Best resort hotels in Hawaii


Although it’s part of the U.S., a trip to Hawaii feels like visiting another country, thanks to the islands’ otherworldly landscapes and the vibrant Hawaiian culture. Even from one island to the next, visitors are bound to discover differences. The same goes for hotels and resorts, too.

Some are contemporary and sleek, while others lean into the romantic notion of old Hawaii, with native materials and traditional styling. There are options at a wide range of price points and points values, too. From escapes with easy access to the best Hawaii beaches to retreats that offer postcard-perfect experiences all year long (there really is no best time to visit Hawaii, after all), the possibilities are practically endless in the United States’ most tropical destination.

On the best islands in Hawaii, here are the 18 very best resorts and hotels and what not to miss at each.


Turtle Bay

Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Freewheeling access to nearly 1,300 pristine acres of paradise on Oahu’s North Shore.

Why stay here: The landmark luxury hotel on Oahu’s surfer-strewn coast reopened in 2021 after a total transformation that enhanced its lush, laid-back vibes while elevating its food and beverage experiences.

Best way to book: Book directly for the best rates and packages, or through your favorite credit card travel portal.

There’s no doubt $250 million dollars can do a lot for a hotel. But in the case of Turtle Bay Resort, the iconic and sole luxury resort on Oahu’s North Shore, that substantial investment makes it feel almost like a new property was unveiled in 2022.

The 50th birthday, down-to-the-studs face-lift is evident in multitudinous ways across the sprawling nature reserve-like resort, which has an abundance of pristine waterfront (including world-class surf breaks) and also hiking and horseback riding trails.

From arrival, the great island outdoors are front and center, and the 408 refreshed guest rooms and suites embrace it wholly. For a splurge, opt for one of the 42 stand-alone beachfront bungalows, which come with access to a new shared swimming pool.

No Hawaiian holiday is complete without a traditional lomi lomi massage, and the spa, with soaring glass walls, is a definite highlight here. It clocks in at 11,000 square feet, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, and offers mud masks, wraps and more — all featuring sustainable ingredients so there’s no guilt associated with your pampering.

The new Turtle Bay is also a dining destination in its own right. There is a fresh focus on just-harvested-from-the-farm ingredients such as hydroponic greens that come straight from the resort’s Kuilima Farm, as well as seafood sourced from local waters. Eight dining outlets include the signature restaurant, Alaia, housemade mixology-focused lobby bar, Off The Lip, and an al fresco dinner series called Paniolo Luau that serves as an ode to Hawaiian cowboys, with roasted meats for mains, hula lessons and storytelling, among other cultural activities.

Rates at Turtle Bay Resort currently start at $599 per night.

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Halekulani Hotel

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Heavenly indulgence in a prized part of Waikiki with clear views of Diamond Head.

Why stay here: For more than a century this oceanfront hotel has offered itself to chic travelers as a sanctuary of world-class cuisine, next-level wellness and gracious hospitality.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

Much has changed at Halekulani in its century-plus existence, but a lot hasn’t, which is part of its timeless magic. The quiet location, for one, is as fabulous as it’s always been, with perfect turquoise ocean panoramas from most of the rooms.

That palette dominates the otherwise serene white-on-white interiors, especially in the 453 guest rooms and suites, which have separate showers and tubs in the bathrooms, large balconies and welcome amenities, as well as turndown service with house-made chocolates.

It’s the hotel’s mission to leave its guests wanting for nothing, and in that spirit, the culinary offerings are especially robust and memorable. There’s La Mer, with tinges of French flair, which feels especially romantic, and the coastal Italian restaurant Orchids, where three meals a day — plus throwback afternoon tea — are served alongside Waikiki Beach views. House Without A Key has nightly local music and a brick oven, plus a new pool bar, Earl’s, where one truly feels on vacation after a coconut-cake martini.

A popular wedding venue, Halekulani has elements including an integrated spa with a full menu of physical healing services, mindfulness practices and beauty services to get you ready for the big day.

Rates at Halekulani currently start at $665 per night.

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Luxurious seclusion just 10 minutes from Waikiki.

Why stay here: This 1964 high-rise still has its sheen, thanks to its guest roster of royals and A-listers, a chef of Michelin acclaim, Diamond Head views and a lagoon brimming with bottlenose dolphins.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

Known as the “Ka-Hollywood” for its robust roster of A-list guests, this resort just outside of the bustle of Waikiki has perfected the art of discretion. But even if you’re not someone the paparazzi is chasing, the always attentive service and regal amenities are sure to make you feel special.

This is arguably the only place in Honolulu where you may see bottlenose dolphins jumping outside from the comfort of your king bed — and that’s from many of the rooms, not even a signature suite. With 338 total residential-style accommodations done up in soothing pastel hues, there’s an only-in-Hawaii view for all.

Acclaimed executive chef Jonathan Mizukami oversees the hotel’s five distinctive dining destinations, which include the fine dining restaurant Hoku’s, where dishes are almost too pretty to eat. If those grand tasting menus are too profuse, the other options are plentiful. There’s lounge-y and elevated The Veranda, the casual Seaside Grill, the beachfront Plumeria Beach House and Italian mecca Arancino.

Families celebrating special occasions can take home forever memories by booking photo shoots across the property’s many picturesque spots, such as the sugary 800-foot beach where guests can count on complimentary lounge chairs and can also rent kayaks, snorkeling gear, boogie boards and stand-up paddleboards.

If you’re active, there are bike rentals, a Kahala jogging map, stand-up paddleboard yoga sessions and daily yoga and fitness classes. Of course, for those seeking the opposite, the Kahala Spa seeks to coddle via massages with warm pohaku stones or maybe a lomi stick foot massage followed by a tropical pedicure.

Rates at The Kahala Hotel & Resort currently start at $495 per night.

The Laylow

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Midcentury-modern aficionados seeking a lively scene both day and night.

Why stay here: The Instagrammable design, tech-friendly amenities, saltwater pool and welcoming pet policy makes this Waikiki bolthole a guaranteed good time.

Best way to book: Book directly with Marriott to earn or redeem Marriott Bonvoy points and enjoy any elite benefits.

When the ocean isn’t right out the window, design tends to take center stage, as is the case at this downtown Waikiki boutique hotel that harks to the classic 1960s visually. Even with the beach blocks away, there’s a strong sense of Hawaii in the spirited wallpapers, artwork and furniture decorating its 251 midcentury-esque rooms and suites.

And perks of the Laylow’s location go beyond easy foot access to plentiful restaurants and shops. Complimentary cultural lessons are on offer for an hour every morning. Ukulele, anyone? There are fire pits on a verdant rooftop garden bursting with native flora, an aesthetic that extends to Hideout, a greenhouse-themed restaurant that serves modern Hapa Hawaiian cuisine and even has a bar with live entertainment every single night. This chic urban jungle of a hotel is also home to three independently operated restaurants dishing out global fare that might transport you anywhere from South Korea to Texas.

Proudly pet-friendly, it’s a place for travelers of all stripes — especially those who love a saltwater swimming pool, another milieu with lush landscaping as well as half-submerged loungers for achieving the perfect tan while staying cool. It’s almost like you don’t need to bother with the beach.

Rates at The Laylow, Autograph Collection currently start at $332 or 57,000 points per night.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Kids and kids-at-heart ready to dive into all the Disneyfied wonders of Oahu.

Why stay here: This haven for little ones delivers magic during every stay, as well as ease, thanks to the complimentary kids club, on-resort entertainment and, yes, a spa.

Best way to book: Book directly for the best rates and packages, or through your favorite credit card travel portal.

As much as Hawaii is for honeymooners, it’s also for families. Let’s be honest, no one enjoys all that sand and water as much as children. And nowhere is more of a magnet for them than Aulani, which is a collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineers, Hawaiian artisans and cultural experts.

The resort name means “messenger of a chief,” and it indeed brings Hawaiian culture to life in captivating ways for all ages on Oahu’s leeward coast in the Ko Olina development. The property comprises not only 325 hotel rooms and 16 suites, but 481 Disney Vacation Club units and grand villas as well.

The 5,200-square-foot kids club is named appropriately for its location: Aunty’s Beach House, and for children ages 4 to 12 there are complimentary supervised activities, including Hawaiian arts and crafts. Further experiences on-site include hula lessons and lei making, while evenings bring fireside storytelling and outdoor movie nights under the very stars ancient wayfinders used to reach the islands. Of course, there are Disney character appearances, too.

With two restaurants plus three lounges and a few fast counter-service options, there’s little doubt everyone in the family will nosh happily. Beyond the highly swimmable natural lagoon, perpetually crowded with exuberant little ones, there are six pools and multiple waterslides. Laniwai – A Disney Spa is available to exhausted parents or anyone in need of a little moment of quiet.

Rates at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa currently start at $594 per night.

The Royal Hawaiian Resort Waikiki

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Wannabe time-travelers with a love of glamorous old Hawaii.

Why stay here: Nostalgia is the name of the game at the pink grande dame on Waikiki Beach, which has stayed relevant even while retaining its ‘20s charm and classic style of service.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to earn Marriott points while enjoying elitelike benefits and on-property credits, or redeem your points by booking directly with Marriott.

It’s impossible not to feel the history in the walls of Hawaii’s own pink palace, the unmissable icon built in 1927 in an opulent Spanish-Moorish style just steps from the sand. Over 90 years later, The Royal Hawaiian Resort Waikiki is still enthralling guests with its swoon-worthy sense of gravitas and sophistication, perhaps thanks to it being on the sacred grounds of Hawaii’s former monarchy.

It’s safe to expect a refined sense of hospitality at this Luxury Collection outpost, alongside elegant accommodations and excellent food. Of the 528 guest rooms and suites, outfitted with comfortable Frette bedding and bathrobes, those in the Historic Wing lean into their historic trappings, while the Diamond Head-facing Mailani Tower accommodations skew more contemporary.

Guests can pick their lounging location according to preference: freshwater or saltwater. The two pools are filled with the former, which also fuels the 70-foot waterslide, while the ocean is mere steps away and there are rentable umbrella and chair setups available.

As for other pursuits, curious types can take one of the hotel’s twice-weekly history tours, and the resort also stages royal-style luaus on Mondays and Thursdays. Equally as decadent, though with a different kind of energy, are the four-course dinners at Azure, one of the hotel’s three eateries, plus a bakery. As quintessential Waikiki vacations go, Mai Tai Bar — with perfect sunset views of Diamond Head — is another classic.

Rates at The Royal Hawaiian Resort Waikiki currently start at $395 or 53,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.


Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Easy beach access with plenty of dining and outdoor fun to be had right at the hotel.

Why stay here: Enjoy boutique hotel-style design amid all the amenities and outdoor fun of a sprawling beachside resort.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits, or reserve through American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts for value-added benefits like upgrades and late checkout based on availability, plus on-property statement credits.

For the kind of getaway where the beach is the most important element, this resort has you covered. Private access to Mokapu Beach is a privilege that comes with being a guest of this family favorite on the southwestern coastline of Maui, in the 1,500-acre Wailea development, which means you’ll never need to go far for plenty of dining or shopping selections, either

Fifteen of those acres are home to the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. There are 320 rooms and suites with private lanais, including a collection of oceanfront villas in a residential style that speaks to larger groups or families. The vibe is a beachy take on minimalist-modern and the bathrooms are clad in Hawaiian lava stone.

Tiers of infinity-edge swimming pools lure guests from the comfort of their rooms into sleek white lounge chairs, many with ocean views. Those vistas seem to heighten the flavor of frozen cocktails and poke bowls from the beach bar. The escape does casual daytime eats very well, and also fields a 24-hour market with staples and drinks.

But a true highlight is Morimoto Maui, a reservation-required (and dress-up worthy, as in actual collared shirts and long pants for men) fine dining Japanese restaurant from chef Masaharu Morimoto, whose restaurant empire now spans the globe. Of course, there’s also a luau to experience, but not your average luau — this one includes unlimited craft cocktails alongside the storytelling dances and local dishes.

Rates at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort currently start at $890 or 35,000-45,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Montage Kapalua Bay

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Fancy (but not too fancy) getaways where all ages can find their bliss.

Why stay here: Intimate yet sprawling, this resort offers spaciousness and peace on a turquoise bay in northwest Maui that imbues it with a deep sense of place.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

A typical Maui resort this is not. Hundreds of rooms are average for island hotels, but Montage Kapalua Bay boasts only 50. What the striking property lacks in number, it makes up for in suite size — with one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations, they are 1,250 square feet at minimum. Basically, the plush accommodations feel more like luxury villas than hotel rooms.

The privacy aspect is seriously sweet, but so are the rest of the offerings, which include complimentary activities such as stories with the resort’s cultural ambassador as well as guided tidepool excursions and hikes across 24 acres of tropical landscaping and nature. Balance and harmony are the goals here, even when traveling with kids, as many guests do.

There is a Paintbox program for children 5 to 12 years old who can join thematic days of games, indoor and outdoor activities and crafts, plus Mermaid Academy and Coffee with Whales, where the whole family can enjoy a morning viewing the gentle giants. While the tykes get adventurous, adults can try something new, too, in Spa Montage, which has a beautifully breezy open-air hale for massages. Meanwhile, Kapalua Bay has not one but two championship golf courses for those who find their Zen on the green.

Suites are outfitted with kitchens, but Cane & Canoe and The Hideaway are the intimate resort’s two restaurants, serving Hawaiian flavors created with locally sourced seafood and produce. Hana Hou Bar, with impeccable views of Molokai and Lanai, is an idyllic wind-down spot for cocktail hour, which, in Hawaii, should happen every day.

Rates at Montage Kapalua Bay currently start at $1,110 per night.

The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Frequent travelers with high standards and a penchant for impeccable service.

Why stay here: You’ll want for nothing at this 54-acre resort with impeccable views and fabulous accommodations, especially after a $100 million reimagining completed in 2022.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to earn Marriott points while enjoying elitelike benefits and on-property credits, or redeem your points by booking directly with Marriott.

All dreamy whites with pops of blues and greens, this longstanding favorite among couples and families alike in Kapalua Bay is a true reflection of its immediate surroundings. Renovated in 2022, The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua is currently at the top of its game. And that game is spot-on service and top-of-the-line luxury.

There are 466 rooms, suites and residences spread across 54 acres. Each has a private balcony, often with some breathtakingly vibrant vista just beyond, plus huge bathrooms with generous bathtubs and Diptyque toiletries.

Appropriately for such a sprawling property, there are six dining outlets. The Banyan Tree celebrates unique and sustainable Maui-sourced ingredients, Alaloa Lounge does light bites with cocktails as special as its sunsets, Olu Cafe is the place for tasty lunches of pupus and salads, and Burger Shack is self-explanatory (with milkshakes to boot). There’s also Ulana for rich breakfasts and Kai Cafe for on-the-go bites and picnics.

The spa is worthy of spending an entire day, complete with saunas, whirlpools and steam rooms. But there’s also so much to do under the Maui sun, like exploring a truly massive three-tiered swimming pool with cabanas, going kayaking and hitting some balls around at the tennis courts. There’s a Ritz Kids program, and this is one of just five Ritz-Carlton hotels with a Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program outpost, which offers fun and enlightening family-friendly experiences that turn the resort into Mother Nature’s classroom.

Rates at The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua currently start at $812 or 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA


Best for: An island stay that immerses you in Hawaiian culture and flavors.

Why stay here: The Grand Wailea Maui’s gorgeous grounds, world-renowned spa, proximity to Wailea Beach and unique collection of pools make it a prime choice for a Hawaiian family beach escape.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits, or directly with Hilton to redeem Hilton Honors points.

Sometimes bigger really is better. Like at this behemoth resort with voluptuous Fernando Botero sculptures and 776 crisp and colorful rooms and villas that start at a spacious 650 square feet. The spa is Hawaii’s largest, with 40 treatment rooms, and the kids club is a gigantic 20,000 square feet, with plenty of activities to engage kids with diverse interests.

You need only look at the creative labyrinth of swimming pools, dubbed the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool, to understand why this resort is hugely popular with families. It spans six different levels connected by slides, a river with both rapids and gentle currents, waterfalls, caves and the world’s first and only water elevator. Adventures are guaranteed. For adults, however, the giant Hibiscus Pool, inlaid with more than 2 million individual tiles, is a place for tranquility.

Grand Wailea has a scuba provider offering complimentary pool lessons to beginners, and Aqualani rents paddleboards. Outrigger tours are available to book, with specialized sessions for turtle watching, snorkeling and whale watching. The daily resort fee of $50 covers a generous number of extras, including one 45-minute photography session per stay, plus morning yoga classes, beach cruisers, ukulele lessons and beach umbrellas.

For fuel, guests can enjoy sushi in the Botero Lounge, pina coladas from Wailea Surf Haus and wood-fired pizzas from Aloha Trick Pony, among the half-dozen options. The signature restaurant, however, is Humuhumunukunukupuaa, which serves Hawaiian-caught seafood overlooking the Pacific.

Rates at Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort currently start at $892 or 110,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Hawaii Island

Mauna Lani

Kamuela, Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA


Best for: A lavish yet authentic escape into Hawaii’s singular culture, cuisine and landscape.

Why stay here: Built in 1983 and sumptuously reimagined in 2020, this beloved resort bounces breezily between romance and family fun and is home to CanoeHouse, one of the state’s most exceptional restaurants.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

Generations of families — and couples who now have kids of their own — have called this resort their vacation home over the last 40 years, and it hasn’t lost its luster in the slightest. The exact opposite, in fact.

When Mauna Lani reopened in 2020 as an Auberge Resorts Collection property, it amplified its decades-old message that true luxury and respect for culture can coexist peacefully in one luxury hotel. With 334 rooms and suites that feel curated and chic, the resort references Hawaii Island in both subtle details and eye-catching elements, such as the impressive wooden outrigger canoe that dominates the lower-level atrium.

No guest should miss the opportunity to meet Uncle Danny, the soft-spoken Hawaiian elder and storyteller who welcomes guests to a historic cottage-turned-learning center. Even the kids club programming is directly inspired by local traditional activities and gets keiki (children) outside and out of their comfort zones, asking questions and exploring the area’s ancient fishponds and more.

Regardless of who you’re traveling with, start your day with the Kainalu Ocean Sports team’s sunrise outrigger paddle, during which humpback whales might surface or turtles might pop their heads up to say good morning. Surfing, spearfishing, snorkeling and underwater rock running are all on offer, too, and after any of those you will have earned a treat from the Surf Shack, or ube pancakes at HaLani. Indulge in a little TLC at the spa, where traditional treatments using homegrown botanicals are on the menu.

Each evening the ceremonial torch lighting around CanoeHouse draws attention to the sun setting gloriously over the water. There, lucky diners who made reservations tuck into arguably the best dinner on Hawaii Island, full of Japanese-inflected preparations of Hawaiian seafood.

Rates at Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection currently start at $857 per night.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection

Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Golfers and beach loungers who prefer placid waters over waves.

Why stay here: Directly in front of the property is Kaunaoa Bay, which is widely considered the best beach on the island of Hawaii.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credit while earning Marriott points, reserve via American Express’ Fine Hotels + Resorts or Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, or redeem your points by booking directly with Marriott.

With the distinction of being the very first resort hotel on the island of Hawaii— you can thank Laurance S. Rockefeller for that — Mauna Kea Beach Hotel simply feels storied. Since it opened in 1965, it’s served as a natural playground for all types of leisure travelers, especially golf fanatics. There are even accommodations promising golf course vistas.

The ocean is, however, the main attraction, and it radiates the most surreal cerulean in Kaunaoa Bay, which is a fabulous crescent-shaped stretch on which to take long walks in the sand or meet the resort’s cultural ambassador for a sunrise “E Ala E” chant.

The resort’s 252 roomy accommodations include beachfront options with furnished lanais as well as vibrant suites with multiple private outdoor spaces — better for immersing yourself in the fresh air and stunning scenery that marks the location. There’s a beach club as well as tennis courts, kids programming and a spa, art collection tours and Hawaiian language classes. Really, the island is your oyster and the resort concierges are there to open it fully.

Indulgent cuisine is also a key part of the experience, as there are almost a dozen distinctive dining options. The views from al fresco breakfast and dinner restaurant Manta — and the Hawaiian fish dishes — can’t be beaten. Then there’s Meridia for Mediterranean, Copper Bar for mixology with mesmerizing panoramas, Ikena Landing for decadent waffles, and beachside favorite Hau Tree, where the Ovaltine Froth has been a beloved sweet treat for decades.

Rates at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection currently start at $854 or 73,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Active families and social butterflies who want it all and don’t mind a high price tag.

Why stay here: If choice is the true luxury, this beloved property that stretches across 865 acres — including ancient ponds, lava flows and a Jack Nicklaus golf course — is the ultimate destination.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

If you most enjoy your Kona lobster with a backdrop of the ocean from which it was pulled, then this resort is destined to be your happy place. The dining outlets are stretched beautifully along the pristine, lava-strewn beachfront, which is dotted with cozy cabanas. It’s hard to get a bad table anywhere regardless of whether it’s at the hyper-locally sourced Ulu Ocean Grill or the Italian-inspired Beach Tree. No matter where you dine, it’s easy to find a table with Pacific views.

Beyond truly fabulous food and drink — commensurate with the sometimes eye-watering prices — Four Seasons Hualalai is an oasis in which each day is as full or free as you’d like it. There’s a quad of swimming pools (not counting the spa’s lap pool), including those dedicated only to the smallest guests and also the quietest, plus a 1.8-million-gallon swimmable aquarium stocked with tropical fish and a spotted eagle ray. The marine biologists on hand are excellent resources for understanding and appreciating what’s below the surface.

The 243 suites and rooms, which underwent a recent overhaul, are slices of heaven, especially considering the lush landscaping framing the outdoor showers, as well as Four Seasons’ signature super-plush beds. They’re the best place to crash at the end of a sun-drenched day of snorkeling, sailing, swinging (golf clubs) or spa-ing. Any kiddos from 5 to 12 years old will be happily pooped out from the exhaustive array of complimentary activities on offer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the kids club.

Rates at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai currently start at $1,210 per night.

Fairmont Orchid

Kohala Coast, Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Seekers of serenity but also families craving aquatic excitement.

Why stay here: The 540 rooms, each with a private lanai (balcony), puts guests front and center to savor the spectacular Kohala Coast.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

When you want to really feel that you’re on Hawaii Island, there’s nothing like mounds of black lava contrasting with the aquamarine water to remind you. There’s no mistaking the singular setting of Fairmont Orchid’s 32 acres on the Kohala Coast, including a paradisiacal private bay.

Hawaiian culture is shared in meaningful ways here, capturing the imagination of guests of all ages through activities like paddling an outrigger canoe on Pauoa Bay with a local hookele navigator, or learning the real way to hula with a cultural ambassador. Friday nights are for the resort’s torch-lit, not-to-miss luaus.

The spirited escape’s rooms and suites feel perfectly in tune with the island thanks to rattan and bamboo motifs. (And there are plenty of them, which is one factor that perhaps boosts its popularity for weddings.) The same goes for the menus at the restaurants, such as Brown’s Beach House, which pairs fresh-caught seafood and Hawaiian farm produce with scene-setting live music and memorable sunsets. Binchotan Bar & Grill is the latest delectable option, featuring Japanese robatayaki grilling.

The Spa Without Walls, which has six oceanfront cabanas, three indoor treatment rooms and a handful of thatched huts, is a particular standout thanks also to its therapies and rituals harnessing mostly of-the-island ingredients, including Kona coffee, Hawaiian sea salt and, of course, those prolific volcanic lava rocks.

Rates at Fairmont Orchid currently start at $609 per night.


Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Families traveling to Hawaii who want to enjoy a full roster of activities without leaving the resort.

Why stay here: The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a destination unto itself with pools, waterfalls, a water park-style waterslide and tons of scheduled activities for the kids, including Hawaiian cultural lessons.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits, or reserve through American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts for value-added benefits like upgrades and late checkout based on availability, plus on-property statement credits.

Kauai is known as “the garden island,” and with its low-rise resorts, lush landscaping and tumbling waterfalls, this hotel lives up to that verdant reputation. Native foliage and flora pop up in the cheerful decor and design schemes throughout the 605 rooms and suites, which are at least 500 square feet. In short, the feel is very Kauai.

Even set on luminous Keoneloa Bay, where the crystalline saltwater is endlessly engaging, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa’s aquatic resources rival nature’s. There’s a salty 1 1/2-acre lagoon with its own islands undulating between the beach and buildings, as well as multilevel pools, a lava-rock lazy river, secret caves and a waterslide that takes thrill-seekers on a 150-foot chute. Couples can find more romantic vibes at the adults-only pool.

An 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. is one way to spend days, as is the Anara Spa, where healing customs and therapies are designed according to lokahi — a philosophy of bringing balance and harmony to both body and mind.

The most seductive setting to dine, seemingly floating on a lagoon, is at Tidepools, where Kauai-grown ingredients star on the nightly dinner menu. Sushi is served on a 24-foot koa wood bar at Stevenson’s Library, there are biweekly all-you-can-eat luaus, private starlit dinners are available, and four more food and beverage outlets round out the diverse and crave-able offerings.

Rates at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa currently start at $761 or 25,000-35,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Koa Kea Resort on Poipu Beach

Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, USA


Best for: A romantic escape on Kauai with the island’s closest-to-the-water rooms and suites.

Why stay here: Fresh off a $5 million renovation in 2022, this intimate South Shore resort of just 121 rooms and suites offers a well-rounded immersion into lush island life.

Best way to book: Book directly for the best rates and packages, or through your favorite credit card travel portal.

Intimate and romantic, this gem in the south of Kauai is in many ways the antithesis of your average Hawaiian resort. There are no waterslides and the vibe is more sophisticated than festive. Though it allows guests of all ages, this is a place that knows its audience, and that audience is a group of upscale and discerning beach lovers who want to sleep as close to the ocean as possible.

A 2022 renovation brought refreshed furnishings, including divine pillows and carved wood headboards, and art by native Hawaiians to the 121 rooms and suites, all of which have a private balcony or lanai. From them, you can watch surfers catch waves or admire the blazing sunsets.

It’s a true vacation in the sense that you can get brunch every day of the week, including lobster-accented burgers and lemon-pineapple souffle pancakes, at Red Salt. That restaurant, by Kauai-born executive chef Noelani Planas, also serves chef’s tasting menus by night, using locally sourced ingredients. There’s a small sushi bar, too.

At the pool bar, order refreshing smoothies and cocktails that help you melt into your lounge chair happily before chilling out further in the lava-rock hot tub. The ocean’s lulling waves provide the soundtrack to plenty of resort activities and offerings, from sunrise yoga on the grassy lawn looking out to the big blue beyond, to the fire pits right at the edge of the surf, to massages in an open-air cabana under coconut trees.

Rates at Koa Kea Resort on Poipu Beach currently start at $510 per night.

Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences

Hokuala, Kauai, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Multigenerational groups and gatherings of friends seeking the privacy of a villa with all the amenities of a full-service resort.

Why stay here: Unbeatable features include a two-tiered infinity pool, large organic garden and 17 miles of trails — plus dining experiences worth driving across the island for.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences is the kind of place you might just want to move into after your stay. And since it offers fractional and whole ownership of its private residences, you actually could. The two-to-four-bedroom accommodations are uber serene stylistically, incorporating rustic materials with chic finishes and soulful elegance.

Spread out across this birder’s paradise of a 450-acre resort, each residence has an ocean view and at least three lanais. Some have private plunge pools. And it’s only a 10-minute drive to Lihue Airport. Talk about convenient.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course on the property offers the state’s longest stretch of oceanfront golf. And there’s also plenty of frontage given to dining and drinking. Hualani’s is the beloved-by-locals eatery serving three meals a day as well as an exclusive farm-to-table prix fixe dinner on Tuesdays, which makes great use of the daily harvest from The Farm at Hokuala.

Active outdoors lovers can stretch their legs on 13 miles of remote-feeling rainforest trails that open up to exquisite vistas. Or take in those views from the ocean on a sailboat or surfboard. Anyone who wishes to see where their food comes from can visit the aforementioned on-site farm, where tours are available and guests can also get hands-on with harvesting.

Nanea Spa’s all-organic treatments feature the Hawaiian brand Malie, used in lomi lomi as well as pohaku massages. There’s a fitness center with cutting-edge equipment, yoga classes and, when it’s all about relaxation, a two-tiered infinity swimming pool with — you guessed it — ocean views.

Rates at Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences currently start at around $1,600 per night.


Four Seasons Resort Lanai

Lanai City, Lanai, Hawaii, USA


Best for: Chic Hawaii regulars and celebrities seeking tropical seclusion with a side of world-class pampering.

Why stay here: As one of just two resorts on Lanai (the other being sister property Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort), this 168-room, 45-suite beachfront utopia specializes in all things exclusive and elite.

Best way to book: Book through our partner Skylark to enjoy elitelike benefits and on-property credits.

One of the least touristy ways to experience Hawaii may just be a stay at this resort on one of the archipelago’s less-visited islands. In fact, 98% of Lanai is owned by a billionaire, so it’s almost like visiting a private island.

The history of Lanai is fascinating, and it plays into the unique topography of the destination, with misty forests and cloudless beaches — such as the one in front of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai.

Think of the resort as a jumping-off place from which to explore the rest of the island. There are beaches where you won’t see a soul, yet you’ll notice Molokai and Maui framing your view and intensely red rock formations that feel otherworldly. There’s sailing to be done amid pods of dolphins and humpback whales, and zip lining or horseback riding at slightly higher elevations.

That said, the resort’s 168 guest rooms and 45 suites feel practically palatial and sumptuous without going over the top, and are a lovely place to hang out when not at Hulopoe Bay below or lazing on a lounger by the green-fringed lagoon-style pools. Stop to smell the flowers at the botanical garden, and you might just pick up the same notes during a treatment at Hawanawana Spa or during a lei-making or lauhala-weaving session.

World-famous Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa is behind the resort’s Nobu Lanai restaurant, which offers a mouthwatering 15-course teppanyaki experience as well as signature dishes rendered with locally sourced fish. The perfect way to end your night? With an experience in the new observatory with instruction in astronomy and Hawaiian wayfinding.

Rates at Four Seasons Resort Lanai currently start at $1,575 per night.


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