19 of the best places to visit in Hawaii

Catherine Toth Fox

Mar 5, 2024 • 13 min read

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Narrow down your Hawaii hit list with these top places to visit © Fly View Productions / Getty Images

No matter what you're looking for in a vacation – adventure, relaxation, romance, cultural experiences, food – Hawaii has it all.

Every island has its own kind of vibe, from the laid-back serenity of Kauaʻi to the bustling beach towns of Maui. There are so many unique experiences , too, like hiking to an active volcano on Hawaiʻi Island and watching monster surf crash on Oʻahu's North Shore.

With so many options, here's a shortcut to the best experiences you can have in the Aloha State.

1. Waikiki, Oʻahu

Waikiki on Oʻahu's sunny south shore is the state's most famous resort town. Over the years, the neighborhood has evolved to be less kitschy and more authentic. Hotels offer lei-making classes in their open-air lobbies, and traditional hula is showcased on the tiki torch-lit hula mound on Kuhio Beach . Take surfing lessons from modern-day beach boys or indulge in afternoon tea at the historic Moana Surfrider . Some of the island's best restaurants are located in Waikiki, too.

Planning tip : The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has been putting on a fireworks show every Friday night since 1988 (bar the pandemic years). Bring a picnic dinner and find a spot on the beach to watch the skies light up. The show starts at 7:45pm during the winter and 8pm in the summer.

Explore more of O'ahu with this ultimate long weekend itinerary

Three people sit taking photos of the sunset on a mountain above the clouds

2. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiʻi Island

The 323,431-acre Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on Hawaiʻi Island is a place unlike anywhere else in Hawaii (or the US). This is one of the few places in the world where you can drive up to safely view an active volcano. Kilauea , an active shield volcano, had been, up until 2018, continuously erupting and altering the landscape since 1983. It's currently not active , but that can change any day. The national park – one of five on the Big Island – stretches from sea level to the summit of the 13,679ft Mauna Loa , one of the largest volcanoes in the world. Trek along one of dozens of hiking routes in the park and see old lava flows and tubes, steam vents, and native trees and birds.

Detour : Stop at Volcano Village, a rustic town in the middle of a lush rainforest filled with native hapuʻu fern and 'ōhiʻa trees just outside the park. You can find quaint vacation rentals here, a handful of restaurants, a farmers market on Sundays, a small winery that sells locally produced wine, an orchid farm and the Volcano Art Center , a working arts studio and gallery.

Save our complete first-timer's guide to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

3. The Island of Molokaʻi

Undeveloped and often overlooked, Molokaʻi offers some of the most unique experiences of any of the Hawaiian Islands. Spanning 38 miles long and 10 miles across at its widest point, this island – the fifth largest in Hawaii – is home to the world's tallest sea cliffs, the longest waterfall in the Islands and one of the state's largest white-sand beaches, Papohaku Beach . 

There are no big resorts or traffic lights here; instead, you'll find the windswept Moʻomomi Dunes, the 2744-acre Kamakou Preserve with its unique montane bog, and the secluded Kalaupapa Peninsula, once an isolated community of patients with Hansen's disease. Stop at Kanemitsu Bakery in Kaunakakai for freshly made Molokaʻi sweet bread right out of the oven.

A red car on a coastal highway

4. Hana, Maui

The 53-mile Hana Highway – also known as the Road to Hana – is as scenic as it is winding. The road twists across 59 mostly one-lane bridges, along plunging cliffs, past waterfalls and around 620 turns to the unspoiled town of Hana on Maui's northeast coast. The drive itself – which can take several hours – is part of the journey. Once in Hana, enjoy hala tree-lined Hamoa Beach , sunbathe at Waiʻānapanapa State Park's black-sand beach, or hike to the 400ft Waimoku Falls in the Kīpahulu end of Haleakalā National Park . 

Planning tip : If you're planning to visit Waiʻānapanapa State Park,  you'll have to book reservations , which can be made up to 30 days in advance. It costs $5 per person and $10 for parking per non-commercial vehicle.

5. Nāpali Coast, Kauaʻi

The towering green cliffs of the fabled Nāpali Coast rise 2000ft from the ocean and stretch 15 miles along Kauaʻi's rugged northern coastline. You can experience these verdant valleys and razor-edged cliffs aboard a catamaran, on a kayak, from a helicopter or along the 11-mile Kalalau Trail.

Planning tip : To get to Keʻe Beach , the start of the Kalalau Trail, you'll need to make advance reservations to enter Hāʻena State Park. It costs $5 for out-of-state visitors to enter the park, $10 for each car.

Seascape of sunset and beach with silhouettes of surfers and people swimming.

6. North Shore, Oʻahu

In winter – from November to February – some of the world's best surfers (and thousands of spectators) flock to Oʻahu's North Shore and its 7 miles of famous breaks, from Banzai Pipeline to Sunset Beach . Once in a while, the waves are big enough (consistently larger than 40ft, measured from the front of the wave) at Waimea Bay to hold the prestigious, invite-only Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitation. Summer brings calmer ocean conditions, great for swimming and snorkeling. The colorful beach town of Haleʻiwa features cute boutiques, eateries and the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice shop.

Detour : To get a bird's-eye view of this famous coastline, take the 2-mile ʻEhukai Pillbox hike. The trail climbs the side of the northern Koʻolau Mountains to WWII bunkers that offer panoramic views of the entire North Shore coastline.

7. Haleakalā National Park, Maui

Catching the sunrise at the top of Haleakalā, a dormant volcano that rises to 10,023ft above sea level, is one of the most popular activities on Maui. Reservations are required for sunrise – and the fee doesn't include entrance into the national park – and can be hard to get. Consider viewing the sunset instead and staying for the night sky. The park also has numerous hiking trails through otherworldly landscapes and the chance to see the endangered ʻāhinahina (silversword) and nēnē (Hawaiian goose), the state bird.

Planning tip : The park offers pristine dark skies – with minimal light pollution – perfect for stargazing. Temperatures can drop quickly at the summit, so dress warmly and bring layers. You'll also want to bring your own snacks, as there are no food or drinks available in the park.

A surfer heads out into the waves at a beach surrounded by high volcanic hills

8. Hanalei, Kauaʻi

On Kauaʻi's quiet north shore is the sleepy town of Hanalei , marked by emerald green mountains, kalo loʻi (flooded taro fields) and some of the island's best beaches, including the breathtaking Hanalei Bay with its historic pier. Browse art galleries and boutiques, eat fresh poke from Hanalei Poke and plant-based taro doughnuts from Holey Grail, and walk around a farmers market.

Detour : About 2 miles west of Hanalei Bay is Lumahaʻi Beach , made famous by the 1958 classic film South Pacific . This is where Mitzi Gaynor spent her time "washing that man right out of her hair."

9. Maunakea, Hawaiʻi Island

Maunakea , or "white mountain," is, at 13,802ft above sea level, the world's tallest mountain when measured from its base. (More than half, or 19,698ft, of Maunakea lies underwater, making it 33,500ft from base to summit.) It's considered one of the most sacred of all Hawaiʻi volcanoes and is known by Native Hawaiians as a region of the gods. It's also a hub of astronomical observation with more than a dozen massive telescopes from around the world. You can book guided stargazing tours with outfitters like Hawaiʻi Forest & Trail .

Detour : In April,  Hilo , which is about 30 minutes west of Maunakea, hosts the annual Merrie Monarch Festival , a competitive hula festival featuring some of the state's best dancers and performers. You have to book tickets in advance to attend the event, but the craft show, which is a huge draw, is open to the public.

A large white building out over the sea

10. Pearl Harbor, Oʻahu

Known for the 1941 attack on the USS Arizona , which launched the US into WWII, Pearl Harbor draws millions of visitors each year to the memorial erected in honor of the 1102 men who are still entombed in the metal hull of the battleship. You can catch a boat to the USS Arizona Memorial , tour the aircraft hangars of the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum , and stand on the decks of the "Mighty Mo" battleship where Imperial Japan formally surrendered in 1945. Pearl Harbor was once known as Wai Momi, or pearl waters, because of its abundant oyster beds.

11. Upcountry Maui, Maui

On the slopes of Haleakalā are the quaint towns of Kula and Makawao, collectively known as Upcountry Maui. Up here, the air is crispier, and the vibe is slower. Pick fresh strawberries in season at Kula Country Farms , wander around the fragrant Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm , or feed goats at Surfing Goat Dairy. This area is famous for its paniolo , or Hawaiian cowboys.

Detour : Not many visitors know that grapes are grown here. Open since 1974, MauiWine produces wines made from estate-grown grapes, pineapples and raspberries. Visit its tasting room at the picturesque ʻUlupalakua Ranch.

A canyon with sheer brown-red rock walls

12. Waimea Canyon, Kauaʻi

Called the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon, with its buttes, crags and earthen colors, stretches 10 miles long, is 1 mile wide and is more than 3600ft deep. Stop at the Waimea Canyon Lookout for sweeping views of the canyon and the 800ft Waipoʻo Falls . But you can also experience the canyon via numerous hiking trails, on horseback and from a helicopter. Any way you see it, it's breathtaking.

Detour : The best trails are located within the 4345-acre Kōkeʻe State Park . The cost is $5 per person (nonresident) and $10 per car. From the park, you can stop at the Kalalau Lookout at 4120ft above the Nāpali Coast, with commanding views of the lush, amphitheater-headed Kalalau Valley. Camping is available, and the restaurant is worth a stop (but note: it only serves breakfast and lunch.)

13. South Kona, Hawaiʻi Island

Head south from Kailua-Kona, and you'll be in coffee country. This area – Kaʻawaloa (Captain Cook), Hōnaunau, Kāʻu – is known for its high-quality coffee grown exclusively in this high elevation and volcanic soils on the slopes of Hualālai Volcano. There are hundreds of farms here, and many offer guided tours and free tastings. Hōlualoa is a small artsy town with cute shops. Kealakekua Bay in the region of Captain Cook provides some of the island's best snorkeling. And Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is a sacred place of refuge that you wander on a half-mile walking tour.

Detour : In Keauhou, you can dive at night with the gentle manta rays that swim along this coastline. Seeing these graceful giants glide and twirl in the water with you is an experience you won't likely forget.

Exterior shot of a grand palace building surrounded by gardens with palm trees

14. ʻIolani Palace, Oʻahu

Built in 1882 under King David Kalākaua, ʻIolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu is the only royal residence in the US. It took three years to complete at a cost of $343,595, with Hawaiʻi's first electric light system, flush toilets and intra-house telephones. The last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom – King Kalākaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliʻuokalani – resided here until the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893. You can tour this American Florentine-style palace and see its throne rooms, dining rooms and the private living quarters of the royal family.

Detour : Walk to nearby Chinatown and browse the markets or eat at one of the many restaurants – ranging from Korean takeout to poke bowls to restaurants run by James Beard Award-winners and nominees – in this neighborhood.

15. Molokini, Maui

Three miles off shore from Wailea on Maui is Molokini Crater, known for its deep, crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. This crescent-shaped islet is a marine preserve, home to more than 250 species of tropical fish. The only way to get to this popular snorkeling and diving site is by boat.

Planning tip : While the boat ride out to Molokini is typically smooth, the journey back can be tumultuous. If you're prone to seasickness, either sit in the center of the boat where it's more stable or take some motion-sickness remedies.

16. Kailua, Oʻahu

A quick 15-minute drive from Honolulu, Kailua seems like a world away. The beach town is built around Kailua Beach , a powdery-white stretch of sand that runs 2.5 miles long. People fish, surf, kayak, swim and paddle canoes in these waters. Nearby Lanikai Beach , with its unobstructed views of the Mokulua Islands, is another popular stop for beach lovers. It's smaller and more secluded than Kailua Beach, but often more crowded because of its reputation for calm waters and gorgeous vistas. The town itself boasts popular restaurants, boutiques, local breweries and a great locally-owned independent bookshop called Bookends.

Planning tip : Consider exploring Kailua town by bike. You can rent one from The Bike Shop . (There's no city-run bike-sharing on this side of the island.) The shop has a range of cruisers, mountain bikes and road bikes for rent, complete with helmets and bike locks. Electra cruises – the most popular bikes – start at $18 for up to four hours. You can book online and pick it up at the shop.

17. Old Lahaina Lūʻau, Maui

Open in 1986, the locally owned Old Lahaina Lūʻau on Maui has been a favorite lūʻau for decades, showcasing traditional hula , music and food. It's located right on the ocean off Front Street in Lahaina with great sunset views. Tickets include live entertainment, an open bar, historical storytelling and chanting, and an all-you-can-eat buffet with Hawaiian staples like lau lau, kālua pig, poi and poke .

A green sea turtle swimming at a reef in Lanai, Hawaii

18. Hanauma Bay, Oʻahu

This protected nature preserve in East Honolulu is one of the best spots to snorkel on Oʻahu . About 400 species of fish inhabit this bay, along with honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) and the occasional endangered Hawaiian monk seal. There are restrictions for access to this popular bay: online reservations are required , and it costs $25 per person for non-Hawaii residents 13 years and older. Parking is another US$3 per car. The bay is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Planning tip : You can rent snorkel gear at the bay, so you don't have to lug your own. While you can walk down the steep road to the beach, you can also opt to take the free tram (we recommend that on the way back to your car).

Least known of all the Hawaiian Islands – and the smallest inhabited island – Lanaʻi is an ideal escape. Stay in luxurious resorts with world-class amenities fronting the beautiful and secluded Hulopoʻe Beach , a designated marine preserve filled with colorful fish and sometimes spinner dolphins. Or explore the rest of the island – the wild and windswept 8-mile Shipwreck Beach (complete with an actual shipwreck), the ancient fishing village of Kaunolū , or visit the strange landscape of Keahikawelo (Garden of the Gods).

Planning tip : If you want to venture outside the resorts of Lanaʻi City, you'll need to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle. There's no public transportation or ride-sharing on the island.

This article was first published Jun 18, 2021 and updated Mar 5, 2024.

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  • World's Best

The 20 Best Resorts in Hawaii in 2022

The best resorts in Hawaii, according to Travel + Leisure readers, pair a wealth of amenities with unforgettable views.

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Note: If you’re looking for our most recent recommendations, check out the 2023 list of our favorite resorts in Hawaii .

After the Aloha State lifted COVID-19 restrictions, Travel + Leisure readers — particularly families and couples looking for a solid yet remote vacation destination — eagerly returned. The best resorts in Hawaii have kept pace with renovations and updates, making this famous archipelago in the Pacific more appealing than ever.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels (including safari lodges) were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

Oahu, Hawaii's most populous (and popular) island, is home to seven properties on this year's list, including Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani (No. 2). Still fresh off its opening in 2019, it features a neutral, calming design scheme that provides a serene retreat from the frenetic atmosphere of its Waikiki location. Its sister hotel, the iconic Halekulani (No. 9), debuted its own refurbishment in October.

Over on the Island of Hawaii, the Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection (No. 6), impressed readers with its "gorgeous remodel," referring to the hotel's reopening in 2020 after a massive overhaul. "The staff are attentive and gracious," one voter added. "The views are spectacular, and the resort amenities are plentiful, so you don't feel the need to leave the property."

Kauai, meanwhile, had three hotels on the list, including Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort (No. 7), on the island's famed Poipu Beach. "This is our favorite place in Kauai, if not all of Hawaii," enthused one reader. "The location is beautiful, the team is amazing, and the food is incredible. The Lomilomi massage in the spa should not be missed."

It was Maui's Hotel Wailea, though, that earned the top spot. Read on for more about what made it the favorite, as well as the full list of the best resort hotels in Hawaii.

1. Hotel Wailea, Maui

"Hotel Wailea is heaven on Earth," according to a reader. The 15-acre, adults-only property is unique among the nearby resorts in that it's not beachfront — but that's a good thing for guests who prefer the quiet that comes with a location high on a hill, overlooking the sea. Because there are no children, the atmosphere leans toward the "relaxing and romantic," as one reader described. Others loved the oversize guest rooms, which come with big balconies and are "nicely furnished, with a clean, contemporary feel that's also cozy." While the huge pool deck (fringed by cabanas, lush greenery, and the poolside café) is a big draw for hanging out, beach access is available anytime during the day via the hotel's shuttle, which can whisk guests to Maui's picture-perfect shores in just two minutes. Several readers also mentioned the outstanding service: "Every member of the staff makes you feel at home."

Score: 94.86

Book on Tripadvisor

2. Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani, Oahu

Score: 94.59

3. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Maui

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 94.20

4. Prince Waikiki, Oahu

Score: 93.90

5. Montage Kapalua Bay, Maui

Score: 93.38

6. Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Island of Hawaii

Score: 93.18

7. Ko'a Kea Resort on Po'ipu Beach, Kauai

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.95

8. The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Score: 92.87

9. Halekulani, Oahu

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.72

10. Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lanai

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.68

11. Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, Island of Hawaii

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.56

12. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Island of Hawaii

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.44

13. Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, Oahu

Score: 92.38

14. The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Oahu

Score: 91.38

15. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection, Island of Hawaii

Score: 91.29

16. Hanalei Colony Resort, Kauai

Score: 91.06

17. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Kauai

Score: 90.86

18. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Maui

Score: 90.84

19. The Laylow, Autograph Collection, Oahu

Score: 90.73

20. Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Score: 90.69

Related Articles

These are the best islands in Hawaii, according to frequent visitors

Leslie Harvey

No matter where you go in America's 50th state, Hawaii's islands offer a wide variety of topographies, accommodations, activities and experiences.

Related: The best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles

Hawaii is an incredibly unique place to visit, and each island has its own distinctive vibe. How do you choose between so many different versions of paradise? Here's a guide to finding the right Hawaiian island to visit on your next vacation.

  • First-time visitors to Hawaii.
  • Single travelers.
  • Large groups.
  • Budget travelers.

Oahu is Hawaii's most bustling and urban island. It's home to the state's largest city and commercial center, Honolulu, which is known for an epic rush hour that sometimes rivals the one in Los Angeles. Within city limits, Waikiki Beach is the place to see and be seen — shop, dine and enjoy the amenities of huge high-rise resorts.

Related: The best time to visit Hawaii this year

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But Oahu's offerings are more diverse than just Honolulu. The growing resort area of Ko Olina is not as built up but still has several upscale accommodations, including Disney's Aulani Resort and the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina . On the way to Ko Olina from Honolulu is Pearl Harbor , one of the most visited historic sites anywhere on the islands.

hawaii trip reviews

Oahu's North Shore provides another vibe that's downright chill with its beach-hopping, food-truck-loving, small-town surfer scene. Hikers will find plenty of trails all over Oahu, from the peaks of Diamond Head to less-traveled spots like Makiki Valley and Waimea Valley. Some popular spots do require advance reservations.

hawaii trip reviews

Oahu's gateway for travelers, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) has the most air service of any location on the islands, making it the cheapest destination for travelers from the mainland. It also offers the most nonstop flights.

Related: Best ways to redeem points and miles on Hawaiian Airlines

  • Travelers with kids.
  • Multigenerational travel.
  • Anyone looking for resort-based condo properties.

The second-most-visited island in the state and also its second largest, Maui is home to the famed Road to Hana , Haleakala National Park and the best whale watching anywhere in Hawaii during the winter months.

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For many travelers, a vacation on Maui is the best of both worlds. The island offers some of the same infrastructure, conveniences and activities of Oahu without the traffic and urban sprawl. It's possible to have an active vacation here and visit a lot of attractions, or you can just enjoy some island rest and relaxation at a resort.

Maui is a great pick for families with kids of school age because of its many activities. It works well for multigenerational groups because it has experiences that grandparents and grandkids can enjoy, such as the Maui Ocean Center or catching a sunrise at Haleakala National Park.

The island of Maui also has many amazing hotels and resorts at a wide variety of price points. Most are clustered in two major areas: on the Lahaina/Ka'anapali/Kapalua corridor on the northwest side of the island and in Kihei/Wailea farther south.

Related: 29 hotels in Maui, Hawaii, you can book with points

For its size, Maui offers an impressive variety of hotels for travelers to book a hotel stay with points. Most major chains are represented, and many properties offer condo accommodations that work for families or larger groups. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa ; The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas; The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, Ka'anapali; the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort ; and the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort have all scored well with TPG contributors and readers.

hawaii trip reviews

Hawaii (the Big Island)

  • Romantic couples getaways.
  • Luxury travelers.
  • Adventure seekers.

hawaii trip reviews

The island of Hawaii, called the Big Island , is the largest and newest island in the chain. Because it's so big, seeing everything requires close to a week, but it offers many different travel experiences from day to day.

The vast majority of Big Island visitors stick to the western side of the island near the city of Kailua-Kona and the Kohala Coast, where the large resorts are located. Luxury seekers can enjoy high-end properties like the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai ; the Mauna Lani , an Auberge Resort; and the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection.

Families on a moderate budget can find ample hotel offerings, too. In particular, the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and the Hilton Waikoloa Village cater to travelers with kids. Pool complexes are a big draw.

Related: Top hotels on the Big Island, Hawaii, for your next vacation

hawaii trip reviews

Although it's entirely possible to spend a week on the Big Island relaxing on the beach of a resort, the island can also be an adventure traveler's paradise. On the northern part of the island, travelers can zip line, take all-terrain-vehicle tours, jump into waterfalls, scuba dive or snorkel with giant manta rays, or flume down historic sugar cane irrigation channels.

On the southern part of the island, you can visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, although some areas remain closed for safety precautions. The town of Hilo on the eastern side of the island has its own local vibe that can be a great getaway for travelers looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience.

  • Romantic couples getaways and babymoons.
  • Adventure junkies.
  • Relaxation seekers.

Kauai's lush greenery makes it, in my opinion, the most beautiful of all the Hawaiian islands. It is home to waterfalls, hiking trails and a variety of eco-adventures. Most travelers seek out Kauai to avoid the hustle and bustle of Oahu and Maui and have a more unplugged vacation experience.

hawaii trip reviews

Unfortunately, Kauai's natural beauty also makes it less reliable as a vacation destination. The island's greenery comes from the substantial rainfall it gets, which makes it possible that your vacation in paradise is a damp one. For that reason, it's probably best to plan for a longer trip just in case the weather doesn't cooperate all the time.

Hotel offerings on Kauai are ample. For families, the hands-down winner is the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Poipu, known for having one of the best waterslides and pools anywhere on the island. The Grand Club lounge is quite special, too, with easy access to breakfast, drinks, snacks and more.

Poipu to the south is home to quite a few other major resorts, including the Sheraton Kauai Resort . Princeville to the north has many others, such as The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas .

Related: True aloha spirit at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort

Smaller islands: Lanai and Molokai

  • Returning Hawaii visitors looking for new experiences.

hawaii trip reviews

Although the vast majority of travelers to Hawaii visit Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai, there are two smaller islands that tourists can visit as well. Getting to both of them requires a little extra effort, as neither has air service from the mainland.

Lanai, the island owned by Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, is accessible by boat from Maui. It has two Four Seasons resorts on the island (one is adults-only), so it's also luxurious and pricey.

Related: Off the beaten path: Tips on visiting and exploring Lanai, Hawaii

Molokai, by contrast, has no name-brand accommodations, making it a place of refuge for local residents and travelers looking for authentic Hawaii travel experiences. Molokai has commuter air service from HNL and Maui's two airports: Kahului Airport (OGG) and Kapalua Airport (JHM).

Related: Off the beaten path: Tips on visiting and exploring Molokai, Hawaii

I wouldn't recommend that travelers head to either of these places until they've visited several of the larger Hawaiian islands first. You'll likely get more out of them (and know which one is the right fit for you) once you have more context to appreciate them.

Protect Your Trip »

The 23 Best Hawaii Tours

Make the most of your visit to the Aloha State with one of these top-rated excursions.

Best Hawaii Tours

Getty Images

With so much to explore in Hawaii, it's best to start your trip with a knowledgeable guide.

Note: Nonessential travel to Maui is discouraged at this time, due to the wildfire damage Lahaina, Kihei and Upcountry Maui sustained in August 2023. For more information and updates on Maui, visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority  website .

When you're not relaxing on Hawaii's golden beaches, you'll want to explore its distinct natural wonders by land, sea and air. After all, the state is home to the tallest mountain in the world (Mauna Kea – when measured from its submarine base, it surpasses Mount Everest), the world's highest sea cliffs (the Kalaupapa Cliffs) and two of the world's most active volcanoes (Kilauea and Maunaloa). The best way to see these jaw-dropping sights is with a guided tour. Led by in-the-know locals, these tours will help you experience all of the state's incredible wildlife, scenery, culture and food. Relying on both expert opinion and traveler input, U.S. News determined these to be the best tours in Hawaii.

Wasabi Tours Hawaii – Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History

Enjoy a jam-packed day exploring the Big Island 's top sights on this 11- to 12-hour tour. You'll start your day with a stop at a Kona coffee farm where you'll learn about the harvesting and milling process. Then, you'll continue on to Punalu'u Beach (famous for its black sand) and Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park . You'll also visit some of the island's most magnificent waterfalls, including Akaka Falls , Rainbow Falls and the Waipio Valley . According to reviewers, this tour is a great way to see a lot of the island in a short amount of time. Many tourgoers say the day flies by thanks to the engaging guides. Tours are capped at 12 participants and are generally available daily starting at 7 a.m. Tickets, which include a picnic-style lunch, snacks and bottled water, cost about $195 per adult and $175 per child ages 12 and younger. The company runs a variety of tours around the island, including a waterfall tour of the Waipio Valley and Hamakua Coast.

[View & Book Tickets: Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3 .]

North Shore Beach Bus – Tour of North Shore

If you're visiting Oahu and want to explore beyond popular Waikiki , consider this daylong bus tour. Among the sights featured are the island's famous North Shore , where surfers from around the world congregate to ride the massive waves. You'll also visit the Dole Plantation, where the island's pineapples are grown. Reviewers give the guide and driver high marks thanks to their friendly attitudes and wealth of knowledge. Others say the tour is well-paced and is a great introduction if this is your first visit to Hawaii. Tours are generally available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Buses begin picking up passengers at 7:20 a.m.; expect to be back in Waikiki by 5 to 6 p.m. Tickets cost about $130 per adult ages 13 and older, and $120 per child ages 3 to 12; infants 2 and younger can ride for free.

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Hang Loose Boat Tours – Manta Ray Night Snorkel

The waters surrounding the Big Island are feeding grounds for manta rays, which are known for their impressive wingspans and gentle demeanor (manta rays have tails but not stingers or barbs). The best way to see these magnificent creatures up close is on an evening snorkel tour, when boats use bright lights to attract plankton, which in turn draws manta rays in search of food. On this 2 1/2-hour tour, you'll get the chance to snorkel among these gentle giants and may even spot bottlenose dolphins. Tourgoers describe this as a bucket list experience and applaud the attentive, safety-conscious crew. Tours are available daily; departure times vary by month, but tours usually begin between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $110 per participant ages 12 and older; $90 per child ages 5 to 11 and $35 for infants ages 1 to 4. Ride-along tourgoers who do not want to swim can join for $80 per person. Prices also include snacks and water. Hang Loose Boat Tours also offers whale-watching excursions and snorkeling tours of Kealakekua Bay , among other options.

Royal Star Hawaii Trans & Tours – Grand Circle Island & Haleiwa Town Tour

See all of Oahu's top sights in a day on this nine-hour coach bus tour. Among the stops are the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, the Byodo-In Temple, the Dole Plantation and the surfing town of Haleiwa, which sits on Oahu's majestic North Shore. Reviewers praise the energetic, educational guides and rave about the gorgeous views. Others say this is a great option if you have limited time on the island and want to see the top spots. Tours run Sunday through Friday from approximately 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $110 per adult and $75 per child ages 2 to 11. This company also offers private tours.

Koloa Zipline

Fly across Kauai 's longest zip line course on this exhilarating 3 1/2-hour tour. You'll begin the tour with a lesson on the basics of zip lining before traversing the course's eight lines, which offer incredible views of verdant forests and the Waita Reservoir. In between each zip line, you'll enjoy some light hiking. Those who want an extra thrill can also try zip lining upside down, backward or head first. Tourgoers are equally impressed with the stunning scenery and well-versed guides. Reviewers say you'll enjoy an incredible thrill riding on the zip lines, but also learn a fair amount of Hawaiian history from the personable guides. Many travelers suggest wearing mosquito repellent. You can book a tour Monday through Saturday; tours are available as early as 7:30 a.m. and as late as 3 p.m. Tickets cost about $150 per person ages 7 and older.

Best Hawaii Tours

Haleakala National Park boasts unforgettable sunrises.

Bike Maui – Haleakala Sunrise Best Self-Guided Bike Tour with Bike Maui

According to reviewers, this sunrise tour is worth the early wake-up call. Depending on the month, you may check in as early as 3 a.m. The tour starts with a van ride up to the summit of Haleakala National Park where you'll be able to enjoy the sunrise – a particular highlight for travelers. Just outside the park at an elevation of 6,500 feet is where you'll begin your self-guided, 23-mile downhill journey, which you can enjoy at your own pace. Reviewers suggest wearing layers as it can get chilly at the summit, but quickly warms up once you're biking. Tours are generally available Monday through Saturday year-round. Check-in times vary by month in accordance with the sunrise. Tour tickets cost around $200, which covers all taxes and associated park fees. You'll also have complimentary use of mountain bikes, helmets, rain gear and backpacks. What's more, Bike Maui offers a guided version of this tour, which reviewers recommend if you don't consider yourself an experienced cyclist.

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Hawaii Turtle Tours – Turtle Circle Island Tour

Ideal for travelers short on time, this approximately nine-hour bus tour takes visitors to some of Oahu's top sights, including the Halona Blowhole, Mokolii, the Dole Plantation and the Diamond Head Lookout . Plus, it includes 90 minutes at a beach to swim and snorkel alongside green sea turtles. Travelers give both the driver and the guide two thumbs up and say this is an efficient way to see the island if you don't have a car. Reviewers say this is a great experience to book on one of your first days on the island as the guides will share tips and suggestions that you can apply to the rest of your vacation. Tours are available daily beginning at 7:20 a.m. Tickets cost about $130 for adults and approximately $110 for children ages 4 to 12. Infants 3 and younger ride for free. The use of snorkeling gear is included in the tour cost, but it's suggested that you bring cash for the food stops along the tour. Hawaii Turtle Tours also offers private custom tours.

Redline Rafting Co. – Molokini Crater and South Maui Coast

Visit Molokini Crater – one of only three volcanic calderas in the world – on this five-hour tour with Redline Rafting Co. Home to approximately 250 marine species, Molokini is a snorkeler's paradise. You'll also get the chance to snorkel the famous back wall of Molokini, a well-known dive spot. Additionally, your tour will include a stop at La Perouse Bay, which is home to spinner dolphins. If you're visiting between December and March, you may spot humpback whales. Reviewers praise the informative, fun crew, and report seeing a variety of wildlife, including manta rays, whale sharks and sea turtles. Tours generally depart daily at 7 a.m. from Kihei. Tickets start at $160 for participants ages 8 and older. Breakfast and lunch are included in the ticket price. The company also runs an abbreviated, two-hour Molokini snorkel tour, as well as whale watching excursions .

Sea Maui – Original Sunset Cocktail Cruise

Marvel at views of Molokai, Lanai , Maui and Kahoolawe with a cocktail in hand on this two-hour sunset cruise with Sea Maui. As you take in the view, you'll enjoy chef-prepared appetizers and handcrafted drinks from the open bar. Reviewers rave about the cruise, complimenting the friendly, attentive crew and spectacular views. Others praise the delicious food and drinks. If you time your trip from mid-December to mid-April, you may spot migrating whales. Boat tours depart around 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Tuesday and Thursday, Sea Maui offers a version of this cruise with musicians performing on board. Tickets for the Original Sunset Cocktail Cruise cost about $80 for adults 21 and older, $60 for teens ages 13 to 20 and $50 for children ages 3 to 12. In addition to sunset cruises, Sea Maui also runs snorkel tours.

Air Maui Helicopter Tours – West Maui and Molokai Special

Enjoy a bird's-eye view of Maui and Molokai on this 45-minute helicopter flight. You'll fly over the West Maui Mountains, hidden waterfalls and lush valleys, as well as Molokai, which is home to the world's tallest sea cliffs. Along the way, your pilot will share information about all the sights, as well as Maui history. Reviewers say it's impossible to see these spectacular views from land, and applaud the personable, informative pilots. Others say the price is reasonable for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Tours are available daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets start at $229 per person. If you'd prefer more time in the air, you can sign up for the company's hourlong version of this tour. Air Maui also offers tours of the entire island, as well as the option to fly with the doors off.

PacWhale Eco-Adventures – Classic Whalewatch

During the winter breeding season, humpback whales are drawn to Maui's warm, temperate waters. Your best chance of spotting these magnificent creatures is aboard a whale watching tour with PacWhale Eco-Adventures. On this two-hour cruise, you'll head out to the 'Au'au Channel between Maui, Molokai and Lanai with a certified marine naturalist on board. In addition to whale sightings, you may also get to hear the whales using the boat's underwater hydrophone. Tourgoers report seeing many whales and praise the crew for their wealth of knowledge. Others say the boat is clean and spacious. Tours are available multiple times daily December through April from two departure points in Maui (Lahaina and Maalaea). Tickets cost about $45 for participants ages 13 and older, and $25 for kids ages 5 to 12; children 4 and younger ride for free. PacWhale Eco-Adventures also offers a variety of snorkeling tours and sunset dinner cruises around Maui.

Best Hawaii Tours

Spinner dolphins are one of many sea creatures you could see during a Hawaiian vacation.

Kona Snorkel Tours – Wild Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin Snorkel Boat Adventure

Snorkel among wild dolphins on this up to four-hour tour. You'll zip along the Kona Coast in a rigid inflatable boat with up to 13 other passengers in search of wild dolphins. Though the boat is fast and can make for a choppy ride, it allows everyone on board to quickly slide into the water at the first dolphin sighting. Note that during the tour you'll be swimming by the dolphins, not with them. Kona Snorkel Tours also does not allow travelers to touch, harass, ride, feed or swim with the dolphins. Many travelers express amazement at the amount of dolphins spotted, and say floating near them is a magical experience. Others applaud the crew for being respectful of the wildlife. Tours are available daily at 7 and 10 a.m. Tickets cost about $120 per person. Snacks, water and use of snorkel gear and flotation devices are covered in the ticket cost. This tour is not recommended for children younger than 5, adults older than 60 or pregnant women. Kona Snorkel Tours also offers snorkeling excursions to the Kealakekua Bay.

Hawaii Forest & Trail – Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure

The Big Island is home to the world's tallest sea mountain, Mauna Kea. A dormant volcano, Mauna Kea sits at nearly 14,000 feet above sea level and more than 30,000 feet from the ocean floor. To visit Mauna Kea's summit, learn more about the volcano's role in Hawaiian legend and its importance to the world of astronomy (it is home to 13 of the world's largest telescopes), consider joining this guided tour from Hawaii Forest & Trail. On the seven- to eight-hour journey, you and up to 11 other participants will journey to the summit at sunset before descending to a lower elevation to admire the stars using the company's Celestron telescope. Reviewers compliment the tour guides for their attention to safety, their passion for astronomy and their cultural knowledge. Many travelers advise dressing warm as the temperatures at the summit are frigid (as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit). Tickets, which include a picnic-style dinner, dessert, hot chocolate and tea, cost about $235 per participant ages 16 and older. Note that children younger than 16 are not permitted due to the possibility of altitude sickness. Tour availability and departure times can vary by month, with some tours departing as early as 1:25 p.m. Check the website to view the full schedule. Hawaii Forest & Trail also offers guided tours through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, among other options.

Kauai Sea Tours – Na Pali Snorkel Tour

Snorkel along the Napali Coast on this 5 1/2-hour adventure with Kauai Sea Tours. You'll zip around the coast on a rigid inflatable raft as the crew shares information about Kauai's history and the animals that inhabit these waters. As you cruise, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, sea turtles and humpback whales (from December to March). Reviewers warn that the raft ride can get bumpy at times, but thanks to the boat's size and easy maneuverability, the snorkeling portion of the experience is memorable, with many calling this the highlight of their time in Kauai. Tours are typically available daily at 7:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost around $175 for adults and $155 for kids ages 3 to 12. Kauai Sea Tours also offers whale watching excursions and sunset sails, among other options.

Blue Hawaiian – Kauai ECO Adventure Helicopter Tour

Did you know that 90% of Kauai is inaccessible by car? To marvel at the island's hard-to-reach natural wonders, consider signing up for a helicopter tour from Blue Hawaiian. On this 50-minute flight, you'll soar over Manawaiopuna Falls (where the opening scenes of "Jurassic Park" were filmed), the Olokele and Waimea canyons, and the Napali Coast. If time allows, you may also fly over Mount Waialeale, a dormant shield volcano. Reviewers say the tour is worth the money thanks to the unparalleled views and informative pilots. Flights are available Monday through Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. The last flight of the day departs at 4:15 p.m., though departures may be earlier depending on the month. Tickets start at $314 per person. Blue Hawaiian also offers helicopter tours of other islands, including Oahu and Maui.

X-Treme Parasail

Enjoy a bird's-eye view of Waikiki, Diamond Head and more as you fly up to 1,000 feet in the air via parasail on this hourlong tour. Tourgoers hail the crew for their attention to safety and ability to create a fun atmosphere. Many describe it as a bucket list activity that's worth the expense. Tours are available on the hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets for parasailers start at around $65; observers who do not want to parasail, but still want to ride on the boat pay about $45. The company also offers Jet Ski rentals and flyboarding experiences.

Kailua Beach Adventures – 2-Hour Guided Kayak Excursion

This beginner-friendly kayak tour is jam-packed with activity. You'll kayak in Oahu's Kailua Bay to Popoia Island, where nesting sea birds live. You'll have time to hike around the island, explore tide pools and enjoy a snack. Tourgoers offer glowing reviews for the guides, who they describe as full of energy and very knowledgeable. Reviewers also say they captured amazing photos on this trip. You can opt for a self-guided version of this tour, but reviewers only recommend that if you consider yourself an experienced kayaker as you'll have to navigate some choppy waters. Guided tours are available Monday through Saturday as early as 7:30 a.m., with multiple departures per day. Tickets cost about $180 per adult and approximately $160 for children between the ages of 8 and 12. The tour cost covers the use of kayaking and snorkeling gear, lunch and free parking. The company also operates kayak tours suited for advanced kayakers that explores hidden tide pools and the Mokulua Islands.

Best Hawaii Tours

The Napali Coast is well-known for its staggering cliffs.

Holo Holo Charters – Napali Sunset Dinner Tour

Enjoy a memorable sunset dinner cruise aboard Holo Holo Charters' 65-foot catamaran as you admire the stunning Napali Coast. The 3 1/2-hour tour includes appetizers, dinner, dessert and drinks (including alcoholic beverages), as well as a sparkling wine toast at sunset. Reviewers gush about the stunning views and attentive crew, with many calling this tour a "can't-miss" experience. Cruises are generally available daily; departures vary by season. Tickets for adults cost around $160; tickets for children ages 5 to 12 cost about $140. For safety reasons, pregnant women and children younger than 5 are not allowed to tour. Holo Holo Charters also offers snorkeling tours, among other options.

Temptation Tours – Hana Ultimate Tour

If you're hoping to drive the legendary Road to Hana , but don't want to maneuver the 54-mile winding highway on your own, consider booking this van tour. You'll start your day with breakfast in Kahului or Pa'ia before hitting up some of the top sights along the highway, including Waikani Falls and Ho'okipa – a world-renowned windsurfing spot. You'll also enjoy a three-course lunch and have the option to swim at a black sand beach or in a pool beneath a waterfall. Tourgoers call guides knowledgeable and passionate, and say breakfast and lunch are delicious. Many reviewers recommend opting for this tour instead of trying to drive the road yourself to be able to fully enjoy the experience. Tours are limited to eight participants and include round-trip hotel transportation. Trips depart daily starting at 7 a.m. and return at approximately 6 p.m. Tickets cost about $250 per person. You can also add on a helicopter flight to this tour, or to save some money by opting for the "meet your guide" option, which does not include round-trip hotel transportation or any meals.

Kayak Kauai – Wailua River Sacred Falls Tour

Enjoy a leisurely paddle on Kauai's Wailua River followed by a hike to a tropical waterfall on this five-hour tour. Along the way, you'll enjoy plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities, and learn about the history of the river, which is considered one of Hawaii's most sacred places. Tourgoers call this experience a must-do in Kauai and applaud the courteous, knowledgeable guides, who reviewers say provide a wealth of information about Hawaiian history and culture. However, a few warn of heavy tourist crowds at the waterfall. Tickets cost approximately $110 for adults and $95 for children ages 6 to 12. Note that the tour is not suited for kids 5 and younger. Tours depart several times daily beginning at 7:45 a.m. The company operates a variety of other kayaking and hiking tours around Kauai. Prefer to explore solo? Kayak Kauai also rents gear.

Body Glove Cruises – Captain Cook Dinner Cruise to Kealakekua Bay

Cruise 12 miles down the Kona Coast to the Captain Cook Monument on this three-hour boat tour. Along the way, an onboard historian will share information about Hawaiian history and culture. Once you arrive in the Kealakekua Bay, you'll enjoy a Hawaiian-style dinner and live entertainment as you marvel at the sunset. Travelers give the crew kudos for their attentiveness and say the music is fantastic. Others rave about the sunset views and many say they spotted dolphins. Tours are available Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets cost about $150 for adults ages 18 and older and approximately $90 for kids ages 6 to 17. Children 5 and younger can cruise for free. Dinner and one complimentary cocktail are included in the ticket price; additional cocktails are available for purchase. Body Glove also offers lunch cruises, as well as whale watching excursions.

Fair Wind Cruises – Morning Kealakekua Snorkeling Tour

Snorkel around the Big Island's Kealakekua Bay – known for its calm, pool-like waters – on this 4 1/2-hour tour. As you cruise along the Kona coast, the crew will share stories of Hawaii's history, including King Kamehameha III – Hawaii's longest reigning monarch. A plant-based breakfast and lunch are served on board, and soda, juice, wine and beer are available to purchase from the cash bar. According to travelers, the boat is well-equipped with a diving platform, snorkeling gear, waterslides and plenty of flotation devices. Reviewers also commend the attentive, friendly crew. However, a few travelers express disappointment with the plant-based meals offered. Tours are generally available daily at 9 a.m., though availability may vary by month. Tickets cost approximately $160 for participants ages 13 and older and $100 for kids ages 4 to 12; children 3 and younger can join for about $30. Fair Wind Cruises offers an afternoon version of this tour, as well as a variety of other snorkeling excursions around the island.

Living Ocean Tours – Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion

The appropriately titled Turtle Canyons is known as a sea turtle hangout spot. It's at this area along the Waikiki coast that green sea turtles congregate as reef fish swim around them and clean their shells. It's also the perfect place to go snorkeling if you're interested in getting up close to the majestic creatures. On this two-hour snorkel trip, you'll cruise along the coast before having time to get in the water in search of the marine life at Turtle Canyons. Depending on the season, you may also spot dolphins and humpback whales during the tour. Reviewers admire the passionate crew, and say they are especially helpful with kids. Others plan to book this same tour on future visits to the island. Tours are available daily beginning at 7 a.m., with multiple departure times per day. Tickets cost about $75 per person ages 3 and older. Juices, water, light snacks and the use of snorkeling gear are all included in the cost of the tour. Living Ocean also offers private charters.

You may also be interested in:

  • The Best Oahu Helicopter Tours
  • The Best Maui Tours
  • Pearl Harbor Tours: Tickets and Tips for Visiting
  • The Best Hawaiian Islands
  • The Best Hotels in Hawaii
  • The Best Cruises to Hawaii
  • Top Hawaii Beaches to Visit
  • All-Inclusive Resorts in Hawaii: Hotels With Awesome Amenities

Tags: Travel , Vacations , Tours , Hawaii

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  • # 4 Bora Bora

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  • Tauck's classic four-island journey across Hawaii incorporates natural and historical sights
  • exclusive cultural experiences
  • and free days to pursue your own passions on Oahu
  • the Big Island of Hawaii
  • Kauai and Maui.Stay in ocean-view rooms at some of Hawaii's finest oceanfront resorts; experience one of the most poignant chapters of World War II history at the USS Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor; enjoy a pre-opening hours visit to Iolani Palace; learn about Hawaii's iconic botanical world and key product
  • coffee; attend a traditional luau on Maui; explore scenic Kauai by helicopter; and attend a private evening highlighted by cocktails and dinner at Queen Emma Summer Palace in Honolulu.

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  • North America
  • United States

Attractions

Trip includes.

  • Attend a private evening with an after-hours tour, reception and dinner at Queen Emma Summer Palace on the island of Oahu,the secluded mountain-home and summer retreat of Queen Emma of Hawaii and her family Pre-opening visit tomagnificent Iolani Palace, the opulent official residence of Hawaii's former monarchy Helicopter flightseeing on Kauai Hawaiian feasts for the senses in Maui – an evening of dance, song and exotic flavors at a traditional Hawaiian luau Stay in ocean-view rooms at stunning beachfront island resorts all 11 nights A visit to the USS Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor

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PORTOFCALL : Maui, Hawaii, USA

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Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Tauck .

The total tour cost includes the tour price (regular or promotional) and the compulsory local payment. The promotional price is subject to change. Check directly with the operator for the latest price offer. The tour operator requires you to pay only the tour price to purchase your travel. The compulsory local payment will be paid when you join the trip. All prices are based on double, twin or triple share occupancy. Solo passengers will be accommodated in a double, twin or triple room according to availability with a passenger(s) of the same gender. Single supplement only needs to be paid if the passenger does not want to share and requests their own room. Discounts can only be applied at the time of booking and cannot be added at a later date, regardless of any changes made to the original booking.

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Other tauck reviews, great scenery but accommodations lacking for cost.

My husband and I booked the Yellowstone tour with Tauck expecting so much more with the accommodations, food, and tour director based on the price point. We were sa...

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Sad to see a once good tour company stumble and fall into mediocrity. That’s Tauck post-Covid. My May 2023 tour of Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley was done o...

Skip this cruise - not worth it

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It's easy to see the world's sights. To stand in long lines, push through the crowds, and generally have the same standard-issue vacation as everyone else. But that's not good enough for us, and it's not good enough for you. We believe that travel should be easy. It should be fun. It should be worth your time and the price you paid. It should re-energize and transform. And above all else, it should be beyond the ordinary. Because how you see the world matters.

In 1882, Herman Tauck arrived in New York City from Germany in search of the American dream. His determination and values were passed on to his son, Arthur Tauck, who would realize that dream. With ingenuity and an innovative spirit, Arthur started Tauck Motor Tours, a travel company that would give birth to a new industry. The first tour, through the back roads of New England, was created by this 27-year-old in 1925. It embodied the same successful formula used by Tauck today: do the right thing. Craft a life-enriching travel experience; provide it at a single all-inclusive price; ensure there is great value for money; and rely on recommendations of satisfied customers to build a following and grow the business.

Two elements that did change over the next 90+ years – and three generations of Taucks – were the scope of destinations served and the variety of modes of travel used. Today Tauck delivers life-enriching travel experiences to every corner of the globe, incorporating small cruise ships, premium riverboats, trains, helicopters and more. What started as a New England motor coach tour company has truly evolved into an extraordinary global travel company. The fourth generation of Taucks is now involved in the company. While remarkable in any business, this seamless continuity across generations speaks to shared vision and values.

Throughout its history, the concept of “family” at Tauck has gone far beyond those sharing the surname to include hundreds of valued employees, and hundreds of thousands of loyal guests. The story of Tauck is the story of a unique American family company celebrating a passion for travel – a story that will continue to inspire generations to come.

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Honest Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach Review

Are you planning a trip to oahu but don’t know where to stay keep scrolling to check out this honest alohilani resort waikiki beach review, this honest alohilani resort waikiki beach review was written by marcie cheung (a hawaii travel expert) and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, i may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog..

I’ve visited Oahu dozens of times and I’m always finding new best places to stay in Waikiki! I mean, there are TONS of amazing options!

Recently, I stayed at the Alohilani Resort which is located just across the street from Waikiki Beach. I’d heard about their rooftop infinity pool and aquarium in the lobby and wanted to check it out for myself.

Why should you take my advice? I’ve visited Hawaii more than 40 times and bring a depth of firsthand Hawaii expertise unmatched in the travel sphere.

Keep scrolling to read my honest Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach review so you know if it’s one of the Waikiki hotels worth booking.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Oahu itinerary complete with daily schedules, fun activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Oahu Travel Guide and 7-Day Oahu Itinerary by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Spot

Where is the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach?

The Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach is perfectly positioned right across from the famous Kuhio Beach, making it a dream spot for beach lovers.

Located at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, it’s surrounded by great shops and tasty restaurants. Craving something sweet? Leonard’s Bakery and its delicious malasadas are just a short drive away.

Image of the Alohilani Resort in Waikiki

For those with cars, there are both self-parking and valet options, though space might be limited.

If you’re aiming to explore Waikiki on foot, major attractions like the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and International Market Place are just minutes away. Perfect for adventurers and relaxers alike!

First Impressions & Check-In

From the moment I walked into the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach , the huge aquarium in the lobby grabbed my attention. Watching the fish get fed is an unexpected and fun treat!

Image of an aquarium inside the Alohilani Hotel in Waikiki

The lobby’s design is sleek and modern, making it a great spot to relax, work, or just enjoy a moment of cool air.

As for the check-in, it was smooth and hassle-free. The staff greeted me with warm smiles and ensured I was all set in no time. First impressions matter, and Alohilani Resort surely knows how to make it count! Check rates here .

What Did Our Room Look Like?

At the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, we stayed in a standard room with two queen beds, complete with a lanai and a modest bathroom. The room’s design leaned towards a modern touch with a clean, minimalist vibe.

Image of a standard hotel room at the Alohilani Resort in Waikiki

While it didn’t boast extravagant amenities, everything we needed was there – from the mini-fridge to the climate-controlled air conditioning. The WiFi was a bonus, and it was consistently reliable.

The lanai, although basic with just chairs and a table, was quite similar to what we’ve seen at other Waikiki hotels. But what truly elevated our stay was the view.

Image of a boy on a lanai in Hawaii with a view of the ocean and Waikiki

Even though our room was positioned towards the back of the hotel, we were treated to a captivating partial ocean view.

Looking down, we had a perfect angle over the pool’s cabana area, adding a lively scene to our morning coffee moments. Check the latest rates and availability .

Hotel Facilities at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

The Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach boasts a pool area that feels straight out of a glossy magazine spread.

Picture a stylish setup complete with a DJ spot, outdoor lounging, a bar, cabanas, and an enchanting infinity pool with Waikiki Beach as its backdrop.

Image of a boy next to an infinity pool in Hawaii

However, the pool, while visually appealing, is quite compact compared to other resort pools in Hawaii. This can mean it gets crowded, especially when everyone’s trying to get that perfect Instagram snap.

For a bit of luxury, there are cabanas set back from the main pool area, ideal for those seeking a more relaxed vibe. They also have lounge chairs inside the pool you can rent.

If shopping’s your thing, there’s an ABC store conveniently located within the hotel. A Hawaiian staple, this store has just about everything a tourist might need.

Plus, with the resort’s prime location at the edge of the Waikiki strip, a ton of shops are just a short walk away.

Additionally, the resort offers a fitness center, a spa, tennis courts, and engaging activities like yoga and Pilates classes.

Dining Options at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

The Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach offers a variety of dining options to satisfy your cravings.

We started our mornings with delicious brews from Kai Coffee located in the lobby. Conveniently, there’s a full-blown Kai Coffee cafe just outside the hotel entrance, where we couldn’t resist grabbing their unique macadamia nut coffee syrup.

Image of a Kai Coffee cup

For meals, we relished tasty treats from the Swell Restaurant and Pool Bar , with their poke nachos and yam fries being standouts.

However, a note on the fancier spots: my in-laws tried Morimoto Asia Waikiki and Momosan , and they felt it wasn’t particularly exceptional.

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the neighboring Haagen-Daaz , but there’s also Double Fat Ice Cream if you’re looking for more options.

Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal, this resort has something for everyone!

Understanding the Cost: Pricing & Packages at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

The Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach offers various room types, including studio rooms, suites, and even 1 and 2-bedroom units.

Depending on your preference, you can choose rooms with beautiful ocean views or ones facing the stunning Diamond Head.

For those who are eligible, they provide special rates like military, AAA, government, and kamaaina discounts.

Typically, studio rooms are priced between $260 to $325 a night.

While it might seem a bit pricey, considering the amenities and the prime location, it offers good value for your money, especially if you can snag one of their special rates.

Nearby Attractions & Activities at the Alohilani Resort in Waikiki

The Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach is nestled in a spot that puts you right next to some of Waikiki’s best attractions.

In just a 2-minute walk, you can dip your toes in the famous Waikiki Beach, stroll through Kuhio Beach Park, or snap a pic with the Duke Kahanamoku Statue.

If shopping’s your thing, the International Market Place is only a 6-minute walk away, offering loads of unique shops and eateries.

For a longer walk, about 12 minutes, you can reach the Waikiki Beach Walk, which is packed with entertainment, dining, and shopping.

The hotel’s concierge can also help arrange various tours or experiences to make your Hawaii trip unforgettable.

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Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach FAQs

How does this hotel stand out from its competitors in hawaii.

The Alohilani Resort distinguishes itself with its trendy pool atmosphere, massive lobby aquarium, and a prime beachfront location on the iconic Waikiki Beach.

Is the location practical for the activities and sights I want to enjoy?

The resort’s location is highly practical, being steps away from renowned attractions like Kuhio Beach Park, Duke Kahanamoku Statue, and the bustling Waikiki Beach Walk.

Is it worth the price, and am I getting good value for my money?

Given its premium location, unique amenities, and array of dining options, the Alohilani Resort offers good value, especially for travelers seeking a mix of relaxation and vibrant Waikiki life.

Conclusion & Personal Verdict on the Alohilani Resort in Waikiki

The Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach has its high points and its challenges. Its location is excellent, close to Waikiki Beach, and convenient for teens or couples to explore the area.

The vibe at the pool is upbeat, which my teenage relatives absolutely loved. It offers them a chance to be independent, shop, eat, and even explore using nearby transportation like the Waikiki Trolley.

However, for families with younger kids, the loud music and the packed summer pool can be a drawback. Plus, the rooms near the pool can get quite noisy.

I’d recommend this hotel to travelers with teens or couples looking for a vibrant atmosphere and a prime location. For families with little ones, this might not be the best fit.

Rating for the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

Overall Score: 8/10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Location : 9/10 – The resort boasts a fantastic location, right in the heart of Waikiki, close to all the prime attractions.
  • Service : 8/10 – Staff were generally helpful and friendly, though there were occasional hiccups.
  • Amenities : 9/10 – The infinity pool and the giant aquarium in the lobby were definite highlights, making the stay unique and memorable.
  • Dining : 8/10 – Good on-site options with diverse menus, offering something for everyone.
  • Value for Money : 7/10 – While the hotel offers a lot, the noise levels in certain areas might not appeal to everyone, affecting the overall value.

Looking for more places to stay in Waikiki? Check out our Queen Kapiolani Hotel Review , Hilton Hawaiian Village Review , Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach Review, Cheap Places to Stay on Oahu , Best Resorts in Oahu for Families , and Romantic Oahu Honeymoon Resorts Worth Booking !

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I was born and raised in Honolulu. Here are 7 things I wish tourists knew before they visited Hawaii.

  • I was born in Hawaii and spent 18 years living in Honolulu. 
  • I wish tourists knew more about our history and how  tourism is displacing Native Hawaiians.
  • Visitors should be careful to use terms like "Hawaiian" and "aloha" correctly. 

Insider Today

I spent the first 18 years of my life in Honolulu.

When I tell people that I grew up there, they often ask me what life was like there or what they should do when they visit.

However, Hawaii is home to much more than beautiful beaches, and visitors should take it upon themselves to learn more about the rich history and culture that have shaped the state into what it is today.

Here are seven things I wish people knew before they visited Hawaii so they can be educated, more responsible tourists.

Hawaii is the most culturally diverse state in the US

Growing up in Hawaii, you could take a good look around you, and it would be easy to recognize that Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures.

I'm Japanese, Alaska Native, and white, and many of my friends were also multiracial.

In fact, nearly a quarter of people living in the state identify as multiracial, and more than a third identify as Asian alone, according to the 2023 US Census .

Such cultural diversity trickles down into the food we eat, too. Hawaii is home to foods like spam musubi , manapua, and malasadas, which have all been influenced by the rich mix of immigrant communities.

The term 'Hawaiian' is reserved for those who have native Hawaiian ancestry

I've noticed many people use the term "Hawaiian" to refer to anyone from the state of Hawaii. But a lot of people are surprised to learn that Hawaiian is an ethnicity .

Just as you wouldn't call a white person living in Japan "Japanese," the same principle applies to "Hawaiian."

Related stories

If you're referring to someone who simply resides in Hawaii without Hawaiian ancestry, it's more accurate to call them a local or resident.

Tourism is displacing Native Hawaiians at a disproportionate rate

According to CBS, every year, around 15,000 Native Hawaiians are left with no choice but to leave Hawaii , in part due to the increasing cost of living.

Growing tourism and expanding luxury housing developments, coupled with a lack of economic opportunities, are making it unfeasible for many to live in the state.

In fact, according to census data obtained in September 2023 , more Native Hawaiians live on the mainland than in the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii used to be its own kingdom until the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown

Before becoming the 50th state, Hawaii was a thriving sovereign nation . Its last queen was Queen Liliuoukalani, who led her kingdom to economic and civic success.

During her reign, Hawaii was recognized by over 80 embassies in the world, and the state enjoyed universal healthcare and a 95% literacy rate.

This all eventually changed when she was arrested and forcefully removed from the throne in 1893 in a US-military-backed coup.

When you litter, it ends up in Hawaii's oceans, threatening marine life and various ecosystems

When you carelessly toss trash on the ground, it'll likely end up polluting the pristine beaches of Hawaii, and there's a good chance you'll encounter it firsthand.

Tragically, it's not uncommon to see marine life like turtles, sea otters, and monk seals trapped in plastic or trying to eat a piece of garbage.

If you have any garbage to dispose of while you're in Hawaii, place it in a trash can.

Your TikTok has the power to ruin a beach

Although it's OK to take plenty of photos and appreciate the beauty of Hawaii , it's important to be mindful about sharing your photos on social media.

Just one viral TikTok or Instagram post promoting a beach or hike can quickly turn a once serene spot into an overcrowded nightmare.

Therefore, it's crucial to consider the potential impact your posts will have and the importance of preserving the beauty of Hawaii for generations to come.

In Hawaii, 'aloha' has a much deeper meaning than 'hello'

You may know that "aloha" is used as a greeting to mean "hello" or "goodbye." But what you may not have realized is that aloha is also a human value that embodies love, peace, compassion, and respect.

The importance of embodying the "aloha spirit" is taught in schools, which I think contributes to the genuinely warm and kindhearted nature of Hawaii's people.

So, if you do plan on visiting Hawaii, it's important to also have aloha for the land and its people.

Watch: Japan vs US Burger King | Food Wars

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Costco Hawaii Vacation Review: 9 Things to Know Before You Buy

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read about our affiliate policies here .

Sometimes it can feel like booking a vacation is a full-time job. You want to do the research, plan the best itinerary, and get a good deal. Especially if you’re heading somewhere as expensive as Hawaii. With all that work you might wonder if going through a travel agency like Costco Travel is a better idea. 

Booking a Costco Vacation to Hawaii is right for someone who wants to book flights, hotel, and car all in one place for a good price. A Costco vacation to Hawaii isn’t cheap, but you can get some good deals. But there are also some reasons you may want to skip this and book your own trip.

We break down a review of Costo Hawaii Travel by covering nine things you need to know before you book. 

Costco Hawaii Vacation Packages Review Maui sunset

Costco Hawaii Vacation Review: 9 Things to Know

Curious about a Costco Hawaii Vacation? We reviewed different options and found nine things you should know: 

1. Vacation packages can save you money

A trip to Hawaii is expensive, so most people are looking for extra ways to save a few dollars on a trip. That’s where Costco comes in: they offer Hawaii vacation packages that aren’t cheap but offer a good value for the money. 

To see just how much you can save, we priced out a one-week trip to Maui in October 2020, staying at the Westin Kaanapali. The total cost of the Costco vacation package is $3,877 for flights for four people, a hotel room and a rental car. 

In addition to that rate, you also receive a $100 activity credit and a $199 Costco shop card. 

Booking everything separately, the total cost is $4,222, and you won’t receive an activity credit or a shop card. That’s a $345 savings just for booking through Costco. 

2. Booking less than a full package may not save you anything

What if you want to handle your own flight booking? That’s a great way to save money if you’re using miles with an airline. 

But you may not want to use Costco to book the hotel and rental car — you may not actually save any money.

Using the example from above and staying at the Westin Kaanapali for a week, booking the hotel and rental car with Costco costs $2,602. Booking the hotel and rental car separately, the total cost is $2,496, which includes a $100 activity credit. 

Yes, you read that right: using Costco to book the hotel and rental car results in you actually spending more. 

We double-checked this with another hotel on the island, the Fairmont Kea Lani. 

A package for six nights in October 2020 at the Fairmont Kea Lani costs $4,010 through Costco. This includes your rental car and a $100 activity credit. 

Booking the hotel and rental car separately will cost $4,003. Yes, you’re missing out on the $100 activity credit but you’re saving $7. 

Bottom line: the real savings come when you book full packages. 

Kaanapali Resorts Costco Vacation Packages Hawaii

3. Additional rental car driver added at no fee

Coming with a friend? You can add an extra driver to your rental car reservation for free if you’re booking with Alamo or Enterprise. Being that Alamo charges an extra $10 a day for an additional driver, this cost can add up. 

If you don’t book through Costco but you still want to add an extra driver at no additional charge, try out our favorite car rental booking tool, Discount Hawaii Car Rental . 

Costco Vacation Package Hawaii Car Rental Review

4. Easy, one-stop booking

Price isn’t always the biggest motivator. Sometimes you just really want a convenient Hawaiian vacation. Costco travel offers that. 

Just enter your dates and your departure city into the booking portal and they take care of the rest. Your flights, hotel, and rental car will be booked with just a few clicks. Plus, everything is managed all in one place. No need to search through your email for different confirmations. Costco has you covered. 

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5. Additional cashback

Have an executive membership? You can get 2% back on your purchase. On a $5,000 vacation package, that’s an additional $100 back in Costco rewards. While 2% might seem like a lot when compared to the total cost, you can just add that to the savings that you get from booking a trip with them. 

If you have a Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, you’ll get 3% cashback. On a $5,000 vacation, you’ll get $150 back. 

Costco Travel Review Hawaii Sea Turtle Snorkeling

6. Activities could be better

Hawaii truly has some of the best activities. Snorkeling, helicopter rides, hiking. The islands offer something for almost anyone. 

And, the Costco travel package comes with a $100 activity credit. This activity credit is generally not enough to pay for one activity for one person. So if you want to use the credit, you will have to pay an additional cost in many situations. 

Herein lies the problem: the activities you can use the credit towards are fine. But, they might not be the activities that you actually want to do. 

For example, the Pride of Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise is a good option to get out on the water and use your credit. But if you had your heart set on a catamaran or a sailboat or a smaller group, this isn’t the activity for you. 

If you have your heart set on very specific activities, like a sunset sail or a luau, it’s probably better to skip booking with the activity credit and pay for the activities that you actually want to do. You’ve likely saved a few hundred dollars on a vacation package

Related read: Should You Book the Feast at Lele or Old Lahaina Luau?

Costco Vacation Packages hawaii activities

7. Hotels and vacation rentals available

We love a good hotel in Hawaii, but sometimes a vacation rental is a better fit (especially when you’re traveling with kids). Costco offers the ability to book at both hotels and vacation rentals, giving you some great choices. 

Costco hotel options in Hawaii include some top-notch places like:

Maui hotels:

  • Westin Kaanapali
  • Sheraton Kaanapali
  • Fairmont Kea Lani
  • Ritz Carlton Kapalua
  • Four Seasons
  • Grand Wailea

Oahu hotels:

  • Disney Aulani
  • Outrigger Waikiki Hotels
  • Waikiki Beach Marriott
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village
  • Moana Surfrider
  • Turtle Bay Hotel

Kauai hotels:

  • Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach
  • Kauai Marriott
  • Grand Hyatt
  • Koloa Landing Resort

Big Island hotels:

  • Westin Hapuna Beach
  • Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Fairmont Orchid

The one thing that’s missing: access to the boutique hotels on the islands. There are some wonderful, smaller, or independently run hotels on the island. If that type of accommodation is more your style, booking with Costco isn’t the best choice for you. 

8. The cancellation policy isn’t great

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t do well with pre-booking commitment (like me), Costco isn’t a good fit. After booking the trip, you’re subject to a fairly rigid cancellation policy, with the highest refunded amount of 75%. 

This isn’t a problem for everyone. But if you think there’s a chance your plans might change, booking with Costco isn’t going to work out in your favor.

I also should note that Costco received terrible reviews during the initial wave of COVID vacation cancellations. People were left without refunds or waiting on hold for hours. I think most travel companies struggled to handle this situation well, but the negative reviews will give you pause. Sometimes in these situations, it’s better to book directly with the hotel or airline. 

9. It’s pre-paid

This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. If you love going on vacation knowing it’s all paid for, Costco Hawaii Vacation packages are for you. Everything is pre-paid in advance and you take off knowing that you’re not going to come home to massive credit card bills (well, aside from food and activities which can be very expensive). 

But if you don’t love paying for a vacation before you go, booking with Costco might hurt a little. You can pay on a schedule so you’re not shelling out the entire amount at once, but you will have pre-paid the entire cost of the package you book before you leave for your trip. 

Costco can be a great place to book your travel for Hawaii. You’ll likely save a lot of money by purchasing a full package and you’ll have all of the details taken care of with just a few clicks and decisions. 

But there are some clear drawbacks to using them. Weigh your choices carefully and you’ll book the trip you’re dreaming of your way.

And if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii booking with Costco or not, our free itineraries will be a big help . 

Related reads:

  • What is the Cheapest Hawaiian Island?
  • Hawaii Vacation Grocery List (with a printable list)
  • The 14 Best Things to Do on a Budget in Maui

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I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We have lived on Maui and Oahu and continue to travel, experience, and learn about the Hawaiian Islands. We travel with our kids, Henry and Edith. I am a planner! I love to plan trips from the mainland and island-hopping adventures, excursion days, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time in Hawai'i on a SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!

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Aloha Mixed Plate

Hours updated 3 months ago

Photo of Aloha Mixed Plate - Lahaina, HI, US. Fish sandwich and "furikake" fries.

Popular dishes

View full menu

Loco Moco

Fish Sandwich

Lau Lau

Asian Chicken Salad

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut Shrimp

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Plate Lunch

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1285 Front St

Lahaina, HI 96761

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Photo of Winifred B.

The service was very friendly and the food was delicious especially the Lau Lau This will be my to go place when I come back to the island of Maui.

Photo of Breanna M.

We started our trip here, and we ended it here! GREAT food! 10/10! The wings were SO good! They were crispy and the sauce was a bit sweet, a bit savory! And the fries! AMAZING! Best I've ever had! They are crispy but lathered up in a rich garlic butter and topped with sesame seeds and seaweed flakes! Don't even need a condiment with them! The drinks come quick, and the service was excellent! Shout out to the awesome bartender, Sean! He served us both times and was so fun! I highly recommend this establishment!

Fries

I love this oceanfront location! You can hear the waves crashing on the shore. Great ambiance. So glad that it is back in action. It was Star Noodle before it closed last year after the Lahaina fire and they've re-opened as Aloha Mixed Plate again which is what it was before Star Noodle. I wanted to love the food, but was disappointed. We had the aloha mixed plate with a combination of fish, teriyaki chicken and steak, a scoop of macaroni salad and rice. Also had the catch of the day plate and the fried noodles. All just ok. Service was great!

hawaii trip reviews

Ate here 5/31 at sunset. Glad we had a reservation! Enjoyed the Ali'i Plate, while my dining companions had loco moco, chicken katsu, and fried saimin. The kalua pork was amazing--moist, flavorful and plentiful! The lau lau, while traditionally presented, was lacking in salt. Loved the steamed taro leaves. The lomi lomi salmon still baffles me, as I liken it to a salsa fresca with diced tomatoes, sweet onions, cilantro and bits of salmon. Even more baffling is poi. 'Nuff said. We ordered the furukake garlic fries as an appetizer--plentiful and tasty! The loco moco is served on pork fried rice topped with an egg and hamburger smothered in brown gravy. The saimin and katsu were enjoyed as well. Nice service in a casual setting. Mahalo!

Furukake garlic fries

Furukake garlic fries

Ali'i plate Mac salad, lomi salmon, kalua pork, lau lau, poi and rice

Ali'i plate Mac salad, lomi salmon, kalua pork, lau lau, poi and rice

Photo of Paul H.

A nice enjoyable causal lunch spot on the makai (ocean) side of Lahaina right out side the old town. Definitely would recommend coming here thought it's target market is not so much locals but visitors so keep that in mind. We were created nicely and seated quickly on a Tuesday at lunch time. They were not too busy so didn't anticipate a wait. Server was engaging and friendly offering suggestions. Ordered a light lunch on our short lunch break and though it felt it took a little long but not overly, the food was hot, very tasty, and well received. We were ready to eat. Overall, an enjoyable experience and would come back again, thought will plan for a more leisurely time so we can enjoy the view a little better.

Coconut shrimp appetizer (4pcs).

Coconut shrimp appetizer (4pcs).

Chix Katsu plate.

Chix Katsu plate.

Photo of Amelea J.

Hands down the best loco moco I've ever had in Hawaii. The short rib plate is the way to go. They are very generous with their portions and my family and I were lucky to get a last minute reservation at 7pm. Check the weather before you go so you can enjoy the view with your dinner, of course.

hawaii trip reviews

Guess who's back...back again... Aloha Mixed Plate is BACK! Tell a friend! We were so happy to find out that AMP is officially back, in its original location on Front Street. We went the second day they were back open to the public, and boy were we happy with the experience. As some may know, Aloha Mixed Plate was at this Front Street location and closed sometime around COVID, and changing to Star Noodle. Well now AMP is back, and as good as ever. The food was just as we remembered it - perfectly sweet and salty thin sliced teri beef, moist shoyu chicken and awesome fresh fish with the best tartar sauce. We expected some bumps in terms of service while everything got back into a rhythm, but there were no hiccups to speak of. We were seated on time (we had a resy through OpenTable), served promptly, and our food arrived in a timely manner. Our server was friendly, and the overall experience we had was so pleasant. Plus, you can't beat a delicious meal right on the water! We will definitely be back, likely on this same trip to Maui, and beyond.

Aloha Mixed Plate

Service & Food, was great. I have the Best server on my entire trip. A definite place to go again too. All the tables have great views Price was average too.

Photo of Judith H.

Amazing little restaurant!!!! So glad we came. We didn't make reservations however they still accommodated us. Food was delicious & everything I expected. Ordered the coconut shrimp & had the Ali'i & Aloha plate mix. Delicious!!!! Will definitely come back if ever in Lahaina.

Photo of Azucena V.

Beautiful serine setting overlooking the ocean. Great for lunch, dinner and drinks. Tastefully decorated and clean. Right behind the Lahaina cannery and Safeway supermarket. Good food, great atmosphere

View from our table

View from our table

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USA TODAY 10Best

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Craving something sweet? Check out the 10 best candy stores across the US

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Best Candy Store (2024) June 19, 2024

If you have a sweet tooth to satisfy, you should check out these 10 independent candy stores across the United States.

Selected by a panel of experts and voted by readers as the best in the nation, these candy shops stand out because they offer a variety of delicious treats that you won't always find in big chains or supermarkets. Plus, they offer the chance to discover new flavors, support local businesses, and enjoy a fun and nostalgic experience. 

True Treats Historic Candy

No. 10: True Treats Historic Candy - Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

The nation's only research-based candy store, True Treats Historic Candy offers candies from the earliest of times through today. For example, try the honey sesame brittle eaten by ancient Greeks, sour grape drops inspired by Native Americans, hand-pulled peppermint sticks from the 1600s, and retro favorites like ribbon candy. 

Wilton Candy Kitchen

No. 9: Wilton Candy Kitchen - Wilton, Iowa

A veritable throwback to the days of yesteryear, Wilton Candy Kitchen has been a Wilton, Iowa, icon since 1867, possibly making it the oldest continuously operating ice cream parlor, soda fountain, and confectionery of its type in the United States. While the main attractions are arguably the luscious old-fashioned ice cream drinks and phosphates, the store also stocks a curated collection of retro candy.

Windy City Sweets

No. 8: Windy City Sweets - Chicago, Illinois

Since 1983, Windy City Sweets has been a one-stop shop for those seeking a sugar fix in Chicago. Find over 1,200 specialty sweet treats, ranging from a variety of bulk and pre-packaged nostalgic candies to a host of signature, housemade chocolate creations including fudge, caramel nut patties, s'mores, truffles, and chocolate-covered sandwich cookies.

Candyality

No. 7: Candyality - Chicago, Illinois

From saltwater taffy to assorted hard candy to the store's famous Secret Recipe Popcorn, Candyality offers just what you want to satisfy your sweet tooth. The store also carries a full array of retro candy, including candy cigarettes, candy necklaces, and Blackjack gum, among others. 

Samuel's Sweet Shop

No. 6: Samuel's Sweet Shop - Rhinebeck, New York

Not only does Samuel’s Sweet Shop in Rhinebeck sell a cornucopia of sugar-laden treats, there’s also a sweet backstory that comes along with it. This beloved neighborhood candy and coffee boutique is co-owned by actors Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, plus a few other longtime customers, who all stepped in to save the store from closing after the original owner passed suddenly in 2014. As far as the goodies go, expect to find tasty options ranging from classic candy and chocolates to baked goods.

The Farris Wheel Candy Co.

No. 5: The Farris Wheel Candy Co. - Wichita, Kansas

It’s easy to satisfy your sweet tooth in one fell swoop at this family-owned gourmet candy store in Wichita, Kansas. Offering everything from trail mixes and fine chocolates to jelly beans, toffee, malt balls, and licorice, The Farris Wheel isn’t lacking in choice. There’s plenty of retro candy here, too.

Bright's Candies

No. 4: Bright's Candies - Walla Walla, Washington

A mainstay in historic downtown Walla Walla, Washington, since 1934, Bright’s Candies keeps it old-school by handcrafting fine chocolates and confections using old family recipes and copper kettles. Specialties run the gamut from a variety of chocolate truffles to peanut brittle and salted caramels, all of which guests can watch being made via viewing windows flanking the side of the shop. 

Sweet Pete's Candy

No. 3: Sweet Pete's Candy - Jacksonville, Florida

From Pete's Famous Sea Salt Caramels to caramel chocolate apples to an assortment of packaged candies, Sweet Pete's Candy offers quite the variety of sweet treats. To ensure no one is left out, the shop also features a selection of gluten-, dairy-, and nut-free options as well as vegan-friendly sweets. 

The Sweet Granada

No. 2: The Sweet Granada - Emporia, Kansas

A visit to The Sweet Granada starts with the store's famous Pop-Choc, crunchy buttered popcorn mixed with creamy white and milk chocolates. Then you can move on to the truffles, fudge, macarons, and other treats to get your sugary fix. Even your dog can enjoy the store's offerings thanks to the dog-safe white chocolate-dipped dog biscuits. 

The Taffy Shop

No. 1: The Taffy Shop - Estes Park, Colorado

Since 1935, visitors have popped into The Taffy Shop to watch candymakers create the store's iconic Estes Park Salt Water Taffy. Not only can you get your favorite tried-and-true flavors such as lemon, vanilla, and peppermint, but also daily flavors such as blueberry, chocolate cherry, and orange creamsicle. 

About 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best .

The Experts

Allison levine.

Allison Levine

Allison Levine is the owner of Please The Palate,...   Read More

Allison Levine is the owner of Please The Palate, a boutique agency specializing in marketing and event planning for the wine and spirits industry. With over 15 years of experience in communications, marketing, and event planning, Allison is passionate about the world around her and the diverse people in it. Allison holds a master’s degree in international communications with a focus on cross-cultural training from the American University School of International Service and holds a WSET Level 3 Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). As an industry expert, she has worked with wine regions around the world.  She has traveled extensively and has lived abroad in Italy, Spain, and Mexico where she developed her passion for food and wine. Her work allows her to live life to the fullest and, as a freelance writer, Allison communicates her experiences in articles, as well as in her blog. Allison is the US Host for the international podcast Wine Soundtrack where she interviews winemakers and gets to know them in 30 questions, and she is co-host of the YouTube wine series Crush On This. Her website is  www.pleasethepalate.com   and you can follow her on Instagram @plsthepalate .

Allison Levine

Carly Caramanna

Carly Caramanna

Carly Caramanna has a passion for covering the...   Read More

Carly Caramanna has a passion for covering the latest in unique food, travel, and theme park trends. Growing up in the carb-filled land of bagels and pizza by the slice (aka New Jersey), her parents instilled a love of all things adventure and food. Featured on CNN Business, BBC, NPR, MSN, Huffington Post, and host of the Attractions Magazine podcast, she uses her expertise as a contributor to Travel + Leisure, Business Insider, Delish, and many more. www.adventuresbycarly.com IG: https://www.instagram.com/adventuresbycarly/ X: https://twitter.com/CarlyCaramanna

Carly Caramanna

Jacky Runice

Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home...   Read More

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and editor specializing in separating the riff from the raff in culture, entertainment, food, travel and pure unadulterated fun. Jacky is a member of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). In her best Chicagoese, Jacky asks, "Who has the time or money to blow on hotels, attractions, restaurants, exhibits and activities that blow?"

Jacky Runice

Jacob and Esther of Local Adventurer

Jacob and Esther of Local Adventurer

Esther JuLee and Jacob Fu run one of the largest...   Read More

Esther JuLee and Jacob Fu run one of the largest travel blogs in the world, Local Adventurer , where they hope to encourage everyone to find adventure in their everyday lives. They spent 7 years moving to a new city every year and are now based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jacob and Esther of Local Adventurer

Kristin Luna

Kristin Luna

Kristin Luna is a Nashville-based travel writer...   Read More

Kristin Luna is a Nashville-based travel writer who has contributed to  Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, USA TODAY, Southern Living  and many more. You can follow her adventures via her blog  Camels & Chocolate  or on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram .

Kristin Luna

Melissa Curtin

Melissa Curtin

Melisa Curtin is a travel and food writer who has...   Read More

Melisa Curtin is a travel and food writer who has documented her globetrotting adventures for over a decade. A Connecticut girl madly in love with California, her work has appeared in Lonely Planet, LA Weekly, Canadian Traveler, AAA, Roadtrippers, JohnnyJet, Travel Awaits, and many southern California print publications. Melissa is always on the hunt for the best local bites and destinations with few tourists, splitting her non-travel time between Malibu and Palm Springs with her husband and ever-growing collection of plants.    Traveling around the world at age 20 on Semester at Sea sparked Melissa's desire for learning about other cultures. As a 20+ year educator and new travel advisor with Fora, she inspires others to reach their goals and pursue their travel dreams. Some of her recent favorite jaunts include a Viking river cruise from Paris to Normandy with her mom, truffle hunting in Tuscany, and eating her way through Florence. Get to know the Best of L.A. and California by checking out her website  LaLaScoop.com  or following the @lalascoop on Instagram .

Melissa Curtin

Melody Pittman

Melody Pittman

Melody Pittman is the owner and creator of Read More

Melody Pittman is the owner and creator of Wherever I May Roam Blog  and is co-owner of the Southern Travelers Explore annual conference, in its 4th year, which brings CVBS and writers/influencers together from all over the country. She is a digital influencer and writes for both online and print publications, such as Travel Awaits, Charleston Home and Living Magazine, Matador Network, She Buys Travel, and more. Melody has worked with major brands during her nine-year career, such as Viking River Cruises, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Disney, hundreds of tourism boards, and GO RVing.  Melody’s first book “100 Things to Do in West Virginia Before You Die” was released in the spring of 2023. She has a podcast, 100ThingsWV, and social channels to go along with the book. Melody loves road trips, small towns, cruising, and sharing lesser-known destinations with her followers via TikTok , Youtube, IG , and FB . After a year of full-time RV travel, she now resides in Mesquite, Nevada. 

Melody Pittman

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original,...   Read More

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

10Best Editors

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COMMENTS

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  17. Hawaii Tourism: All You Need to Know Before You Go (2024)

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  18. The Best of Hawaii 2023 by Tauck

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  19. Honest Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach Review

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  20. Things Tourists Should Really Know Before Visiting Hawaii, Local Says

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  21. Costco Hawaii Vacation Review: 9 Things to Know Before You Buy

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  22. Review: Best of Hawaii 4/20/22

    Review: Best of Hawaii 4/20/22. APLitReader. May 2022 in Hawaii. What a fantastic trip! Our guide, Peter, made everything run smoothly. We enjoyed every second, from touchdown in Oahu to the beautiful Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui. The food, flights, tours, and entertainment were great; there were lovely surprises like Hawaiian music and little gifts.

  23. Hawaii Forum, Travel Discussion for Hawaii, United States

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  27. Updated June 2024

    Hands down the best loco moco I've ever had in Hawaii. The short rib plate is the way to go. They are very generous with their portions and my family and I were lucky to get a last minute reservation at 7pm. Check the weather before you go so you can enjoy the view with your dinner, of course.

  28. Humanity has lost its mind

    Waimea Valley: Humanity has lost its mind - See 2,583 traveler reviews, 2,923 candid photos, and great deals for Haleiwa, HI, at Tripadvisor.

  29. 10 must-visit candy stores in the US that'll hit the sweet spot

    Windy City Sweets - Chicago, Illinois. Since 1983, Windy City Sweets has been a one-stop shop for those seeking a sugar fix in Chicago. Find over 1,200 specialty sweet treats, ranging from a variety of bulk and pre-packaged nostalgic candies to a host of signature, housemade chocolate creations including fudge, caramel nut patties, s'mores ...