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Where is Hawaii's best beach or best luau? Find insider tips in Hawaii Magazine's 2018 'Best of the Best' issue

Where is Hawaii's best beach or best luau? Find insider tips in Hawaii Magazine's 2018 'Best of the Best' issue
From atop a palm tree, a man showers orchids onto guests attending a Paradise Cove luau in West Oahu. The luau is one of the winners of Hawaii Magazine’s “Best of the Best” 2018. (Dana Edmunds)

Want some insider tips for your next visit to Hawaii? Hawaii Magazine’s “Best of the Best” 2018 issue tells all, listing top five winners in categories such as best hotel, or best city or town. Results are based on readers’ and editors’ preferences.

The magazine also lists places that were top vote-getters statewide, as well as island by island. In the overall category, Maui continues to reign as best island.

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Makena Beach on Maui was voted the top beach in the state.
Makena Beach on Maui was voted the top beach in the state. (Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority)

The Valley Isle garnered top honors in a number of categories. Makena Beach, located near Kihei in South Maui, was voted the best of state’s hundreds of beaches.

Perched along the ocean, Lahaina’s Front Street is home to a variety of shops and restaurants catering to tourists.
Perched along the ocean, Lahaina’s Front Street is home to a variety of shops and restaurants catering to tourists. (Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority)

About an hour’s drive to the north, the town of Lahaina remains Hawaii’s best city or town, beating Honolulu, which finished second. While Lahaina, a former whaling village, isn’t typically an overnight destination, its proximity to the resorts along Kaanapali Beach makes it a popular place to shop and dine.

The spaciousness of the suites is one of the draws at Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, a timeshare property that also rents rooms by the night.
The spaciousness of the suites is one of the draws at Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, a timeshare property that also rents rooms by the night. (FOH Hospitality)

Kaanapali is the location of Hawaii’s best new hotel, the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. Featuring spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, the resort is just steps from the sands.

Located just off the Hana Highway in Paia, Mama’s Fish House has been delighting guests for 45 years.
Located just off the Hana Highway in Paia, Mama’s Fish House has been delighting guests for 45 years. (Mama’s Fish House)

Mama’s Fish House on Maui’s North Shore is honored as Hawaii’s best restaurant. Family-owned since it opened in 1973, the freshness and preparation of the fish have earned countless accolades through the decades.

One of Hawaii’s best-known chefs, Roy Yamaguchi, stands in the doorway of Humble Market Kitchin. Located in South Maui, it’s Yamaguchi’s newest creation.
One of Hawaii’s best-known chefs, Roy Yamaguchi, stands in the doorway of Humble Market Kitchin. Located in South Maui, it’s Yamaguchi’s newest creation. (Craig Bixel)

Maui is also home to what readers consider the best new restaurant, Humble Market Kitchin. Overlooking the water in Wailea, the eatery is popular chef Roy Yamaguchi’s latest showcase for his food.

Located along Waikiki Beach, the bar at Duke’s boasts a convivial atmosphere and traditional and contemporary cocktails.
Located along Waikiki Beach, the bar at Duke’s boasts a convivial atmosphere and traditional and contemporary cocktails. (Raindrop Branding & Advertising)

To find the best bar or lounge in the state, head to Oahu and, more specifically, to Duke’s Waikiki. The restaurant’s Barefoot Bar features specialty cocktails — think mai tais and coconut mojitos — plus small plates.

Among the many resorts along Waikiki Beach, Hilton Hawaiian Village sets itself apart with a fireworks show every Friday evening.
Among the many resorts along Waikiki Beach, Hilton Hawaiian Village sets itself apart with a fireworks show every Friday evening. (Hilton)

Situated along the same stretch of sand, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort was again named the state’s best hotel. With five pools and Waikiki’s longest water slide, it’s a good choice for sun seekers who want to be in the middle of everything.

The loco moco, pictured here at the Rainbow Drive-In, is ubiquitous in Hawaii.
The loco moco, pictured here at the Rainbow Drive-In, is ubiquitous in Hawaii. (Aaron Yoshino / Hawaii Magazine)

Those who’ve never been to Hawaii may be unfamiliar with one the islanders’ favorite dishes, the loco moco. While recipes can vary, the massive plate typically is stacked with eggs and a hamburger patty atop a mountain of rice slathered in gravy. Readers say Honolulu’s Rainbow Drive-In serves the best of this truly Hawaiian concoction.

Hula fans watch as one of the many contestants performs hula during the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo.
Hula fans watch as one of the many contestants performs hula during the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo. (Lei-Ann Field)

Hawaiians love a good festival. There is one somewhere in the state nearly every weekend. For the No. 1, head to Hilo on Hawaii Island. The city is proudly home to the Merrie Monarch Festival. Held each April, it honors King David Kalakaua, who was known as the Merrie Monarch and his passion for keeping hula and other cultural traditions alive.

Also on Hawaii Island is the readers’ choice for best national or state park.

Lava spews from Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This photo was taken prior to the latest violent eruptions that have indefinitely closed the most popular parts of the park.
Lava spews from Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This photo was taken prior to the latest violent eruptions that have indefinitely closed the most popular parts of the park. (Paul Zizka / Hawaii Visitors Bureau)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park earned that award. The votes were cast well before two-thirds of the park, including overlooks to the active Kilauea Volcano, were closed last month due to violent eruptions and earthquakes. It’s unknown when the popular tourist destination will reopen.

A young girl is delighted as she makes a lei from fresh orchids at the Aulani Resort in West Oahu.
A young girl is delighted as she makes a lei from fresh orchids at the Aulani Resort in West Oahu. (Disney)

Specific to Oahu, by far the most visited island, readers gave top marks to Aulani – A Disney Resort as the island’s best hotel or resort for families. The Halekulani was deemed the best hotel or resort for a romantic getaway. Paradise Cove in West Oahu was chosen as best luau.

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