The Hawaiian islands are filled with cultural traditions tied to the Pacific Ocean—and the best hotels and resorts offer experiences that help visitors uncover them. Whether it’s a guided exploration of tidal pools or a surfing lesson in the waves, read on for seven hotels in the Hawaiian islands that help travelers connect more deeply with the ocean.
1. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
- Location: 3900 Wailea Alanui Dr., Kihei| Find on Google Maps
The 383 rooms and 72 suites at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea channel the ocean, which is on display through large windows. Guests can learn more about the sea through such adventures like the Wayfinder’s Journey, a catamaran trip for up to six guests hosted by respected navigator Kala Baybayan Tanaka, whose skills come through her Polynesian forebears and her father, a master navigator.
2. 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay
- Location: 5520 Ka Haku Rd., Princeville | Find on Google Maps
This garden-filled, 252-room hotel opened in February 2023 along the two-mile-long Hanalei Bay. The property’s Seedlings program helps younger guests ages four to 12 understand nature and marine ecosystems through hands-on activities. The Marine Life Magic class takes them through tide pools to talk about fish and other wildlife and to introduce ecofriendly ideas like using reef-safe sunscreen.
3. Fairmont Orchid
- Location: 1 N Kaniku Dr., Waimea| Find on Google Maps
The Fairmont Orchid features 540 airy guest rooms on 32 landscaped acres, all with private lanais, but it has a cultural focus too. The Kalahiki Canoe Experience takes place on the open ocean at dawn, when the resort’s Hui Holokai Beach Ambassadors, all of native Hawaiian descent, share cultural tales, blow the conch, and perform an oli, or chant, to welcome the sun as it peeks out from behind the active Mauna Kea volcano.
4. The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort
- Location: 2259 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815| Find on Google Maps
Once a week on the shores of Honolulu’s Waikīkī Beach, a cultural guide at the Royal Hawaiian leads a Hi‘uwai, a traditional Hawaiian sunrise ritual intended for cleansing and purification. As the guide begins a blessing, the group steps into the ocean, then returns to shore, faces east toward Diamond Head crater, and chants “E ala e,” a call for the sun to rise and to mark a new beginning.
5. Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection
- Location: 68-1400 Mauna Lani Dr., Waimea| Find on Google Maps
The Mauna Lani resort has 333 rooms (most with ocean views of the Kohala Coast) and strong on-site cultural programming. Their Intro to Underwater Rock Running course centers on a practice that surfers use to build mental and physical stamina for bigger winter waves. Participants wade into the water carrying a rock that keeps them anchored on the ocean floor; as they get deeper, they hold their breath, then let go of the rock and resurface. The idea is to get a workout and be fully present in the surroundings through breath work.
6. Kona Village, a Rosewood Resort
- Location: 72 300 Maheawalu Dr.| Find on Google Maps
The iconic Kona Village, which was destroyed by a tsunami in 2011, was completely reimagined by Rosewood Hotels in 2023 with 150 hales (rooms) along the beach and a lagoon. The resort partners with the Ke Kai Ola monk seal rehabilitation center to educate visitors on endangered species conservation and invites them to help with the seals’ recovery.
7. Turtle Bay Resort
- Location: 57-091 Kamehameha Hw.| Find on Google Maps
The only hotel of its caliber on O’ahu’s less developed North Shore, Turtle Bay Resort sits on 1,300 acres, half of which are set aside for conservation. The 408 rooms and suites feature ocean views and artwork reflecting the area’s natural beauty. The hotel’s commitment to environmental sustainability can be found everywhere: Meals are prepared with leafy greens, beets, and other crops from the resort’s own Kuilima Farm, a plot of land five minutes from the hotel; meanwhile, the 18-hole golf course is maintained with gray water treated by the resort’s own plant.
The resort partners with North Shore native Jamie O’Brien, a world surfing champ whose surf school is located on the property. One easy stroll and you’re outfitted with a surfboard, an instructor vetted by Jamie, and often an encounter with the champ himself.