Hawaii offers a landscape straight out of Jurassic Park (it was filmed there, after all!), and if you want to get a true feeling of the island and its beaches, watch the box set of LOST, and you will see what you are missing out on.
Towering jungle-covered peaks rise out of the deep blue Pacific Ocean, and palm-fringed beaches give way to glorious surf and quiet bays. The islands of Hawaii are simply spectacular.
The islands belong to the United States of America as the 50th and most recent state to have joined the USA. Luxury resorts here are large, and all sit right on the beach. Some rooms are so close to the ocean that the sound of the sea will lull you to sleep.
My personal take on Hawaii is that these islands offer a magical place to escape to when the weather gets cold. In my head, I can walk down Waikiki beach with Elvis yodeling from a distant hotel bar. He’s still popular on the islands and seems to provide a background soundtrack to the swaying palms, particularly just before Christmas.
The sand feels warm on my feet, even though it is evening, a breeze ruffles my hair, and lights from all the seafront hotels twinkle and reflect in the waves. Unlike many Caribbean islands, you feel safe in Hawaii and can walk for miles along deserted beaches.
And of course, when you step off the plane, you feel the heat. It is rarely too hot or too cold in Hawaii (except in their air-conditioned shops). It is almost always just right. It does rain, but the rain is rarely continuous. If you want to avoid rain, pick the dry side of the island.
Hawaii really is paradise. It has something for everyone, and here is my pick of the top ten luxury hotels on these magical islands.
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1. Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
This is my favorite hotel on the Hawaiian Islands and takes my number one spot in my listing of the best luxury hotels in Hawaii. Four Seasons Lanai and Four Seasons Maui (along with all the resorts in the resort area of Wailea), are particularly good for sunshine, and the Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay is the best resort on Lanai and across all of the Hawaiian Islands.
Four Seasons actually has four hotels in Hawaii; Four Seasons Hualalai (on Big Island), Four Seasons Lanai, Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, and the Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina, which is the newest of the four. They are all gorgeous and, in my opinion, are the best hotels in Hawaii. I have already outlined which is the best Four Seasons hotel in Hawaii. For me, it is Lanai, but your top choice may be different. I choose Lanai because of its exclusivity.
You fly into this private island to a small airport with a private lounge. From the airport lounge, you are driven to the Four Seasons Lanai on Manale Bay, which is about the most picture-perfect beach you can imagine. Add to that; it is empty with only Four Seasons guests using the beach.
This luxury resort, which reopened in 2016 after undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation, offers dazzling views over the gold crescent of Hulopo’e Beach to the blue-green waters of a protected marine preserve. Expect to see all sorts of fish in the water, and when we were there, dolphins were jumping about in the shallows.
The pool, the views, the newly refurbished stylish rooms all make this resort perfect. The beautiful interiors showcase walls of teak and zebra wood edging. Floors are indulged with wool hand-woven area rugs. Tropical gardens, two lagoon-style pools, and cascading waterfalls serve as a beautiful backdrop.
Two hundred seventeen over-sized guest rooms & suites, all have a private lanai, so there simply isn’t a bad room in the resort; you pay more for the view and a room right by the ocean. A Spa and two golf courses will keep you busy if you get bored of the beach.
In the evening, men run around lighting tiki torches, and you can enjoy an alfresco meal at Nobu or just stroll down to the deserted beach and look at the stars. As there is no light pollution for miles, this is a great place for catching a shooting star.
To say this resort is magical is an understatement, and you can read more about the best resort in Hawaii in my review below. Of note, its sister resort on Lanai, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai The Lodge at Koele, which is not on the beach, has now reopened and is a luxury mountain option on Hawaii. It is usually cheaper than the Manele Bay beachside property and can be a way of enjoying this exclusive island at a discount.
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2. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Big Island
This is the second-best Four Seasons in Hawaii in my opinion and also the second-best luxury hotel on the Hawaiian islands. I love this resort for the open-air showers in many of the downstairs rooms, the turtles that come and say hello on the beach and the pool full of fish that you can swim in.
Set on the Big Island’s exclusive Kona-Kohala Coast. The 243 room resort is low rise (just two-storey bungalows) and spread out. I believe its award-winning golf course is one of the best on the islands (I don’t play). The pools here are beautiful and have a natural look with lots of volcanic lava.
Guests can choose from three restaurants and two lounges along with an award-winning sports club and spa and a private Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. But it is the turtles, fish pool and showering under the stars that keep me coming back.
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ka Olina, Oahu
This is the newest Four Seasons resort and is awfully convenient for Honolulu airport and also for shopping in Waikiki which is a drive away. In fact, in our opinion, this is the best luxury hotel on the island of Oahu closely followed by the Halekulani on Waikiki Beach which is also on Oahu and is the sixth-best luxury hotel in Hawaii.
Situated on Oahu’s sunny western coast the five-star Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina offers a luxury beach resort with vast ocean views from 371 rooms and suites. Guests can swim in pools and lagoons and enjoy numerous water sports from the resort’s own beach, play tennis and golf, and relax in the spa.
3. Four Seasons Maui
Situated in the sunny resort of Wailea, and easily the best hotel in Wailea on Maui, this is the place to stay. My second choice and the second-best hotel in Wailea is the Andaz which comes in as my fifth best hotel in Hawaii in my opinion.
The Four Seasons Maui at Wailea is located on 15 oceanfront acres, overlooking a beautiful crescent-shaped gold sand beach in Wailea, also offering three championship golf courses. The hotel has 376 spacious rooms and suites located in an eight story building
At the Four Seasons Maui, most of the rooms face towards the sea with gorgeous lanai. Base rooms actually face the mountain and car park but are still large and lovely with a less sunny lanai. A top tip here is that this Four Seasons has a Club lounge so you can snack for cheap if you book a room with Club Lounge access.
Sitting right on a beach which is shared with the Hilton and Marriott, this Four Seasons is up the road from the Fairmont and the Andaz. There is also a rather lovely open-air shopping mall a short walk away to pick up snacks and to buy some new clothes.
This resort is quite busy and does not feel as exclusive as Lanai, but it is such fun. All the bars and restaurants look out over the beach, and a 2 mile (3 km) beach walkway connects all the luxury hotels and runs along the end of the beach, in the resort, so you can walk for miles to wear off any overindulgence.
3. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
Step into the airy lobby at this resort, and you are hit by it’s modern and trendy design. This resort is luxurious but also feels cool. With 290 guest rooms and suites, and seven residential villas, the hotel with its stylish rooms with private lanais are designed to make the most of the stunning Hawaii sunsets.
The resort has two award-winning restaurants with island cuisine served family-style at Ka’ana Kitchen, or Western and Japanese fine dining at Morimoto Maui, led by the acclaimed celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto.
The Golden sand beach and stunning pool areas make this modern hotel a brilliant choice on Maui.
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4. Halekulani in Waikiki
Waikiki is built up, bold and brash, but this city-on-a-beach has everything you could possibly need for the perfect beach vacation, with the exception of exclusivity and quiet. The luxury Halekulani is situated right in the heart of Waikiki and is the best luxury hotel on this shoreline. The grounds lead right onto the beach, and a freshwater pool provides a beautiful place to escape the madness of Waikiki.
Nestled on five acres of lush gardens, Halekulani meaning “house befitting heaven”) the hotel is a sophisticated destination for discerning guests like Clark Gable right in the centre of Waikiki. The hotel’s much-praised French restaurant is a highlight. The oceanfront La Mer elegantly combines island ingredients with impeccable southern French techniques and an award-winning wine list.
If you prefer, you can just sit in the bar as the sun sets and watch the hula girls dance…
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5. St Regis Princeville, Kauai
If you fly into Kauai, this is the best hotel on the island. Located in the 9,000-acre resort community of Princeville at Hanalei, the St. Regis Princeville has some of the best views in Hawaii. Situated on a cliff overlooking dramatic Hanalei Bay on the northern shore of Kauai, the “Garden Island”.
The spectacular views rank among the most beautiful in the world and are framed by lush tropical hills and deep blue ocean. The resort has 252 rooms and suites, which are located in three separate buildings that terrace down from the top plateau of Princeville to the semi-private beach at Hanalei Bay. The renowned Makai Golf Club at The St. Regis Princeville Resort is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, which opened in 1971 and was redesigned and reopened in 2010.
I love this hotel, but it can be very, very rainy, so I would always two center this hotel with another on the islands so that I come home with a tan. That said, the views are simply unmissable! Book with our Luxury Travel Concierge for extra free benefits and discounts.
6. Royal Hawaiian Waikiki
The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927. This “Pink Palace of the Pacific” is located slap band in the centre of the famed Waikiki Beach. With 528 rooms and suites, The Royal Hawaiian features modern comfort, indigenous accents and refined luxury. In the Royal Beach Tower, each room provides an intimate lanai for a private vantage point of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. In the Historic Building, fresh and elegant guest rooms. The resort’s signature restaurant, Azure Restaurant, is perched along the Waikiki beachfront and serves some of the best best seafood in Waikiki and in Honolulu.
This is my second favourite hotel in Waikiki and is the ninth-best hotel in Hawaii. It is part of the Sheraton Luxury Collection and you can get upgrades and free breakfast at all Luxury Collection Starwood Hotels if you book with our luxury travel concierge.
7. Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Maui
This hotel should arguably be higher in the list but due to its location with 54 stunning acres on the northwestern tip of the island of Maui, the hotel is lovely, but the weather can be windy on this side of the island. This puts this hotel in position 9 of our 10 best hotels and resorts in Hawaii.
The resort has recently completed a $180 million USD transformation, featuring a refined organic architecture deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. The resort offers 463 fully-renovated guestrooms, including 107 Residential Suites, featuring dark wood floors, new marble bathrooms, flat-screen LCD televisions, and Hawaiian inspired artwork. The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua also features six restaurants, a fitness center with spectacular ocean views, a spa, a renovated meeting space, children’s pool, and the Ambassadors of the Environment program for children and teens 5-18 years old.
The bonus if this resort is that you can collect Marriott rewards and stay here for free. Alternatively, book with our Luxury Travel Concierge to get free room upgrade and breakfast at any Ritz-Carlton hotel.
8. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Kauai
I finish with this chain hotel that offers excellent rooms, a club lounge, and the most incredible pool. On the sunny side of Maui, you can’t go wrong at this resort and can even stay for free if you pay for it with World of Hyatt Points. Watch out for resort fees when you make point bookings at luxury hotels in Hawaii. They can be extortionate!
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa has an amazing tropical lagoon for the kids set in 50 acres tucked between the verdant mountains of Kauai and the sea. Camp Hyatt, an active program for kids between 3 and 12 years old that features a range of Hawaiian-themed activities, like palm frond weaving and lei making. Book with our Luxury Travel Concierge for extra free benefits and discounts.
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