The Coolest, Most Unique Places to Stay in Hawai'i

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Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


    Image courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

    From breezy beach resorts in Maui to luxurious, oceanside hotels in Oahu, the most unique places to stay in Hawai'i promise nothing but relaxation and adventure amidst one of the world’s most gorgeous tropical backdrops.

    Ready to travel today? Plan your Hawai'i vacation with Fora to unlock VIP perks at the coolest hotels Hawai’i has to offer (at no extra cost).

    The 10 most unique places to stay in Hawai'i (plus some unique places in Hawai’i to visit nearby)

    Read on for the most unique places to stay in Hawai'i, plus a few awesome places to check out while you enjoy your stay, like awesome state parks, natural wonders and more. 

    1. Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux (Maui): the only adults-only hotel in Hawai'i 

    A stunning example of a five-star ocean resort, the Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux ranks among the most unique places to stay in Maui because it’s Hawai'i’s only true adults-only resort. This fact makes the Hotel Wailea a great place to stay for couples and group trips like bachelorette parties or corporate retreats.

    Hotel Wailea also offers a range of unique, curated experiences, such as cruising around the island in a vintage Porsche or enjoying a private, chef-prepared meal in a treehouse overlooking Maui’s gorgeous Wailea Coast.

    Best of all, Hotel Wailea is close to some of the best places to visit in Hawai'i, like Mount Haleakala and Molokini Crater.

    Side note: if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, Fora can help — no matter where you’re interested in traveling. Romantic getaways in Utah? Check. Great Vegas hotels for couples? Check. Romantic hotels in New Orleans? Check, check, check. 

    Haleakalā National Park: a gorgeous wildlife refuge home to dozens of rare species

    Named after a massive, but long-dormant, volcano, Haleakalā National Park is home to countless species, many of which aren’t found elsewhere, and some of Maui’s most breathtaking hiking trails. 

    The park is only about an hour away from Hotel Wailea, and worth every minute of the drive (which is quite scenic itself). 

    Molokini Crater: one of the most unique places to visit in Hawai'i by boat

    If you’re looking to travel off the beaten path, hop on a boat tour — many are offered near Hotel Wailea — headed to Molokini Crater, arguably the most unique place to visit in Hawai'i by sea.

    Once the impact site of a massive celestial body, the crescent-moon-shaped crater looks more like something out of a sci-fi or fantasy series than a real-life place. And while you can’t step foot on the atoll, you can snorkel or scuba dive right off its biodiverse shores.

    2. Hana-Maui Resort - Destination by Hyatt (Maui): one of the most secluded & unique places to stay in Hawai'i

    Found on the opposite coast of Hotel Wailea in a much quieter setting, the Hana-Maui Resort provides an exceptional opportunity to enjoy nature without interruption — whether by lounging by the beach or exploring Maui’s peaceful, mountainside jungles. 

    Here, guests can enjoy a luxurious stay in a private bungalow with contemporary amenities and majestic ocean views. Connect with Fora to plan and book your stay at Hana-Maui Resort (plus hotel perks). And don't miss some of our tips on where to stay in Maui.

    Fora Perks:

    • $50 hotel / resort credit.

    • Welcome note & amenity.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & early check-in whenever possible.

    The Road to Hana: one of the most scenic highways in the world

    The Road to Hana (from central Maui, where it’s more populated and developed) is renowned for its incredible natural beauty. The highway hugs Maui’s northeastern coast, with the Pacific Ocean to the north and gorgeous hills and jungles to the south, and is the only major route to the Hana-Maui Resort. 

    The highway alone is one of Hawai’i's most unique places to visit.

    3. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (Big Island): a unique place to stay in Hawai'i with an equally unique marine experience

    Image courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

    There are five Four Seasons resorts spread across the major Hawaiʻian islands, but the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai stands apart as one of the most unique places to stay in Hawai'i — let alone among its sister resorts. Why? Because of its unique attraction: King’s Pond. 

    Here, guests can relax and swim with dozens of species in a 1.8-million-gallon saltwater pool under the careful supervision of a team of experienced and certified marine biologists. The experience is surreal, and safe for both travelers and the aquatic inhabitants.

    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.

    Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park: a family-friendly, uniquely Hawai’ian place to visit 

    Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is one of the few places in the world where you can experience the wrath of a real volcano up close. It’s a great destination for kids and a big reason the Big Island is one of the best Hawaiʻian Islands for families.

    Wondering where to stay on the Big Island that’s near one of the coolest, most unique places to visit in Hawai'i? The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is a two-hour (very scenic) road trip away.

    4. Hotel Lanai (Lanai): one of Hawai'i’s only historic hotels

    Hotel Lanai has the distinction of being Lanai City’s only major hotel, and one of the most unique places to stay in Hawai'i because of its historical status. The hotel was originally built in the early 1920s as a luxurious refuge for the executives of the Dole Pineapple Company. 

    Today, Hotel Lanai continues to serve as a laid-back refuge, providing family-friendly, boutique-style accommodations and complimentary bicycles to explore the small island. 

    Plan your travel with Fora, and a Hawai'i travel planner will give you the lowdown on Hotel Lanai and the island’s coolest hidden gems, like the Keahiakawelo rock garden.

    Keahiakawelo (The Garden of the Gods): a unique rock garden with breathtaking views of Molokai and Maui

    Keahiakawelo — aka “The Garden of the Gods” or the “Fire of Kawelo” — is truly one of the most unique places to visit in Hawai'i. With red rocks and sporadic shrubbery, the Keahiakawelo rock garden presents a stark contrast from Hawai'i’s otherwise verdant jungles and sapphire waters. 

    On a clear day, the views of the surrounding islands from Keahiakawelo are worth the short drive — or 45-minute bike ride — from Hotel Lanai. 

    Lanai Cat Sanctuary: a one-of-a-kind refuge meant to protect Lanai’s native wildlife

    In 2004, the Lanai Cat Sanctuary was founded to provide a loving home for dozens of feral cats throughout the island of Lanai. Roughly two decades later, both the number of cats — there are now hundreds — and the sanctuary’s mission has evolved to include protecting Lanai’s endangered birds and mammals from otherwise cuddly house cats. 

    Only about 10 minutes from Hotel Lanai, guests are welcome to “come play” with all the renegade kitties on the sanctuary grounds from late morning to mid-afternoon. 

    5. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection (Big Island): an elite golf resort on the beach

    Whether you’re celebrating a destination wedding or practicing your swing, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is an excellent choice. The resort is home to an 18-hole golf course with stellar views of the Pacific and convenient access to Kaunaʻoa Beach, one of the most coveted beaches in Hawai'i. 

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

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

    Kaumana Caves / Lava Tubes: one of the most unique landmarks to explore on the Big Island

    The Kaumana Caves (aka the Kaumana Lava Tubes) were formed in the late 1800s after an eruption sent lava hurtling toward what’s now known as the city of Hilo. The caves, which span a couple miles, are home to many strange species and a number of unique rock formations. 

    Travelers are free to explore the caves but must bring their own gear if they want to try some of the more rigorous subterranean trails (note: some trails may not be fit for children).

    6. Montage Kapalua Bay (Maui): a luxurious five-star resort on Maui’s western coast

    Image courtesy of Montage Kapalua Bay

    Montage Kapalua Bay greets guests with island-chic decor and lavish accommodations. This five-star resort is one of the nicest in Maui, featuring a range of one-of-a-kind experiences and opulent comforts. 

    Connect with Fora to plan and book your stay at Montage Kapalua Bay (and to unlock VIP hotel perks).

    Fora Perks:

    • $150 spa credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

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

    7. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (Kauai): a unique place to stay in Hawai'i for those who want ultimate relaxation

    The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa calls Poipu, one of the best areas to stay on Kauai, home. When you’re not enjoying elite suites with private lanais, you can lounge in one of the resort’s massive fresh-water or saltwater pools, or take advantage of access to a private area of Poipu Beach.

    The resort also features several restaurants with elevated Hawai'ian and fusion restaurants, plus nearby access to Poipu Bay Golf Course and more. When it comes to relaxing in luxury, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is truly one of the most unique places you can stay in Hawai’i.

    Even better, since Fora is a member of Hyatt Privé, when you book with us, you’ll unlock exclusive perks for the ultimate VIP treatment.

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Welcome note & amenity.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & early check-in whenever possible.

    Waimea Canyon State Park: a picturesque park, perfect for hiking & sightseeing

    Waimea Canyon State Park — sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” — enthralls travelers with some of the most unique hiking trails and scenery in Kauai. The mountainous, pine-covered terrain seems like it might be featured among the most unique places to stay in Colorado, never mind a tropical paradise like Hawai'i.

    Book your travel with Fora, and your Fora Advisor can give you more details on Waimea Canyon State Park or the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa.

    8. Halekulani Hotel (Oahu): a relaxing oasis amidst Hawai'i’s most energetic beach

    The Halekulani Hotel, built in the early 1900s, was one of the first modern hotels built in Hawai'i. Over the last century, the Halekulani has become one of the world’s most luxurious hotels, blending classic Hawai'ian hospitality with contemporary comforts.

    The hotel is located on Waikiki Beach in Oahu, arguably the best island to visit in Hawai'i for first-timers, and is only a short distance from both Pearl Harbor National Memorial and Diamond Head.

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade & early check-in whenever possible.

    Pearl Harbor National Memorial: a somber reminder of World War II

    The rusted, sunken hull of the USS Arizona at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial stands out as one of the most unique places to visit in Hawai'i. The memorial commemorates those who fell during Imperial Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, which forced the US into World War II.

    Time and the harbor’s gorgeous scenery have healed many old wounds. Nearly a century later, the memorial has taken on a more positive aura while still reminding travelers of the horrors of war.

    Honolulu, Waikiki Beach & Diamond Head: a lively & unique area to visit in Hawai'i

    If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Hawai'i, Halekulani Hotel is near three of them: Downtown Honolulu, Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.

    Honolulu is Hawai'i’s only major city — the vibe is much more energetic and trendy than the rather bohemian vibe that you’ll find throughout the rest of the island chain. Many of Hawai'i’s best boutiques and international restaurants can be found here, too. 

    Waikiki feels like an extension of Honolulu’s busy streets, and there’s almost always a (family-friendly) party atmosphere. The waters are also super calm through much of the year, so this beach is great for little ones. 

    Finally, Diamond Head — a dormant volcano that still bears the scars of its last eruption — provides a more natural and cultural experience enjoyed by locals and travelers alike. (See our local’s guide to Oahu for more hot spots off the beaten path.)

    Check in with Fora for intel on all the coolest under-the-radar attractions and hot spots near Halekulani Hotel. 

    9. Turtle Bay Resort (Oahu): a remote & unique place to stay near Hawai'i’s capital

    Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore has the benefit of being close to Honolulu, yet has the same feel as one of Kauai’s stunning in-the-middle-of-nowhere resorts — one of many reasons we listed Turtle Bay Resort among the best places to stay in Hawai'i, too.

    The resort capitalizes on its removed location by offering a ton of outdoorsy activities like horseback riding through its grounds, snorkeling off the coast and more.

    Fora Perks:

    • $100 hotel / resort credit.

    • Welcome note & amenity.

    • Breakfast daily.

    • Upgrade whenever possible.

    North Shore: Oahu’s quieter, more natural coast

    One of the best areas to stay in Oahu, the North Shore is much quieter and far less developed than the island’s buzzing southern coast. The area has a mostly chill vibe that contrasts with  the rest of the island. This, of course, changes during peak surfing season — which draws travelers from all over the world.

    In fact, the North Shore is a surfer’s paradise, and the beaches here present an incredible opportunity to enjoy the waves. That said, we should note that these waters aren’t as family-friendly as Waikiki’s perpetually calm seas. 

    10: The Lodge at Kukuiʻula (Kauai): a luxurious Hawai'i hotel with a homey, bohemian vibe

    The Lodge at Kukuiʻula is one of the most unique places to stay in Hawai'i, and will resonate well with those looking for lavish accommodations with a homey feel. Views from The Lodge are astounding; most overlook the vast Pacific, while others present lush Kauai’s tropical landscape. (Looking for more cool places to stay? Check out our guide to the coolest hotels in Vegas.)

    Connect with Fora to plan and book your stay The Lodge at Kukuiʻula.

    Fora Perks:

    • Hotel / resort credit.

    • Welcome note & amenity.

    • Breakfast daily.

    Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park & Kalalau Trail: a magical retreat only accessible to a determined few

    Kauai’s claim to the best Hawaiian island for families crown has much to do with Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. Even among the islands’ amazing natural scenery, Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park manages to stand out as one the most unique places to visit in Hawai'i. While the park is open to the public, it’s not for the faint of heart. 

    The 11-mile Kalalau Trail is the only part of the park approaching a developed space — even then, the trail is only recommended for experienced hikers. Moreover, the park can only be reached by boat, aircraft or, for hiking experts, on foot. Those that can brave the treacherous paths will be well rewarded by the relatively untouched landscapes and the knowledge that they’ve reached one of the most unspoiled and unique places anyone can visit in Hawai’i — or anywhere else.

    Book with Fora and get extra perks at the most unique places to stay in Hawai'i

    Image courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

    Ready to enjoy Hawai’i’s most unique hotels for yourself? Start planning your trip with Fora, and we'll hook you up with allll the perks and upgrades — at no extra cost. (But if you're craving even more travel inspiration, check out our guide on how to travel between the Hawaiian islands.)

    And if you decide that Hawai'i’s not the destination for you, we can still help.

    Whatever type of unique experience you want, booking with Fora is the best way to do it. We'll help you plan every step of the way.

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