Hau Tree Lanai boasts one of the best sunset views in Waikiki. // © 2018 Kyle Rothenborg
Feature image (above): At Brown's Beach House, dinners are rivaled only by views of the setting sun. // © 2018 Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
In Hawaii, a sunset view has the power to transform a meal into a memory. Whether clients sit outside or opt for an indoor table next to immense picture windows, these resort restaurants bring diners face to face with appetizing views of the golden orb as it drips into the sea.
Brown’s Beach House, Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii Island
Many travelers dream of dining outside in perfect weather during a Hawaiian vacation. This alfresco restaurant brings that fantasy to life. At sundown, guests gather around candlelit tables, located just a stone’s throw from the ocean.
The menu mirrors the setting with its emphasis on fresh, local seafood. Case in point is the seared bigeye tuna with celery root, braised baby fennel and kalamansi vinaigrette. Meat options take their cue from the landscape, such as the Kona coffee-crusted venison with coconut ulu (breadfruit) puree, root vegetables and kiawe-burnt honey glaze. Live Hawaiian music adds to the magic.
Hau Tree Lanai, New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, Oahu
By day, bikini-clad girls parade around Sans Souci Beach, and outrigger canoes glide over the waves. At sunset, torches toss shadows on the sand, and ship lights flicker on the horizon.
Such is the scene at Hau Tree Lanai, an open-air outdoor terrace that practically digs its toes in the sand. The food rivals the views. For dinner, Pacific Rim cuisine is the focus. Popular starters include crab cakes on Asian slaw with red curry sauce. For entrees, the broiled Kona kampachi (yellowtail) is topped with citrus-mango sauce, while the mahimahi is crusted with crab and avocado.
House Without a Key, Halekulani, Oahu
Come sunset, the place to sit at Halekulani is the outer terrace, which snuggles up to the palms at the ocean’s edge. From here, clients see the classic profile of Diamond Head, the waters off Waikiki and graceful hula performances by former Miss Hawaii winners.
To start things off, guests often order the hotel’s signature Mai Tai, whose hues match the yellow, orange and red of the sky. Among the entrees is a terrific steamed onaga (snapper) with braised baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, green onions and steamed rice; and a local favorite, the kalua pork sandwich on a toasted hoagie.
Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Grand Wailea, Maui
Like something out of a South Pacific postcard, this thatched-roof, wall-free restaurant looks and feels like it’s floating on a lagoon. Its name honors Hawaii’s state fish. For the ultimate seat at the close of the day, clients can reserve Table 70, a private setting that offers unimpeded views of the sun hanging over the water.
The menu presents an equally sublime taste of paradise, with recipes reflecting Polynesian and local influences. Highlights include a filet of beef paired with Kona crab, bacon and spinach and roasted Puna chicken with wild mushrooms and area-grown veggies.
RumFire Poipu Beach, Sheraton Kauai Resort
Thanks to its walls of ocean-facing windows, this south Kauai eatery thrills clients with panoramic vistas, making it a real hot spot for sunset drinks and dinners. Enhancing the sense of place, the menu features locally sourced ingredients seasoned with global overtones.
A fine example is the Hawaiian paella, which swims with fresh catch, clams, shrimp and Portuguese sausage. Another winner, the Hamakua mushroom ravioli, comes with braised spinach, crispy shiitake and beurre blanc. As the sky’s twilight colors command attention, guests can toast the moment with one of RumFire’s designer cocktails. Mango mojitos, anyone?