|

Where Do Locals Eat in Waikiki? 40 Places to Try That Aren’t the Cheesecake Factory ; ) for all Budgets & Occasions 

Honolulu has one of the more interesting food scenes of any US city. I mean, the name “Oahu” literally translates to “The Gathering Place” and eating is what people do when they gather! So it’s no surprise. 

It wasn’t long after the arrival of the first missionaries in Hawaii that the first sugar cane and pineapple plantations sprouted up. Pressed for labor, enterprising businessmen began luring immigrant workers from Japan, China, the Philippines, Brazil, Korea and so many other places. 

Each of these ethnicities mixed with the local Hawaiians to create the cultural melting pot that Hawaii is now famous for. 

So Honolulu has this rich, culturally complex food scene and yet so many times when I see people ask for restaurant recommendations in Waikiki, what I see is “CHEESECAKE FACTORY!” lol. And ok, I guess if you’re coming from Australia or another foreign country and you’re wanting to experience some good ol’ “American” culture, then the Cheesecake Factory definitely is a window to…that. 

BUT, if you’re coming to Hawaii to experience Hawaii and the island’s storied culture, we can do so much better than that. 

I’ve rounded up a pretty extensive list of spots that run the gamut from places to get authentic Hawaiian food to high end beachfront dinners to local style plate lunch specials. 

This post may contain some affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little money on anything you choose to purchase. But of course, I only recommend my absolute favorites to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make HulaLand possible.

The recommendations in this post are mostly centered in Waikiki (the walkable hub that’s home to most of the island’s tourist center), but some branch out into nearby neighborhoods in Honolulu and I’ll make note of which places are near certain sites and attractions you may be headed to. 

Where Do Locals Eat in Waikiki? 

Here’s where to start…

Breakfast in Waikiki

Koko Head Café

Head to Koko Head Cafe for a classic American diner style brunch with a Hawaiian twist. Local style but make it trendy/innovate/insta cool. With loads of fancy variations on the island classics to sink your teeth into, and a counter where you can watch all the magic happen, the cafe makes for a great place to soak in the island’s culinary creativity. Give the cornflake French toast, gooey ohayou eggs, and flavorful dumplings a try. Really, anything on the menu is great. 

Heavenly Island Lifestyle

Located in the bottom of the Shoreline Hotel, this place is all about super fresh and local ingredients. The kalua pork eggs benedict were INCREDIBLE and I will 100% go back for happy hour and dinner. 

Basalt

Basalt draws in-the-know locals in for brunch and dinner. Located inside the Duke’s Lane market/food hall, I was beyond impressed with their brunch and can’t wait to go back for dinner/happy hour. 

The charcoal pancakes were amazing with the strawberry and guava puree sauce. But I thought the real star was the pork belly fried rice. I could’ve eaten an entire bowl full of the bacon fried rice.

Sweet E’s

Regularly rated as the #1 breakfast spot in Honolulu, this is a local neighborhood style spot that honestly will probably remind you of a place you know wherever you’re from. It’s a little far from the main hub of Waikiki just to pop over for breakfast, but the location is a great spot for a post Diamond Head hike breakfast. It’s all good but they’re especially well known for their stuffed french toast and boy is it decadent!

Low Key (& Budget Friendly Beachfront Spots)

Steak Shack

It really is a shack, but the food is good! Sitting beachfront at the corner of Fort Derussy Beach Park (near the Halekulani), this little food window serves up really good (and cheap for Waikiki) plate lunches (and dinners). But the big draw here is the location. Eat at one of their tables, or carry your food down to the beach. 

South Shore Grill

Down in a neighborhood by Diamond Head at the south end of Waikiki, the South Shore Grill is a great place for fish tacos and plate lunch (open for lunch and dinner). You can sit inside, but it’s a pretty short walk across Kapiolani Park to the beach. Great views of Diamond Head!

Barefoot Beach Cafe

This is a GREAT beachfront cafe towards the south end of Waikiki near the zoo and the aquarium. Local style food and American favorites at wayyyyy better prices than you’ll find further up north in Waikiki. There’s often a live band in the evenings. 

***Want to save major $$$ on your trip to Hawaii? I get asked ALL the time how I’m able to travel so often to Hawaii and stay at really nice resorts. Well, my favorite travel hack is cashing in points to score free airfare and free nights at some of Hawaii’s most high end resorts. Read my full guide on the exact system I use to max out credit card rewards here. Seriously, it’s going to save you soooo much money. 

Authentic Hawaiian Food

Helena’s Hawaiian Food

It’s not fancy (the best places aren’t though, are they?), but this iconic fixture on Oahu serves dishes passed down through generations. It’s a local spot to be sure, but they see a fair number of tourists and are very welcoming, taking time to walk you through the menu and explain a good way to order. If you’re only going to hit one “local” restaurant on your trip, make this it. Now, it’s not in Waikiki, but it’s pretty close to the Bishop Museum if you’ll be out that way. 

Highway Inn

The menu here is huge so if you’re traveling with a big group, bring the whole gang to make a dent in it. They have a few locations (including one at the Bishop Museum), but I would recommend the one at Kaka’ako. They have a prime location in Salt at Our Kaka’ako (a new/renovated dining development between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu) and you’ll get great food in an environment that’s really accessible to visitors (but still popular with locals). Plus they have plenty of parking! The pork laulau is highly recommended and they’ve got 20 varieties of poke!

Local Style

Rainbow Drive-In

This family owned spot has been around since 1961 and it’s been a long time local favorite, but it’s become super popular with visitors as well. Portions are huge and prices are friendly. They’re best known for their loco moco, but the menu has some good variety. The only negative is there isn’t a ton of parking. It’s close to Leonard’s Bakery though if you’re trying to hit that as well. 

The Alley at Aiea Bowl

Local Hawaiian food…in a bowling alley? Yep. Take a trip to the 80s with a visit to the award-winning Alley at Aiea Bowl. Do a little bowling, enjoy some top-notch food, and …have a ball ; ) It’s an extensive menu with everything from pizza to noodles to plate lunch specials. 

This place was featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives for their oxtail soup. And their desserts are pretty drool-worthy (lemon crunch cakes and chocolate layer cakes!). 

This is a GREAT spot for lunch if you’re visiting Pearl Harbor or the swap meet at Aloha Stadium. 

Side Street Inn

Sidestreet is a family-style inn with a seriously local vibe that serves classic dishes like tender Korean short ribs and their signature garlic fried chicken. Mouth watering good dishes served in huge portions and a casual setting means this spot fills up fast. Make reservations in advance! 

Side Note: If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip, I LOVE Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. They’re seriously the only company I ever use. They’ll give you the very best prices, you don’t have to reserve with a credit card or pay until you show up, you can cancel and re-book anytime if you find a better rate, and they usually have a special that adds additional drivers for no fee. It’s a no brainer. Click here to check rates for your trip.

Asian Favorites

Marukame Udon

I’ve heard about this place for a long time, but on my last trip to Oahu I stayed across the street at the Laylow so it was finally time to try it. This place has a line down the block ALL THE TIME. That’s a good sign. It’s a low-key Japanese restaurant that serves fresh udon (noodles) made from scratch right in front of you. They also usually have a good selection of tempura. 

So is the long line justified? Yes. Here’s the deal: 1) It’s pretty inexpensive and casual. 2) The portions are large and the food is good. 3) It’s always full of Japanese and local people in addition to visitors. 4) It’s right in the heart of walkable Waikiki. 5) It’s a great authentic, cultural experience, but still very accessible for visitors who aren’t familiar with the cuisine or customs but want to experience something out of their comfort zone. 

All of that draws the crowds. But the line moves quickly and they do a good job turning over tables so you can usually find a spot to sit as soon as you get your food. 

Musubi Cafe IYASUME

With multiple locations in Waikiki and the Ala Moana Center, this is a great spot for a quick bit. Musubis (traditionally little “sandwiches” made of rice, spam/meat, and seaweed) are made fresh daily in a variety of options, some even vegetarian friendly, but the onigiri and tuna curry is a fan fave. Head down to the beach nearby for a nice spot to chow down. 

The Pig & the Lady

A modern Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Honolulu’s Chinatown, the Pig and the Lady has long been considered a don’t miss spot on Honolulu’s culinary scene. It’s a great spot for lunch or dinner if you want to check out Chinatown, but need a starting coordinate (the area can be a little rough/overwhelming). It’s not too far from the Iolani Palace. 

Mitsu-Ken

This Japanese fast-food eatery is famous for their lunch bentos. The garlic chicken is really good. Go early because crowd favorites (like the chow fun) tend to sell out by mid day. It’s not far from the Bishop Museum.

Ethel’s Grill

Ethel’s Grill is a little mom and pop restaurant that is famous for its home style eats. This cash only place serves dishes like sweet and sour spare ribs, mochiko chicken and Saimin. Their taco rice is also a don’t miss. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has visited and left an autograph on a wall inside so be sure to check that out while you’re waiting for your food. There’s usually a rush at peak hours so try and get there early. Lunch comes with a salad, house dressing and soup so it’s a pretty good bang for your buck! It’s not far from Honolulu harbor and Aloha Tower. 

Momosan Waikiki

This ramen (and sake) bar by Chef Morimoto right across the street from Kuhio Beach is a great low key spot to grab dinner before or after watching the free hula show at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. 

For the Hawaiian Dinner of Your Dreams (aka Sip Your Mai Tai with Views of Diamond Head)

Okay, these spots aren’t really local per se (they’re all located in beachfront hotels), but they are great places to have that quintessential Hawaiian tourist dinner (hey nothing wrong with that!). Think…fresh fish, mai tais, Diamond Head views, a live band. 

Duke’s

This is easily the most recommended restaurant on Waikiki, and maybe in Oahu overall. Is it really the best restaurant on Oahu? No. BUT. It is right on the beach with AMAZING views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. It’s a pretty large restaurant with a first come first serve bar section (a lot of tables) that serves the full menu. The food is pretty good and it’s not insanely expensive. And that’s a recipe for a ton of buzz. You cannot underestimate how crowded this place gets…reservations are hard to come by, and it’s in a high traffic area. Last time I went, I showed up about 4PM thinking it would be easy to walk in but they weren’t seating people and said they wouldn’t until 5PM and it would be an hour wait once they started. 

And they weren’t super helpful about saying you could go back to the bar to find a table. I ended up poking around a bit and there were a ton of tables to sit at in the “bar” area (which is really just a huge part of the restaurant with normal tables). Also, if you show during one of their weird “we’re not seating people right now” windows, sometimes the hostess back in the bar area will actually seat you at a table in the main part of the restaurant.

The mai tais are okay. Not the best, but pretty festive. And I really love the coconut shrimp. People RAVE about the Hula Pie here like it’s some unique Hawaiian delicacy…y’all…it’s ice cream on an Oreo crust with hot fudge. Wonderful? Absolutely. A must try to go out of your way for? Not necessarily. 

Hula Grill

Similar to Duke’s, but less crowded and overrun with people. Great views, good food, and more reasonable prices than some of the more high end resort restaurants. 

House without a Key

This is actually my favorite spot for a sunset Waikiki Beach dinner. The vibe is a little more refined than Duke’s. The menu is more limited and expensive, but also more upscale and while it’s usually lively with a band and sometimes a hula dancer (not to mention those epic views) but it’s not super chaotic like some of the more popular places. 

Hau Tree

I haven’t made it here yet, but it’s really high on my list. It’s located in the Kaimana Hotel at the south end of Waikiki which has just been totally renovated in a really chic way and the restaurant has been getting rave reviews. You’ll get those coveted Waikiki and Diamond Head views, but without the crowds and masses tooling around. 

Seriously Good Food, No Ocean Views

So you’ll pay a premium to eat at the big oceanfront restaurants, and sometimes the food is a little mainstream. Check out these places if you want some seriously good food in and around Waikiki and you’re okay with no ocean views. 

Opal Thai

I have heard about Opal Thai from several different people now and it’s supposed to be the best thai food you’ll ever have. It’s conveniently located in the Royal Hawaiian Center and it’s not unusual for the chef to come out to ask you questions about what you like and don’t like and then make personal recommendations. 

Mahina and Suns

Local food and cocktails served in a more upscale way at the trendy vintage Surfjack hotel.

Paia Fish Market

I’ve loved this place since I lived in Maui and I’m glad to see it expanding to other islands. Super low key and the best seafood. 

Moku

I could write an entire post (I’m surprised I haven’t already), on why I love Chef Peter Merriman’s restaurants so it’s no surprise that I will now be a Moku regular. Merriman’s and the Monkeypod have been long time favorites of mine, and Moku delivers the best of their menus in a more lowkey and affordable way. 

It’s the showpiece of Salt at Our Kaka’ako (a trendy dining development between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu). You order at the counter when you walk in and take your number to a table where a waiter brings it to you and then you can order more from the table. They’ve got all of your favorite pupus, pizzas, cocktails, etc from Merriman’s and the Monkeypod but everything is a few dollars cheaper. Plus they’ve got more substantial meals like burgers, fish tacos, sandwiches, Saimin, and steak frites. 

High End Dinner 

Senia

This is the upscale sister restaurant to the Pig and the Lady in Chinatown. 

Hy’s

An opulent, old school favorite steakhouse in Waikiki. 

Stripsteak

Currently the most popular steakhouse in Waikiki. 

La Mer

Hawaii’s only AAA 5 Diamond Restaurant is Halekulani’s showpiece. High end, oceanfront, French cuisine with a prefix menu.

Azure

Upscale, oceanfront spot at the famed Royal Hawaiian with a Spanish-Moorish decor vibe. 

Michel’s at the Colony Surf

French, fine dining with Diamond Head views. 

On Another Note: If you’re looking for a condo or vacation rental for your trip, I always book with Vrbo. They’ve got the largest selection of rentals you’ll find anywhere and you can easily filter to find exactly what you’re looking for. Need a specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Narrowed it down to a certain location? Want flexible cancellation terms? Need to stay under a fixed budget? Click here to search for Oahu vacation rentals for your trip.

Places for a Drink

Hideout

It’s not beachfront, but this has got to be one of the coolest places in Waikiki. The rooftop bar at the Laylow (one of my absolute favorite hotels in Waikiki) has such a cool vintage Hawaiian vibe and their drinks are top notch. They don’t rely on Diamond Head views to serve weak drinks ; ) I always go with the mai tai, but their old-fashioned is highly recommended. 

Mai Tai Bar

This beachfront bar at the historic pink Royal Hawaiian hotel is one of several places that claims to have invented the mai tai. Maybe we’ll never know the truth, but this is such an iconic spot. They have several different varieties of mai tais and whichever one you choose you’ll be feeling good as you sip it underneath those famous pink umbrellas. 

Tiki’s Grill & Bar

An oceanfront spot for Hawaiian style cocktails in a fun, tiki style environment. 

Tommy Bahama

Okay, okay, okay I know…no chains, BUT I always hear such great things about 

Something Sweet

Leonard’s Bakery

If you’ve done any research about foodie must dos on Oahu, you’ve heard mention of Leonard’s. Famous for their malasadas, a Portuguese fried donut, Leonard’s has been attracting the crowds since the 1950s. 

It’s not uncommon to find a line around the block at Leonard’s, but it usually moves quickly. And here’s the good thing about the line…it means they’re making a TON of malasadas and that means that they’re almost always hot, fresh out of the oven. 

Now, are they really the best in Hawaii? I couldn’t say for sure as I haven’t been EVERYWHERE (I’m working on it though ; ) but they are dang good. There is NOTHING like a hot, fresh malasada and I think that’s why they’re so beloved here. Due to the volume they produce, they’re almost always hot and fresh and I think that makes them better than other places that don’t sell as many so they sit in the case for a while. 

Pro Tip: If you want one of their famous pink boxes, you’ll need to order at least a half dozen. If you only order a couple they come in a bang (I saw a lot of disappointed Instagramers last time  was there haha). 

Another Pro Tip: If the line is too long, or the main location just isn’t convenient, they have a fleet of MalasadaMobile trucks parked at different places on the island. Check their website for current locations. 

Liliha Bakery

This place doesn’t get as much hype among tourists as Leonard’s but don’t make the mistake of skipping it! Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Liliha Bakery is a foodie’s paradise serving up both sweet and savories. With several locations around Honolulu, it should be easy to squeeze in a stop. Famous for their Coco Puffs (chocolate cream puffs slathered in Liliha’s famous Chantilly frosting), they also do a mean loco moco, and smoked pork belly with eggs. 

Banan

Plant based “ice cream” with no added sugar means it’s basically good for you, right? Sadly it’s banana based (and I’m allergic) so I’m not able to try it, but it looks super yummy! They do acai bowls too and everything is very insta-cute. 

Waiola Shave Ice

Waiola is always a front runner for the “best shave ice on the island” award so it’s worth the pilgrimage from Waikiki to try it.

Want to read more posts about Oahu? I’ve got plenty!

My Favorite Things to Do on Oahu // Things to Do in Waikiki // 5 Day Oahu Itinerary // Oahu North Shore Guide // Oahu Windward Coast (Kailua) Guide // Easy Hikes on Oahu

My Favorite Boutique Hotels in Waikiki // Where to Stay on Oahu Besides Waikiki // The Laylow Review

The Best Luaus (and the Worst) on Oahu // Paradise Cove Luau Review // Is the Polynesian Cultural Center Worth It? // Paradise Cove vs Polynesian Cultural Center

Where Locals Eat in Waikiki // Jurassic Park at Kualoa Ranch // Shangri La and the Honolulu Museum of Art // Tips for Visiting Pearl Harbor

Tips for Staying at Aulani // Is Aulani Worth It? // How Many Days to Spend at Aulani // Aulani Character Schedule // Ka Wa’a Luau Review // Things to Do Near Aulani (in Ko Olina) // Where to Eat Near Aulani

Everything You Need to Know BEFORE You Go to Oahu

Here’s one more really important thing you need to know before your Hawaii trip…

Reservations You Need to Make BEFORE Your Hawaii Trip

You’ve got your airfare, hotel, rental car and your big activities booked, so you should be good to go, right? Wrong!

Travel is BOOMING in Hawaii so a lot of state and national parks used the closure and reopening to institute reservation systems at some of the island’s most popular spots to make things a little more sustainable.

That means that there are now over half a dozen sites (beaches, trailheads, etc.) that require advance reservations. And some sell out well before you arrive on the island so you really need to have some sort of a plan.

I recently saw somebody in a Hawaii travel group post in a panic that they didn’t know they had to make reservations for things in advance…they thought they could just show up and “go with the flow.” I was tempted to say, well, “as long as the flow doesn’t take you somewhere that requires reservations, you can!” ; )

But I don’t want YOU to be that person, so I’ve pulled together a list of all the places you need to reserve entry in advance (plus all the details on booking windows, price, links, etc.) and a handful of popular tourist hotspots that book out really far in advance too.

Haleakala National Park (Maui)

To visit Haleakala National Park for sunrise at the summit, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are required to enter the park gates between 3AM and 7AM (sunrise hours).

Online reservations are $1 per reservation/vehicle PLUS you’ll pay the park entrance fee of $30/vehicle when you arrive (National Park annual passes are also accepted at the gate).

The reservation booking window opens 60 days in advance at 7AM HST. There are also a limited number of tickets released two days before.

You can make one reservation every three days with the same account. So if you want to make reservations for back to back days (in case of weather/conditions), you’ll need to do so with separate accounts (email addresses).

If you can’t get reservations for sunrise, you can enter the park anytime after 7AM without reservations. The summit is spectacular during the day and you don’t need reservations for sunset.

I strongly recommend creating an account before and making sure you’re logged in at 7AM HST because it’s not uncommon for reservations to sell out quickly.

Waianapanapa State Park (Maui)

To visit Maui’s famous black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park on the Road to Hana, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are required to visit the beach and are distributed in windows from 7AM-10AM, 10AM-12:30PM, 12:30PM-3PM, and 3PM-6PM. And they are pretty strict about exiting by the end of your window time (you can arrive anytime within your window).

It’s $5/person to enter plus $10/vehicle to park and those fees are paid when you book your time slot.

Reservations open up 30 days in advance.

Iao Valley State Park (Maui)

To visit the lush, green mountains and hike at Iao Valley State Park, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are offered for 90 minute time slots beginning at 7AM and ending at 6PM. They ask that you arrive within the first 30 minutes of your time slot.

Entry is $5/person plus $10/vehicle to park.

Reservations open up 30 days in advance.

Diamond Head (Oahu)

To hike to the top of Waikiki’s famous Diamond Head, you must make reservations in advance here.

Reservations are offered in two hour increments beginning at 6AM (6AM-8AM, 8AM-10AM, etc.) and ending at 6PM. If you’re parking onsite, they ask that you arrive within the first 30 minutes of your reservation window.

Entry is $5/person plus $10/vehicle to park.

Reservations open up 30 days in advance.

Tip: I recommend booking one of the first two time slots because there isn’t much shade on this hike and it gets pretty hot.

Hanauma Bay (Oahu)

To snorkel at Oahu’s pristine Hanauma Bay, you must make reservations in advance here.

Entry times are staggered in 10 minute increments from 7AM to 1:20PM with roughly 1000 slots being assigned in advance every day.

Reservations can be made two days in advance and they open at 7AM HST. They’re usually gone in minutes (if not seconds).

If you’re unable to get an advanced reservation, you can try for a day of, walk in ticket. They open at 6:45AM and they only have a limited number available. Everyone in your group needs to be present when you purchase your tickets in person.

There are no reservations for parking and it’s first come, first serve. $3/vehicle.

It’s $25/person to snorkel at Hanauma Bay (12 and under, active military, and locals with HI ID are free).

The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday (CLOSED MONDAY AND TUESDAY) from 6:45AM-4PM. Last entry is at 1:30PM, the beach is cleared at 3:15PM and you have to leave the facility by 4PM.

Jellyfish patterns can also affect whether or not the bay is open so double check the day before/day of.

USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor (Oahu)

If you want to take the boat tour at Pearl Harbor out to the USS Arizona, it’s recommended to make advance reservations here.

Online reservations are guaranteed a specific boarding time to go out to the USS Arizona. If you’re unable to get an advance reservation, you can wait standby when you arrive. The line could be short (15 minutes or so) or long (hours) and it just depends on the day (if they’re having problems with the loading dock sometimes they don’t take many from the standby line) and the time of day.

Reservations are supposed to open up 60 days in advance, but keep an eye on your exact dates, because lately they’ve actually been opening up about 57ish days in advance???

They also release a small batch of tickets the day before.

The boat ride out to the USS Arizona is free, but it’s $1 to make the reservations online.

They recently started charging $7/vehicle for parking at Pearl Harbor.

Haena State Park / Kalalau Trail (Kauai)

If you want to hike Kauai’s famous Kalalau Trail, you must make advance reservations here.
You’ve got three options here:

1) Parking & Entry: This is the most flexible option and also the most limited. THESE RESERVATIONS SELL OUT IN LESS THAN A MINUTE. There are three time slots available: 6:30AM-12:30PM, 12:30PM-5:30PM and 4:30PM to sunset. You can purchase multiple time slots if you want to stay longer. It’s $10/timeslot (parking) plus $5/person and you have to reserve every person when you initially book. Everybody has to arrive in the same car and your ID needs to match the reservation.

2) Shuttle & Entry: If you can’t get parking at the trailhead, there’s also a shuttle option. Shuttle reservations are $35/person (16+), $25/person (ages 4-15), 3 and under can ride free. The shuttle runs every 20 minutes 6:20AM to 6:40PM.

3) Entry Only: If you’re a Hawaiian resident (with HI ID) or someone WITH a Hawaiian resident, you can purchase entry only for $5/person with no advance reservations. Also, if you’re walking or biking to the trailhead you can do this option. But there is NOWHERE to park in the area to walk in. So this really only works for those with bikes or who are staying close enough to walk. They will tow your car if you park outside the designated areas.

The reservation window opens 30 days in advance at 12AM HST. The parking & entry option usually sells out in a minute, but the shuttle availability will last longer.

There are a TON of FAQs here including the possibility of snagging a canceled reservation.

Other Things to Book in Advance

Hawaii is a busy place these days! Besides the state and national parks above, here’s a handful of miscellaneous things you should make reservations for in advance (if they’re on your radar):

Mama’s Fish House (Maui): The iconic spot is the most popular restaurant in Hawaii and dinner reservations usually start filling up about 6 months in advance (they open up bookings 18 months in advance). Make reservations through their website and if the dates you want are already booked, you can join a waitlist. Most people have pretty good success getting in on the waitlist (even if it’s for lunch).

Old Lahaina Luau (Maui): Honestly, any luau you’re planning to attend you should book early, but most people are usually shocked how far out the Old Lahaina Luau books out. Book it as soon as you know your dates (I think they open at the six month window). They also have a waitlist.

Kualoa Ranch UTV Tour (Oahu): Everybody loves Jurassic Park so getting to ride UTVs where they filmed the movies is very popular. The ranch offers a lot of different tours but the UTV tours usually book out a couple of months in advance.

Spa Reservations: If you’re staying at a resort with a spa (or planning on visiting one), don’t wait until you arrive to make your reservations. I’d make them at least a month in advance.

Tee Times: Same for golf, reserve your tee times well in advance.

Dining Reservations: Any “fancy” or resort restaurant is likely to be booked up these days so if you like having a nice dinner every night, make your plans in advance.

Save

Save

Save

Save