1.) Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
When visiting Honolulu, many people think of Waikiki Beach. Yes, it is touristy. Yes, it is a city. Yes, it can be hectic and not the beach oasis you may have dreamt of. But it's real! Unlike Maui, you will see many more native Hawaiians in this area, and if you actually want to see and visit Hawaii, than this is a plus! There are also an array of hotels right on Waikiki Beach that are much more "affordable" than on some of the other islands.
Since we are Marriott members, we usually always stay at a Marriott. Now, this is in no way an endorsement for Marriott, because we have had our own issues with them. However, Marriott overall can be a great experience, and the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa was one! The hotel is a little outdated and is currently undergoing renovations, but for the price and location, they could not be beat! Their staff was also surprisingly helpful and kind upon arrival, and we were fortunate enough to have our room upgraded with a beautiful view of the ocean and diamond head. We had originally only paid for a city room view, so you can take your chances with this, but please do not go in expecting an upgrade!
Beautiful sight to wake up to in the morning!
Again, the main reason to stay here is location, location, location! You are central to Diamond Head and many restaurants and shops. And if you did not see the last post on where to eat on Hawaii, you will be walking distance to a local favorite - Ono's. You can read more about Ono's and other restaurants here.
A final note: We did not make it to the north shore, but given the location and cost of staying and eating in Hawaii (be forewarned, it is not cheap), I would recommend that you look into staying at B&B's and/or a condo when visiting other locations outside of Honolulu.
2.) Wailea Beach/Kihei, Maui
If you want to be where the action is, but not surrounded by families, than Wailea Beach is for you! You will be on a relaxing beach, but also next to the town of Kihei where there are several dining and shopping options, and activities to sign up for.
Yes, there are still families there, but not nearly as much as you will find further up the road in Lahaina. Wailea is more of a couples escape and romantic honeymoon destination. There is an entire strip of hotels all next to one another on an accessible from a beach path. On the path you will find:
The Grand Wailea
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
The Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
Infinity pool at Marriott and Sunset View from the Room
All of these hotels have their pros and cons, but the Marriott rooms appeared to be the nicest. You would not think that based on the outside, because it is a little outdated (they are supposedly going to be renovating within the next year), but their rooms really give you that "I am in Hawaii" feel.
A fair warning: if you are going to Hawaii on your honeymoon or for a romantic and relaxing escape, than you may not want to stay at the Grand Wailea. It is a beautiful hotel, but it is where you take your children. They have tons of activities for kids, face paintings tents, water slides, and more - but that is what can make the hotel feel a little hectic as a couple. On the other hand, if you are planning to take your family, than the Grand Wailea is the place for you - other wise your children will be bored out of their minds at another hotel!
The beach path that is great for running and walking!
When you enter where the hotels are in Lahaina, it will feel like you are in a mirror image of Wailea. Just like Wailea, there is a strip of hotels with a beach path connecting them all, making it very accessible for dining and shopping. However, the largest difference is that Lahaina is the place where families stay! Unlike Wailea where families tend to stay exclusively at the Grand Wailea, Lahaina is a haven for parents and their children. This creates more of a fun and exciting atmosphere for your kids and they will be less likely to get bored!
Known for it's famous restaurant (and one of my top recommendations here), Mama's House, Paia is what the locals call a "hippie town." It is a quaint little area with boutique shops and eateries, but not many visitors actually stay in the area. If you stay here, you will want to look into a B&B/Inn, or renting a home.
For the ultimate "off the grid" getaway, take a trip to Hana! Separated from the rest of Maui, Hana is truly an island oasis. It is not very developed, but there are "hotels" and lodges where you can stay. The beauty of Hana is that because if its seclusion, it captures the nature and beauty of Hawaii. So if hiking under bamboo forests and swimming in waterfalls are your thing, then Hana is the place for you!