With pristine beaches, towering waterfalls, and lush rainforests, Hawaii is the epitome of paradise on earth. When the Aloha State rolled out its warm welcoming mat to visitors after months of lockdown, the 19 Hilton properties in Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Island of Hawaii, were ready with new protocols. Hilton’s top priority is their guests’ safety, which is why they rolled out enhanced housekeeping standards utilizing Lysol products. The new Hilton CleanStay program also includes a special room seal to indicate that no one has entered the room since it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. By using the Hilton Honors app, guests can skip the front desk and opt for contactless check-in, as well as select and access their room with a digital room key.
Each Hawaiian island has its own unique personality, whether you’re looking for a vibrant night life and food scene or a tranquil tropical escape. Here’s a helpful guide to what to expect on the state’s four main islands:
The Gathering Place: Oahu
The most populous island, Oahu is considered the “heart” of Hawaii, offering both a bustling city life and a laidback surf town vibe. The gentle rolling waves in the world-renowned Waikiki Beach are perfect for first-time surfers to tackle the sport, while its white sand beaches make for an idyllic backdrop to relax and soak in the rays. Within walking distance from the beaches, the major thoroughfare is lined with souvenir shops and a number of high-end designer boutiques. The Waikiki Trolley tour offers an easy hop-on and hop-off option to explore attractions such as the historic Iolani Palace, the Foster Botanical Garden, and the Honolulu Zoo. The trolley also makes a pitstop at the Diamond Head State Monument, where a short but steep trail leads to the summit with panoramic views of Honolulu. After the sun sets, the city comes alive. Choose from a number of rooftop bars, open-air lounges, and beachfront watering holes where mixologists create innovative concoctions showcasing local ingredients. Or check out a craft brewery or taproom for a taste of refreshing local beer and hearty pub food. Those in search of bigger waves typically head to the North Shore, about an hour drive from Waikiki. The site of various surfing competitions, North Shore waters can swell up to more than 30 feet in the winter. Along the North Shore, a number of food trucks parked along the coast serve garlicy fried shrimp and rice to hungry road trippers. For an icy treat, head to the quaint surf town of Haleiwa to enjoy a scoop of the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice.
The Valley Isle: Maui
The second largest island, Maui is made up of two shield volcanoes: West Maui Mountain to the northwest and Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano, to the east. A majority of the hotels on Maui is located on the drier west coast, along Wailea and Kaanapali. Wailea, where Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, and Ho’olei at Grand Wailea are located, is the more upscale of the two, offering fine-dining restaurants, golf courses, tennis courts, and luxury boutiques. Once a retreat for Maui royalty, Kaanapali Beach spreads over 3 miles of white sands and are dotted with luxury hotels, as well as an open-air shopping center called the Whalers Village. Nearby, the historic tourist town of Lahaina is a lively hub with a variety of boutiques, restaurants, and a boat harbor. Those seeking an adventurous road trip should rent a car and drive the windy 52-mile scenic Road to Hana to discover hidden coves, waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, narrow bridges, and the best roadside banana breads.
The Garden Isle: Kauai
With its dramatic waterfalls, craggy cliffs, and verdant rainforests, Kauai is the place to be one with nature. The island is less developed than Oahu and Maui, which makes it an ideal place for the outdoorsy type. Dubbed one of the most beautiful hikes in the U.S., the Kalalau Trail is a challenging 11-mile trail from Ke‘e Beach to Kalalau Beach—parts of the trail hug the cliffs along the 4,000-foot high Na Pali Coast. For those looking for less challenging terrain with equally great views should consider the well-maintained trail to the top of the Waipo’o Falls, an 800-foot-tall cascading waterfall near Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Or ascend the 1.9-mile Kalepa Ridge Trail to witness the perfect sunset. Other great ways to explore Kauai is through a helicopter or boat tour.
The Big Island: Island of Hawaii
The Island of Hawaii is home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world—Mauna Loa and Kīlauea, both located at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The sight of glowing lava caused by the recent eruption of Kīlauea and the inky-black terrain it leaves behind is surreal and otherworldly. For an unusual beach experience, head to the Punaluu Black Sand Beach, where charcoal-colored basalt sand meets clear turquoise water. The beach is a prime spot to go snorkeling with gentle green sea turtles. The Big Island is also one of the few places in the world where visitors can go for a night dive to see giant black-and-white manta rays at Manta Heaven, near the Kona International Airport, or Manta Village in Keauhou Bay.