While the bulk of afternoon tea spots in Hawaii are in Waikiki, The Kahala is set farther away, in a residential neighborhood. Here, you can tailor your own afternoon tea ($28-42) by selecting from a range of tea sandwiches and savory bites. Think rare roast beef paired with tobiko and ponzu mayonnaise, and flaky Hamakua mushroom turnovers. The berry scones are some of the best on the island and the sweets tier involves offerings of lilikoi (passionfruit) glazed madeleines, and golden brown sugar shortbreads.
Koele Lodge is located deep in the woods on the island of Lana'i. It's the only tea service on our list that isn't on Oahu (or near a beach). Afternoon tea is served in the aptly named Great Hall, which is outfitted with warming fireplaces. They do a classic afternoon tea with savories like macadamia nut-egg salad sandwiches, and whipped goat cheese and marmalade over brioche. Scones are dotted with cranberries and paired with a tangy house lemon curd. And if it's especially cold, opt for a boozy tea toddy in place of regular tea. They also offer a golfer's afternoon tea (think miniature hot dogs and apple pies) and a themed holiday afternoon tea during the winter season.
The Moana Surfrider sources tea from a local Hawaii company called Tea Chest. Make sure to try the Moana Sunset tea, a heady blend of ohelo berries and mango with black tea. Highlights of this tea service include the curried chicken salad tucked into a mini croissant, the black and white sesame caramel wafers, and mochi-chocolate cupcakes (the fresh mochi is baked into the center of the cupcake) And don't miss the treat that comes at the end—a tiny scoop of lemongrass-green tea sorbet. Super refreshing!
The Halekulani is the quintessential Hawai'i afternoon tea experience. It's presented in the Veranda room—think high ceilings, bamboo fans, and soft white curtains—with the traditional three courses ($32) brought out one by one. Course 1 features tea sandwiches like smoked salmon with lemon cream on rye and ham and watercress on poppy seed bread. Course 2 is a round of mini currant scones, warm and golden with strawberry (local!) preserves, lemon curd, and Devonshire cream. And for the final course...