Beach at the Montage Kapalua Bay/Oyster
With its otherworldly beautiful beaches, abundance of natural features, and glorious year-round weather, Hawaii is an easy to love vacation destination. It's one of those special places that truly offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking to relax on the sand or out for a volcanic adventure, alone on a surfboard or celebrating wedded bliss on a romantic honeymoon, Hawaii caters to every vacation need. Here are our seven vacation suggestions for every type of Hawaiian traveler—along with the best hotels and resorts to match. The hardest part will be going home.
Check our our cheat sheet to Hawaii's top destinations.
For Family Travelers in Hawaii
Hawaii has long been a considered the place for a memorable family vacation, and kids (or keiki as they are affectionately known in the Hawaiian language) are well looked after on the islands. Many of the resorts offer special activities and meal options for kids, while travelers of all ages are likely to appreciate the chance to watch live hula performances at luaus or go for a dip in the ocean. While all of the islands are great for families, lively Oahu is a particularly good Hawaiian island option if you’re afraid your kids will get bored (which could happen on quieter Kauai or the more adult-focused Maui). Book a family-friendly resort for a Hawaii experience your family won’t ever forget.
As the name suggests, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is heavy on the Disney for kids fanfare, which means roaming Disney characters garbed in Hawaiian shirts, kid-friendly menus, and spa treatments for even the youngest of guests. Lodging options here are designed with families in mind, too, and some have kitchenettes or kitchens and in-room laundry facilities. At the heart of the resort is a huge pool area, complete with a lazy river, two waterslides, and a play area. You might just spot Goofy leading a poolside dance party. The beachfront swimming options are equally fantastic, with four manmade lagoons flanked by white sand imported from Australia and calm, swimmable waters. Beach games and water sports activities keep guests of all ages active, and the resort offers special programs for younger guests, from socials for teens to play parties just for toddlers. While kids certainly take center stage at this resort, there’s plenty to keep grown-ups, satisfied, too, from a 2,000-square-foot gym with sleek equipment to a Ted Robinson-designed golf course. Disney + Hawaii = Family Fun.
What to Bring on Your Hawaii Family Vacation
Girls Beach Outfit
For Adventure Travelers in Hawaii
Hawaii is well-known for adventure travelers, and there’s plenty more to do in the Aloha State than just sip mai tais by the ocean-facing pool while waiting for your toes to tan. The Big Island and Kauai (a.k.a. the Garden Island) are particularly good options for adventure travelers, with geological features that run the gamut from volcanic moonscapes to lush jungles. Kauai in particular offers some of the best hiking trails in the south seas, including the famous Na’Pali Coast trail and a variety of hikes inside Waimea Canyon — often dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
If you’ve chosen Kauai for your Hawaii adventure getaway, you’ll probably want a solid home base after a full day of exploring. Hanalei Bay Resort is an excellent option; though it’s not the cheapest spot on the island, many of the rooms here feature full kitchens, ideal for DIY picnic preparation and a good option if you don’t want to plan your days around restaurant opening times. It features beautiful views out over Hanalei Bay and direct beach access (albeit via a steep path). Its location in upscale Princeville on the North Shore makes it a good choice for accessing nearby hiking areas (Ke’e Beach, the access point to the Na’Pali Coast Trail, is just a half-hour drive along the coast). Hanalei Bay Resort also offers a great deal of on-site activities in case you feel like taking a day off from braving the wilds, with a gorgeous free-form pool and multiple tennis courts dotted across the property.
What to Bring on Your Hawaii Adventure
Women’s Hiking Outfit
For Romantic Travelers in Hawaii
Just being in Hawaii is enough to set the tone for a romantic vacation. The Hawaiian islands offer incomparable opportunities to share tiki cocktails, dine on the beach, luxuriate with spa treatments, or sail into the sunset. However, if you’re looking for a quiet, grown-up getaway, remember that not all islands are created equal. While Kauai is great for peaceful relaxation, Molokai might be a bit too rustic for romancing couples (though the adjacent island of Lanai offers a few worthy luxury options). On the same token, if you’re on a honeymoon in Hawaii, you may want to avoid congested Waikiki or the large resorts near Kona on the Big Island in favor of one of the more upscale, grown-up options on Maui.
Since launching in 2013, the gorgeous Andaz Maui at Wailea has quickly become a beachfront hit with high-end honeymooners and couples with cash to splash. While kids are allowed here, the resort caters much more to adults, with grown-up amenities designed with romancing couples in mind. The aesthetic is hip and modern, and while this spot certainly is chic, it feels warm and welcoming, without any hipper-than-thou pretension. Rooms are big and airy, with furnished balconies. Bathrooms, while oddly placed in the center of rooms, feature rainfall showers big enough for two to get steamy. Star features include a huge gym and water sports activities that run the gamut from canoeing to surfing lessons. However, the crown jewel is arguably the ‘Āwili Spa and Salon; book a treatment and you’ll be rewarded with your own spa suite along with access to steam and sauna facilities and even a tranquility pool just for spa guests. For everyone else, there’s a stunning four-tiered infinity pool with bar service and an adults-only level. And for a romantic dinner for two, head straight to Morimoto Maui, featuring Japanese American fusion fare developed by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto himself. You’ll definitely want to come back for your anniversary.
What to Bring on Your Romantic Hawaii Getaway
Women’s Night Out
For Budget Travelers in Hawaii
Visiting Hawaii can get expensive, particularly if you stay in tourist hotspots such as Waikiki or pretty much anywhere on Maui. That said, with a bit of intrepidness and careful planning, you can have a fantastic Hawaii vacation on a budget. Obvious ways of going about this include booking a hotel with a kitchen so that you can cook your own meals, relying on public transportation rather than rental cars, and limiting your partying to DIY drinks at your hotel rather than expensive cocktails in local bars. And while staying in less-touristic areas such as Hilo on the Big Island can help your budget stretch further, there are still plenty of budget hotels in Hawaii; just be sure to book in advance.
Right by Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, Hotel Renew offers a walkable location and a whole host of freebies that help offset its already reasonable room rates (and pesky amenity fee). All rooms are air-conditioned and come with Keurig coffeemakers and PlayStations, and while there’s no on-site restaurant, it does offer a free breakfast buffet that’s substantial enough to keep you satiated well into the afternoon. Expect: cereal, hard-boiled eggs, and a smoothie bar. Tea and coffee are offered for free in the lobby around the clock and the bar offers inexpensive drinks that are even cheaper during the daily happy hour. There’s also free printing and free loaner beach gear, complete with chairs, towels, and beach toys. And if you want to pull yourself away from the sea and sand for a bit of culture, admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Bishop Museum is free for all guests. Saving money in Hawaii is easy at Hotel Renew.
What to Bring on Your Budget Hawaii Vacation
Best-Selling Women’s Beach Look
For Luxury Travelers in Hawaii
There’s no shortage of opportunities to luxuriate in Hawaii, particularly if you’ve got a healthy budget. Nearly every island has a wide variety of luxury resorts, high-end restaurants, glorious spas, world-class golfing, and fabulous shopping opportunities (particularly if you’re in the market for some of Polynesia’s celebrated black pearls). While all of the islands have high-end offerings, Maui offers the best selection of ultra-luxury resorts and is the place to go if you’re looking for a luxury vacation in Hawaii. If you’re going to go big, Hawaii is the place to do it.
Looking out over Hana Bay, the Travaasa Hana Maui is arguably one of the swankiest resorts on what’s arguably the swankiest Hawaiian island. The resort is situated right on the Road to Hana and while the drive is absolutely gorgeous (and part of the fun), some guests simply fly on an eight-seater jet straight to the resort’s landing strip. Guests stay in single-story cottages with up to three bedrooms and private lanais, and many have views over the sea. There’s no direct beach access, owing to the resort’s location perched on a hillside, but there is a free shuttle to nearby Hamoa Beach, where the resort has dedicated lounge chairs and beach umbrellas. There’s also plenty on the property to keep guests occupied, with two pools, including an infinity-edge Wellness Pool with bar service, a fire pit, and a hot tub. Other features include a gym, tennis courts, horseback riding, and traditional Hawaiian activities such as ukulele playing and Hawaiian spear-throwing lessons. The spa is out of this world, with all sorts of massage options (including traditional lomilomi), plus a sauna, steam, and even cold plunges.
What to Bring on Luxury Hawaii Vacation
Caribbean Rookie Mistakes Outfit
For Solo Travelers in Hawaii
While Hawaii isn’t the most obvious choice for solo travelers, it’s a fantastic spot for those traveling alone, whether you’re looking to get away from it all or simply want to explore on your own terms. Solo travelers are well catered-to on every island, but Oahu (and, more specifically, Honolulu) is the best option if you want to meet other travelers or take advantage of local nightlife. Choose a room in Waikiki to be in the heart of the glamorous urban beach action.
Catering to a more youthful set of travelers, The Modern Honolulu offers a wonderful location in the heart of happening Waikiki, within easy walking distance of all sorts of shops and restaurants. However, there are enough on-site features at this property that you may not even feel tempted to leave, from numerous pools with lounge chairs, live music, and cocktail service, a fitness center, and a spa. There’s also a hip gift shop selling swimwear if you’ve left your bikini at home (or are feeling the urge to up your beachwear wardrobe). The chic nightclub — Addiction — is right on the ground level and attracts locals, visitors, and Vanderpump Rules cast members alike. You’re sure to make friends and memories at The Modern.
What to bring on your Solo Hawaii Vacation
For Wellness Travelers in Hawaii
If a wellness vacation is what you’re after, Hawaii will not disappoint. The climate is great for both physical and mental well-being, there are plenty of opportunities to get active on land or at sea, and the islands are home to wellness spas galore. Hawaiian food is not traditionally the healthiest of fare (Spam and macaroni salad, anyone?), the abundance of tropical produce grown here means it’s easy to eat fresh, healthy, vitamin-rich food pretty much anywhere you go. For the ultimate wellness experience, make sure to book yourself a stay in a Hawaiian spa resort. Bliss.
The all-villa Montage Kapalua Bay is spread over 24 acres of gorgeously landscaped grounds, with sea cliffs (hello, cliff jumping) on one side and a sandy beach (hello, paddleboarding) on the other. At the heart of the property sits a series of beautiful, cascading pools that lead from the resort towards the sea like a waterfall. There are only 56 villas in total, all with gorgeous kitchens and large lanais. The resort is set up so that you really don’t have to leave, with excellent facilities that include numerous bars and restaurants, meeting spaces, a kids’ club, and mini-golf, not to mention an exclusive Beach Club. However, the star attraction is the resort’s expansive wellness center, complete with a well-equipped gym, outdoor treatment huts, a juice bar, and even a vintage-inspired barber shop. There’s also a gorgeous hydrotherapy for spa guest use, complete with whirlpool tubs, rainfall waterfalls, and steam and sauna facilities. And if you do feel the urge to get out and explore, a path connects the property right to Kapalua Beach, where there are additional resorts and water sports activities.
What to pack on your Hawaii Vacation
Travel Gear Essentials
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