Compiled by Derek Paiva
When it comes to getting a list of all of the must-see scenic spots on whichever Hawaiian Island you’re vacationing on, there’s perhaps no better individual to chat with than your friendly, knowledgeable hotel or resort concierge.
After all, chances are good your concierge will likely 1) be a longtime island resident, 2) have a fulfilling extracurricular life when not at the concierge desk, and 3) possess a great deal of the insider knowledge you seek on their home island’s best beaches, hiking trails, places to eat, and activities, as well as scenic spots. Plus, curating all of this great knowledge and passing it on to anyone who wants to know is, like, their job. And they’re happy to do it.
Recently, we asked five concierges on Hawaii Island, Oahu and Maui for the go-to home island scenic spots they always recommend visitors to check out. Their advice follows.
Grayden Hai-Kelley, cultural supervisor at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay
“North of the Sheraton Kona, near the community of Kawaihae, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site sits right up against the coastline. Built under the supervision of Kamehameha the Great, this heiau (Hawaiian for “shrine, temple or place of worship”) played a crucial role in the unification of the Hawaiian Islands.”
“A half-hour south of Sheraton Kona is beautiful Kealakekua Bay and Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. Up until the early 19th century, Hawaiians could seek refuge at Puuhonua o Honaunau (translation: “place of sanctuary at Honaunau”) if a kapu, or law, was broken. Today, the refuge’s adjacent bay, Honaunau, is home to some of the most beautiful snorkeling in the state.”
Tutu Janet, grandmother and ukulele instructor at Turtle Bay Resort
“Take some time to learn about the history of Oahu’s North Shore and the Hawaiian culture. A wonderful place to start is a hike into Waimea Valley, which is deeply rooted in Hawaiian history and continues to be a gathering place for Hawaiian spirituality and traditions. I fondly remember taking the Oahu Railway and Land Company train from Honolulu to the North Shore while growing up. The company’s train service on Oahu ceased in 1947. I have a picture of the train, which, at one point, ran through the valley on its way to the Kahuku Sugar Mill. I still share the photograph with guests during ukulele lessons at the resort.”
Kawai Yamashiro, chef concierge at Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk
“If you are looking for Oahu’s hidden beauty, Lulumahu Falls is a gem. The 2.5 mile hike to the waterfall moves through a lush bamboo forest before greeting you with a 50-foot waterfall. For the lovely sight of local produce, the Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market is a must. Select fresh greens from Nalo Farms, abalone from Hawaii Island, and flowers from SKA Tropicals. Waiolu Ocean View Lounge at Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk is one of the best places to enjoy panoramic views of my favorite time of day: sunset. The lounge menu also boats some of the best sushi and local delights in Waikiki.”
Hoku Tolentino, guest experience assistant manager at Destination Residences Hawaii
“While most Maui residents don’t make regular trips there, I visit the Haleakala summit four or five times a year to watch the sunrise. It’s a regular family outing, deciding a day or two in advance to holoholo (“go out for pleasure”) up the mountain. When I see the sunrise, the one feeling I get is appreciation, thinking, ‘This is home! This is where I live!’ A native Hawaiian, born and raised in Hana, I tell visitors that they can also check out Haleakala’s sunset. But for me, Haleakala is all about the sunrise.”
“Iao Valley State Monument is home to Kukaemoku (aka Iao Needle), an erosional feature that rises 1,200 feet from the valley floor. Iao Valley holds cultural significance in history. It was the place where Kamehameha the Great conquered Maui king Kalanikupule and his army in the battle of Kepaniwai.”
Sierra Quitevis, concierge supervisor at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
“My favorite scenic spot on Maui is the summit of Haleakala volcano in Haleakala National Park because it’s a whole different world up there. On clear days, there are views of most of the Hawaiian Islands and the ocean. Visit the summit at sunrise with a tour group or on your own. The cooler morning temperatures there — typically, 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit — mean dressing in layers and bringing a blanket is recommended. There are also many things to do and see on the way down from Haleakala, including hiking trails, scenic ranch lands, botanical gardens, the Alii Kula Lavender Farm, and MauiWine. It makes for a beautiful Upcountry morning.”