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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.