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Six best Hawaii holidays 2023: Where to stay for island escapes

From coastal cities to volcanic villages and rich rainforests, Hawaii has destinations to suit every kind of holidaymaker

Natalie Wilson
Wednesday 31 May 2023 15:36 BST
<p>Hawaii’s diverse coastal landscape is a holiday hotspot </p>

Hawaii’s diverse coastal landscape is a holiday hotspot

The tropical gem of America’s west coast, Hawaii, offers holidaymakers a chance to experience the laid-back lifestyle, diverse landscapes and dynamic environment of isolated islands. Dubbed the “Aloha State”, its active volcanoes, sapphire seas and towering cliffs allow for a whole host of bucket-list adventures.

Worlds away from a beach holiday in Florida’s Miami or Fort Lauderdale on the mainland, the US’s 50th state invites visitors to don a Hawaiian shirt and head to a Luau. The traditional Hawaiian parties with music, lei flower garlands and lessons in the art of hula dancing are a must-try, whether travellers are staying in a five-star hotel or a seafront hostel.

The archipelago of six main paradise islands in the Pacific Ocean is blessed with ancient, rugged landscapes and idyllic black and white sand beaches. Each presents its own version of a Hawaiian holiday, from expeditions to waterfalls to relaxing beach hotspots. Choose one to explore in depth, or island hop around our top holiday picks for the full Hawaii experience.

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Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection, Kauai

Relax in the Hawaiian charm of Kuai’s south shore

Kauai, the oldest of Hawaii’s islands, has an undeniably mysterious allure. Nicknamed the “Garden Island” thanks to the thriving jungle vegetation that blankets its surface, it’s no surprise Kauai is one of the wettest places on earth.

The landscape is home to rainforests packed with rare wildlife, rapid rivers and lush mountain valleys. Rappel down its cascading waterfalls or take to the sky to see the sights of Waimea Canyon on a helicopter tour.

Koloa Landing Resort on the sunny south shore of Kauai Island fuses Hawaii’s rich heritage with refined modernity in rooms that boast luxury facilities, privacy and ocean views. The resort is on the pricier side as guests pay the price for relaxing in a spa that uses indigenous ingredients and accessing the golden sands of Baby Beach just 550m away.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the island’s natural beauty through hiking, surfing and scuba diving activities available nearby.

Hakuna Matata Maui Hostel, Maui

Bikes, snorkels and surfboards can be enjoyed by guests

Hawaii’s “Valley Island”, Maui is aptly named for its deep rock formations and dense gardens in ‘Iao Valley State Park. Home to Haleakala, an active volcano, 30 miles of golden coast and the waters of Ohe’o Gulch’s Seven Sacred Pools, the famous Hana Highway is the ultimate road through Maui’s tropics. Avid surfers can savour the taste of a Hawaiian poke bowl after riding the huge swells of Honolua Bay, some of the best surfing waves in the world.

The cost of living in Hawaii is famously high, making it more expensive to visit than the majority of US states – a feeling familiar for British tourists. Hakuna Matata Maui Hostel offers four-star accommodation on a budget. Just steps away from Kamehameha Iki Park Beach, the Lahaina-based hostel presents the best of both worlds, with a private sandy stretch less than a mile from the city centre. Complimentary bike hire, wifi and barbecue facilities, plus a shared kitchen and garden patio adjoining rooms, add up to make the hostel a great fit for travellers looking to form firm friendships.

Royal Kona Resort, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island

Indulge in island flavours with oceanfront dining

Get a taste of small-scale Hawaiian city life on the island of Hawaii, otherwise known as Big Island. Its seaside town of Kailua-Kona, once home to Hawaiian royalty, is a tourist-centric hotspot and the primary western city of the Aloha State’s largest island, offering restaurants, nightlife and souvenir shops.

Facing Kailua Bay, the Royal Kona Resort has a private beach and saltwater lagoon, while a Tiki-inspired restaurant serves up Asian-fusion cuisine and fresh seafood on the waterfront. With a golf club and shopping centre just minutes away, plus scuba diving with manta rays a highlight of the hotel itinerary, there’s an activity to suit every style. More affordable than staying in the north or on smaller islands, Kailua-Kona a great base to wind down and explore all that Hawaii has to offer.

Embassy Suites By Hilton, Oahu

King studio suites boast a private pool

“The Gathering Place”, Oahu is home to the state capital of Honolulu and the majority of Hawaii’s cosmopolitan population. Here, visitors will find a fusion of cultures and indigenous traditions, a dynamic food scene with culinary hotspots in Chinatown, and historical landmarks such as Pearl Harbour and the Punchbowl Crater – a cemetery for American veterans on the site of an extinct volcano. Relax and decompress on the iconic Waikiki beach with a surf lesson or embrace the nightlife in the high-rises behind the sand.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei offers spacious rooms with Hawaiian-inspired décor and a good-sized pool. Free daily breakfasts and a sushi restaurant fuel laid-back adventures to the North Shore and Paradise Cove Luaus, both within an hour’s drive of the hotel.

Waimea Plantation Cottages, Kauai

Charming one to three bedroom cottages overlook lush green vegetation

The serenity of Kauai Island is best enjoyed during secluded stays on its tropical coastline. Waimea Plantation Cottages, situated on Kauai’s black sands, feature plantation-period furniture, tropical artwork and floral accents. The authentic homes, built in the late 1880s, retain a rustic charm but are now fully equipped with self-catering kitchens and a lanai, a breezy open patio originating from Hawaii. The on-site restaurant encourages visitors to try a taste of Hawaiian grill and seasonal dishes before trying the watersports or hiking in Waimea Canyon and experiencing the swinging bridge at Hanapepe.

An oceanfront pool and barbecue facilities are among the luxury amenities on offer for guests of the one-to-three-bedroom garden and ocean view properties – Waimea Beach is less than 300m away and, though not swimmable, it is an idyllic stretch for a walk with the sand between your toes.

Volcano Village Lodge, Hawaii Island

The award-winning bed and breakfast is nearly 4,000ft above sea level

Hawaii Island’s Volcano National Park is home to hiking trails, dramatic vistas and two active volcanoes: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Kīlauea Volcano, one of the world’s most active, recently finished an eruption period of flowing lava that started in September 2021.

In the thick of the Big Island’s rainforest, Volcano Village Lodges feature creature comforts, a balcony, fireplace and hot tub within the beamed walls of its rooms. Garden waterfalls and koi ponds garnish the property, and guests can up the adrenalin with a visit to the active lava flow of Kīlauea just 15 minutes away or explore the national park. This bed and breakfast sits almost 4,000ft above sea level but, in contrast to the activity of its volcanic neighbours, promotes calm relaxation on massage beds, lei making and hula classes.

Tourists do pay the price for a once-in-a lifetime stay in the unique landscape, with lodge prices starting at £424 a night in off-peak season.

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