Hawaii is a vacation destination visited by 10 million people a year. Its stunning beaches, national parks, rainforests, blend of East and West cultures, warm weather, and even warmer Aloha spirit draws people from around the world.
Most visitors come to Hawaii through Oahu’s Honolulu International Airport. Suppose you’re looking to end your travel day there and vacation on the Island dubbed The Heart of Hawaii. In that case, one award-winning resort is regularly recommended by experts and travelers alike especially for those visiting Hawaii with kids. It’s the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Checks All the Boxes
When traveling to Hawaii, perhaps for the first time, you’re looking for a hotel with it all. In a place where land is hard to come by, the Hilton Hawaiian Village sits across 22 prime acres on Waikiki Beach. It’s on the widest stretch of sand yet is steps away from downtown restaurants and shops, including Ala Moana mall, the largest open-air shopping center in the world.
Travelers forget they’re right in the heart of the city with acres of manicured gardens, waterfalls, tropical flowers, five pools, and Waikiki’s longest waterslide. The resort offers travelers practically anything they might need on-site. The Village includes 80 shops and services, 18 restaurants, lounges, and bars, as well as conveniences like a rental car counter and doctor’s office.
It’s no wonder The Hilton Hawaiian Village has received a long list of awards over the years, including the top family resort in Hawaii and one of the best hotels for travelers with kids in the world.
“Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is a quintessential choice for a Waikiki vacation,” said Debi Bishop, managing director, Hilton Hawaiian Village. “Our location on Waikiki’s widest stretch of beach is unmatched, and our five towers and a huge selection of dining, activities, and shopping on site means there is something for every traveler. Our beloved Friday fireworks have become a tradition for more than 30 years, and thousands of visitors and residents come to the beach to watch the wonderful display.”
It’s Not Just Iconic; It’s A Special, Historical Place
Aside from being adored by guests, it’s also a place of historical significance and pop-culture milestones. Guests can order the iconic Blue Hawaii cocktail, invented at the resort in 1957 by legendary bartender Harry Yee. It’s only fitting that four years later, Elvis filmed the famous movie of the same name at The Hilton Hawaiian Village. He also stayed on site in the Ocean Tower, now Ali’i Tower, in the 14th Floor’s Mahele Suite, becoming his favorite hotel in Waikiki.
The resort has been featured in many television shows and movies, almost always showcasing Hilton Hawaiian Village’s famed Rainbow Tower, which first opened in 1968. Featuring the world’s largest ceramic-tile mosaic, it has 16,000 tiles stretching 286 feet high by 26 feet wide. It’s become the image people think of when they think of the resort and Waikiki Beach as well.
The Rainbow Tower sits next to the five-acre salt-water Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, the perfect place for easy paddle boarding, beginner kayaking, and water activities with little kids. It’s named after Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s Olympic Gold Medalist and its most iconic waterman, to celebrate his accomplishments and recognize that the hotel sits on the same land where he was born.
They Call It a Village For a Reason
Spread across 22 acres are 2,860 guest rooms, shops, services, restaurants and bars, luau grounds, daily cultural activities, a world-class spa, 4DFX Cinema, and even an arcade.
If you only need a car for one or two days, there is no need to travel back to the airport, downtown Honolulu or pay to park a car you’re not using. Instead, book a car at the Enterprise Rental Desk in the Rainbow Bazaar for the days you need one.
When traveling with kids, it’s reassuring that there’s an Urgent Care Clinic on-site. Straub Medical Center, run by Hawaii Pacific Health, is located in the Rainbow Bazaar and takes most health insurance plans.
Couples can even get married in the stunning Akala Chapel which cost $6 million to build over nine months. Elope or invite up to 85 guests for a ceremony with stunning views, waterfalls, and the tropical landscaping you’d expect in Hawaii’s paradise.
Hilton Hawaii Village Room Options: 8 Towers
Over the years, The Hilton Hawaiian Village grew and expanded with new towers and room options, including fully-furnished condos that offer all the conveniences and space of an apartment but the cleanliness standards of a global resort chain. The accommodations range from standard hotel rooms to Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare condos to two-floor penthouse suites.
1. The Ali’i Tower
If you like the conveniences offered by a large-scale resort but prefer a boutique hotel experience, you can get both by staying at the stylish, beachfront Ali’i Tower. It is Hilton Hawaiian Village’s “hotel within a hotel” and the most luxurious tower on the property. It offers a separate registration desk, exclusive Concierge services, and its own pool terrace, whirlpool, and gym. This tower consists of hotel rooms, one-bedroom condos, and specialty suites.
How exclusive is it? The Ali’i Tower has hosted presidents, heads of state, movie stars, and A-list entertainers. The last 7 U.S. presidents have stayed in the jaw-dropping presidential suite.
2. The Diamond Head Tower
This tower is located behind the Ali’i Tower in the middle of The Hilton Hawaiian Village and offers hotel rooms with resort, coast, and ocean views.
3. The Tapa Tower
Located behind the Diamond Head Tower, take your pick from a variety of newly renovated rooms celebrating the beauty of traditional Hawaiian Tapa cloth. You can choose standard hotel rooms with one, two, or even three beds and one-bedroom condos.
4. The Rainbow Tower
The iconic tiled Rainbow Tower is set directly on the sand between the 10,000-square-foot Super Pool and the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. It offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the Honolulu coastline from its hotel rooms, varying in size from 355 to 702 sq feet.
5. The Kalia Tower
While this tower is the furthest away from the beach, it’s where you’ll find the world-class Mandara Spa. This hotel-room-only tower offers one or two beds with either an Ocean View or a Resort view.
6. Grand Islander
Also behind the Diamond Head Tower and next to the Tapa Tower is one of three Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshare towers with condo units, The Grand Islander. Experience all of the Hilton Hawaiian Village amenities and spread out in 1, 2, or 3 bedroom fully-furnished apartments with full kitchens, separate living and dining areas, and balconies to take in the views of paradise.
7. Grand Waikikian
Next to the conference center is the 39-story Grand Waikikian timeshare tower, also offering 1,2, or 3-bedroom condos right in the middle of The Hilton Hawaiian Village. Request a room on a higher floor for epic views of Waikiki Beach or Honolulu.
8. Lagoon Tower
Last but certainly not least is The Beacon of Waikiki Beach, The Lagoon Tower. This beloved Hilton Grand Vacations building offers one of the best oceanfront locations in the resort, plus rooms from studios to large three-bedrooms and two-floor penthouse suites. Unsurprisingly, this lagoon-front building regularly ranks as a favorite of both timeshare owners and renters and received multiple awards, such as RCI’s Gold Crown Distinction.
Hilton Hawaiian Village: On-Site Restaurants and Bars
For those days when you don’t feel like traveling outside the resort for meals or cooking one in your condo unit, take your pick from the resort’s 18 restaurants, cafes, markets, or bars. They serve a variety of international options from family-friendly, casual, romantic, fine-dining, snacks, or take-out. Hilton Hawaiian Village even has its own Starbucks, Lappert’s Hawaiian Ice Cream, and an Orange Julius.
The resort is also home to the longest-running AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in the state. Bali Oceanfront is a hallmark among Hawaii restaurants and focuses on a locally-sourced, fine dining experience.
If you stop by Tropics Bar & Grill for a sunset drink or nightly live entertainment, you’ll see a mix of hotel guests and locals. The Hilton Hawaii Village has such a prime spot in Waikiki that residents come to the resort’s bars for drinks, especially on Aloha Fridays, to welcome the weekend and enjoy the free, weekly fireworks show.
Other options include Blue Water Shrimp and Seafood serving Hawaiian fusion, CJ’s New York Style Deli, Hatsuhana offering Japanese and sushi options, Aoki Teppanyaki for tableside grilled steak and seafood, and Roundtable Pizza, voted Waikiki’s #1 traditional and specialty pizza place.
Lastly, guests can experience a Luau on the resort’s Great Lawn. Entertainment includes live music, drums, and Tahitian and traditional Hawaiian dance. Dinner includes Hawaiian food like kalua pig, huli-huli chicken, Hawaiian fried rice and other Hawaiian treats.
Hilton Hawaii Village: On-site Activities, Entertainment, and Excursions
The resort offers many on-site activities, from lei-making classes to hula lessons or outdoor movie nights. In addition, guests can try a hand at snorkeling or rent watersports equipment right at the resort. The resort’s most well-known activity, the weekly Friday fireworks show, is back after a two-year pandemic pause.
You might have noticed in Hilton Hawaiian Village pictures that the resort has its own dock. Excursions leave right from the hotel’s beachfront, eliminating the need for a rental car.
1. Atlantis Submarines
Explore the underwater beauty of the Pacific Ocean without disturbing the environment. Since 1998, guests have traveled in Atlantis Submarines 100 feet below the surface in battery-powered ships emitting no pollutants and tiptoeing through the water. It’s one of the ways that you can explore Hawaii with Aloha Aina – a love of the land.
2. Spirit of Aloha Catamaran
If you’ve got a Moana fan in your house, sail the same Pacific Ocean on one of their premier catamaran yachts. Visitors can pick from Turtle Snorkel trips, an Adventure Tour, or the popular Sunset Cocktail cruise.
3. Surf School
If you’re looking to learn how to surf, it doesn’t get more epic than at a surf school at Duke Kahanamoku Beach. Take a two-hour surf lesson and hang ten where legendary waterman Duke Kahanamoku and Hawaiian Royalty rode the waves.
How to Score Hilton Hawaiian Village Room Discounts: 5 Ways
Room rates in Hawaii are three times the U.S. national average. In early 2022, tourists paid an average of $371 a night for a hotel in the Aloha state. But don’t get discouraged! Here are five ways to secure room discounts at this resort.
1. Timeshare Rentals
With three timeshare condo towers on the property, the odds are that travelers can find an owner who is renting out their timeshare at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Finding these people is easier than you might think, and completing a secure, protected reservation is as well. Trusted, highly-rated timeshare rental websites include Redweek, Go-Koala, Timeshares Only, and Timeshare Users Group Marketplace.
Take a look at the timeshare rentals inside various Hilton Hawaiian Village towers and the costs for a condo room may surprise you! It can be the same price as a smaller hotel room and secure rentals from Business Bureau A+ sites have never been easier.
- Hilton Grand Vacation’s Lagoon Tower
- Hilton Grand Vacation’s Grand Islander Tower
- Hilton Grand Vacation’s Grand Waikikian Tower
2. Redeem Hilton Honors Points
If you’re into travel hacking, you can collect Hilton Honors points and redeem them for free nights at The Hilton Hawaiian Village. At 60,000 points needed per night, saving up for a week’s stay may take a while, but even three free nights can help dramatically lower the cost.
3. Malama Hawaii Program
Encouraging tourists to explore paradise differently, the State of Hawaii has launched a program to get visitors involved in meaningful Hawaiian conversations and experiences. Part of this program that drives a deeper connection to Hawaii’s history, land, and culture is special hotel offers. For example, if you participate in a Care for Hawaii community service project and stay at Hilton Hawaiian Village for five nights, you receive the 5th night free. That’s the equivalent of getting 20 percent off a five-night stay.
4. Travel Deal Sites Plus Cashback
While deals and promos can be hard to predict on travel deal sites, if you do not see a price within your budget, keep on looking. Watch prices quickly at aggregator sites like Kayak or TripAdvisor that collect rates from multiple booking sites.
If you find a price close to your budget, add in the 5 to 10% cash back you receive by booking Expedia, TripAdvisor, Agoda, or other sites on Rakuten, and you just might land on a price that has you saying Aloha.
5. Timeshare Exchange
If you’re a timeshare owner with an RCI Membership or know one of their 3.8 million subscribing members, you can score a Hilton Hawaiian Village reservation via a timeshare exchange. You can swap a vacation at your (or their) timeshare for a room in one of the timeshare towers at Hilton Hawaiian Village.
I secured an August 2023 exchange into the Grand Waikiki tower with our RCI Membership. If you want to get the most out of your timeshare ownership with an RCI Membership to get luxury trades like me, learn how with my free RCI Tutorial Series.
Hilton Hawaiian Village: A Resort Unicorn
They say that unicorns don’t exist. But travelers who return to this resort year after year might disagree. So if you’re traveling to Oahu with kids and want to stay in Waikiki, take a vacation planning shortcut and book a room at The Hilton Hawaiian Village.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.