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There’s nothing quite like getting off a long flight and getting that first look at your destination … in the form of a hotel pool. TPG Contributor Kaeli Conforti (the Digital Editor at Budget Travel) grew up on Oahu and her family vacationed at resorts on the other islands. Here, she shares her picks for Hawaii’s most impressive hotel pools — whether you’re planning the ultimate family vacation or a dream romantic getaway. (All photos courtesy of the hotels.)
Spend part of your Hawaiian vacation pool-hopping — if you can bring yourself to leave the beach, that is. Choose from a 5,000-square-foot oasis that’s home to Waikiki’s longest water slide, a shallow pool just for the keiki (kids), a 10,000 square-foot beachfront super pool or the ultimate infinity pool experience on the fourth floor of Kalia Tower. There’s also a tropical-themed pool near the Tapa Tower and another private sundeck and pool area only available to guests of the prestigious Ali’i Tower. Rates start at $185 or 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
2. Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort — Maui
The resort’s Wailea Canyon Activity Pool, a 25,700-square-foot watery wonderland featuring nine pools and six levels of waterfalls, slides, caves, rope swings and river rapids, may be undergoing construction this fall, but the resort promises it won’t affect your pool days — it’s really the deck they’re working on. Visitors over the age of 18 also have access to the Hibiscus Pool, which sports a giant hibiscus flower mosaic made up of more than 630,000 Mexican glass tiles. Rates from $344 or 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
3. Hilton Waikoloa Village — The Big Island
Not only does this resort have a salt-water lagoon you can snorkel in, but you can also catch a traditional Hawaiian luau and learn about dolphins up close at Dolphin Quest. And did I mention the only way to get around the 62-acre resort is by boat or tram? Take a ride down the Kona Pool’s 175-foot waterslide, play with the kids in one of the Kohala River Pool’s four connected pools or chill out by the Ocean Tower Pool if you need an adults-only break. Rates start at $199 or 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
Maximize Your Hilton Stay(s)
Book at any of the three properties above with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card to earn 10x points (or use the card’s two free weekend nights here, after you spend $2,500 in the first four months), or the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express to earn 12x points. You could also transfer American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou points to Hilton HHonors at a 1:1.5 ratio. For more tips, be sure to see The Award Traveler’s Guide to Hilton HHonors and Maximizing Hilton HHonors for Family Travel.
4. Kauai Marriott Resort — Kauai
Located along Kalapaki Bay on the Garden Isle, Kauai Marriott Resort is home to Hawaii’s largest single-level outdoor pool. Translation: plenty of room for you and the family to spread out and enjoy that gorgeous Hawaiian sun — just don’t forget the sunscreen! Rates from $229 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
Maximize Your Marriott Stay
If you were lucky enough to get in on the 80,000-point sign-up bonus offer for the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card (it ended in August 2015; the current offer is 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months), you could use your haul on two free nights here — or, you could use the card to earn 5x points on your entire stay. If you’re short on Marriott points, you could transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards (earned from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus Business) to Marriott at a ratio of 1:1. See Maximizing Marriott Rewards for Family Travel for more tips.
5. Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa — Maui
Worried about lounging too long on your vacation? Sign up for one of the daily Aqua-Fit classes at the Lahaina pool. The Napili pool offers family-friendly action like a 150-foot enclosed “lava tube” water slide, whirlpools and a swinging rope bridge. There’s also an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and a special zero-entry pool for the little ones to play in. Rates from $259 (from $221 for Hyatt Gold Passport members) or 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.
6. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa — Kauai
Cruise down the freshwater pool’s lazy river on the way to a 150-foot water slide the kids (and young at heart) will love. Or spend the day floating around, snorkeling and kayaking in the resort’s vast saltwater lagoon. Rates from $409 (from $348 for Hyatt Gold Passport members) or 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.
Maximize Your Hyatt Stay(s)
At the two Hyatt properties above, use the Hyatt Credit Card from Chase to earn 3x points, or once you’ve earned the card’s sign-up bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt property worldwide after spending $2,000 in the first three months, enjoy a couple of nights gratis. Alternatively, you could transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt at a ratio of 1:1. See more tips in The Award Traveler’s Guide to Hyatt Gold Passport and Maximizing Hyatt Gold Passport for Family Travel.
7. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai — The Big Island
Take your pick of seven swimming pools at this Big Island resort, a striking amount of options whether you’re in the mood for a peaceful adults-only escape or feel like snorkeling alongside more than 75 species of tropical fish in the 1.8-million gallon King’s Pond, pictured above. Fun fact: This spectacular swimming hole was actually carved out of the area’s natural lava rock.
Maximize your stay: Rates here start at a not-at-all-cheap $645 per night, but if you’re a cardholder of the Amex Platinum or its business version and book this property through the Amex FHR portal, you’ll earn perks like a room upgrade (if available), daily breakfast for two people and a $100 food and beverage credit to use for your stay.
8. Turtle Bay Resort — Oahu
About an hour’s drive from Waikiki on Oahu’s North Shore, Turtle Bay Resort offers every outdoor activity from kayaking to disc golf — you can also try your hand at the ukulele, hula dancing or surfing. When you need a break, take a ride on the water slide and chill out at the resort’s natural salt water pool. End the day with a tropical drink from The Point Sunset & Pool bar and catch the nightly Hawaiian Sunset Ceremony poolside.
Maximize your stay: Rates here start at $280 per night, but if you’re a cardholder of a Visa Signature card (like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and Marriott Premier Rewards, as well as the Club Carlson Premier Rewards, Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card) you can book this property through the Visa Signature Hotels portal to receive perks like a room upgrade (when available), continental breakfast daily and a $25 food and beverage credit.
9. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa — Oahu
Kids will love meeting their favorite Disney characters as they play in the 8,200 square-foot Waikolohe Pool, also home to a sweet water slide called the Volcanic Vertical. There’s also a keiki cove splash zone and the Menehune Bridge (pictured above). Grab a tube and cruise down a lazy river or check out the speedier rapids. Adults can escape to the secluded Wailana Pool or enjoy the view at Ka Maka Grotto, an infinity pool that overlooks Ko Olina Beach. Rates start at $434 per night, but to get the most from your stay, be sure to see see Maximizing Purchases and Redeeming Awards at Disney Resorts.
10. Travaasa Hana — Maui
The only ways to reach this secluded section of The Valley Isle are to fly to Hana Airport via private plane or embark on a two-hour road trip along the legendary Hana Drive, past harrowing cliffs and scenic waterfalls as you approach the town of Hana. Once you arrive, you’ll have access to a gorgeous infinity pool and a vast lineup of spa and wellness activities to choose from. Rates from $350 per night single a la carte (from $400 double) or from $600 single ($925 double) per night for an all-inclusive style stay that includes a $125 resort credit and all meals. Travaasa doesn’t have a loyalty program and you can’t get any special perks through credit card travel portals, but you’ll earn 3x points if you charge your stay to the Citi Prestige, which has a current sign-up bonus of 40,000 ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
What’s your favorite hotel pool in Hawaii (or beyond)? Share in the comments below!
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