Like the force of the tide, Royal Lahaina's alluring beach and wealth of activities often pulls guests into staying near the resort grounds. A 3,500-seat tennis stadium holds clinics on its 10 courts and has hosted championship events. Other on-site lessons indulge crafty sojourners, such as the lei-making class. Families can wash out the taste of bad stamp flavors at the on-site ice-cream parlor, which dishes out locally made scoops of the frozen treat. A diverse spread of regional Hawaiian fare populates the menu at the alfresco Royal Ocean Terrace Restaurant & Lounge, where hula dancers sway to the melodies of a house musician.There's plenty of life beyond the resort, too. Coconut trees, lava rocks, and natural canals dot the landscape on the Robert Trent Jones–designed Ka'anapali Golf Course, whose two courses with gently sloping fairways often neighbor the shoreline. Royal Lahaina's activities desk attendant arranges trips for whale-watching cruises, parasailing trips, and helicopter tours.The historic town of Lahaina—founded by Polynesian settlers more than a thousand years ago—blends its rich cultural heritage with abundant shopping opportunities. A stroll along the iconic Front Street reveals resplendent restaurants and scores of knickknacks at souvenir stands, and nighttime hums with dynamic nightclubs.
The sunlight bathed, palm-fortified fairways of the beautifully landscaped Kaanapali Golf Course wend around the slatted windows of Paradise Grill, filling each portal with greenery backed by sunsets and rolling ocean. It's a stunning venue in which to enjoy some casual island culture. A high-vaulted diagonal ceiling stretches overhead, lending the eatery a modern feel. The first-floor bar boasts 11 flat-screen TVs and a quieter, second-floor dining room is where guests slice into ocean-fresh fish or pull gooey slices of handmade Round Table pizzas. The chefs whip up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night meals affectionately called Buenas Noshes.
Hawaiian performer Chief Sielu is on a lifelong quest to educate and entertain the world about Polynesian traditions, a passion that has taken him to appearances on the BBC, MTV, and the Late Show with David Letterman. Dubbed the "coconut man," the chief immerses all comers in island culture at spectacular luaus. On stage, he and his tribe balance revelry and education with high-energy ritual and knife-dancing performances, participatory dances and art making, and a large supper of Hawaiian staples such as poi and braised surfboard fillets. If you can catch his ear, Sielu might have a lot of stories to share: in the course of his ambassadorial travels, he's lit the Olympic torch in Salt Lake City by throwing a flaming spear and been the subject of the documentary film Chief, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
A Cup of Tea Victorian Team Room Restaurant and Boutique immerses guests in a Victorian tearoom experience. Doily-clad tables and patterned wallpaper complement lamps fashioned like teapots. Teacups and saucers adorned with colorful flowers hold earl grey, darjeeling, and chai varieties, along with special mixes from around the world. Guests can enjoy their tea with freshly baked scones, soups, sandwiches, and sweet treats.
The menu at Prima is split into two sections: Pizza and Not Pizza. In the latter, you'll find a dozen or so shareable treats, such as brussels sprouts with prosciutto and oven-roasted radicchio. But it's the pizzas here that steal the show, both on the menu and as chefs pull them from the restaurant's massive brick oven.
Inside that oven, local kiawe smoking wood cooks the handcrafted pies to thin and crispy perfection. Those include pizzas like the popular Spicy Meatball with arugula and chillies or the Funghi with cremini mushrooms and herbs. The restaurant strives to work with more local products too, as the kitchen counter, tables, and bar all consist of recycled woods and most ingredients come from local sources. It's no surprise then, that the menu changes seasonally, just like the location of Hawaii's islands. But Food & Wine editors had no trouble finding chef Kevin Lee, who they named among the magazine's 2014 Best New Chef finalists.
Behind Tokoname's dark-wood storefront and rustic carved sign, chefs craft of authentic Japanese fare by the light of hanging lanterns. Sushi standards such as ahi tuna nigiri and shrimp tempura share table space with more exotic seasonal items, including abalone and monkfish liver. Patrons can also opt to wash down meals with a round of sake cocktails or a beer tower for the table. During lunches at the Manoa location, chefs also drizzle chicken in homemade teriyaki sauce.