Thanks to gorgeous beaches, friendly locals, and excellent hiking, it’s no surprise Hawaii is a prime pick for celebrating an anniversary or honeymoon. A team of Oyster reporters explored the top resorts on the islands of Hawaii, to compare and evaluate each. We slept in the beds, sunbathed on the beaches, indulged in spa treatments, and even danced some hula, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties for vacationing couples. So if you’re taking a trip with your sweetie, here are our expert picks for the most romantic hotels in Hawaii.
The Travaasa Hana, Maui overlooking Hana Bay delivers rustic luxury in the middle of Maui's lush, secluded east coast. Guests can expect incredible service, a top spa, excellent food, a long list of stuff to do, and only 70 rooms on acres of uncrowded property. The rooms are large, clean, sleekly furnished -- and stripped of TVs, air conditioners, clocks, and radios. It's hard to reach unless you fly, but worth the trip.
This gorgeous, 380-room luxury property fronting Wailea beach is one of the top resorts on Maui. It's incredibly romantic; couples and honeymooners will likely appreciate the spa and spectacular adults-only infinity pool (though sun loungers go fast). But families will find a ton to like a well, including a kid's activity club and pool, and tons of free equipment for the beach such as snorkel gear and volleyballs. Rooms are spacious with soaking bathtubs and some outstanding views of the Pacific. Dining is expensive and breakfast isn't included with the price of a room, but restaurants like Spago by Wolfgang Puck are probably worth the cost.
Reopened in January 2008 after a $180-million renovation, the 463-room Ritz-Carlton Kapalua boasts up-to-date rooms, top-notch dining, a quality spa, polished service, and beautifully landscaped grounds of national park proportions. It all comes at a slight risk, however, since its location comes with the least consistent, windiest, and rainiest weather of all of Maui's major resort areas.
A 10- to 15-minute drive from Waikiki Beach, on the nearly isolated beach of a posh Honolulu suburb, the intimate Kahala Hotel has been Oahu's premier romantic choice since it opened in 1964. Even Liz Taylor and Richard Burton honeymooned here, hiding from the paparazzi in a private cabana. And if you're not sold on the side-by-side massages, just take a look at "Kissing Point".
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 indulgent without seeming excessive. Dining options on-site are few in number but high in quality, and include what is arguably the bestrestaurant on the Big Island. The service is excellent and the experience is first-rate down to the last detail.
Hotel Wailea was once a budget hotel in upscale Wailea, but a complete renovation in 2014 turned this property into a luxury stunner with all the trimmings of a stylish boutique hotel. Each of the rooms are one-bedroom suites with private outdoor spaces; some have distant ocean views. Guests can eat Mediterranean food at Capische?, which has a chef's table and uses organic ingredients, or The Cabanas, a poolside bar. Kids under the age of 16 aren't allowed here, making for a peaceful and romantic property that appeals to honeymooners. One caveat -- Hotel Wailea isn't directly on the beach but a Mercedes-Benz limo brings guests to a nearby beach club with free chairs and bottled water.
The 251-room St. Regis Princeville is considered by many to be the premier luxury option in Hawaii, and given the stunning setting overlooking Hanalei Bay, it's hard to disagree. Guests can expect warm, sophisticated decor, suites with personal butler service, world-class golf, and a memorable breakfast buffet on a terrace with gorgeous ocean views. The discerning clientele this resort attracts will find little to fault, though if one had to nitpick, the formal dress code might not appeal to everyone, and food prices -- as one might expect at this caliber of property -- are steep. The location on Kauai's lush, ruggedly beautiful northern coast makes for natural beauty that's unparalleled, but rain is more frequent here and the beach, though lovely, doesn't have the finest sand.
One of the island's best hotels, with 456 large, luxury-packed rooms, top restaurants with gorgeous views, a notable spa, fastidious service, and a former Miss Hawaii dancing the hula nightly. The hotel has all the typical hotel amenities one would expect at a full-service resort -- pool, biz center, gym, high-end restaurants -- but, this being the Halekulani, they're all top-notch.
With just six rooms arranged around a beautiful common area that’s all decked out in lavish Balinese-style decor, this is about as opposite of a generic mega-resort as you can get. This adult-only bed-and-breakfast offers an intimate, romantic alternative to busy chain hotels. Although amenities are limited to a great continental breakfast and a small, lovely pool, the experience here less about action and more about relaxing and enjoying the great views of the ocean below (though note there is no beach here). This is the only upscale bed-and-breakfast in Lahaina.
This 121-room Poipu boutique hotel offers five-star features -- rooms with fine Egyptian linens, Italian marble bathrooms, and personal espresso machines, and a free fitness center with individual cable-TV monitors. With just one pool and restaurant, it lacks the extras of the mega-resorts -- but the service is more attentive and pampering.
The 102-room Four Seasons Lodge at Koele is a serene, upscale resort with a Greg Norman-designed golf course. The resort is just a short walk from town, and features top-rated (but expensive) dining, casually elegant rooms, horseback riding facilities, and three tennis courts. The tranquil English-style grounds dotted by Asian accents -- a pagoda sits across the pond from a gazebo -- have a peaceful air and attract honeymooners and couples; few families visit the hotel due to the small size of thepool and the lack of direct beach access (the hotel is about a 20-minute drive from the sand). But guests at the Lodge are granted access to the sister property's facilities (and beach) at Manele Bay via a free shuttle.
Four-and-a-half pearl Andaz Maui at Wailea was built in 2013 and has been popular with the jet set since its opening. The combination of Mokapu Beach access, personalized attention at ‘Āwili Spa and Salon, and a multi-tiered infinity pool draws honeymooners and couples for Hawaiian-style romance. There's a Japanese restaurant and a farm-to-table style restaurant for breakfast. Artisan cocktails are the norm at two lounges. Minimalist rooms are built with the bathroom in the center and some balconies overlook the beach. There isn't a resort fee but valet parking and breakfast cost extra.
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 renowned spa, a twice-weekly luau, and immaculately kept tropical grounds. Its large range of features allows it to have broad appeal, and a non-stop cycle of families, honeymooners, business travelers, and wedding parties filter through the property week after week.
This 32-acre luxury resort in Waimea delivers all the high-end Big Island essentials: A beautiful spa, comprised mostly of outdoor huts; a white-sand beach on a calm lagoon; beautifully landscaped grounds, and a huge pool with ocean views. But rooms, though tasteful, aren't quite as luxurious as you'd expect at this price point, and numerous extra fees can leave guests feeling nickel-and-dimed.
Five miles of gorgeous, undeveloped beaches on Oahu's North Shore provide ample real estate for relaxing strolls along the shore, while on-site amenities like helicopter trips and sunset horseback rides offer more lively romantic moments. Every guest room comes with a great ocean view, and the resort restaurant, Ola, is one of the only places on the island to fine dine right on the beach.
Of the three luxury hotels in Waikiki -- the Moana Surfrider and the Halekulani are the others -- the 528-room Royal Hawaiian provides the most stunning design, the warmest service, and a solid collection of free little extras, turndown treats, andwelcome leis.
One of Maui's most intimate properties, with 19 mostly courtyard-facing rooms and suites, a small pool, free breakfast from the top-notch Gerard's Restaurant, and a small staff that coddles guests, the Plantation Inn is a rare and lovely option in harborfront Lahaina -- but beaches are more than a five-minute drive away.
Completely unlike any other hotel accommodation on Kauai, the upper-middle-range Waimea Plantation Cottages offers visitors a unique approach to the typical Hawaiian vacation. A former sugar cane plantation, the property looks much like it did at the turn of the century, when individual cottages dotted the giant green lawn leading to the ocean. Today, it has 61 cottages, a pool, and an on-site restaurant, and welcomes visitors to a little slice of old Hawaii, where roosters roam the grounds, children play beneath willow trees, and families gather on their lanais to celebrate special occasions. The experience at Waimea Plantation Cottages is certainly rustic -- you can expect a few bugs, spotty Wi-Fi, and iffy air conditioners -- but the hotel’s unsophisticated charm is part of its appeal.
Located down a bumpy, gravel road along the spectacular, twisting road to Hana, this tiny boutique property consists of four unique cottages in a lush tropical atmosphere. Each colorful, light-filled cottage has a full kitchen and a large lanai with a private hot tub. The quirky, artistic property includes details like tile mosaics and hand-painted murals of tropical birds and sea life. The isolated location is dozens of miles away from any restaurants, grocery stores or a beach -- so only those looking for peace and quiet need apply. Huelo Point Lookout is a place to relax, reconnect with nature, and truly get away from it all.