The first time I went to Hawaii I was all excited about the “ocean-view” condo I had booked on the Big Island. I couldn’t wait to watch the waves and gaze at the setting sun with a Mai Tai in hand.
Reality bit when I arrived. The condo was ocean view if I stood in one sliver of living room and stared through a narrow gap between two other buildings in front.
I soon learned, when booking hotel rooms or condos in Hawaii, that the descriptive words really matter. “Ocean-front” is what you want for the real, close-up view of the waves. If it’s touted as “ocean view” or “partial ocean view” figure out what that really means. Phone the hotel directly (don’t rely on the reservations staff at the toll-free phone numbers) and ask how far back from the ocean the room is, and what’s between the room and the view. Try to find an online map of the resort, if it has multiple buildings, and figure out where your room would be.
In January I was in Kauai and stayed at the Kiahuna Plantation Resort in Poipu. It’s a sprawling complex of low-rise condos by a nice beach. I had booked a partial ocean-view room.
The room was great, but the view of the ocean was, hmmm, rather distant (see the photo I took from my balcony). Yes, you could see the waves if you looked across the parking area and a lawn and through the trees. But, for the price (more than $230 a night) it was an awfully partial ocean view.
Another good way to find out what the views are like from hotels/condos on various Hawaiian islands is through the website and guidebooks of “Hawaii Revealed.” For Kauai, for instance, it has aerial photos of some hotels/condos and even recommends which buildings within a resort are best.