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12 Incredible Hawaii Hotels Where You Can Escape Completely

You’re scraping ice off your car’s windshield on yet another frigid winter morning or gritting your teeth through a stressful day at work, and you think: “I wish I were somewhere else.” How does Hawaii sound? Transport yourself to paradise with this list of dreamy Hawaii hotels where you can stroll along the beach, relax in a spa, and wake up to tropical birdsong.

Prince Waikiki, Oahu

Prince Waikiki, Oahu interior room

Every room and suite at the popular Prince Waikiki has an ocean view, plus windows that open to let in the tropical breezes. You can walk to the beach, the shops of Ala Moana Center, and a variety of restaurants—or take the complimentary hotel shuttle to Waikiki Beach. Catch a sunset from the infinity pool or treat yourself to a massage at the Naio Bliss spa.

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Hotel Wailea, Maui

Hotel Wailea, Maui Balcony view during breakfast

Perfect for honeymooners or anyone else seeking an adults-only getaway, Hotel Wailea offers 72 exclusive one-bedroom suites. Here you can focus on wellness with spa treatments or complimentary yoga classes, or head outdoors for kiteboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, or stand-up paddleboarding. The hotel can arrange several unique experiences, including a scenic drive in a 1957 Porsche and a tropical mixology class. The beach is a complimentary shuttle ride away.

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Kalaekilohana, Big Island

Kalaekilohana interior room with balcony

The owners of boutique inn Kalaekilohana have thought of every detail, from fresh flowers in the rooms to locally sourced fruit and coffee at breakfast. Past guests rave about the chance to learn about Hawaiian culture, with classes available on traditional weaving and feather arts. All rooms have private balconies and walk-in rain showers overlooking the surrounding treetops. Although the inn doesn’t have an oceanfront location, there are multiple beaches within hiking or driving distance, including Papakolea with its unique green sand.

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Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, Kauai

Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort lava rock whirlpool

Ko’a Kea is a boutique resort on Kauai’s sunny southern shore. Its 121 rooms feature private balconies or patios and are located just a short walk from the beach. Relax at the pool overlooking the ocean, take a dip in the lava rock hot tub, savor a treatment at the spa, try your luck at surfing or paddling an outrigger canoe, or have dinner at the on-site Red Salt restaurant.

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Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, Oahu

Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head room with balcony

Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head is close enough to downtown Waikiki that you can walk but far enough away that you won’t be swamped by noise and crowds. Guests can borrow bicycles to cruise around the area, then come back and enjoy complimentary wine each evening. Private balconies in each room look out over the ocean, Kapiolani Park, and/or Honolulu’s most famous landmark, Diamond Head.

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Montage Kapalua Bay, Maui

Montage Kapalua Bay view of pool and beach

Spread out in the condo-style accommodations at Montage Kapalua Bay, where you can choose among residences with one to four bedrooms—each with a full kitchen, separate living area, and private outdoor space. The spa includes a steam room, sauna, and infinity pool, as well as a fitness center offering a variety of classes. You can also play a round at one of two championship golf courses nearby.

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Volcano Rainforest Retreat, Big Island

Volcano Rainforest Retreat exterior view of lush forest entrance

The four guest cottages at Volcano Rainforest Retreat are shaded by giant tree ferns in a lush, misty rainforest, just three miles from Volcanoes National Park. Start your day with a private breakfast in your cottage before heading out for a day of hiking, cycling, scenic driving, or bird watching. When you return, relax in your private hot tub or enjoy a good book in front of the fireplace in your cottage.

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Four Seasons Resort Lanai

Four Seasons Resort Lanai

On the quiet, sparsely developed island of Lanai, you’ll find the exclusive Four Seasons Resort, one of the best luxury hotels in Hawaii. Spacious rooms include private balconies overlooking either the ocean or the resort’s lush botanical gardens. On-site amenities include multiple pools, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a spa, a yoga studio, tennis courts, and a children’s program. Dining options include the sushi bar at Nobu Lanai and a poolside restaurant serving up organic items from the resort’s farm.

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The Laylow, Oahu

The Laylow guest room

The Laylow offers a classic Hawaiian experience in the heart of Waikiki, with funky 1960s decor accompanied by modern amenities such as free high-speed Wi-Fi and mini-fridges in every room. Fun perks include free shaved ice in the afternoons and ukulele lessons in the lobby. The beach is a short walk away, as are countless restaurants and shops.

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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Big Island

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel pool and beach view

Located on one of the Big Island’s most stunning stretches of sand, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a resort where you can do as much—or as little—as you’d like. Play a round at the championship golf course, swim in the outdoor pool, enjoy a game of tennis or volleyball, learn to make a lei, go stand-up paddleboarding, have a spa treatment … or simply lie on the beach and watch the waves roll in.

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Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono, Maui

Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono guest room

If big resorts aren’t your thing, consider a stay at the Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono. Housed in a restored 1920s building, the B&B has 10 individually decorated rooms that capture the spirit of old Hawaii. Its location in the center of Maui makes it easy to drive to various island attractions, including Haleakala National Park and Kula Botanical Gardens.

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Waipouli Beach Resort, Kauai

Waipouli Beach Resort pool

The one- and two-bedroom condo units at Waipouli Beach Resort feature plenty of space to spread out, and the ocean-facing ones also offer the chance to wake up to gorgeous sunrises every morning. The resort’s location in Kapaa puts you within easy driving distance of most Kauai attractions, including plenty of hiking trails and beaches. The poolside Oasis on the Beach restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a side of ocean views.

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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of IndependentTraveler.com. Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

Email Sarah at sschlichter@smartertravel.com.

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