How To Resort Crash In Hawaii
It’s no secret that Hawaii is home to some of the greatest resorts in the world. The big names are all there, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, etc. and so are the unique local brands like Ko’a Kea and Turtle Bay. In fact, two of the most impressive resorts I’ve personally been to were the Grand Hyatt and the St. Regis on Kauai. And although I’ll relish the day I’m willing to spend two months worth of my current Bali housing budget on a night in Hawaii, one of the best parts about experiencing these luxurious oases was that I didn’t have to spend a dime to do it.
But how do you go from thrifty backpacker to standing on a terrace at the St. Regis in just a few minutes without spending any money? Simple really, you just walk right in.
Now I’d like to sit here and tell you that when I walked in I was exuding so much confidence that it just looked like I was supposed to be there and nobody asked me any questions, but the truth is that that may or may not have had anything to do with it. As it turns out, most of the beaches in Hawaii are open to the public. The major exception to this rule are the handful that are reserved for government purposes. I believe the exact phrase that’s used is “they belong to no one and everyone.” What this means is that all of the resorts, villas and hotels that have picturesque beaches in their backyards cannot reserve access to said beaches for their guests. As a result, nobody really gives it a second thought when you walk into these resorts and head to their beaches. In fact, some even have separate parking lots specifically designated for non-guests heading to the beach.
So if your definition of “resort crashing” is satisfied with relaxing on the not so private beaches of the Grand Hyatt, then we’re all set here. But to be completely honest, if your goal is to visit impeccable beaches for free, there are a number of places on every island that will meet your criteria. The real value of resort crashing comes from temporarily cashing in on the amenities that create the luxurious experience. This is the difference between landing a day bed on the beach and laying on the quick dry towel in your backpack or swimming in the 6 different pools instead of looking at it from the nearby bar. All are great options, but some are a little more enjoyable than others. The nice thing is that they all take about as much effort as getting to the beaches and it’s more about knowing what not to do than figuring out what to do.
What do I mean by this? Well what we found is that because the resorts have to be so open to non-guests walking through their property and using their beaches, they tend to be a little lax when it comes to enforcing the areas they are allowed to restrict.
For example, if you only bring the bare essentials with you to hit the beach and then walk to the pool to rinse off, you probably look just like a guest going back and forth between the beach and the pool instead of someone blatantly ignoring the “Only Guests In The Pool” signs. The only real giveaways are the lack of a wristband or whatever identification system the hotel is using and the towel you have wrapped around your neck that doesn’t match the thousands of hotel towels that are around.
So here’s the not so secret formula; leave the towel and the clunky backpack at home if you can (unless you’ve got a camera you don’t really need whatever you’re bringing in the bag and if you are bringing a camera, I’d have the camera out when walking around with the bag so that there’s a reason to have a bag despite trying to look like you’re staying 50 feet away), head to the beach and then confidently walk up to whatever lounge chair by the pool or day bed on the beach looks like it’s getting the least amount of attention and post up, all the while being fully prepared to play dumb if you’re approached by a staff member.
Whenever you can, try to snag a straggler towel or coerce the front desk to let you borrow a towel so that you blend in even more. You can also try getting in the pool as soon as possible since nobody’s really going to think twice once you’re in the water. If you’re concerned about the lack of the wristband, keep your hand in your pocket as much as you can or wear a few dull bracelets, but nobody seems to pay attention to them since they’re so unnoticeable as it is. Last but not least just remember that you’ll only be one of the hundreds of people there and if you don’t give people a reason to, most of them probably won’t pay you any mind.
The bottomline is that it’s pretty easy to enjoy some of the spoils of the resort life in Hawaii without too much effort or money. If anything, we’d highly recommend walking through some of the luxury resorts you’re staying near to hit the beach and simply appreciate how incredible some of them are.