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Eats, Stays, Things to Do - Hawaii

 

Hawaii doesn't seem like it should be in the United States. The tropical archipelago in the South Pacific is a veritable paradise,

Hawaii consists of six major islands — Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the The Island of Hawaii (also called The Big Island) — plus several smaller islands and atolls. The islands themselves are the result of volcanic activity in the middle of one of Earth's tectonic plates. In fact, the Big Island is still technically being formed, in a way, by its active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. A little over 20 miles southeast of the archipelago is the Kamaʻehuakanaloa Seamount, an active underwater volcano that may one day become Hawaii's newest island.

Here is where to go for a mix of everything: lounge the day away on the beach, embark on satisfyingly grueling hikes, explore laid-back towns, golf, snorkel, eat outstanding food, connect with the local culture…Hawaii offers something for everyone.

Below is a collection of recommendations for where to stay, what to do and where to eat on Hawaii's five habitable islands — the Big Island, Oahu, Lanai, Kauai and Maui. This is just a sampling, of course — a little travel inspiration — as Hawaii's options abound. You won't be at a loss for things to enjoy.

When you connect with me, I'll design a dream itinerary tailored to you and your travel style. I'll get an understanding of your vibe and preferences, and then craft your perfect vacation. Tap into the aloha spirit: Hawaii is calling.

The quick and dirty:

  • Currency: $, US dollar (USD)
  • Languages: ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi & English
  • Airports: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Oahu (HNL); Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG); Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA); Hilo International Airport, Big Island (ITO); Lihue Airport, Kauai (LIH) (most travelers will likely fly into HNL, and then board another flight to reach their final destination)
  • Transportation: If you want to explore beyond your resort (highly recommend), then renting a car is a great idea, especially if several hiking routes have caught your eye. Taxi services, as well as ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft) are also available.
  • Best time to visit: There's no bad time to visit; it really depends on what you're after. January through March is best for whale watching, while the winter months are best for big-wave surfing. September will see fewer crowds, with June, July, August and December being the busiest months to visit. (Unsurprisingly, the summer months tend to have the best weather, with the least rainfall.)
  • Ideal length of stay: Again, the best vacation length will depend entirely on what you'd like to do (or not do). On balance, five to 10 days is ideal, although shorter and longer trips can be just as doable — and enjoyable.
  • Signature dishes: shave ice, poke, saimin (noodle soup), laulau (taro-leaf-wrapped pork cooked in an underground oven), malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts)
  • Key phrases: aloha (hello/goodbye), mahalo (thank you), e kala mai (excuse me), e ʻoluʻolu ʻoe (please, eh oh-loo-oh-loo oh-eh), ʻohana (family), moana (ocean)
  • Dress code: your favorite swimsuit paired with comfy shorts, flowy pants or a dress — and don't forget a hat and sunnies. For breezy nights, especially in the cooler nights, it doesn't hurt to pack a sweater.
hawaii
Hawaii - overlooking Honolulu

The Island of Hawai’i (The Big Island)

The Island of Hawaiʻi (also known as The Big Island) is one of the best Hawaiʻian islands for families (especially the Kona side, with its calm waters, coffee farms and wide selection of restaurants and cultural landmarks). There’s a lot to do here, including hiking, snorkeling, exploring active volcanoes in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (a must), scenic helicopter rides, stargazing on Mauna Kea and so much more. Hawaiʻi is very spiritual as well, and the island’s properties preserve its heritage with strong programming intended to keep its culture alive.

 

Where to stay on the Island of Hawai'i (The Big Island)

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection: A luxurious (and very family-friendly) oasis that honors the land’s historical roots. Book with me to receive $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort: Perfect for multi-generational travel, with free-standing hale and elegant suites adorned with locally made art. When you book with me, you’ll receive Rosewood Elite partner perks, including $150 resort credit, a welcome amenity, $75 daily breakfast credit per person, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai: A sophisticated and serene stay deeply connected to the local heritage. When you book Four Seasons through me, you’ll enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. I’ll be pleased to give you more details.

Fairmont Orchid, Hawaiʻi: Located on a private bay, with an open-air spa and several oceanfront dining options. Book with me to snag VIP Accor STEP perks, including property credit, a welcome amenity, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection: The white-sand Kauna’oa Bay is home to this resort, complete with a championship golf course and other top-tier amenities. Please note that as of February 2024, the property is currently undergoing a renovation. Fora’s VIP partner perks include $100 resort credit, breakfast daily, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

What to do on the Island of Hawai'i (The Big Island)

The Island of Hawaiʻi is a nature-lover’s paradise. Hike to a solidified lava bed in the Kīlauea Iki Crater, located in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, or explore the biodiverse Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary on Mt. Hualālai. View the island’s several volcanoes from above, via helicopter, including Kīlauea, the most active. Snorkel with majestic manta rays at night, and during the day, don’t miss Papakōlea Beach and its distinctive green sand.

Where to eat on the Island of Hawai'i (The Big Island)

CanoeHouse, at Mauna Lani, is arguably one of the island’s best restaurants, serving a Japanese-inflected menu highlighting the finest local ingredients. The Four Season’s Ulu Ocean Grill, too, is perfect for an oceanfront fine-dining moment. Also a must is Kona Brewing Company, where locally brewed (and consciously made) beer is paired with good vibes and hearty fare (pizza, burgers, tacos, pupu).

For the best shave ice, the legendary Hawaiʻian dessert, head to Anuenue Ice Cream & Shave Ice, or to Kula Shave Ice, which makes their own syrups using organic, locally sourced fruit. For more sweetness, you can’t go wrong with Punalu’u Bake Shop, where the malasadas, yeasted doughnuts dusted with sugar and often filled with various flavors (Punalu’u’s flavors include guava, lilikoi, taro-mango and several others), are mandatory.

The Island of Hawaiʻi's poke game is strong, too. Two favorites are Da Poke Shack, a lively hole in the wall with the freshest seafood, plus vegetarian options, and Suisan, a fish market that happens to serve some of the best poke bowls around.

hawaii big island
Hawaii Big Island

Oʻahu & Lānaʻi: Contrasting Experiences in Paradise

Oʻahu: A Vibrant Island for All

Oʻahu is the beating heart of Hawaii, pulsating with energy and activities. Whether you're a seasoned surfer chasing epic waves or a first-time visitor seeking a taste of everything Hawaii has to offer, Oʻahu has something for you.

  • Surfing Mecca: Oʻahu is a surfer's dream. The North Shore, particularly the legendary Banzai Pipeline, attracts world-class surfers with its big waves and challenging breaks. Witness their skills or take a lesson yourself!

  • Perfect for First-Timers: Oʻahu's diverse landscape allows you to experience multiple Hawaiian vibes in one trip. Combine a classic Waikiki stay with a North Shore adventure to get a well-rounded island experience.

  • Family-Friendly Fun: From world-class snorkeling to exploring historical sites like Pearl Harbor, Oʻahu offers something to keep everyone in the family entertained. Consider staying at a Disney resort for an extra dose of magic.

Lānaʻi: Secluded Tranquility Awaits

Lānaʻi is the antithesis of Oʻahu – a tranquil escape for those seeking peace and quiet. This intimate island boasts stunning landscapes, luxurious resorts, and a relaxed atmosphere.

  • Escape the Crowds: Unlike bustling Oʻahu, Lānaʻi offers a secluded haven. Here, you can truly unwind and reconnect with nature.

  • Luxury Redefined: Pamper yourself at Lānaʻi's exquisite resorts, like the Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi or Sensei Lānaʻi, A Four Seasons Resort. Experience five-star dining, championship golf courses, and rejuvenating spa treatments.

  • A Touch of Culture: Immerse yourself in Lānaʻi's charm by exploring the quaint town of Lānaʻi City. Browse local shops, admire art at the Lānaʻi Art Center, or even visit the Lānaʻi Cat Sanctuary for a heartwarming encounter.

Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore

  • Stay:
    • Oʻahu: Turtle Bay Resort (North Shore surfers' paradise), Four Seasons Resort Oʻahu At Ko Olina (family-friendly), Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa (Disney magic), ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach (new resort with oceanarium)
    • Lānaʻi: Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi (ultra-private luxury), Sensei Lānaʻi, A Four Seasons Resort (wellness retreat with Nobu dining)
  • Eat:
    • Oʻahu: Sunrise Shack (acai bowls and smoothies), The Pig and the Lady (hip Vietnamese), ARVO (vibrant cafe with California influence)
    • Lānaʻi: Nobu Lanai (exquisite Japanese cuisine), Malibu Farm (locally sourced poolside dining)
  • Explore:
    • Oʻahu: Hike to Maunawili Falls, explore the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden
    • Lānaʻi: Explore Lānaʻi City, visit the Lānaʻi Art Center, volunteer at the Lānaʻi Cat Sanctuary

Ready to craft your dream Hawaiian getaway? Whether you crave the excitement of Oʻahu or the serenity of Lānaʻi, I can help design the perfect itinerary to match your style.

oahu
Oahu Water Sports

Experience Maui's Magic:

Luxury Stays, Thrilling Adventures, and Delicious Delights

Maui beckons with its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and majestic mountains. Whether you crave relaxation in a luxurious resort or adventure on the famed Road to Hana, Maui has something for every kind of traveler.

Unwind in Paradise: Luxurious Maui Accommodations

  • Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea: Immerse yourself in luxury at this oceanfront oasis. Savor exquisite dining options and soak up the sun on Wailea Beach. Booking through me unlocks exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities.

  • Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui: This recently renovated resort is perfect for families. Enjoy an open-air lobby, redesigned rooms, and a cultural center for an enriching stay. Book with me for VIP Accor STEP perks, including breakfast daily and an upgrade.

  • Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort: Embrace modern elegance at this resort boasting cascading infinity pools and farm-to-table cuisine. My Fora's VIP Hyatt Privé perks grant you a $100 resort credit and breakfast daily.

  • Montage Kapalua Bay: Experience sophistication with residential-style suites that celebrate Maui's local culture. Book with me to receive spa credit and daily breakfast credit.

Adventure Awaits: Exploring Maui's Wonders

  • Conquer the Road to Hana: Embark on a breathtaking journey along the Road to Hana, a scenic drive with waterfalls, rainforests, and the black-sand Paʻiloa Beach. Be prepared for challenging terrain and consider a guided tour for a stress-free experience.

  • Snorkel Molokini Crater: Explore the underwater world at Molokini, a sunken crater offering incredible snorkeling opportunities. Witness vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life.

  • Discover Pā'ia's Charm: Immerse yourself in the local scene at Pā'ia, a charming town with unique shops, delicious restaurants, and a laid-back atmosphere.

  • Hike or Bike Haleakalā: Challenge yourself with a hike or bike ride on Haleakalā, a dormant volcano boasting five distinct climate zones. Witness a sunrise from the summit for an unforgettable experience.

Tantalize Your Taste Buds: Maui's Culinary Delights

  • Mama's Fish House: Enjoy fresh seafood and local flavors at this popular spot in Pā'ia. Their commitment to locally-sourced ingredients ensures a delicious and sustainable meal.

  • Monkeypod Kitchen: Savor organic, farm-to-table cuisine in a chic yet relaxed setting at Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea.

  • Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop: Indulge in homemade comfort food at Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop in Lahaina.

  • Ka'ana Kitchen: Experience a curated menu of Japanese-inspired dishes at Ka'ana Kitchen, located at the Andaz resort.

  • Ferraro's Restaurant & Bar: Treat yourself to expertly crafted Italian cuisine with stunning ocean views and live music at Ferraro's Restaurant & Bar at the Four Seasons.

Let me help you craft the perfect Maui itinerary! Whether you seek luxurious pampering, thrilling adventures, or delectable dining experiences, Maui has something to make your dream vacation a reality.

Maui, Hawaii
Maui, Hawaii