SD › Hawaii Best Hotels
Updated: April 12, 2022
Hawaii Hotels – Tips & Advice
- Best Hotels in Maui: Four Seasons • Montage Kapalua Bay
- Best Hotel in Oahu and Honolulu: Halekulani
- Best Hotel in Kauai: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
- Best Hotel on the Big Island: Four Seasons Hualalai
- Best Hotel in Hawaii for Families: Turtle Bay Resort (Oahu)
- Best Boutique Hotel in Hawaii: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club (Oahu)
- Best Secluded Hotel in Hawaii: Hana Maui Resort (Maui)
- Best Honeymoon Hotels in Hawaii: Hotel Wailea (Maui) • Holualoa Inn (Big Island)
- Weather in Hawaii is great year-round, but ocean activity does vary. Waves tend to be bigger in the winter, especially on the northern shores of the islands – sometimes up to 50 feet. This is excellent for pro surfers, but not great for beginning swimmers. For calmer waters, come in the summer.
- Whale watching is best in winter. Though you can sometimes spot whales from the shores, it’s best to take a boat tour. Travelers who get motion sickness should choose a larger boat for a smoother ride. (Remember, in winter waves will be bigger.)
- The best islands for foodies are Oahu and Maui; the best for nature are Big Island and Kauai. For honeymoons and romance, Maui offers a great mix of beaches, resorts, food, activities, and quiet escapes.
- Inter-island flights are usually under $100 and around 30 minutes, except to and from Lihue. It’s worth considering a flight to Hilo on the Big Island just to see the volcano, even if staying on another island.
- See Also: Best Things to Do on Hawaii • Best Beaches on Hawaii • Where to Stay in Honolulu • Where to Stay in Oahu • Where to Stay in Maui • Where to Stay in Kauai • Where to Stay on the Big Island
The 19 Best Hotels in Hawaii
1. Four Seasons Hualalai • Big Island
Hotel phone: 808-325-8000
Oceanfront, luxury bungalows with nature-inspired décor. Spacious rooms, suites, and villas are available, all with balconies and many with outdoor, lava rock showers. Grounds feature seven pools, including one stocked with wildlife for snorkeling. The resort sits on a stunning white sand beach with manmade coves. Six restaurants and lounges offer casually elegant dining and sunset views.
2. Four Seasons Wailea • Maui
Hotel phone: 808-874-8000
Three saltwater pools, oceanfront and indoor spas, and a prime location on the south end of Wailea Beach Path, the elegant Four Seasons is the top choice on the South Maui coast. Rooms and suites are spacious, and all include generous private lanais, air purification systems, and marble bathrooms with double vanities and separate baths and showers. Dining and drinking are phenomenal at the resort’s four restaurants and two bars, and room service is available 24 hours a day.
3. Halekulani • Oahu
Hotel phone: 808-923-2311
Subtle luxury for the cultured traveler, featuring tranquil and spacious white palette rooms and suites. Halekulani is an exquisite oceanfront, high-rise resort on Waikiki Beach, with onsite haute cuisine and upscale boutiques, set close to Honolulu’s best shopping and nightlife. Guests receive complimentary admission to several arts and cultural events, including the Honolulu Museum of Art, Iolani Palace, and Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.
4. Grand Wailea • Maui
Hotel phone: 808-875-1234
Neoclassical luxury with tropical touches, perfect for families. Every generous room, suite, and villa has a private balcony and plush furnishings. It is located on a sandy beach, perfect for swimming, and also houses a pool complex that includes nine pools connected by a lazy river and complimentary scuba lessons. Outstanding food and drinks, especially at their signature restaurant Humuhumu’s. The Wailea walking path runs directly in front of the hotel and connects with several great restaurants and wonderful beaches.
5. Turtle Bay Resort • Oahu
Hotel phone: 808-674-6200
My favorite family resort in Hawaii. Awesome location among the north coast villages with a private beach and huge pool. There are surf lessons for all ages, a golf course, bike rentals, and snorkeling. Family suites are great or splurge on the 3 or 4 bedroom villas with ocean views. Roy’s Beach House has great food, drinks, beer, desserts, and a fun beach-bar vibe. This is a wonderful kid-friendly beach resort for people who don’t really like resorts.
6. Montage Kapalua Bay • Maui
Hotel phone: 808-662-6600
An all-suite, beachfront, luxury resort, the Montage offers modern elegance with subtle, island details. Graceful suites range from one to four bedrooms. All include full kitchens, private lanais, and marble bathrooms. Sumptuous dining onsite, tiered infinity pool, and large guest rooms make this a perfect stay.
7. Moana Surfrider • Oahu
Hotel phone: 808-922-3111
This historic, plantation-era resort is the embodiment of classic luxury. Featuring stately columns, rich hardwoods, and graceful archways, the Moana Surfrider stands in impressive contrast to the surrounding high rises. Built in 1901 and located in the heart of Waikiki, this distinctive gem sits just feet from the ocean and within walking distance to Honolulu’s best shopping, dining, and nightlife.
8. The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club • Oahu
Hotel phone: 808-923-8882
A brand new boutique hotel with rooms and suites in an elite surfer chic theme, blending contemporary Honolulu style with ‘60s surf nostalgia. Bright murals, surf and graffiti art installations, and a hand-painted swimming pool make this little hotel a hub for local trendsetters. Onsite events include live music, DJs spinning vinyl, kids’ dance parties, and open discussions with artists, filmmakers, professors, and more. Dining is divine here at Chef Ed Kinney’s fourth restaurant, Mahina & Sun’s.
9. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort • Maui
Hotel phone: 808-573-1234
Stylish resort on Mokapu Beach with a young vibe. Clever design elements include a lobby sandbox with columns and wrought iron beams, glass showers with ocean views, and four infinity pools cascading toward the Pacific. They offer a great cocktail program, where fruits are squeezed daily for housemade syrups and bitters. Walking distance to luxury shops and dining.
10. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa • Kauai
Hotel phone: 808-742-1234
This sprawling oceanfront resort blends classical design with plantation accents. Chandeliers hang from vaulted ceilings with exposed beams; breezy rooms feature coral and jewel tone accents with marble bathrooms. Lush florals bloom around freshwater pools and saltwater lagoons right up to the sparkling white sands of Shipwreck’s Beach. Some of the finest dining on the island is available onsite.
11. Holualoa Inn • Big Island
Hotel phone: 808-324-1121
This elegant plantation home in the mountains of Kona offers a variety of accommodations, from rooms to suites to a cottage, in a tasteful fusion of Polynesian and Southeast Asian décor. The property includes a mosaic tile pool and a hot tub overlooking the Pacific. The estate grows thousands of coffees, nuts, and fruits, which all become part of the gourmet, daily breakfasts here. An intimate experience with top notch service. Walking distance to art galleries, coffee farms, local fruit stands, and just a short drive to the coast.
12. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa • Oahu
Hotel phone: 808-674-6200
This family-centric Disney resort offers luxurious, Hawaiian-themed rooms, suites, and villas; some with kid-sized Murphy beds built into the TV stands. The main attraction here is the extravagant pool area with two waterslides, lazy river, aquatic playground, and private snorkeling lagoon. Little ones love the Disney character breakfasts and complimentary kids club activities. This beachfront property also features great restaurants and bars.
13. Hana Maui Resort • Maui
Hotel phone: 808-359-2401
Luscious accommodations in a remote spa retreat. Suites and bungalows are serene, beachy, and breezy, relying on trade winds and panoramic sliding doors rather than air conditioning. Situated at the end of the Road to Hana, the gated grounds make Hana Maui popular with families, as kids can run free with no worries. The only luxury resort in Maui that offers all-inclusive packages with meals, spa services, and activities.
14. Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort • Kauai
Hotel phone: 808-828-8888
The amenities of a huge, luxury resort, scaled down to a boutique size. Ko’a Kea’s décor thoughtfully blends modern sophistication with beachy textures. Rooms and suites showcase the island with sheer curtains and private outdoor spaces. View rooms come with telescopes. This little beachfront resort is home to Red Salt, one of the best restaurants on the island, as well as an organic spa, pool, and hot tub.
15. Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina • Oahu
Hotel phone: 808-679-0079
Brand new luxury resort, blending classical sophistication with modern Polynesian style. Rooms feature playful accents, such as banana leaf headboards. This opulent oceanfront property has manmade lagoons, four pools, and two hot tubs. Complimentary beach amenities include Sunfish sailing boats. Onsite dining is superb and plentiful, with Fish House offering an outstanding happy hour and La Hiki serving up six different types of Asian cuisine.
16. Hotel Wailea • Maui
Hotel phone: 808-874-0500
At this trendy, all-suite, adults only Relais & Chateaux resort, guests can borrow a roadster for an Island Safari in search of secret beaches or dine in a private treehouse. Electric bikes and Mercedes limo services transport guests around town or down to the beach. Onsite classes in mixology and aerials are offered regularly. Suites are all one bedroom and well-appointed with coral fossil walls and ohia woods.
17. Fairmont Orchid • Big Island
Hotel phone: 808-885-2000
This resort blends timeless luxury in common areas with crisp, modern décor in rooms and suites. Accommodations are spacious and family friendly with a broad range of sizes and amenities. An expansive, 10,000 square foot pool fronts the ocean. Located at the north end of Waikoloa Village, this resort is close to dining and shops, yet removed from busy downtown.
18. The Lodge at Kukui’ula • Kauai
Hotel phone: 855-939-3131
A collection of brand new luxury homes built on expansive grounds of lush, rolling hills, a huge farm and orchard for guest and restaurant use, a truly exquisite spa, and world-class golf. Spacious and private one to four-bedroom homes accommodate families of all sizes. Their property includes several cascading pools, a waterslide, and a game room with pool tables and more. The Lodge is only a short drive to Kukui’ula Bay, Poipu Beach, and the finest shopping and dining on Kauai.
19. The Modern Honolulu • Oahu
Hotel phone: 808-943-4161
A cosmopolitan and contemporary high rise on the harbor. On the northwest end of Waikiki, the Modern is only steps away from the beach, as well as some of Hawaii’s best shopping. Chic rooms and suites are available here, with textures of the beach worked into their design: weathered wood, sand colors, and sailing rope. There is a hidden bar behind a bookshelf in the lobby and the nightclub serves until 3 a.m.
Staying on Maui
Consistently rated one of the world’s best islands, Maui offers a little something for everyone. For sheer variety of activities, this island is a great choice. Maui is best known for its long stretches of white sand beach, each with a distinctive mood, from big wave surfing to coral reef snorkeling, from beaches packed with partiers to secret coves where travelers can swim alone. This is the best island for winter whale watching, too; humpback whales especially like the channel between Maui and Lanai – sometimes they can be seen from the shore, but a boat tour is ideal for getting a good look at these magnificent creatures. Fantastic hiking and biking trails are here for exploring remote waterfalls, ancient petroglyphs, or the crater rim. Dining on Maui is outstanding, with an emphasis on locally sourced and fresh ingredients. You’ll find great eateries island-wide, but they’re most abundant in Paia, Lahaina, and surprisingly Kahului (this is where Chef Simeon’s Tin Roof is, as well as Sam Sato’s, the source of the island’s dry mein craze). There are Luxury resorts and boutique lodging spread across the island, but each area has a different atmosphere, and choosing the best place largely comes down to personal preference: Kaanapali, Kihei, and Wailea are bustling with activity, Lahaina is historical and hip, Paia is surfy and artistic, while Hana and the Upcountry region are filled with rustic charm.
The Best Maui Hotels
- Four Seasons • Hotel phone: 808-874-8000
Fantastic luxury hotel steps from Wailea’s beaches, shops, and restaurants.
- Grand Wailea • Hotel phone: 808-875-1234
Family friendly classical resort, a water-lover’s paradise.
- Hotel Wailea • Hotel phone: 808-874-0500
Stylish, adults-only resort focused on unique experiences.
- Montage Kapalua Bay • Hotel phone: 808-662-6600
Modern luxury with outstanding food and pools.
- Andaz Maui at Wailea • Hotel phone: 808-573-1234
Trendy resort with clever design elements and a fantastic bar.
- Paia Inn • Hotel phone: 808-579-6000
Great beach hotel in the center of this charming town.
- Hana Maui Resort • Hotel phone: 808-359-2401
Remote resort, famous for its spa, and all-inclusive options.
- Ka’anapali Beach Hotel • Hotel phone: 808-661-0011
Family friendly hotel that emphasizes Hawaiian culture.
Staying on Oahu
The most urban and populous of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is the best spot for travelers who prefer lively, active vacations over tranquility and calm. Skyscrapers line up on busy Waikiki Beach, where Duke Kahanamoku ushered in the era of modern surfing. Honolulu is the state’s capital and cosmopolitan hub, bustling with a broad mix of arts, culture, food, shopping, and nightlife. Foodies, in particular, will love Honolulu’s neighborhoods, which showcase an eclectic range of cuisine from many cultures. The Kaimuki and Kapahulu areas brim with the area’s most exciting local farm-to-table restaurants, while Downtown has the best fine dining. Food trucks are cheap, delicious, and everywhere, but some of the best are at the Pau Hana Market in Waikiki. Live music is available every night of the week, and DJs keep the clubs hopping. Shop or window shop in luxury row or Ala Moana. In spite of all this activity, travelers are never far away from nature. Diamond Head park offers fun hiking with views of the city from the peak. Less than an hour’s drive north in Hale’iwa are the world’s most famous surf spots, Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. This quiet surf town serves as a laid back, casual contrast to the bustling south side.
The Best Oahu Hotels
- The Modern Honolulu • Hotel phone: 808-943-4161
Chic, cosmopolitan luxury on the harbor.
- The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club • Hotel phone: 808-923-8882
Mecca of cool in the heart of Honolulu.
- Aulani • Hotel phone: 808-674-6200
Luxury, family-centric, Disney resort.
- Halekulani • Hotel phone: 808-923-2311
Elegant oceanfront luxury on Waikiki Beach.
- Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina • Hotel phone: 808-679-0079
Stunning luxury resort on Oahu’s leeward coast.
- Moana Surfrider • Hotel phone: 808-922-3111
Historic, plantation-era glam on Waikiki Beach
- Shoreline Hotel • Hotel phone: 808-219-0674
Retro, hipster vibe in the heart of Waikiki, attached to an amazing restaurant.
- Coconut Waikiki Hotel • Hotel phone: 808-219-0728
Sunny, kid-friendly hotel overlooking Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki.
Staying on Kauai
For rustic charm and striking landscapes, Kauai can’t be beat. The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is home to stunning landscapes created over millions of years of erosion. This is the best island for nature lovers. Miles of beaches circle the island, many of them accessible only by hiking the sheer cliffs of the Na Pali coast or paddling around by kayak. Verdant rainforest and thick clouds cover the peak of Mount Waialeale, the world’s rainiest spot, while only a few miles west, colorful Waimea Canyon opens up, arid and dusty. Its breathtaking terrain has long attracted Hollywood’s attention: about 80 movies have been filmed here, including Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Almost three-quarters of the land is inaccessible by foot and can only be seen by helicopter, which makes helicopter tours the most popular attraction island-wide. There are no freeways on Kauai, and much of the island is rural or undeveloped. Chickens are everywhere, and the wild rooster has become the unofficial state bird here. A few luxury resorts can be found in the Po’ipu and Princeville areas, but most of the accommodations here are boutique inns, B&Bs, and budget hotels concentrated on the eastern Coconut Coast. The island is small, though, so no matter where visitors stay, the farthest attractions are only about an hour’s drive away.
The Best Kauai Hotels
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa • Hotel phone: 808-742-1234
Classic luxury with plantation details on sunny Po’ipu Beach.
- Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort • Hotel phone: 808-828-8888
Boutique luxury resort with a fantastic restaurant.
- The Lodge at Kukui’ula • Hotel phone: 855-939-3131
Sprawling resort with a top tier spa and golf course.
- Fern Grotto Inn • Hotel phone: 808-670-1336
Boutique inn on the Wailua River, with fruit trees and superb amenities.
Staying on the Big Island
The Big Island is the youngest in the Hawaiian chain and the only one with active volcanoes. As such, it has a very different feel to it than the rest of the islands. The landscape is rugged and sparse on much of the island with lava rock stretching for miles under a layer of volcanic fog (“vog” for short). There are fewer beaches here, and many of them are rocky; however, some of the clearest water in all of Hawaii is located off its western coast. Because of this, most of the island’s resorts are clustered here, in Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa Village. The Big Island, though, is big! It is bigger than all of the rest of the islands combined and home to eight distinct microclimates. In around 90 minutes, travelers can leave the arid west coast behind for the lush rainforests of the east, near Hilo and Volcano. The east side offers some incredible boutique lodging, as well as some budget hotels, but no luxury resorts. Though Hilo is the largest city on the island, it retains a small-town feel and is a wonderful spot for cycling, as long as you aren’t deterred by rain. Tons of volcano tours begin here, especially to Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world, which erupted nonstop from 1983 to 2018 and again in December 2020.
The Best Big Island Hotels
- Four Seasons Hualalai • Hotel phone: 808-325-8000
Refined luxury bungalows on the Kona coast.
- Holualoa Inn • Hotel phone: 808-324-1121
Luxury B&B in the Kona mountains.
- Fairmont Orchid • Hotel phone: 808-885-2000
Graceful design in a quieter part of Waikoloa.
- Lotus Garden of Hilo • Hotel phone: 808 936-5212
Funky, bohemian boutique stay in downtown Hilo.
- Lava Lava Beach Club • Hotel phone: 808-769-5282
Surfer cool cottages with an outstanding bar and nightly live music.
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I just stumbled upon your blog, and it’s awesome… love all the tips! Hoping you can help me as I’m researching hotels for the next family trip.
My family stayed at the Ho’olei villas at the Grand Wailea and loved the privacy and convenience of staying at a private home, but with the amenities and service available as part of the larger resort. Are there any similar type accommodations you recommend on any of the other islands?
Thanks in advance for any recommendations you can share!
There are a few similar-style hotels offering private villas with full services and amenities. On the Big Island, the Four Seasons Hualalai has the most luxurious and private one-to three-bedroom villas. These are all spacious and include outdoor lava rock showers and private whirlpools. The only downside to this hotel is that their beach, like many of the beaches on the Big Island, is rocky and not ideal for swimming; their seven pools more than make up for that, though! If a great beach is a main priority, Mauna Lani Bay is an excellent choice on the Big Island. This hotel sits on a sandy-bottomed beach with a coral reef, a great spot to snorkel, kayak, or paddleboard. Their two-bedroom bungalows all include private Jacuzzis and outdoor showers. The Big Island offers a rugged beauty that sets it apart from the other islands. The water on the Kona side of the island, where both of these hotels are, is the clearest in the whole Hawaiian Island chain, and it is the only island with an active volcano (great for a day trip or a helicopter fly-by).
Hands down, the best villa stay in Oahu is at the Aulani Disney resort. Villas here are one- to three-bedroom units, each with a full kitchen and washer and dryer. The largest villas sleep up to twelve. The resort has direct beach access and outstanding water facilities, such as a private snorkeling lagoon, lazy river, waterslides, and four pools. Unique kids’ activities include sandcastle-building classes, pool parties, and breakfast with the characters. This is a perfect option for families with younger kids or multigenerational families. Oahu is famous for its surfing beaches on the north side and cosmopolitan Honolulu the south end. Both areas are about 40 minutes’ drive from Alani.
Kauai is the quietest and least-developed island, but it still offers some amazing villa options. The best is The Lodge at Kukui’ula. This is a collection of luxury homes (cottages, bungalows, and villas) spread out over several acres of former sugar plantation. Ranging from one- to four-bedrooms, all include outdoor lava rock showers; villas add a private plunge pool. The grounds have orchards, veggie, and flower gardens that guests may help themselves to, in addition to cascading saltwater pools, a game room, and a private 18-hole golf course. Kauai is the greenest island in the chain, because it is the rainiest. The Lodge is located in one of the sunniest parts of the island, near Po’ipu Beach. Much of the island is inaccessible by car or foot. Helicopter tours offer the best way to see the interior of the island (including the famous Jurassic Falls), while the Na Pili coast is best seen by boat.
Hi Dave. Great and very helpful blog! I am looking to book a hotel for the 2nd part of our Honeymoon on the Big Island. Budget isn’t really a huge concern but obviously want the best value we can get for our money without sacrificing.
We would definitely like to be directly on the beach. I do realize there are beach options away from the hotel, but it would be nice to have an easy option at the hotel.
I have it narrowed down to the following 3 hotels: Four Seasons (Is the Golf Course view a nice room? Was the cheapest there.), Fairmont Orchid (Deluxe Ocean View or Ocean Front room), and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (Premium Ocean View).
Any advice? If there are any others I should look at to consider please let me know. We are looking forward to our first visit to the big island!! Thanks
These are three of the best hotels on the Big Island, but the Four Seasons Hualalai is just a cut above the others. All of the rooms are excellent. The Golf Course view rooms all face the water and are partial ocean views. The best views of the ocean in this category are on the second floor, but the first floor rooms have an outdoor lava rock shower in addition to the roomy indoor shower. The rooms are quite spacious, and this side of the hotel is quieter, since you’ll be further away from the kids’ pool area. The service is unparalleled, absolutely intuitive. This is definitely my top pick of the three, in fact my top pick in all of Hawaii.
Hello. I’m wondering if you could tell me how kid-friendly the Halekulani hotel on Maui is. We’re planning a trip with my in-laws and that’s where they want to stay – they’ve stayed there before and really like it. It looks nice, but based on what I’ve seen, I’m not convinced that it’ll the best for young kids (3 and 6). If that’s the case, is there a nearby hotel you’d recommend for us, so that we’d be close to them? Thanks for your help.
Halekulani is family-friendly, with a great pool area, free admission to museums and cultural attractions, and a package deal with discounts on a second room. I would not consider them kid-centric, though, as they don’t have the special amenities for children that some other hotels have, plus the vibe is very elegant and refined. I would recommend this more for families with older kids. A great option for families with younger kids is the iconic Royal Hawaiian Resort, with their playground, two kids’ pools, and waterslides, plus a kids club with cultural activities. You have a choice here of being in the historic 1927 wing or the modern wing addition.
Which Four Seasons is better: the one at Ko Olina (Oahu), or Hualalai (Big Island)?
Both are fantastic, but Hualalai has more of the quintessential Hawaiian feel, with lush gardens, secluded bungalows, and lava rock showers. There are seven pools here, one of which is stocked with wildlife for snorkeling. The resort is expansive, so even when it’s at full capacity, it never feels crowded. The spa is outstanding, as are the restaurants and bars. Ko Olina is newer, with a chic and contemporary look, less of a jungle vibe and more urbanized. Hualalai is my choice between the two.
Can you recommend a nice restaurant or two on Waikiki? We’re staying at the Halekulani, but don’t want to spend all our time in the hotel. Fancy and casual recommendations are both appreciated, and we like all types of food and appreciate a full bar. Thanks in advance!
There are tons of amazing restaurants on Waikiki! For brunch check out Heavenly Island Lifestyle; they use as much local, O’ahu-grown meat and produce as possible, plus a full bar and a fun selection of mimosas. For a great happy hour or dinner, check out Mahina & Sun’s; this is a stylish, retro bar and restaurant serving local, organic Hawaiian foods with contemporary flair. Marukame Udon is the top lunch spot for Japanese food; the line will be wrapped around the building, but the food (including homemade noodles) is served cafeteria-style, so it moves fast. All of these spots are very casual. For fine dining, try Taormina Sicilian Cuisine; they have outstanding meat, seafood, and fresh pasta with an exceptional wine selection.
Some of Honolulu’s best restaurants and nightlife are downtown, away from the beach. If you are up for it, I’d recommend checking out a few of these. MW Restaurant and Town both serve inspired New American foods, Sweet Home Café has the city’s best hot pot, and Frostcity offers the Taiwanese treat shaved snow.
Next January will be my wife and my first trip to Hawaii. We’re celebrating 25 years and we are looking for a quiet location, sea view kind of a place. We will have a rental car to travel around but just like the idea of somewhere quiet to relax. We are thinking of Oahu but any recommendations for hotels/resorts etc. that are not in the middle of the city life?
O’ahu is a great choice! For a luxury stay away from the city, the best place is the Four Seasons Ko Olina. This is a brand new hotel, with absolutely stunning ocean views, superb food, a great spa with couples’ packages, and top notch amenities: four pools, a golf course, and tennis courts. The beach is long with white sand, and stretches across four lagoons. They have complimentary snorkel gear, outrigger canoes, and Sunfish sailboats.
Usually the North Shore is the quieter side of the island, but in January the area hosts several international surf competitions near the Banzai Pipeline, so it gets very crowded, and the waves are dangerously large up there. The Ko Olina area is the best spot for a quiet vacation on O’ahu in winter.
I’ll be staying at the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island this summer. I’d like to get out to see the Kilauea Volcano. Should I rent a car, or are there tours that go out there? Are there any other excursions you’d recommend on the island?
The Big Island is huge, bigger than all of the other islands combined. If you want to make the most of your trip, I highly recommend renting a car here; you’ll have more flexibility in how you use your time and which sights to see. That said, most tour companies will pick you up directly from your hotel.
There are tons of excursions well worth making on the Big Island. I’d recommend a lava tour, either hiking or by boat (even better, do both!) In Kona, you’ll find one of the few spots where manta rays gather, so a twilight snorkel or dive there is fantastic. Snorkeling, in general, is fantastic, especially on the Big Island’s west coast. Mauna Kea has some of the best stargazing at the summit; you’ll need a four-wheel drive to get here or take a tour. Visit a coffee farm up in the mountains in Holualoa, then spend the afternoon in Kailua-Kona for its historical sites, like Ahu’ena Heiau (King Kamehameha’s temple), Hulihe’e Palace, and Mokuaikaua Church.
Which hotel do you recommend between the Modern Honolulu and the Surfjack Swim Club? My girlfriends and I are taking a ladies’ trip and are looking for a modern, fun stay on Honolulu. If you have any other recommendations, we’d be open to those as well. Thanks!
Both are great, but I’d go with the Surfjack. The vibe is more relaxed and fun, with lots of trendy art and local flair celebrating the ‘60s heyday of Waikiki. The onsite restaurant, Mahina & Sun’s, is run by Ed Kenney, the island’s best chef; the cocktails and food here are phenomenal. This place is great for a ladies’ trip. The Modern is a fantastic hotel, too, with a nightclub and a pop up speakeasy on site, but the vibe is more sophisticated and polished; I’d recommend it more for couples. Surfjack is cool, chic, fun, and relaxed – all rolled into one.
I’ve been to Hawaii twice before, once to the Big Island, and once staying in Honolulu. I’d like to try Maui this time around. What’s your favorite beach front resort on the island? Ideally, with great pools/spa and dining options. And fewer kids would be great, as well.
The Andaz Maui is a fantastic beachfront hotel that is more adult-oriented, though families are allowed. This is sleek, modern property with an gorgeous spa and several great dining options as well as a fun cocktail program, using bitters and syrups made daily in house from fresh-squeezed fruits. The highlight may be its four cascading infinity pools, one of which is adults only. Rooms are posh, and they have fun mixology and cooking classes onsite. The hotel has direct access to Wailea Beach and is in the main resort area close to other great restaurants and shopping.
Hi, Hotels Dave! My husband and I want to take a belated honeymoon to Kauai for our first anniversary. We’re looking for a special place that feels luxurious, but quieter and without a real “resorty” vibe. Do you have any ideas for us? We’d be traveling in June, if that makes a difference. Thanks for your help!
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort is your best bet for luxury and quiet. It is a contemporary boutique property, so despite the word “resort” being in their name, it doesn’t feel kitschy, like the typical, tropical resort at all. This is a small, intimate hotel with personalized service. A beachfront property, plus it also has a great pool and hot tub; a spa with couple’s packages; beautiful, modern décor; and view rooms with telescopes. This is on Po’ipu Beach, on the sunny side of Kaua’i, and it should be extra sunny in June.
Hi Dave. Thanks for the helpful website! What’s the most romantic hotel on Kauai? It will be a late honeymoon for two people in their early 30s.
The most romantic hotel in Kaua’i is the St. Regis Princeville. It overlooks Hanalei Bay, with a renowned sunset view from the bar and direct access to the beach and the river. The couple’s spa treatments are outstanding as are their private cabana dinners. All rooms have deep soaking tubs, and suites come with their signature butler service. Plus the area has great options for romantic excursions, like horseback riding and the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pili Coast.
A close second would be Ko’a Kea Hotel on Po’ipu Beach. This is a luxury, boutique resort, with similar amenities, including an organic spa and great restaurants and bars, just on a smaller scale. Po’ipu is fun beach, with lots of activities available, and you’ll be much closer to Waimea Canyon than you would be in Princeville.
I’d like to take my mother on a Hawaii trip next summer. She has limited mobility – can walk with a scooter/walker, but long distances aren’t great for her. Can you recommend a luxury hotel that is small enough in scale that she would be okay getting around? I’m open to any/all islands and areas. Thank you.
Two places spring to mind that are both luxurious and accessible: The Modern Honolulu on O’ahu and Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort on Kaua’i. The Modern is a five-star hotel on the harbor on Waikiki Beach. It’s in a high-rise, so all of the restaurants and pools are accessible by elevator, rather than spread out over a resort. In addition, they have ADA rooms, with either roll in showers or bathtubs with bars, toilet risers, and more to make everyday tasks easier and safer. This is close to all the shopping, dining, and nightlife on Waikiki and near downtown Honolulu.
If you prefer a quieter option, Ko’a Kea is a great choice. This is a boutique property on the south shore of Kaua’i with a sophisticated resort feel but in a compact space. There is more outdoor space here than at the Modern, but everything is connected by flagstone walkways and paved paths, so it’s still very navigable. ADA rooms here have grab bars in the showers and tubs, handheld shower wands, and shower seats.
My fiancée and I are planning a honeymoon on Maui. Based on recommendations from friends and family we’re deciding between Hotel Wailea and Andaz Maui. Do you prefer one over the other? What are the main differences between the two hotels?
Both of these resorts are stunning to look at, their service is outstanding, and they’re in the same neighborhood on the island. I think you would have a wonderful honeymoon no matter which you choose! That said, there are some pretty major differences between the two resorts that give them both very separate vibes.
The Andaz Maui has more of that essential Hawaiian feel than does Hotel Wailea. It is an oceanfront property, with cascading infinity pools (one of which is adults only) and a very elegant sandbox in the lobby. Each room comes with a private lanai, and there are five restaurants onsite. It is incredibly stylish and very new, with a young, hip vibe. Cooking and mixology classes are a welcome change from the usual hula lessons that most hotels on the islands offer.
Hotel Wailea is not beachfront. In fact, it’s up a pretty big hill, though they do offer complimentary electric bikes, which make it a very quick and easy trip to and from the ocean. Since they don’t have direct beach access, their focus is on curating unique guest experiences, such as their Island Safari package, where guests borrow a roadster and explore secret beaches, and their private Treehouse dining experience. Hotel Wailea also differs from the Andaz in that it is an adults only, all-suite property