6867 Koolau Rd., Kilauea
Nestled on a secluded 5-acre estate in the Moloa’a hills on Kauai’s north shore, The Palmwood is a veritable sanctuary—as a bed-and-breakfast, it’s got a personal touch you aren’t likely to find at the major resorts. Inspired by the country inns found in the mountains of Japan, the rooms here are on the cozy side with warm, Eastern-inspired furnishings, and the grounds are lush and green. Best of all: this intimate, peaceful hideaway is close to some of the island’s finest attractions. As it is a real-deal B&B, we also hear that Auntie Eddi makes the very, very best breakfast. (Tip: you can reserve any one of their three rooms on Airbnb.)
St. Regis Princeville
5520 Ka Haku Rd., Princeville
Tucked away in a secluded beach cove a few miles from Hanalei, the St. Regis at Princeville is Kauai’s preeminent luxury resort. Boasting everything from pools and a spa to a kid’s club, this is a popular destination for those with a generous budget—but it’s still got the quiet, relaxed atmosphere you’d want for your Hawaiian getaway. The rooms here offer jaw-droppingly gorgeous, unobstructed ocean or mountain views, and their restaurant’s curated menu focuses on local delicacies, meaning you can enjoy an extravagant yet quintessentially Hawaiian experience in their staff’s very capable hands.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
72-100 Ka`upulehu Dr., Kohala Coast
Anecdotally if not scientifically, the majority of the people who stay at the Four Seasons Hualalai would call it one of the nicest hotels in the world. And we’d be among them. First of all, the hotel has seven pools. Sit with that for a minute. The adults-only pool faces the ocean and has a swim-up bar. The lagoon-shaped family pool has an infinity edge and poolside fries and quesadillas. There’s a lap pool at the spa (and the spa is pure heaven). There’s a pool in the shallows of the ocean—the Pacific is walled off with volcanic stones. How many is that so far? But the coolest pool we have maybe ever seen is called King’s Pond—a 1.8-million-gallon pool that is more like a swimmable aquarium. It is home to 4,000 tropical fish and one spotted eagle ray. Once kids find this pool, they never want to get out of it. The hotel’s cultural center has a bunch of activities for kids, like shell jewelry crafting, ukelele lessons, and lei-making. But even better: Kids for All Seasons is basically a day camp on the property—the kids go swimming,…
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Kohala Coast
Few hotels enjoy the name recognition of the Mauna Kea. When it opened in the mid-1960s as part of Laurance S. Rockefeller’s hotel group, it was said to be the most expensive hotel ever built, at $15 million. Designed by architect Edward Charles Bassett, the hotel is a stunning modernist masterpiece. In the decades since it opened, it’s become an icon of Hawaii—and a $150 million renovation in the mid-2000s has helped it keep pace with the newer luxury resorts on the island. The beach here (white sand Kauna'oa) is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Mauna Kea is also known for its golf course, which was built by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and debuted in 1964 with the Big Three (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player). Like the hotel, Mauna Kea Golf Course underwent a thoughtful renovation that maintained all its beauty (and its challenges). For those who favor tennis, there’s an eleven-court seaside club. The restaurant to dine at here is Manta, though on Tuesdays, the hotel also puts on an excellent luau, which is a pure delight for kids. (You don't have…
1 N. Kaniku Dr., Kohala Coast
Set on thirty-two acres along the Kohala Coast, the Fairmont Orchid spills onto a white-sand lagoon beach and the blue-green waters of Pauoa Bay. Every room has its own lanai, many with lovely views of the ocean or the island’s waterfalls and the Fairmont’s tropical gardens. The most luxurious rooms and suites are on the sixth floor of the resort’s North Tower, known as Fairmont Gold. The path to the spa winds past ponds and cascading waterfalls to set the mood, and in addition to the indoor treatment rooms, sauna, and steam room, there are several private oceanfront huts, where the soundtrack of ocean waves during your treatment comes from the actual ocean. The resort also has a tennis center with ten courts and lights for night play. And next door is the Francis H. I'i Brown Golf Course, which comprises two different eighteen-hole courses.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
2525 Kaanapali Pkwy., Lahaina
If you are looking for the kitschy, camp Hawaiian vibe—leis draped around your neck, hula dancing, a whale-shaped pool, tiki bars, umbrellas in your drinks, snorkeling—this is the place. It’s really well-priced, especially for being on the beach in Maui, with rooms at just $169 a night. There are often more "Swimmies" in the pool than people, so this is definitely more a family place than a romantic getaway.
Waimea Plantation Cottages
9400 Kaumualii Hwy., Waimea
So there's nothing particularly splashy about Waimea Plantation, but that's precisely the point. The beach isn't particularly spectacular either, but that's no bother, either. These sprawling cottages, which occupy the grounds of a former sugar plantation, are ramshackle and adorable, and exactly what belongs at the beach. They're also perfect for a family, as they come equipped with kitchens and all that jazz—all the better for enjoying the fresh tuna sashimi from the nearby Japanese grocery store, Ishihara (seriously, it's insane). There's incredible surf to swim in to the west of the cottages in the naval base, and it's close to the bigger resorts on Poipu. The North Side and Princeville are a bit of a drive, but it's worth your while to hike along the Western side of Kauai: it's one of the more spectacular views in the world.
Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
3900 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea
Along with all the Four Seasonish amenities (beachside cabanas, sunglasses cleaning, poolside Evian spritzing), the resort offers an abundance of only-in-Hawaii extras, making the Maui at Wailea outpost a South Pacific dream. For one thing, Kids for All Seasons—a daily camp for littles ages five to twelve—allows parents to explore the spa, spend the day surfing (lessons and board rentals are always available), or read a book at the adults-only serenity pool, while the kids build sandcastles, craft leis, and take hula lessons, all under the watchful eye of trained staff. Thoughtful touches, from complimentary swim diapers by the pool to a lengthy roster of family activities (snorkeling, boogie boarding, putting greens), make vacationing en famille a total joy. At night, take your pick of three on-site restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck’s award-winning standby Spago. Take note that kids five and under eat free at Italian-Hawaiian fusion eatery Ferraro’s and at seafood-centric DUO. And when in Hawaii…surfing legend Dave Kalama hosts surf camp and lessons here. The most exciting activity at the hotel is what they call Fire & Wine: an excursion that starts with a private helicopter tour, includes…
1813 Baldwin Ave., Makawao
Chill out surrounded by lush, tropical gardens at this historic Maui compound and learn to live Aloha for a while. Here you can practice mindfulness, learn to meditate, take an aromatherapy class–or learn about the land through their horticulture programs. The beauty and serenity of the island attracts yogis of all disciplines and from all over the world to practice, so check the calendar for upcoming retreats and workshops. You'll leave feeling completely refreshed.
The Modern Honolulu
1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
So, the first thing to know is that this is not on the beach but rather along the marina. We’d suggest taking advantage of the location by renting an open-top jeep and exploring the wilds of Hawaii on the North Shore. The hotel itself is more boutique-y than resort, and feels airy, clean and crisp, with lots of white. The vibe is young, cool, modern—less expensive Hawaii—with a spring break vibe for the upwardly mobile. There are four bars, a nightclub (which gets pretty crazy at night), and an ‘adult’ pool where people can be found drinking coconut mojitos in the shallow end at pretty much all hours.
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