay at during your next visit.

What is the nicest area of Kona?

Kailua Bay is one of the best areas of Kailua-Kona. It is centrally located with restaurants close by as well as many resorts and, of course, the beach.

What is the Resort Fee for the Royal Kona Resort?

Currently, there are resort fees here. It is $22 per room per night, excluding taxes. The resort fee includes a lot of amenities, including Welcome to Paradise Mai Tais, daily Yoga/Fitness Classes, daily Hawaiian Cultural Activities, $20 Lotus Center Spa credit, $25 Island Activities & Tours credit, reef-safe sunscreen, and a few other great deals.

Looking for more places to stay on the Big Island? Find out where to stay on the Big Island with kids, Volcano House review, Hilton Waikoloa Village review, Courtyard King Kamehameha Beach Hotel review, budget-friendly Big Island hotels, and where to stay on the Big Island: Kona or Hilo!