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Hawaii

Mr. Harper's Travel Guide

Hawaii may no longer epitomize an exotic destination, but its beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls and rainbows still beckon, as do iconic locales such as Waikiki, Haleakala, Lahaina and the Na Pali Coast. Today's visitors can also expect new cultural and adventure experiences, as well as ...

Hawaii may no longer epitomize an exotic destination, but its beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls and rainbows still beckon, as do iconic locales such as Waikiki, Haleakala, Lahaina and the Na Pali Coast. Today's visitors can also expect new cultural and adventure experiences, as well as world-class golf and tropical spas. Each island offers distinct delights; all retain the spirit of aloha. Discerning travelers now have luxury lodging options on each of the main islands, and new openings and renovations continue. 

bird icon Recommended Luxury Hotels in Hawaii

All Andrew Harper-recommended hotels offer impeccable accommodations and high levels of personal service. Only the best of the best make our list, so we rate them on a scale from bird icon 90 to 100.
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Best Restaurants in Hawaii

The setting at this Big Island spot is unassuming, but we were delighted by the extensive menu and the imaginative and beautifully executed food. The island fish cakes may have been the best I’ve ever eaten, with a spicy wasabi aioli, ponzu reduction and a delicious Asian slaw. Also sensational was the “Sunset” roll, filled with ahi, unagi and avocado, rolled in tobiko (flying fish roe) and topped with a sweet ponzu sauce.

55-3435 Akoni Pule Highway Hawi Big Island http://sushirockrestaurant.net/

Chef/owner Beverly Gannon has long been a star on the Hawaii culinary scene, and our visit to this perennially popular restaurant on Maui showed why. A standout was the starter sashimi Napoleon, a sumptuous construction of crisp wontons layered with tartare of ahi tuna, smoked salmon, sashimi ahi and wasabi vinaigrette. And I had to try the kalua pork enchilada pie, with roasted pork, cheese, mole sauce, corn tortillas and salsa verde, and lime-cilantro sour cream.

900 Hali’imaile Road Makawao Maui http://bevgannonrestaurants.com/haliimaile/

Also in Waimea, this rustic spot features outstanding casual fare of both Asian and Western derivation. I split the difference with a lemongrass Caesar salad followed by the exceptional burger — 8 ounces of island beef, apple wood-smoked bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, spicy cucumber, caramelized onions and house-made mayo. Exemplary.

65-1299 Kawaihae Rd Waimea Big Island http://www.redwatercafe.com/

When I’m on the Big Island, I make a point to eat at Peter Merriman’s flagship restaurant, which for more than 25 years has championed Hawaii’s regional food. This time, I began with a hearty tomato soup, followed by kalua pulled pork with house barbecue sauce, macadamia nut rice and a small salad of fresh greens, and for dessert, stellar macadamia shortbread cookies.

65-1227 Opelo Road Kamuela Big Island http://merrimanshawaii.com/waimea/

I’ve never been to Roy Yamaguchi’s original restaurant in eastern Honolulu, despite the urging of friends. But the Waikiki branch is lively and well-run. (While there is a core of recipes common to all, each location’s chef may also develop his or her own dishes.) With the option of ordering smaller portions, we tried everything that caught our eye: pot stickers came with a spicy chili aioli and a gochujang dipping sauce; blackened ahi tuna was rare inside and served with a hot soy-mustard butter; and I found butterfish, a personal favorite, prepared with miso and a ginger-wasabi beurre blanc. 

226 Lewers Street Honolulu $70 http://www.royshawaii.com/roys-waikiki.html

A calm space with koa-wood panels, plus a glassed-in terrace and an open kitchen, provide the stage for chef Alan Wong’s celebrated take on Hawaiian regional cuisine. Starters might include clams steamed with kalua pig and shiitake mushrooms in a foil bag, or seafood cakes made from lobster, shrimp and crab with caper mayonnaise. Main courses could be pan-steamed opakapaka (pink snapper) with a shrimp-pork hash, truffle nage, gingered vegetables and tapioca pearls; or macadamia-coconut-crusted lamb chops with an Asian ratatouille. 

1857 South King Street Honolulu $70 http://www.alanwongs.com/

Chef-owner George Mavrothalassitis creates French-style contemporary food with strong Hawaiian inflections. Dishes have included juniper berry-cured opah (moonfish) belly with red beets, pickled Japanese cucumber-dill pudding and coffee-flour rye bread crumble; Keahole lobster "à la française” with split English peas, Manoa lettuce, bacon, Tokyo turnips and essence of crustacean; and Niman lamb saddle, loin, and tenderloin roasted on the bone with crispy bread fruit, poached jack fruit, preserved Meyer lemon and ras el hanout sauce. Wine pairings are offered with each dish. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

1969 South King Street Honolulu Four-course menu, $105; six courses, $150 http://www.chefmavro.com/
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