A sampling of Hawaii Magazine’s best in the islands — hotels, restaurants and more

Hawaii Magazine shares its "best of the islands," pots of gold at the end of the rainbow that is Hawaii.
Hawaii Magazine shares its “best of the islands,” pots of gold at the end of the rainbow that is Hawaii.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Want insider tips on some of the best places to eat, stay, sightsee and surf in Hawaii? Look no farther than the April issue of Hawaii Magazine.

The magazine’s 2019 “Best of the Best” contains listings for more than 1,600 winners and runners-up. Readers chose their favorites in a range of categories, including Best Festival (Hawaii Island’s Merrie Monarch hula festival), Best Historic Landmark (World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor) and Best Loco Moco (Rainbow Drive-In in Honolulu).

The long list is big on spots to stay, eat and drink — just what a visitor needs to know.

Here’s a sampling of some of the winners:

Best hotel, statewide: Grand Wailea

Readers of Hawaii Magazine chose the Grand Wailea resort in South Maui as the state’s best hotel. The property’s features include the elegant spa, above.
(Grand Wailea)

The Grand Wailea, a family-friendly resort on Maui, took top honors. The property is known for a stunning spa and a plethora of swimming pools. (There’s a beach too)


Best new hotel, statewide: Alohilani Resort

Readers chose the Alohilani Resort on legendary Waikikii Beach as the top new hotel.
(Alohilani Resort)

A 280,000-gallon aquarium greets guests at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. The hotel is home to two restaurants created by the acclaimed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto: Morimoto Asia Waikiki and Momosan Ramen and Sake.

Best luxury resort, Oahu: Turtle Bay

Visitors seeking seclusion on Oahu can choose the North Shore’s Turtle Bay Resort as an alternative to bustling Waikiki.
(Turtle Bay Resort)

Turtle Bay Resort occupies an enviable spot along Oahu’s North Shore. For seekers of serenity, the hotel is roughly a 1½-hour drive north of Waikiki Beach.

Best value hotel or resort, Kauai: Waimea Plantation Cottages

The view is idyllic from a lanai at Waimea Plantation Cottages on Kauai.
(Waimea Plantation Cottages)

Waimea Plantation Cottages boasts a 43-acre oceanfront location with a black sand beach. The 61 cottages were built between the late 1800s and the 1930s, and no two are the same.

Best bed-and-breakfast or inn, Hawaii Island: Palms Cliff House

The Palms Cliff House Inn is a secluded getaway north of Hilo, on the opposite side of Hawaii Island from the better-known hotels that dot the Kohala Coast.
(Waimea Plantation Cottages)

Palms Cliff House is an upscale boutique hotel with only eight rooms. It is in the village of Honomu, about 12 miles north of Hilo on the island’s less-traveled eastern side.

Best hotel or resort for a romantic getaway, Hawaii Island: Four Seasons Hualalai

A lone cyclist pedals past one of the swimming pools at the Four Seasons Hualalai, one of several luxury resorts located along the Kohala Coast on Hawaii Island.
(Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts)

The Four Seasons Hualalai had multiple wins, including in the romance category. The resort is tucked away off the main road north of Kailua-Kona. The black lava landscape typical of the area contrasts with white sand beaches.

    Best beach for a wedding, Hawaii Island: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

    Couples seeking a scenic setting for their wedding can consider Mauna Kea beach at the resort of the same name on Hawaii Island. The beach is public, like all of them in the state.
    (Mauna Kea Beach Hotel)

    With its sparkling, crescent-shaped beach, often considered one of the Big Island’s best, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel won this category. No worries if you can’t afford the hotel’s prices; the beaches are free and open to the public.

    Best new restaurant in the state: Moku Roots

    Moku Roots in Lahaina was voted the best new restaurant in the state. Its offerings include the “burger” made from taro — vegan, as are all its offerings.
    (Moku Roots)

    Readers voted Moku Roots in Lahaina on Maui their favorite new restaurant in the state. It’s a vegan restaurant, and the eco-friendly owners strive to use locally sourced food and to create zero waste.

    Best cheap eats, Kauai: Da Crack

    Kauai’s favorite restaurant for bargain-hunters is Da Crack in Koloa. The restaurant serves tasty Mexican fare, including this shrimp bowl.
    (Da Crack)

    Da Crack in Koloa serves Mexican dishes for vegans and meat lovers. All of the seafood dishes feature locally caught fish. It also made the L.A. Times’ 20 meals for less than $20 list for Kauai.

      Best restaurant $30-$60 per person, Oahu: Surfing Pig

      Dining out in Honolulu can be pricey, but the Surfing Pig features a variety of dishes, including St. Louis-style ribs, at relatively modest prices.
      (Kono’s Restaurant Group)

      The prices at the Surfing Pig are comparatively inexpensive: $16 for St. Louis-style back ribs, $26.50 for brick chicken and $28 for pan-seared ahi.

      Best mai tai, statewide: Monkeypod Kitchen

      Readers ranked Monkeypod Kitchen’s signature mai tai No. 1 in the state of Hawaii. It is served at locations on Oahu and Maui.
      (Steve Czerniak)

      Monkeypod Kitchen, which has three locations on Maui and Oahu, uses local juices and rum for its signature drink. The cocktail is topped with a unique honey-passion fruit foam.

      Best bartender, Maui:. Dale Simonson

      Bartender Dale Simonson has been a familiar face at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s Tiki Bar for five decades. Readers gave him the title of top bartender on Maui.
      (Kaanapali Beach Hotel)

      This honor goes to Dale Simonson, the chief bartender at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s Tiki Bar. Simonson has been serving refreshing tropical cocktails at the poolside bar for half a century.

      Best hiking trail for beginners, Oahu: Diamond Head Summit Trail

      Visitors to Honolulu can ascend to the summit of Diamond Head, the iconic and long-extinct volcano, on a 1.6-mile round-trip hike rated as Oahu’s best for beginners.
      (Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority)

      Diamond Head Summit Trail, southeast of Waikiki’s hotels, climbs 560 feet along the crater of the extinct volcano.

      Surfing, Kauai: Hanalei Bay

      The sheltered yet still challenging waters of Hanalei Bay make it an ideal destination on Kauai for both beginning and experienced surfers.
      (Brian J. Cantwell / Tribune News Service)

      For surfing on Kauai, Hanalei Bay, along the island’s North Shore beside the village of Hanalei, is ranked No. 1 in both the beginner and expert categories.