Hawaii is a land full of hidden gems and incredible cultural experiences, to help you find the best of the best we spoke to 6 of Hawaii’s local experts for their views on the places not to miss as well as where to get off the beaten track to help you plan your next stay.
Here we highlight our top 10 best places to explore taken from the full interviews with our local experts below:
1. Hottest restaurant at the moment – MW, Honolulu
“Although the sophisticated restaurant has become known for its modern take on Hawaii Regional Cuisine, I always recommend them because of their stellar desserts. Some people even go to MW just to do a multi-course dessert tasting. It’s that good. While you’re there, try the MW Candy bar with a macadamia nut-praline crunch, salted caramel, and Waialua chocolate. ” Coty of Exploration Hawaii
2. Best beach bar – Dukes, Waikiki
“The bar is located in the heart of Waikiki and is wildly popular with locals and tourists alike. The drink menu is vast and the atmosphere is like no other.” Jeremy of Beyond Honolulu
3. Most popular hotel – Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria, Maui
“The property itself is beautiful from top to bottom, and they have so many amazing water features that people from other hotels try to sneak in just to try them. Their spa, with several salt pools and massage waterfalls, is one of the most unique. I also love that they have many Hawaiian cultural activities on property so that visitors can learn about true Hawaii traditions in an interactive way. Try their signature restaurant, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, for a delicious sunset dinner.” Melissa from Frolic Hawaii
4. Best hidden gem beach – Lanikai Beach, windward coast of Oahu
“The water is crystal clear and amazing for snorkelling and kayaking. Two other favourites are Waimea Bay on the North Shore and Cromwells Beach in town — a hidden gem for locals.” Emma from the Aloha Babe.
5. Best surfing beach – Sunset Beach, North Shore of Oahu
“..two most popular places to surf (both locally and worldwide) are Sunset Beach (Pipeline) on the North Shore of Oahu, and world famous “Jaws” on Maui. Both offer incredible surfing experiences and both are very dangerous and famous, bringing the best surfers from around the world.” Jeremy of Beyond Honolulu.
6. Best shopping – Ala Moana Center, Waikiki
“Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping centre in Hawaii, and the world’s largest outdoor shopping centre. They have hundreds of retailers, including department stores and Hawaii-based retailers.” Gem from Hawaii Mom Blog
7. Best hiking – Kuliouou Ridge Trail, Honolulu
“Think that the view from Hawaii’s beaches is great? Imagine the view from a few thousand feet high above.” Coty from Exploration Hawaii
8. Best festival – Lantern Floating Festival, Oahu’s South shore
“The biggest and most popular annual event in Hawaii is the yearly Lantern Floating Festival held every Memorial Day. The event garners 40,000 – 50,000 people yearly and is watched by hundreds of thousands more online from Hawaii and Japan.” Jeremy from Beyond Honolulu
9. Best off the beaten track destination – Molokai
“The least developed island in Hawaii, Molokai is the perfect off-the-beaten track destination. There are no upscale resorts, no high-end restaurants, no stoplights, no shopping malls or McDonald’s. But it does offer empty white-sand beaches, hikes through native forests, and complete relaxation.” Catherine from the Cat Dish.
10. Best offbeat attraction – Papakolea Beach (Green Sand Beach), Big Island of Hawaii
“Truth be told, the islands of Hawaii are full of “off the beaten path” destinations that tourists have no idea even exist. Each island has several, but one that stands out is located on the Big Island (Hawaii Island). Papakolea, or Green Sand Beach, is located at the southern tip, just west of south point. The green sand is actually caused by past volcano eruptions.” Jeremy from Beyond Honolulu.