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Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
Photograph: Courtesy Booking.comOutrigger Waikiki Beach Resort

The 14 best hotels in Hawaii

What better way to wake up than in paradise itself? These are the very best hotels in all of Hawaii

Written by
Lori A May
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Even in a destination as deliciously relaxing as Hawaii, finding the right hotel is of optimum importance. Yes, you might spend much of your time lazing on beaches and in hammocks, but a comfortable bed and a good breakfast remain as necessary on the islands of paradise as anywhere else on the planet. Luckily for tourists, travelers, backpackers, and nomads alike, Hawaii’s islands are filled with fantastic hotel options.

The last decade has seen the accommodation picture change, as private rentals and Airbnb have forced the hotel industry to change tack. Hawaii doesn't care, as the hotels of paradise continue to offer the unbeatable combination of ocean views and, you know, the whole ‘being a hotel in Hawaii’ thing. The best hotels in Hawaii are all about beauty and hospitality in equal measure, where you’ll be treated like ohana (family) or like absolute royalty, sometimes even both.

Best hotels in Hawaii

Where is it? Big Island

Why go? Regarded as the first resort on the island of Hawaii, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel combines historic charm with contemporary style. An on-site art gallery displays an impressive collection gathered by hotel founder Laurance S. Rockefeller, while complimentary yoga sessions are offered on the beachfront. Room decor is chic contemporary with colorful island accents. Guests have direct access to the soft sand beach of Kauna’oa Bay while nightfall offers guided moonlight swims with manta rays.

Where is it? Honolulu

Why go? Coastal contemporary is the vibe at Vive Hotel. The boutique aesthetic is youthful and vibrant, with spacious guest rooms, tablet concierge, and deluxe continental breakfast. Boogie boards and beach towels are available for free whenever you feel like hitting the beach. Enjoy a short walk to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and waterfront shops, or enjoy popular eateries along Kuhio Avenue. High-speed Wi-Fi is included in your room and in the ‘living room’ gathering space where you can enjoy 24-hour coffee and tea.

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Where is it? Honolulu

Why go? Surround yourself with island traditions at this welcoming beachfront resort. Outrigger Waikiki offers a full suite of amenities while preserving an authentic aloha experience. Take advantage of immediate beach access with on-site surf lessons or relax at the barefoot bar with nightly musical performances. Pay tribute to local legend Duke Kahanamoku as you savor an amazing breakfast buffet at Duke’s Waikiki. Shopaholics will love its convenient Kalakaua Avenue location.    

Where is it? Oahu

Why go? Settle in on the North Shore to experience a different side of Oahu. Turtle Bay Resort has more than 800 acres to explore with jogging trails, horseback riding, and kayak excursions all within reach. Unwind at Nalu Spa or boost your adrenaline diving with sharks. Enjoy contemporary island decor in a suite, cottage, or private villa. Tempt your taste buds at Roy’s Beach House and then savor a poolside Mai Tai as the sun sets along the beach.

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Where is it? Kauai

Why go? Relax along Kauai’s Coconut Coast with a private cottage rental in Kapaa Town. The plantation homes at Fern Grotto Inn provide a quiet retreat alongside the Wailua River. Use a complimentary kayak or paddleboard to explore this historic waterway, or wander the gardens where you can sample fresh star fruit and mango. Cottages include kitchenettes, with a communal laundry room available free of charge. The Smith Family Garden Luau is nearby.  

Where is it? Maui

Why go? If you like the idea of authentic Hawaiian accommodation but want to be near Maui’s most popular beach strip, stay at Ka'anapali Beach Hotel. You’ll be centrally located in a vibrant community with award-winning restaurants and water sports, but housed in what’s known as ‘Hawaii’s Most Hawaiian Hotel’. That moniker is well-earned with staff dedicated to preserving and sharing Hawaiian culture with complimentary on-site ʻōlelo (language) lessons, ukulele demonstrations, and more. Enjoy newly renovated rooms with the traditional decor at this beachfront property.    

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Where is it? Maui

Why go? Watch the nightly cliff diving ceremonies at Black Rock or chill out in the sprawling lagoon pool at one of the island’s oldest resorts. At Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa you’ll have immediate beach access for floating under the sun or snorkeling alongside sea turtles. Pick up a beachside s’mores kit and gather at one of the resort fire pits. Enjoy an ocean view from your contemporary room, then dine at one of the many on-site restaurants.

Where is it? Honolulu

Why go? Take advantage of a complimentary shuttle service and avoid resort fees at this newly renovated Waikiki hotel. Wi-Fi and self-parking are free! Every single room and suite at this deluxe boutique property comes with an ocean view and floor-to-ceiling windows sweeten the deal. You’ll find sleek modern furnishings with hand-painted Nai‘o flowers on room walls. Head up the rooftop infinity pool for panoramic views of the city, beachfront, and Diamond Head just in the distance.

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Where is it? Maui

Why go? You may not expect to see penguins in Hawaii, but you will at Hyatt Regency as several African black-footed penguins call this resort home. If you’re jealous of their aquatic lifestyle, take a lesson from the onsite mermaid academy. Or stargazers can get their heads in the clouds with Hyatt’s rooftop astronomy program. After all that, enjoy a late-night dip in the beachfront resort pool. 

Where is it? Big Island

Why go? Wander the coffee trees at Waikoloa Beach Marriott and then explore petroglyphs and an ancient fish pond on your way to the beach. Take a relaxing dip in the sand-bottom pool while the kids swoosh down a waterslide. As day turns to night along the Big Island’s Anaehoomalu Bay, indulge in island cuisine at one of the best feasts in Hawaii at the on-site Sunset Luau. Schedule tee time at one of two championship golf courses.

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Where is it? Big Island

Why go? Make yourself at home in one of 60 plantation-era cottages with full kitchens, wraparound lanais, and the pleasure of privacy. Some of these homes date back to the late 1800s – but you’ll enjoy a host of modern conveniences including air conditioning, full-sized appliances, Wi-Fi, and a dedicated parking space right outside your door. Stroll through coconut palm trees lining the oceanfront or take a dip in the pool. Be sure to visit nearby Waimea Canyon.

Where is it? Lanai

Why go? Welcome to the island of Lanai, one of Hawaii’s least populated islands. On its pristine southeastern shores, you’ll find the serene Four Seasons Resort, a vision of paradise catering to your every need. From tee time to me time, take your pick of oceanfront adventures. Enjoy the views over Hulopoe Bay or go off-roading in the Garden of the Gods. Enjoy a poolside massage before savoring celebrity chef cuisine at Nobu.

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Where is it? Molokai

Why go? If your tropical escape takes you to peaceful Molokai, spend a few nights relaxing in a bungalow with traditional island decor. Stretch out on your private lanai as the sun rises over the island, then whip up breakfast in your own kitchenette. Take a refreshing dip in the pool or kick back on a hammock as trade winds offer a gentle breeze. Sample seasonal seafood at on-site eatery Hiro’s Ohana Grill, or take a leisurely stroll to downtown Kaunakakai.

Where is it? Kauai

Why go? Along the southern shores of Kauai, Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu offers a luxurious escape with three lagoon pools just a few steps from the famous Poipu Beach. Onsite amenities and activities include complimentary yoga classes, snorkeling sessions, golf, and campfire s’mores. You won’t want to miss the sunset wall along the ocean, where a nightly rainbow of colors covers the sky. Sip on fresh coconut water as you enjoy the nightly spectacle. 

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