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How to use Hilton points for a Hawaiian vacation

Dec. 03, 2019
11 min read
Hilton Waikoloa Hotel
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Hawaii is without a doubt one of my favorite spots on earth. I know I'm not alone -- the islands have almost 10 million visitors a year -- yet as magical as it is (and it really is), Hawaii is also one of the most isolated inhabited spots on earth.

Related: Best way to fly with kids to Hawaii

Getting to and staying on this remote island chain can be time-consuming and expensive, which that makes it the perfect destination for using miles and points to make a dream a reality. Some of the most useful points for booking lodging on Hawaii are Hilton Honors points. Hilton has some great properties spread across the Hawaiian Islands and you don't pay resort fees on Hilton award stays. That really matters in Hawaii where resort fees are common and potentially expensive.

Earn Up to 150,000 bonus Hilton Points

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a free night reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Free night reward offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points plus a free night reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership.
  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in purchases the first three months of opening your account. Terms apply.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Hilton Award Properties in Hawaii

Hilton has 11 properties across four of Hawaii's island (not counting its Grand Vacations timeshare properties), ranging from budget-friendly to high-end. To help you narrow your search, here's a roundup of your choices for booking in Hawaii using Hilton points and the current price range for a standard room -- keeping in mind that Hilton has done away with published award charts. Consult Hilton's Points Explorer tool to get an idea of the range of any property's award rates, which are dynamic. However, the redemption rate for a night in Hawaii is usually pegged to the upper end of the property's award range.

Oahu Hilton Properties

DoubleTree by Hilton Alana - Waikiki Beach50,000 points per night
Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki-Beachwalk70,000 points per night
Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei70,000–80,000 points per night
Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu/Kapolei40,000–50,000 points per night
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort60,000 points per night
Hilton Waikiki Beach60,000 points per night
Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach50,000 points per night

Big Island Hilton Properties

Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton48,000–50,000 points per night
Hilton Waikoloa Village54,000–60,000 points per night

Maui Hilton Properties

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort95,000 points per night

Kauai Hilton Properties

Hilton Garden Inn Kauai/Wailua Bay44,000–50,000 points per night

Here's how to maximize Hilton Honors' redemptions.

Experience Volcanoes on the Big Island

The Big Island, otherwise known as the island of Hawaii, is the island for adventure. With Kona, Hilo and Volcanoes National Park, there's no shortage of activities. Here are some of our favorite Big Island activities.

For 50,000 Hilton points per night, you can stay at the newly renovated and rebranded Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo DoubleTree in a room with one king or two queen beds with a view of Hilo Bay. This places you an easy 30-mile drive from Volcanoes National Park. Since Hilton waives resort fees on award stays, even parking is free because it is usually included in that fee at the Grand Naniloa, a rarity in Hawaii.

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(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy.)

On the other side of the Big Island is the massive 62-acre oceanfront Hilton Waikoloa Village, which can go for 60,000 Hilton points per night. There's so much to do here that the hotel has its own tram and boat transportation system. You'll find multiple pools, a snorkeling lagoon (where turtles come in from the ocean), a waterslide and more.

Before your stay, be sure to pick up Hilton Gold or Diamond elite status either via a status match or as a benefit from one of the cobranded credit cards, such as the Aspire Card, so you can enjoy free breakfast.

Hilton Waikoloa. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy.)

Relax and Play in Style on Maui

If you want to visit one of Hilton's crown jewels, consider the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria property, on Maui. This top-tier resort hotel has a water elevator, nine pools on six levels, a waterslide, waterfalls and beachfront location in upscale Wailea. The downside to this perfection-on-paper resort is the number of points (or dollars) it costs per night -- it can run 95,000 Hilton points per night for a standard room, so even a 150,000-point welcome bonus won’t go very far.

(Photo courtesy of the Grand Wailea.)

This is when you turn to your Hilton weekend award nights. If you have the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, with an annual fee of $450 (see rates and fees), you get one weekend award night upon opening the card and one for each year of cardmembership, as well as the chance to earn another night by spending $60,000 annually on the card. Several other Amex Hilton cards also give you the ability to earn weekend award nights with annual spending on the cards.

With the Aspire card, you also get an annual $250 Hilton resort statement credit that's easy to use in Hawaii at a property like the Grand Wailea. By employing some strategy with the right cards (and perhaps the right traveling companion), you could string together a weekend of award-night stays and then use points during the week.

Experience the Magic of Kauai

All of Hawaii's islands are special, but Kauai is a favorite. The green mountains, dramatic sunsets and laid-back atmosphere make it all-around perfection.

Hilton doesn’t have a huge presence on Kauai, but there is the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay that is very near the family-friendly Lydgate Beach and the Smith Family Garden Luau. If you haven’t been to the Smith Family Garden Luau, it is fantastic, with tasty food and a great performance.

This Hilton property is near the halfway point between the magical northern half of the island and the sunny southern half. Spending 50,000 points per night to stay here instead of paying the $300+ summer rate isn't a bad deal.

Waterfalls on Kauai. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy.)

Take in History on Oahu

Oahu has so much more to offer than just Waikiki. But Waikiki makes for a great spot to overnight on the front or back end of your trip since so many flights go through Honolulu. There is more than enough to do in the Waikiki area for 24 hours, and to make all of those must-dos an easy reality, you can book the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort for 60,000 points per night.

Hilton Hawaiian Village. (Melanie Lieberman / The Points Guy.)

If you need more room to spread out, you can book a one-bedroom suite with a pull-out couch at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach for 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night. As with all Embassy Suites, you get free cooked-to-order breakfast and access to the complimentary drinks, snacks and weekly entertainment at the evening poolside reception.

While in Honolulu, you can experience a bit of history with a visit to Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

The USS Arizona Memorial. (Photo by Glowimages / Getty Images.)

Status Makes It Sweeter

You can receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status just by having the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card. This is enough to score you additional points, space-available upgrades, late checkout and even free snacks or breakfast, depending on the type of Hilton property you are visiting. This would be very handy at properties such as the Grand Wailea since Waldorf properties are now included in the Hilton brands that provide free breakfast of some sort to Hilton Gold elites and above.

If you want to upgrade to Hilton Honors Diamond status, the easiest pathway is to get the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which comes with automatic Hilton Diamond status.

Having Hilton elite status also means that you get the fifth night free on award stays. There are Hilton properties in Hawaii at 50,000 points per night, which means you just need to get to 200,000 Hilton points to enjoy a five-night vacation somewhere like Hilo or Kauai.

Here's what Hilton Honors elite status is worth.

Volcanos National Park. (Summer Hull / The Points Guy.)

Bottom Line

Hawaii is popular for good reason and with more ways than ever to fly to the islands, now is a great time to get serious about using your points and miles to create a Hawaiian vacation.

Here's more trip-planning advice for your Hawaiian vacation:

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Amex, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.