The 12 Best Places to Stay in Hawai‘i: Islands & Hotels

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Fora Author Fora Travel

The Modern Travel Agency

Fora Travel

    A treasure chest of natural beauty and island soul, Hawai'i is nothing short of magical. But choosing where to stay and what to do can be a challenge, with the archipelago's seemingly endless options. So, we're taking the guesswork out of it. Without further ado, here are the best places to stay in Hawai‘i.

    Ready for the best places to visit in Hawai'i? Connect with Fora and receive expert recommendations that’ll bring your Hawai'i vacation to the next level. (And remember, when you book with a Fora Advisor, you unlock VIP upgrades and perks at no extra cost!)

    Oahu: where to stay in Hawai‘i if you want options, options and options

    Arguably the best island in Hawai'i to visit for the first time, you can spend a week in Oahu and still only uncover a tiny fraction of what the “gathering place” has to offer. This is Hawai‘i's busiest island, and it’s here that you’ll find the widest (and arguably best) selection of hotels, restaurants and things to do. 

    You can snorkel along Waikiki Beach, surf the rough waves of the North Shore, hike Diamond Head trail, shop along Ala Moana’s bustling streets and so much more. Our local's guide to the best of Oahu, our beginner’s guide to exploring Oahu and our beach lover's guide to Oahu delve into those options (or, your Fora Advisor can curate the best options for you).

    Connect with Fora to start planning your trip today.

    1. Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

    The Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina boasts a lavish array of rooms and suites. The location is somewhat out of the way if you want to visit the North Shore or the eastern coast of Oahu. But, with private beach access, luxurious dining and amenities and close proximity to Honolulu and Kapolei, chances are, you won’t want to leave the area anyway.

    Fora Perks:

    • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

    2. The Laylow

    The Laylow is situated between Waikiki Beach and the Ala Wai Canal, right in the middle of one of Honolulu’s most exciting districts (check out our Honolulu travel guide for more). Aside from premier access to all the capital city has to offer, the self-proclaimed “modern oasis” features a huge saltwater pool, nightly fire-lit entertainment and a full suite of amenities.

    3. The Kahala Hotel and Resort

    Fit for US Presidents and foreign dignitaries like the late Princess Diana, the five-star Kahala Hotel and Resort is consistently ranked among the best places to stay in Hawai‘i and in the United States.

    Located just outside of Honolulu proper, the Kahala's relaxing vibe embodies everything we love about Oahu. And did we mention the incredible selection of beach and poolside rooms?

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

    4. Turtle Bay Resort

    Visiting the North Shore is one of the reasons Oahu is bucket-list worthy: the laid-back atmosphere is only made better by the tropical backdrop. Turtle Bay Resort is the best place to stay in the region and features a variety of bungalows, villas, suites and hotel-style rooms, all with beach access. 

    Among the best things to do at Turtle Bay Resort: private helicopter tours, pro surf lessons and an excursion that lets you swim with sharks (intrigued? Us, too).

    If you're looking for the best place to stay in Oahu for you, connect with Fora for intel and booking perks.

    The best places to visit in Oahu

    Honolulu, possibly the best area to stay in Hawai'i, is as exciting as any big city in the United States, with picturesque beaches at Waikiki and Diamond Head. The downtown area (aka Ala Moana) is also home to the US’s largest outdoor shopping mall and is rife with enticing restaurants and entertainment. Just to the west, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a can’t-miss, if somber destination. 

    Or, if you want a quieter trip, you can visit the beaches of the North Shore, which are much less populated but equally beautiful. And remember, one of Fora’s Hawai'i travel planners can recommend options based on your specific interests (maybe you’re looking for the best Hawaiian island for families).

    The Big Island: the best place to stay in Hawai‘i to see volcanoes

    The Big Island doesn’t get as much press as Maui or Oahu because it’s sparsely populated and relatively untapped ⁠— this is a draw for many. (Check out our easy going on the Big Island guide.) But, over the last decade or so, it’s become one of the more popular islands of Hawai‘i because of its unique national parks.

    Most travelers to the Big Island visit the Kohala Coast, home to most of the Big Island’s top resorts⁠ — many of which are among the best places to stay in Hawai‘i. The coast is also starting to make a name for itself because of its thriving gastronomic scene (check out our foodies’ guide to the Kohala Coast). 

    Word to the wise: if you want to make the most of a Big Island adventure, you must see the island’s volcanoes, two of which are active. Connect with Fora for advice on where to stay on the Big Island, the best excursions, hiking trips and experiences, so you can admire these natural wonders in all their glory.

    5. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

    Located along a relatively secluded section of the Big Island’s northern Kohala Coast, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is the definition of beachside relaxation. Every room is fitted with a private lanai overlooking either the Pacific or Waikoloa Village’s legendary golf course, the first to be built on volcanic terrain.

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

    6. The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i

    The Fairmont Orchid is the Big Island’s top resort, featuring 32 acres of lush gardens and beautiful white-sand beaches along a tranquil lagoon. The award-winning Spa Without Walls is one of the best places to visit in Hawai‘i if you’re looking for a rejuvenating experience, but the Fairmont features plenty more if you want to add excitement to your vacation.

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 food / beverage credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

    The top attraction on the Big Island: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

    Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is one of the few places in the world, let alone the United States, where you can see active volcanoes. 

    The wicked and rocky landscape of the park probably isn’t the first place you think of when you picture an idyllic Hawai‘i vacation, but its unique beauty and allure are undeniable.

    Maui: where to stay in Hawai‘i for relaxation

    Whether you want an adventurous or relaxing getaway, the third-most populated island in Hawai‘i delivers. Although, you might find a little more of the latter on this sleepy, beautiful and beach-vibe-filled island. And, be sure to check out Maui's must-see destinations.

    Outside of Oahu, Maui offers the widest selection of top-tier places to stay in Hawai‘i, including gorgeous, beachside resorts as well as more affordable accommodations in the more developed areas of the island. And don’t forget, booking with Fora can help you navigate where to stay in Maui within your budget range while tacking on awesome hotel perks. 

    7. Montage Kapalua Bay

    One of the best places to stay in Hawai‘i, let alone Maui, the Montage Kapalua Bay resort celebrates Hawaiian culture while offering the best in both adventure and relaxation. There’s something for every type of traveler here, whether you want to chill by the Sunset pool, check out Maui’s top golf courses, party at Kaanapali Beach or simply enjoy Maui’s astonishing vistas.

    Fora Perks:

    • $150 spa credit.

    • $60 daily breakfast credit.

    • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

    8. Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux

    The Hotel Wailea is an adults-only, five-star resort tucked away in the hills that overlook Wailea’s heart-stirring coast. You’ll find nothing but luxury here, from opulent island suites to several world-class restaurants. 

    Hidden gem: if you visit the hotel’s open-air fitness studio, you can catch a view of Maui’s glittering shores as well as the Hawaiian islands of Lanai and Kahoolawe.

    9. The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

    The Ritz-Carlton at Kapalua is a massive, five-star resort featuring amazing views of Maui’s Kaanapali Coast and rooms and suites that are as elegant as they are spacious. And when you’re not enjoying the resort’s impressive array of attractions, you’ll find that the West Maui Forest Reserve, Kaanapali Beach and the city of Lahaina are all within a 20-minute drive.

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

    10. Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

    The Andaz Maui at Wailea is an upscale, five-star resort with a classy vibe that doesn’t forget its island charm. The best rooms feature ocean views and quick access to Mokapu Beach. 

    If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, the Andaz Maui resort’s luau experience features authentic Hawaiian food, cocktails and dancing.

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

    The top place to visit in Maui: Kaanapali Beach

    Year after year, Kaanapali Beach on Maui’s western coast (just north of Lahaina) is voted one of the best beaches in the United States. Kaanapali emphasizes the natural splendor Hawai‘i is known for while still offering plenty of things to do if you’re up for a little more excitement, like sailing, snorkeling or enjoying a bit of Maui nightlife (draw inspiration from our 7 days of family friendly adventure in Maui guide).

    Kauai: the best place to stay in Hawai‘i for adventure

    Outside of the resort areas, Kauai is largely unspoiled and therefore one of the best islands for camping and hiking. In other words, this is where to stay in Hawai‘i if you want to enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the island's natural beauty.

    As always, connect with Fora to book the best areas to stay on Kauai.

    11. Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu

    Located steps away from the Hanakaape Bay, the Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu features incredible courtyard pools, lavish rooms and suites and quick and easy access to Kauai’s best attractions.

    The Koloa Landing Resort is easily one of the best places to stay in Hawai‘i, offering a relaxing refuge whenever you’re not exploring Kauai’s untouched landscapes.

    The best place to visit in Kauai: Waimea Canyon State Park

    Waimea Canyon State Park is located within Kauai’s western region. Scenic, hillside trails offer fantastic opportunities for hiking while fishing is available seasonally.

    Lanai: where to stay in Hawai‘i to get away from people

    Lanai, the most-exclusive island to visit in Hawai‘i by many accounts, is only inhabited by a few thousand people. Most of the island’s landscape has either been left untouched or has reverted back to its natural state (Lanai used to have many plantations). Naturally, there’s very little to do outside of the resort areas, but again, the island’s lush landscapes are unquestionably breathtaking.

    Pssst: Finding accommodations in Lanai can be difficult because of the limited space, so work with your Hawai'i travel planner to get the inside scoop on reservations.

    12. Four Seasons Resort Lanai 

    The Four Seasons Resort at Lanai offers an unparalleled stay on Lanai’s rather secluded shores. The quiet vibe makes for a perfect place to enjoy Lanai’s splendor, but adventure is never out of reach: whale watching, snorkeling, off-roading and more are all available just outside the resort.

    Fora Perks:

    • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

    Molokai: the best place to visit in Hawai‘i for cultural immersion

    Out of Hawai‘i's six largest islands, Molokai is the least visited by travelers. But Molokai is also the best place to stay in Hawai‘i if you want an authentic introduction to Hawaiian culture.

    Like Lanai, Molokai is sparsely populated, with few accommodations. The island is also strikingly beautiful, but travel around the island is somewhat limited (unless you travel by helicopter).

    If cultural exploration empowers your vacation, connect with Fora to learn where you can stay in Molokai.

    Still wondering where to stay in Hawai‘i? Talk with a Fora Advisor

    Ready to explore the best places to stay in Hawai‘i? Connect with Fora to customize and book your trip today. 

    And remember, Fora travel advisors have all the inside knowledge to level up your vacation, including expert recommendations on the best places to see and things to do. And did we mention VIP hotel perks and upgrades?

    Craving more travel tips? Check out our guide to the best places to stay in Costa Rica.

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