The STANDARD H Travel pages are our version of city guides presented by our founder, Wesley Smith. These are places he's traveled, enjoyed, and recommends, so they're all vetted and what we refer to as STANDARD H verified. These lists will evolve, so check back often and travel safe!

 

Hawaii (Big Island)

On The Rocks

75-5824 Kahakai Rd, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Our plane landed right around lunch time, so by the time we got our rental car and made the drive south to Kailua-Kona, it was just in time for Happy Hour here at On the Rocks. Score a table right along the wall on the water, and every table can feel secluded which is nice. The sliders were delicious and so were the drinks.

 

Kalikala Cuisine

75-5685-75-5699 Ali'i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

We ate a really good breakfast here which is directly across from the Kailua Bay. We sat right in the front along the bar looking directly out which provides a great view of the water, as well as serves as great people watching as it's right along the sidewalk.

 

Suisan Fish Market

93 Lihiwai St, Hilo, HI 96720

Stop here for some really good Poke. It's right across from the Lili'uokalani Park & Gardens which is a great place to walk around. We walked over there with our food and enjoyed it on a bench within the park and it was great.

 

Hawaiian Style Cafe Hilo

681 Manono St, Hilo, HI 96720

This place has the best macadamia nut pancakes we tried. We also went to Ken's which has better food in every other department, however this is your pancake spot. The service was great, and the prices were reasonable.

 

Ken's House of Pancakes

1730 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720

As mentioned above, though this is famous for their pancakes, we thought the waffle and the other diner-style items were the real winner here. The bacon was delicious and they leave the pot of coffee on the table which was quite convenient. I love the diner atmosphere here, and our server was one of the best servers we had on the island during our 5-day stay.

 

Hawaiian Brain Freeze Shave Ice & Ice cream 

1263 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720

The flavors of this shave ice were really, really good, though the ice is piled on so high, the flavors tended to fall towards the bottom. This being said, if you can eat cold things quickly, the amount of shave ice you get for the price is really good. It has to be the largest portion we've ever gotten.

 

Thai Thai Bistro and Bar

19-4084 Old Volcano Rd, Volcano, HI 96785

If you go up to Volcanoes National Park, we found this Thai food spot that was good. Definitely get the spring rolls - they're awesome.

 

Hilton Waikoloa Village

69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738

We stayed here and got a really great rate. It's a huge resort and well worth the price of admission. With multiple restaurants and multiple pools, it's a great place for those who have families. The larger pool is ideal for those with kids, and the other pool is a bit more quiet and toned down if you are just there with your significant other. We stayed in the Lagoon Tower which is a further walk to the quieter pool, but it's also the tower that was renovated most recently, and given its proximity to the parking lot as well as the gym, it's absolutely the way to go. If you're looking for something higher end in this area of the island, I would definitely check out the beautiful Four Seasons Hualalai which is only a couple miles away.

 

Kauai

Grand Hyatt Kauai

1571 Poipu Rd, Koloa, HI 96756

Located in the southern area of the island, the Hyatt is an absolute staple for Kauai. If you have a family, this place is awesome. The pools and waterslide are super fun, while you're located right on the beach, as well. With several restaurants to choose from, easy access to the airport in Lihue, this is a great choice.

 

Poke trucks in Princeville

5-4280 Kuhio Hwy, Princeville, HI 96722

Usually outside and around the Princeville Foodland (which incidentally sells the best reusable zippered grocery bags), you will likely have one of the best poke bowls of your life. They're all incredibly fresh, of course, and the sauces can be super unique, so multiple trips throughout your trip for lunch may be in order.

 

Keoki's Paradise

2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa, HI 96756

As part of the same company that owns Duke's and Hula Grill, Keoki's is a reliable place with a fun atmosphere. Great fora. date night, or take the kids. 

 

 

Maui 

I have spent far more time on Maui than any of the other island which is why you'll find more items listed here. My wife and I both feel Maui is the "best of all worlds" when it comes to Hawaii - those worlds being comprised of relaxation, an activities-based vacation and the quality of food available. 

 

Hula Grill Barefoot Bar

2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI 96761

Located at Whaler's Village north of downtown Lahaina, my wife and I almost exclusively go here after taking a morning flight to Maui. As a result, it's usually lunch time and we go straight here and sit at one of the tables outside in the sand (kick your shoes off and get in island mode). We always order a couple of drinks, the poke tacos and a flatbread. With views of the water and people walking by on the sidewalk, it's a great start to a vacation which is why I listed it first. 

 

Paia Bowls

43 Hana Hwy, Paia, HI 96779

If you're into acai bowls, there are two places I like them best on Maui, and this is one of them. Just as you enter the small town on Paia from the west, you'll find it located on the north side of the street tucked back behind a large white building. They have a sign out on the sidewalk, so it's actually easy to find. We went here on our way to Haleakala, and since they also serve a decent espresso, it makes for a tasty breakfast spot.  

 

Paia Bay Coffee Bar

115 Hana Hwy, Paia, HI 96779

Also tucked behind a building, Paia Bay Coffee Bar is a cool little spot with ample seating, which isn't the case for many local coffee shops. The first visit I had a few years ago proved to provide the best shot of espresso on the island, however, this last trip I was underwhelmed. I'll still be back as I have a distinct feeling it may have been the barista that day. Not to shame anyone, though I'd like to believe the quality isn't lost at Paia.

 

Star Noodle

1285 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761

This is among the few reservations my wife and I always make when we go to Maui. The food is inventive and I have officially dubbed their Ahi Avo "Gummy Bears." That fish is so red, and so good, it might as well come in a package in the candy section. The garlic noodles are a must-get, and their Steamed Pork Buns are delicious. The cocktails are also delicious and their new (re)location here on Front street is amazing at sunset.

 

Mala Tavern

1307 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761

This is another reservation we make, and it's usually the first phone call. The ahi bruschetta here is absolutely incredible. Honestly, I have never had a bad dish at Mala, and so far (6 times eating there) the bruschetta is the only constant. Their seafood pasta is insane, as is the Braised Pork Shank. We always like to show up towards the end of Happy Hour and blend it into dinner. I recently had a drink called the Rye Me a River that was delicious if you're a whiskey fan.

 

Old Lahaina Luau

1251 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761

If you're looking for a traditional luau to go to, look no further than here. Get there early to see how they cook the pig while sipping a Mai Thai. This is one of the more expensive luaus, but it really is the best on the island. It's perfect for two people, or call several months in advance if you're going with a large group. The food's delicious and it's all you can drink. Well worth the price of admission if you ask me.

 

Sansei Sushi

600 Office Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761

Sansei Sushi is our sushi place of choice in west Maui. If you're a golfer, it's also very convenient to the Kapalua golf courses, so it's a great post-round stop. It's great food and the prices are very reasonable for a sushi restaurant in a resort area. Every day, they have a 25% off deal between 5:15pm-6pm. Call prior to your visit to be sure as this deal can change. If you have kids and they don't like sushi, they also have pasta dishes which I think is hilarious. Never had them, but I'm sure they're good. If you're staying in East Maui they have a location in Kihei, as well, though the Kapalua location offers reservations. They also have a late night karaoke special that's 10pm-close where it's 50% off sushi.

 

Kimo's Maui

845 Front St a, Lahaina, HI 96761

Great spot for happy hour/sunset experience. Sit on the second floor if you're able. You'll often find a coupon for a free Hula Pie in those local magazines, but even if you don't have a coupon, get the pie anyway!

 

808 Grindz Cafe 

843 Waine'e St, Lahaina, HI 96761

This is the best place for a local's breakfast. Located in the Old Lahaina Center strip mall, it definitely gets packed. Expect a line, so the earlier you get there the better. This is the place for macadamia nut pancakes if you're into that. They have a "mac-nilla" sauce that's certainly unlike anything you've ever had.

 

Tamura's Fine Wine & Liquors Lahaina

226 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761

Don't be fooled by the name, this place is where you go for several things and the first is Poke bowls. Hawaii is known for amazing poke bowls and some of the most delicious bowls are in the most unassuming places. Tamura's is one of them. Also there: the "Locals" sandals I wear around the house constantly. Oh yeah - they also sell wine and liquor.

 

The Gazeebo 

5315 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI 96761

An old-school-feeling breakfast spot with enormous pancakes. That's really all you need to know. If you're into breakfast, this is a great spot. The servers all seem to have great personalities and plenty of banter. Hopefully the line isn't too long and you're able to score a perimeter table overlooking the water.

 

Ululani Shave Ice

790 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761

Shave Ice serves as our desert every single night we're in Hawaii, and you should know that all shave ice isn't created equal. Between flavors on offer and taking texture into account, Ululani is the absolute best on Maui and perhaps even all of Hawaii. I oscillate between the Macadamia nut ice cream base and the Haupia (Coconut) ice cream base but I always get Tiger's Blood & Banana for the flavors. If I'm feeling lively I'll get a third flavor, but I always get the Snow Cap to top it off. Ululani's is our favorite and we can only get it in Hawaii, hence the obsession.

 

Mama's Fish House

799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779

If you're going to Maui, you've probably already heard about Mama's. Though pricey, it's absolutely one of the best restaurants on the island. Like many of these restaurants, making a reservation is a must. 

 

Maikai Lani Malasadas

520 Waine'e St, Lahaina, HI 96761

These doughy treats are for the days your diet takes a vacation...which for me is effectively every meal while on vacation. Jelly-injected or chocolate-filled...pick a flavor and smile, because if you're not smiling on vacation, what's the point?

 

Maui Brewing

605 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei, HI 96753

With two locations (a tasting room in Lahaina) the Kihei location is effectively the Mother Ship. I would go towards sunset as it's perched up on a hill looking over almost the entire western side of the island making it perfect to watch the sunset. Often they have live music, and the food is solid. My favorite beer of theirs is the Big Swell IPA, but they should have seasonal options, as well.

 

Flatbread Company

89 Hana Hwy, Paia, HI 96779

If you're craving pizza, the only place I've had pizza on Maui is at Flatbread Company. We went here after hiking up at Haleakala and it was great. They have a good beer selection which was right on time. The owners of Mala Tavern also own a place called Honu (right next door to Mala, in fact) but I still haven't been. I hear it's good, however.

 

Four Seasons Wailea

3900 Wailea Alanui Dr, Kihei, HI 96753

This is my favorite hotel literally in the world. If you've never stayed at a Four Seasons, don't. It's like flying first class for the first time: it completely spoils you. The Four Seasons Wailea has incredible amenities as you can imagine, including a pretty decent gym, treadmills that are open-air, but most importantly: two pools. One for families, and one only for adults with an infinity edge overlooking the ocean and a swim-up bar. It's fantastic. The rooms are gorgeous and the service is incredible. The hotel also has four restaurants and a lobby lounge that allows for ocean views, as well. If you're into golf, it's across the street from 3 golf courses at Wailea Golf Club. If you're looking to splurge on a resort atmosphere, this is your spot. It truly is a magical place. It's also very close to the Shops at Wailea which has most everything you can imagine you'd want to shop for while in Hawaii.

 

Calypso Molokini Crater and Turtle Town Snorkeling 

Slip 82, South Ferry Dock, 101 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku, HI 96793

There are several tours offering trips to Molokini and Turtle Town, but this is our go-to. They have lunch on board and the guides are always great. If you're interested in snorkeling this the way to go for the money. It's 5-6 hours long and you typically have to be there before 7am, so keep that in mind. 

 

Ocean Vodka Organic Farm & Distillery

4051 Omaopio Rd, Kula, HI 96790

Another activity that's fun and educational is the Ocean Vodka distillery. It's a great tour, you learn a lot, and the views from the property are fantastic. If you're eating at Mama's Fish house, we like to make a day of being on that side of the island by scheduling an activity like this on the same day. 

 

Oahu

 

Alicia's Market 

267 Mokauea St, Honolulu, HI 96819

Our favorite poke shop in Honolulu is a quick trip from the airport, so if you're anything like me, you go here before you even get to your hotel. With nearly 20 versions of fish to choose from, you're certainly spoiled for choice. The rice is absolutely delicious, as well, as silly as that may sound. There's a sweetness to it that I just love.

 

Island Vintage Shave Ice

2201 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

Only second to Ululani's, Island Vintage is the spot for Shave Ice on Oahu. There will more than likely be a line, so keep that in mind prior to going, which is a result of it being located in the thick of it all on Kalakaua Avenue.

 

Foodland Farms Ala Moana

1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814

This is a grocery store, yes, but their Poke bar is insane, and absolutely the best bang for your buck, hands down. We got bowls to go during our vacation for lunch and ate them outside by the pool at the hotel. While you're there (at the mall) head upstairs for my favorite local apparel brand for your go-to Hawaiian shirts at cappleya 

 

Food Pantry Eaton Square

438 Hobron Ln #110, Honolulu, HI 96815

A convenient spot to stop for snacks to go/minor grocery shopping. This place is also a carrier of the beloved "Locals" sandals.

 

The Modern Honolulu

1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815

If you're staying in this area, this is a great hotel with a perfect location. You're a 10-20 minute walk in pretty much any direction to anything you'd want to do in Honolulu. The Ala Moana mall, Foodland, Shopping, eating...it's all close. The food was very good from the poolside restaurant, especially the breakfast. Also, next door at the Ilikai Hotel is a shop where you can rent nice surfboards for cheap, and there are actually some fun waves right out front!