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8 resorts in Hawai‘i perfect for couples, families, and solo travelers

Waikiki beach and Diamond Head on Oahu. | Photo by Maridav/stock.adobe.com

Hawai‘i will end its Safe Travels pandemic restrictions for travelers arriving on domestic flights on March 25, so now is the perfect time to book a trip to the Paradise of the Pacific. With milder weather and fewer crowds, late March to late May is one of the best times to visit Hawai‘i—and it’s just in time to see the majestic humpback whales breaching out of the deep-blue sea.

Whether you’re a couple seeking romance, a family seeking fun activities to entertain both kids and adults, or a solo traveler seeking adventure, Hawai‘i has a resort that’s perfect for your needs. From a star-studded historic hotel on O‘ahu to a newly refreshed property with an action-packed water park on Maui, here are 8 resorts and nearby activities to consider for your next Hawai‘i vacation.

Best Hawai‘i resorts for couples

1. Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Maui

King  oceanfront room at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

Just steps from the white sands of Kāʻanapali Beach, the newly revamped Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa is a luxury property set in an idyllic tropical garden. Every one of the hotel’s 810 rooms and suites has a private balcony with a view of the ocean, mountains, golf courses, or lush grounds.

Start your day with a stroll around the manicured 40-acre resort, which features pools, bridges, waterfalls, and a serene lagoon dotted with elegant swans. Then soak up the afternoon sun and ocean breeze by lounging in a cabana or on a complimentary portable beach chair. Or cool off at the poolside Grotto Bar with a chilled cocktail.

In the evening, after a surf-and-turf dinner at the on-site Son’z Steakhouse, head to the hotel’s rooftop to view the twinkling stars with an astronomer.      

Explore more: Enjoy dinner and drinks aboard the Sunset Maui Princess Dinner Cruise and cap the unforgettable evening by watching the sun dip below the horizon.

2. Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, O‘ahu

The Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa

Photo courtesy Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa

The stately, beachfront Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, was the first hotel to open along Waikiki Beach in 1901. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Victorian building’s old-world charm includes classic Ionic columns, intricate woodwork, rocking chairs on the veranda, and a century-old banyan tree in the courtyard.

Moana Surfrider’s 791 rooms and suites are housed in 3 buildings: the Historic Banyan Wing is cozy with local flair, the modern Tower Wing’s rooms include private balconies, and the Diamond Wing boasts oceanfront options. All 3 have views of Waikiki Beach and the iconic Diamond Head volcanic cone.

Take a dip in the outdoor pool or surf the rolling waves of the world-famous beach. After a day of hitting the waves, you’ll want to book a relaxing massage at the only oceanfront spa in Waikiki.

Explore more: Indulge in an island-inspired feast while watching fire knife dancers and graceful hula dancers at the ‘Aha‘aina, a Royal Celebration, Waikiki’s only oceanfront luau, nearby at the Moana’s sister property, the historic Royal Hawaiian Resort.

3. Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hawai‘i Island

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Photo courtesy Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

The contemporary Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is a popular destination for honeymooners and couples celebrating anniversaries. Located along the Island of Hawai‘i’s Kohala Coast, the resort’s 297 elegant rooms include views of the garden, mountains, ocean, or ancient Hawaiian fishponds.

You’ll be greeted with shell leis upon arrival and treated to the hotel’s beach yoga sessions and cultural activities like flower lei-making lessons. During the golden hour, enjoy the resort’s specialty mai tais, then meander through landscaped paths, past the historic fishponds, and head to the beach to witness an unforgettable sunset. Or just lounge by one of the resort’s 3 heated pools.

Explore more: Voyagers of the Pacific Luau, one of Kona’s best oceanfront feasts, puts on a showstopping performance of Polynesian songs and dances.

Best Hawai‘i resorts for families

4. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, O‘ahu

Disney’s Aulani Resort

Photo courtesy Disney

For a magical Hawai‘i family vacation with a sprinkling of pixie dust, head to the AAA Four Diamond Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on the shores of Ko Olina, along the western part of O‘ahu. The 21-acre resort weaves Hawaiian traditions and culture with subtle Disney elements, like Mickey ear–shaped treats and an Instagram-worthy Stitch statue. The resort’s 832 units range from standard rooms to 3-bedroom villas equipped with kitchens.

You’re never too old for a Disney-themed hotel, and this immersive resort is packed full of activities that will appeal to both adults and children. Your family can listen to a master storyteller share Hawaiian lore, embark on an interactive treasure hunt along the Menehune Adventure Trail (pictured above), or snorkel in the saltwater lagoon brimming with colorful marine life. You can also float on the lazy river, whiz down the waterslides, or swim in any of the 3 main pool areas at the resort. Aunty’s Beach House has supervised games, arts, and craft activities for children ages 3 to 12. 

Explore more: Harness your inner Tarzan by zip lining through treetops at Coral Crater Adventure Park.

5. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kāʻanapali, Maui

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

Photo courtesy The Westin Maui Resort & Spa

The beachfront 769-room Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kāʻanapali recently underwent a $120 million transformation, and one of the highlights is the newly designed family area. The 87,000 square-foot Kawaiola Aquatic Playground features 6 swimming pools, including an adult-only pool deck with an infinity pool, a hot tub, swim-through waterfalls, an interactive splash zone, waterslides, a swim-through grotto, and a hidden whirlpool.

Choose a room in the Ocean Tower, with views of the Pacific Ocean or West Maui Mountains, or in the recently renovated, 217-room luxurious Hōkūpaʻa Tower.

Hōkūpaʻa offers exclusive access to The Lanai, which offers daily breakfast bites, infinity pool cocktail-service, panoramic ocean views, and a private bar. There’s no additional charge for children under 18 sharing a room with parents. Daily cultural activities at The Lanai include flower crown making, coconut weaving, taro pounding, cooking demos, and storytelling through music.

The resort is a short walk from the Whalers Village shopping area, and there are complimentary shuttles to nearby historic Lahaina town.

Explore more: Board a 55-foot, glass-bottom catamaran and sail to the stunning Coral Gardens or Molokini, where you can snorkel the aqua-blue waters teeming with a myriad of eye-catching tropical fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles.

6. Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hawai‘i Island

Hilton Waikoloa Village

Photo courtesy Hilton Waikoloa Village

You and your family can spend your entire vacation at the sprawling 62-acre Hilton Waikoloa Village without ever wanting to leave the grounds. The aptly named village features 3 swimming pools (plus a 175-foot water slide), a tennis court, a spa, 11 restaurants, a museum walkway, and 13 shops.

Hilton Waikoloa Village’s 2 resort towers—Palace and Makai—house 647 rooms and suites, all accessible via the in-house tram system or canal boats. The resort’s pièce de résistance is the 4-acre, ocean-fed lagoon and white sand beach. You can snorkel with tropical fish and green sea turtles or cruise around on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.

Explore more: Hawai‘i Island is one of the handful of places in the world where you can swim with giant manta rays at night. The Night Manta Canoe Adventure offers this once-in-a-lifetime experience with a guided paddle from Keauhou Bay to the Manta viewing site.

Best Hawai‘i resorts for solo travelers

7. Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort Lihue, Kauai

Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort Lihue

Photo courtesy Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort Lihue

Conveniently located near the Līhu‘e Airport, galleries, boutique shops, and waterfalls and beach parks, the newly upgraded Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort Lihue is a great option for solo travelers who crave adventure and relaxation.

The 356-unit hotel recently underwent a $50 million facelift and has rooms that face the ocean, the gardens, or the pool. The resort sits on the Kalapaki Bay, which has warm, gentle waves perfect for beginner surfers and standup paddleboarders. In addition to 4 restaurants, the resort also has beachside spa treatments and complimentary cultural classes. At 26,000 square feet, the Royal Sonesta’s single-level pool is the largest in Hawai‘i.

Explore more: On this guided tour, you’ll kayak the Wailua River and then hike through a sacred valley to the 100-foot Uluwehi Falls (also known as the Secret Falls), where you can take a refreshing dip in the pool. 

Read more: 10 of the most beautiful waterfall hikes in Hawai‘i

8. Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa, Hawai‘i Island

Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa

Photo courtesy Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa

Perched along the jagged lava rock coastline in Kailua-Kona, the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa’s 509 rooms and suites offer jaw-dropping views of the crystal-clear ocean, landscaped grounds, and towering mountains.

Lounging around the lagoon-style pool with a delectable beverage in hand is an ideal way to kick-start your relaxing solo vacation. Then unplug from your smartphone, pick up your complimentary stand-up paddleboard, and head to the ocean for a serene outing.

Throughout your stay, you can immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by signing up for a hula and ukulele class or going on a free 90-minute cultural tour to the nearby historic village of Kaukulaelae and Keauhou Bay. Also visit the birthplace marker of King Kamehameha III and the Lekeleke Burial Grounds, where Hawaiian kapu warriors were buried after the 1819 Battle of Kuamo‘o.

Explore more: Meet new friends on a bicycle excursion from Waimea to Honoka‘a to Pa‘auilo, through roads lined with coffee groves and fruit trees. Your journey culminates at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, where you get to enjoy sweet treats like vanilla ice cream.

Rachel Ng is an award-winning travel and food writer based in Volcano, Hawai‘i Island.

AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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