*Appearing in alphabetical order
1. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
The ULU Ocean Grill at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai has a gorgeous, open-air setting that’s just off a beautiful white sand beach. The ocean is right there! You can choose to dine under roof or on the restaurant’s lanai (pictured). Along with the paradisical setting and scrumptious food, the Four Seasons is known for its excellent service. From the moment we arrived, throughout our buffet breakfast experience and even as we were leaving the resort, the service was so impeccable even the 12- and 16-year-olds with me noticed and commented on it.
I would like to have this glorious buffet breakfast every single morning of what would then become my rotund life. Our meal started with a server bringing us fresh juice. I chose a piquant pineapple-coconut-melon juice. Some of our buffet highlights included the Belgian waffles, which were much tastier than I realized waffles could be, and the small malassadas (Portuguese donuts) that taste like malassadas are supposed to taste. We all made small noises of happiness after sampling them and realized we’d been eating mediocre malassadas without even realizing it. Nothing at this buffet was mediocre.
Anyone, despite special dietary needs or preferences, ought to be able to eat quite well here. There’s even a sparkly “gluten-free corner” with granola, breads + toaster and delicious jams.
There’s also a made-to-order omelette bar, as well as an expansive miso soup and condiments section for those who’d like to breakfast Japanese-style. We appreciated the fresh and perfectly ripe fruit and berries, including sweet strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. All this, of course, was in addition to tasty scrambled eggs, just-right bacon and sausage, fried rice and other traditional breakfast fare. On some days, there is also a pancake and crepe station. We have not forgotten the delicious, varied pastry offerings, especially the freshly baked biscuits and chocolate croissants.
2. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Sitting on the lanai of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s Manta restaurant for its luxury buffet breakfast allows another gorgeous view. The hotel sits at secluded Kauna‘oa Bay, next to the crescent of white sand that’s been called America’s best beach. From our breakfast table, we watched waves rolling in and gently breaking, dreamed about a picturesque sailboat bobbing close by and saw whales spout and occasionally breach (local whale season is approximately October to March). When, suddenly, the sun was in my eyes, my hand went up as a sun shield. But almost instantly, the server who’d just – unasked – brought us banana bread, coconut-pineapple smoothies in juice glasses and our own pot of coffee, noticed. Without a word, she quickly and quietly adjusted the location of an adjacent umbrella to make sure we were comfortable. Nice.
Part of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s breakfast buffet is offered up in a sleek food line offering one delicious item after another. It runs alongside windows overlooking the kitchen, where cooks can be seen preparing food. Just beyond, an expansive pastry table has an amazing assortment of tasty baked goods. The strawberries were so perfectly ripe that every time I saw my tween-aged daughter’s plate it held more (along with fresh whipping cream). Another delicious buffet dessert offering was a sweet bread pudding with vanilla cream sauce. Purple dendrobium orchid blossoms decorate the food displays.
The buffet offers up perfect scrambled eggs, bacon, bangers and roasted red-skinned potatoes. There were eggs Benedict on English muffins, miso soup with all the fixings, and a great salad selection. I would eat the apple crepes every day. The smoked salmon, capers and bagels were delicious. Anything else you can think of that should be part of a breakfast buffet – I think it’s probably there. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s buffet is a local favorite.
3. Mauna Lani Bay Hotel
Your breakfast is already off to a good start when you find yourself seated at an open-air table in a lovely garden setting, next to a stream and pond, where your gaze falls on restful green lawns, perfect coconut trees and the ocean. The Mauna Lani’s Bay Terrace Restaurant is, like the others, a gorgeous place to indulge in a leisurely buffet breakfast. The air felt silky on my skin, the server brought and left a pot of great coffee and we were set.
The Mauna Lani’s buffet is an array of gleaming serving dishes, with round domes, full of tasty foods such as macadamia nut pancakes, egg specials, breakfast potatoes, bacon and all the rest. A chef was creating made-to-order omelettes. My carb-friendly dining companions and I gave especially high marks to the French toast and delicious Belgian waffles (with fresh whipping cream – always, the fresh whipping cream).
There were huge, serve-yourself, glass vats of delicious guava juice, which tasted like my childhood, and orange juice. And, as at the other two buffets, the melons and fruits were ripe and sugar-sweet – honeydew melon, pineapple, perfect papaya with lime wedges. And the strawberries! Super sweet strawberries (plus fresh whipped cream) was one of the themes of our breakfasts.
Another strong favorite at this buffet was the especially tasty malassada, just one of the many delicious pastries including muffins, croissants and more. There was a table of breads, cheeses, crudités, thinly sliced luncheon meats and salad fixings, for those who wanted to angle their “breakfast buffet” a little more toward a brunch. Everything we tasted was great. As we ate, we saw pretty – but rather shockingly oversized – birds waiting for all us messy diners to finish so they could clean up our crumbs. I understood completely, and thought, just for a quick moment, that being a strategically located bird might not be too bad at all.