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Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Hawai’i Right Now

The updates, openings, and tips for visiting the Aloha State

By Christine Hitt

Hawaii Travel Guide - Kaimana Beach Hotel

Marriott Waikiki Beach

Hawai‘i saw many changes in the past two years, including new restaurant openings and hotel renovations across the islands. Here’s what’s happened since you last visited, plus some important travel information to know when planning your next trip to the Aloha State.

More to Eat, Drink, & Do on O‘ahu

The Waikiki Beach Marriott debuted a multimillion-dollar renovation with updated guest rooms, a modernized lobby, the Royal Kaila Spa, and a new pool and amenity deck, where you’ll find the new Queensbreak open-air restaurant, helmed by chef Nuno Alves. The 122-room Kaimana Beach Hotel also recently renovated, debuting a modern bohemian aesthetic and a new menu for the open-air, beachfront Hau Tree restaurant. You’ll find items such as crispy pork belly and crab ravioli on the dinner menu.

The International Market Place opened two new restaurants on its third level. Moani Waikiki offers local Hawai‘i cuisine, such as the G Style Loco Moco—which comes with smoked meat risotto and bordelaise instead of the standard white rice—and miso-garlic butterfish. Sports and pizza lovers will enjoy Skybox Taphouse’s menu of specialty pizza, burgers, and waffle-battered chicken strips. The 71-year-old Liliha Bakery, famous for its Coco Puffs and poi mochi doughnuts, also opened a new location here.

Nearby in the White Sands Hotel, new restaurant Heyday transports you to 1960s Waikīkī with its laid-back vibe, complete with a bamboo bar strung with swings to sit on. Both the bar and full dinner menu serve cocktails and daiquiris with local fruit, and entrée choices of schnitzel, steak, and mahimahi. The former rooftop nightclub Sky Waikiki is now a raw bar with oyster shooters, shrimp cocktails, sashimi, and poke.

Hawaii Travel Guide - Kaimana Beach Hotel

The newly renovated Kaimana Beach Hotel on O‘ahu

In O‘ahu’s Waialae-Kāhala neighborhood, Kapa Hale restaurant has been generating excitement among the local foodie community since it opened in 2020. Chef and owner Keaka Lee describes the menu as modern and influenced by Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine. Hawaiian beef tartare and tagliatelle pasta with Korean-style Kaua‘i shrimp and bulgogi pork Bolognese are examples of what’s on the menu, and there’s also an ample selection of vegetarian dishes.

In Mānoa Valley, Feast by veteran chef Jon Matsubara opened. Matsubara was formerly executive chef of Merriman’s and of Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Azure restaurant, and this is his spin on a casual eatery. The most popular item on the menu is the lobster roll, but also save room to try the Feast bento with boneless kalbi, salmon, rice, and greens.

In celebration of Carissa Moore’s gold medal win for surfing at the 2020 Olympics, drive down South King Street in Honolulu to Pensacola Street and look up. Local artist Kamea Hadar painted a mural 12 stories high of Moore with Hawai‘i’s first Native Hawaiian Olympic gold medalist, Duke Kahanamoku. Also, the new display Two Hawaiian Olympic Champions: The First and Latest can be viewed at the Bishop Museum through October. It honors both athletes by featuring their surfboards and gold medals side by side.

On the North Shore, there’s a new bar in town. The family-friendly Kahuku Beer Garden opened at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. Pick up food at a nearby restaurant or truck, if you wish, and order a glass of local beer or cider on draft, wine by the glass, or a nonalcoholic drink.

Maui Need-to-Knows

The Travaasa Hāna is now known as the Hāna-Maui Resort after it was purchased by Hyatt. Unchanged are the luxurious guest rooms, suites and bungalows dotting the coastline, the stunning pools and the yoga pavilion. It offers a Plane to Paradise Package, which flies guests straight to Hāna so as to cut out the 2.5-hour drive from Kahului.

The Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel opened Huihui, a new beachfront restaurant that’s also the location of its new Moanaku‘inamoku Voyaging Academy—a community sailing and paddling school that teaches the ancient Hawaiian art of wayfinding. It was part of the hotel’s $75 million property-wide renovation, which also brought updated rooms and new design elements. Other hotel renovations include the Royal Lahaina Resort, which refreshed its lobby, pool, and open-air restaurant, and The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kā‘anapali, which redesigned rooms, added voluntourism opportunities, and opened the new Waicoco restaurant.

Hawaii Travel Guide - Canoe paddling

Hawaii Travel Guide – Canoe paddling

In Pukalani, restaurant Marlow serves Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza with a focus on local farms. The chef, Jeff Scheer, was formerly executive chef of The Mill House until 2018. He and his wife, Kaili, had been wanting to open their own restaurant for years when, she says, “the right location and opportunity both opened at the same time.”

And we can’t forget dessert: The Maui Cookie Lady, known for their large, chunky cookies made with local ingredients, opened their first brick-and-mortar store in the nearby town of Makawao.

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