Why dine in Hawaii without feeling like you’re on vacation in a tropical locale? Restaurants on the Islands know the allure of their surroundings, and many offer stunning views of emerald mountains, rugged coastlines and dramatic sunsets over the ocean. Some boast front row, outdoor seating, while others offer quieter, more intimate dining spaces that overlook some of Hawaii’s most gorgeous scenery. The list we have cooked up here features places with decadent views and delicious cuisine on the menu every day.
House Without A Key, Oahu
One of the most iconic hotels in Waikiki boasts one of the best sunset views, too. House Without A Key, at the luxe Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Halekulani, sits right on Waikiki’s bustling beach. This casual spot offers both open-air indoor and breezy outdoor seating, with views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean. It’s the perfect place to unwind and sip a cocktail — namely, the hotel’s signature Mai Tai — while listening to live Hawaiian music under the century-old kiawe tree as the sun sinks below the horizon. On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, the grills are fired up on the lawn and topped with lobster, southern-style baby back ribs, lamb chops and burgers. You won’t find a gourmet dinner like this, cooked on a grill on the beach, anywhere else in Waikiki.
Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante, Maui
Situated on a bluff above the golden sands of Wailea Beach, Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante is a romantic outdoor Italian restaurant at the Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. Every seat faces the ocean, and the sunsets here are utterly mesmerizing. On clear nights, you’ll dine beneath a canopy of stars. This open-air establishment offers casual lunch offerings such as a Kona lobster melt, a curried quinoa-crusted salmon and stone-baked pizzas. For dinner, feast on authentic Italian cucina rusitca cuisine, with dishes like hand-stretched pizzettes, house-made pastas and fresh fish paired with locally grown vegetables highlighting the menu. Expect impeccable service and an impressive list of Italian wines.
53 By the Sea, Oahu
On the sprawling ground floor of a massive Mediterranean-style building at Kewalo Basin in Kakaako is an Italian restaurant right at the water’s edge. The 200-seat dining room here features floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach. Watch sailboats drift by and surfers ride waves at some of the south shore’s best breaks. There are a few tables outside and a happy hour that lures nearby downtown Honolulu office workers to its lounge, T’s at 53, for handcrafted cocktails and tasty small bites such as ahi tataki, cayenne calamari and focaccia pizza topped with salami and chorizo. The dinner menu here boasts some of the best seafood dishes around, including a macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi, seared scallops with alii mushrooms and pickled shallots, and the fresh catch of the day in a garlic brown butter sauce. Or indulge in the decadent prix-fixe menu, which boasts eight courses, including dessert.
Kaua’i Grill, Kaua‘i
Imagine sipping a flute of champagne while gazing out toward the breathtaking Hanalei Bay on Kaua‘i’s North Shore. That’s the experience you’ll get at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Kauai Grill, a comfortable-yet-elegant hideaway at swanky Four-Star The St. Regis Princeville Resort. The sprawling property is built into the cliffs above the bay, with spectacular views of both the mountains and the ocean, including Makana, the landmark peak immortalized as Bali Hai island in the 1958 film South Pacific. The restaurant, created by legendary French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, offers sweeping views of the magical bay with an island-focused menu with items like Makaweli beef carpaccio with a black truffle mayonnaise, pan-seared red snapper with spaghetti squash, and bacon-wrapped Kauai prawns with a papaya mustard.
‘ULU Ocean Grill + Sushi Lounge, Hawaii Island
Formerly called Pahu‘ia, ‘ULU is the signature restaurant at the Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at historic Ka’upulehu on Hawaii Island. And if the open-air, oceanfront seating is extraordinary, the Hawaii-centric menu is even more impressive. The restaurant works with more than 160 local farmers and fishermen, sourcing about 75 percent of its ingredients from Hawai‘i Island alone. The dinner roster pays homage to the island’s bounty, with dishes such as lilikoi-barbecued Big Island wild boar, roasted Kekela beet salad, Hawaiian ‘ahi poke with ogo (seaweed) and Maui onions, and local snapper in a Polynesian coconut curry and local heirloom tomatoes. As the name suggests, the eatery also boasts a sushi lounge with indoor-outdoor seating that faces the ocean, an intimate 10-seat bar, and a wide selection of Japanese sake and handcrafted cocktails.