Hawaii, with its beckoning indigo waters, is a fantastic place to explore the ocean, from diving and surfing to playing in the waves.
But the ocean is not for everyone. Weaker swimmers and families wrangling kids across a wide age range may prefer the order and heightened safety of a pool. In the winter especially, ocean swells are typically bigger, and a swim in sea can be exponentially more dangerous. In November, a winter storm brought 50-foot waves to Oahu's North Shore. For the top surfers who flock to the islands for the season, it's ideal, but for inexperienced swimmers, it is a major risk.
That's where Hawaii's hotels with sprawling, feature-laden pools come in, serving the needs of families seeking fun in water as well as couples looking for poolside tranquility. Hawaii is home to many lavishly landscaped, multi-tiered pools with twisting water slides, waterfalls and lazy rivers.
Here are hotels on the four most visited islands that offer grand aquatic complexes with a variety of amenities and lounging options.
The Sheraton Waikiki offers a multifaceted pool that will please rambunctious kids and relaxation-focused adults alike. There are two large whirlpools, a 70-foot slide and an interactive fountain. The heated oceanfront infinity pool, dubbed "The Edge," offers views of Diamond Head and overlooks Waikiki Beach. The 81,000-gallon pool lined with 125 lounge chairs is filled with fresh water, which is treated with a salt chlorination system that, according to the Sheraton Waikiki, is gentler on the environment and guests' skin compared to traditional chlorine pool systems.
As one might expect, Aulani, A Disney Hotel and Spa boasts a children-focused pool experience with an array of activities. The seven-acre water zone features the Volcanic Vertical, an enclosed 280-foot slide that sends riders flying into the pool below and a lazy river for a more leisurely ride. The zero-entry Waikolohe Pool is perfect for little ones just getting used to the water. There is also an adults-only (18 and over) infinity pool.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort features several spots to take a dip, so if all the chairs are taken at one, just move on to one of the other handful of options. The 5,000-square-foot Paradise Pool has four water slides, including a 77-foot enclosed drop. There is a shallow pool for toddlers, a 10,000-square-foot beachfront super pool, and an infinity pool on the fourth floor of the Kalia Tower.
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai has seven pools, but the most notable is likely the 1.8 million-gallon King's Pond, which is carved out of lava rock and fills with a mixture of fresh and ocean water from underground tunnels. Grab snorkel gear and see how many of the 75 species of fish living in the pond you can spot.
Hilton Waikoloa Village is a family-friendly option with a sprawling pool complex including a 175-foot green waterslide, waterfalls and a rope bridge. There also a saltwater lagoon for snorkeling, an area for younger kids that includes shorter, slower slides and an adults-only pool area at the Ocean Towers.
Climb across a swinging rope bridge to the top of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa's 150-foot slide for a ride full of bends and stomach-dropping dips. There are also daily pool fitness classes at the resort, an infinity pool for being hypnotized into relaxation by the sea, and a zero-entry pool for the smallest swimmers.
If there is a water feature, the Grand Wailea Resort most likely has it. There is a water slide, caves for exploring, a water elevator, rapids, sand beach, rope swing, and a swim-up bar. The multi-tiered Activity Pool is a spacious 25,7000 square feet including six connecting water slides, and there is an adults-only Hibiscus Pool detailed with 630,000 Mexican glass mosaic tiles.
The Wailea Beach Resort came out of a $100 million renovation at the end of 2016 with the two-acre Nalu Adventure Pool. There are four waterslides, including the tallest on Maui, a 325-foot-long drop that punctuates the atmosphere at the family-friendly pool with routine shrieks of excitement. There is also an interactive "splash zone," with water guns, spraying sea mammal sculptures and bubblers. For less excitement and more rest, guests can head to the adults-only infinity pool with over-water cabanas, and there are two additional oceanfront infinity edge pools.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa offers a pool lover's paradise, with multiple levels and amenities. There is a 150-foot S-shaped waterslide, water basketball hoops, a lazy river and a saltwater lagoon where guests can snorkel. There is an adults-only area, and at various times the hotel will round up the young guests for waterslide races, handing out prizes to the fastest contestants.
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu underwent a major renovation in 2017, and its main pool is an ideal spot for relaxation and heat-beating dips. There are waterfalls, a grotto, waterslides and plenty of space for lounging poolside. The main pool leads into the Lagoon Pool, a smaller option and then onto the Tranquility Pool, which is reserved for guests 18 and older. There are also poolside barbeques for guests who are up to cook on their own in addition to Holoholo Grill offering fish tacos and other meals.