The first time I traveled to Hawaii was with my parents when I was younger. Till this day, I can say it was the best vacation ever! From the moment you put your feet on the ground, they greet you by placing Leis around your neck… I could still inhale the intoxicating aroma now, then we sat in our white limo that took us to our first hotel in Oahu. We spent a month in Hawaii, visiting every island. It was on a school holiday so if you’re looking for a less crowded time and cheaper prices, visit when there are no holidays.
There are so many things you can do! At a young age my favorite destination was and always will be where there’s a beautiful beach.
I met great people, the Paradise Cove Luau was breathtaking and you must try the Kalua (underground oven that roasted pig- delicious!), snorkeling and cook your own BBQ at a restaurant… I will go back because my heart is still there!
The six main islands that we went to are: Oahu, with its popular capital Honolulu, Hawaii, known as the Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, and Molokai. Each has its own particular charm and all will roll out a hospitable, flower-covered red carpet for you, handing you drinks and leis.
Where to stay:
For every traveler there’s a place. From high end to camping in tents. Pick what’s right for you. My next visit will less on the luxury side, but for now I can only tell you about places I’ve been to.
All the islands feature some of the most luxurious resorts and hotels on the planet, at all price points. But occasionally you may want to spread out a bit so check out condo and home rentals on the islands with views and balconies or patios from which you can watch whales play in the beautiful crystal blue water. All the major islands have grocery stores, shopping clubs, and chain stores such as Walmart.
Where I stayed at on every island.
Kahala’s location in a ritzy Honolulu district, out of from the chaos of Waikiki, makes it the most serene luxury option on Oahu. It’s also the best. Its phenomenal service truly separates it from its opponents: At check-in guests are greeted with leis and cool washcloths; staff members address you by name throughout your stay- remarkable for a 338-room property and additional thoughtful touches include daily newspapers delivered in blue cotton bags and ice buckets that get refilled at turndown. The luxurious rooms feature enormous flat-screen TVs, balconies, and some of the best bathrooms ever.
St. Regis Princeville
The 251-room St. Regis Princeville is regarded by many to be the premier luxury option in Hawaii, and given the impressive setting overlooking Hanalei Bay, it’s hard to disagree. Guests can expect warm, sophisticated decor, suites with personal butler service, world-class golf, and an extraordinary breakfast buffet on a terrace with gorgeous ocean views. The discerning clientele this resort attracts will find little to fault, although if one had to nitpick, the formal dress code might not appeal to everyone, and food prices – as one might assume at this characteristic of property – is excessive. The location on Kauai’s lush, ruggedly beautiful northern coast makes for natural beauty that’s unique.
One of the best luxury resorts on Kauai, the 602-room Grand Hyatt Kauai draws guests with spacious, Hawaiian-inspired rooms, three incredible pools, a behemoth saltwater lagoon, 10 dining options, including a host of high-end restaurants, a famous spa, a twice-weekly luau (To Dos!!), and immaculately kept tropical grounds. Its large range of features allows it to have immense appeal, and a non-stop cycle of families, honeymooners, business travelers, and wedding parties filter through the property week after week. Travelers looking for a fairly luxurious property without all the parade should check out nearby Koa Kea Resort, which is smaller, cheaper, and offers half of the amenities of the Hyatt.
Island of Hawaii:
The pristine Four Seasons, the only five-pearl property on the Big Island, is unlike any other resort on the Kohala Coast. Lush and beautifully landscaped grounds surround private bungalow-style rooms and suites tucked along winding paths throughout the large property. The thoughtfully designed architecture, pools (all seven of them), and public spaces are considerate without seeming excessive. Dining options on-site are few but high in quality and include what is arguably the best restaurant on the Big Island. The service is excellent, and the experience is first-rate down to the last detail.
The Four Seasons is quieter and more subdued than Maui’s more grandiose resorts, but a two-to-one staff-to-guest ratio means over-the-top pampering like nowhere else in Hawaii, poolside Evian spritzes, beach side yoga classes, and they even have someone to unpack your bags for you. The best part? It’s all free, gym and spa access, beach side cabanas, outrigger canoe outings, and even the kids’ club (the best!) No ugly “resort fee” surprises either, unlike at most Maui resorts.
The Grand Wailea vies with the Four Seasons for the title of the most luxurious resort in Wailea, the manicured planned resort on Maui’s southwestern shore. But its style of luxury is flashier. Cascading waterfalls at the entrance, the world’s exclusively “water elevator” spewing from a volcano in the pool, and one of the most elaborate hydrotherapy spas in the nation, deliver a wow factor, but also offer a theme park-esque vibe that isn’t right for everyone. Still, opulence marks every feature, from the huge guest rooms to the $30 million in-house art collection.
Built in 1927, the iconic “Pink Palace of the Pacific” is probably the most recognizable hotel on Oahu and, decades later, still one of the most luxurious. Guests receive the hotel’s signature drink, a pink hibiscus elixir, upon check-in you have a banana bread waiting in the room. Free limo service delivers guests anywhere in the local area in the afternoons and early evenings, and nightly turndown service is accompanied by chocolates or mints, a bottle of water, and a postcard with historical facts about the hotel. Be sure to book in the historical wing for classier renovated rooms (renovated in 2011).
Except for Oahu where it’s easy to take public transportation in and out of the famed Waikiki area, you’ll want to rent a car for your Hawaii vacation. On Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island, you’ll need a car to see the sights, go on shopping expeditions, and reach some of the more secluded beaches. On Lanai, guests staying at the fabulous luxury resorts, Four Seasons Lanai and The Lodge at Koele, can rely on transportation and tours via the hotels’ concierges. On Molokai, you can rent a car for a day or two and spend another day or two just relaxing.
You also must go on cruises!
Hawaii has the best fresh fruit juices and coffee I’ve ever had! No matter what, you will not go hungry while in Hawaii. It’s the heart of the Pacific Rim, so expect to find everything from raw-vegan feasts on up to delectable mixtures of cuisines from all over the world. But you would be careless not to experience Hawaii Regional Cuisine. The HRC movement started when eight island chefs, including Bev Gannon on Maui and Roy Yamaguchi whose Roy’s restaurants dot the globe, began to develop relationships with local produce growers and suppliers of spectacular seafood. Don’t even think about being on a low-calorie diet on your Hawaii holidays.
History and culture:
Learn as much as you can about Hawaiian culture during your stay. On Oahu, plan visits to Iolani Palace (America’s only royal, state residence) and the Bishop Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of historical Hawaiian artifacts, art, and memorabilia. Each of the neighbor islands also feature museums, monuments, parks, and galleries that will help you understand Hawaii’s rich culture and history. And of course you won’t want to miss Pearl Harbor, site of a major historical American moment when it was attacked during World War II, ushering America into the war.
Learn as you travel:
There is a wealth of possibilities for enrichment while you travel from island to island: Learn the hula, how to plunk out a tune on a ukulele, or how to cook a traditional Hawaiian meal. Hawaii is also home to just about every water-related sport and activity you can imagine, and rest assured, there is someone out there who help you learn how to surf, scuba, kayak, and sail A good place to start is at extraordinaryadventureshawaii.com, which offers a tempting array of activities and learning experiences, including wonderful photos safaris, where expert photographers will help you learn more about the capabilities of your own cameras. Go on a photo safari as soon as you get there and the photos of your trip (and future trips) will probably be the best you’ve ever taken.
Hawaiian natives are the most friendliest people on earth and it’s a place you must go to! Hawaii will forever be my favorite travel spot.
20 Must Dos!