Let’s be honest: What good is a Hawaii vacation if you have to spend weeks beforehand researching all the things you want to do there? Take the easy way and let a great resort do the work for you. By selecting from one of these best resorts in Hawaii, you’ll be assured of fabulous accommodations, mind-blowingly great food and drink, and (most importantly) a series of unforgettable, authentically Hawaiian adventures. All you have to decide is which resort is best for you.
The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
Care for a little Hollywood glamour during your Hawaiian vacay? Stay at the same hotel where literary and screenwriting legends Joan Didion and John Donne came to save their marriage. (It worked.) Built in 1927, the Royal Hawaiian set the standard for every other hotel on Waikiki Beach with its Moorish architecture, dramatic entryway, and iconic rosy hue (hence its local nickname, “the Pink Palace”). Situated right at the apex of Waikiki’s curvaceous cove, this resort offers guests unlimited adventure options, from parasailing to catamaran cruises, along with convenient access to Honolulu’s many cultural, historical, and entertainment options. Oh, and did we mention the resort’s in-house spa was named No. 2 in the world? For the ultimate luxurious experience, try to get a room in the Historic Wing; the bold, Baroque furnishing and opulent amenities will blow your mind.
Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection
The airy tranquility of this oceanside retreat belies its size and stature as one of the Big Island’s premier resorts. Situated on 32 acres of the majestic Kona coastline, this resort prides itself on showcasing the best of Hawaii’s native culture. Select from one of the bright, airy guest rooms with furnished lanais overlooking the ocean, gardens or the Big Island’s imposing mountain range — or get fancy and opt for a 4,000-square-foot oceanfront bungalow that includes a private pool and spa. Where Mauna Lani really shines is in its array of immersive adventure experiences, such as mountain bike tours, freediving lessons, hiking in search of petroglyphs, even helping with sea turtle repopulation. Make sure to stop in at Hale ‘I‘ike, the House of Knowledge, a low-key museum dedicated to Hawaiian art, history, and culture, from royal kingdoms to rugged cowboy culture. If you’re lucky, your visit will coincide with a moonlight performance from a secret musical guest on the resort’s oceanfront lawn. Past performers have included Hawaiian legends like Don Ho, Aunty Genoa Keawa, and world-class virtuosos on the ukulele and slack-key guitar.
Said by many to be one of Hawaii’s most remarkable resorts, this Travaasa Hana is a true immersion in Maui’s authentic environment and culture. Located among the rolling grass fields and palm trees above Hana Bay on Maui’s east side, Travaasa Hana enjoys the distinction of being the first resort on the island to be kissed by sunrise. The spacious suites and cottages are designed for kicking back after a day of adventures, with open floor plans and panoramic sliding doors that offer sweeping views of the coastline. Choose your daily adventures from the resort’s five “pathways”: Adventure, Culinary, Culture, Fitness, and Spa and Wellness. The menu has too many options for us to list, but outdoor yoga, throw-net fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, and trail rides guided by a paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) are just a few of them. All this, and complimentary banana bread every day? Sign us up.
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
Start on a lantern-lit pathway that leads you into an open-air lobby. Follow the path past the chaise lounges that circle around a sandpit and the pillars that sprout like trees from the rough-hewn stone. This ultra-modern hotel is said to be one of the most luxurious in all of Maui and considering its over-the-top amenities (which include luxury sedan service throughout Wailea, evening beverages at the Andaz Lounge, even a complimentary minibar), we have to agree. Rooms are laid out like a Williamsburg loft, their serene white-on-slate backdrops accented with warm wood furnishing, bold ikat prints, and local fine art. If you can tear yourself away from the room, you’ll have yet another decision to make between lounging beside the tiered infinity pools or venturing to the sunny sprawl of adjoining Mokapu Beach.
Hotel Wailea, Relais and Chateaux Maui
As the sole Relais and Chateaux outpost in the whole state, Hotel Wailea has a lofty reputation to maintain. Its exquisitely designed suites feature coral fossil stone walls, European hardwood floors, and kitchenettes fitted with custom Ohia wood cabinetry as well as top-notch appliances. One meal we don’t recommend cooking in the kitchenette, though, is breakfast — opt instead for a Celebration Suite package, which lets you enjoy Relais and Chateaux’s famous gourmet hospitality either in-suite or in the adjoining restaurant. Between the hotel’s adults-only guest policy and its slightly sequestered location, the only noise you’ll encounter is the rhythmic roar of the ocean from outside your private lanai. The hotel also offers a number of unique adventure packages, from outdoor cooking classes to floating sound baths to treehouse dining; you can find your ideal package at the resort’s personalized Experience page.
Four Seasons Lanai
Located on Lanai’s pristine southeastern coast, the Four Seasons brings Hawaiian postcards to life. Ultra-lux suites furnished in plush upholstery and rich mahogany look out from private lanais onto the swooping coastline. After enjoying your morning coffee, choose whether to spend your day lounging beside the resort’s lagoon-style pools or playing on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Manele Golf Course, strolling through the botanical gardens or taking a ukulele workshop from a local elder through the resort’s complimentary Hookipa Cultural Program. When you’re ready to explore, the resort can outfit you with anything from a Polaris UTV for riding through Lanai’s ironwood forests or a catamaran for a champagne cruise in search of secluded snorkeling sites.
Lodge at Kukui’ula
Start with iconic plantation-style architecture, add sophisticated contemporary interior design, throw in a few standout amenities like, say, a 10-acre organic farm, beach-entry saltwater pools and an 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Weiskopf, and what do you have? The Lodge at Kukui’ula, that’s what. The lodge’s collection of bungalows, cottages, and villas are souped up with sprawling lanais, top-shelf kitchen appliances, spa-style bathrooms complete with private lava rock outdoor showers. Seriously, staying here is like summering at your own country house. Better, really, because it comes with all the amenities we mentioned and a slew of others we didn’t, including (OK, we’ll give you one more) an on-site activity outfitter that can get you set up for surfing, outrigger canoeing, even crossbow hunting.
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection
This luxury condo-style resort offers a wide range of accommodations, from 500-square foot studios to 3,600-square foot, four-bedroom villas. All feature gourmet kitchens, expansive lanais, and private bathrooms in each bedroom. Outside, the resort offers no fewer than three heated outdoor pools, including one that’s adults-only, as well as golf, tennis, horseback riding, and complimentary shuttle service to beaches, hikes, and other attractions.
Search “luxury resort on Kauai,” and you’ll be amazed at how many entries come up for this little island. This one, situated on Kauai’s Napali Coast, tops them all. In the Princeville’s luxuriously proportioned rooms, even the bathtubs have a view. The resort’s pool was named one of the world’s 10 best infinity pools by Architectural Digest, while their golf course was dubbed one of the “Top 5 Great Golf Settings” in America by National Geographic Traveler, and the three elegant in-house eateries offer sweeping vistas any time you sit down for a bite.
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