Oahu, the most visited of the Hawaiian Islands, is known as The Gathering Place. Rich with historical sites, outstanding Pacific Rim cuisine and famous surf breaks, it’s easy to see why most Hawaii residents choose Oahu to live, work and play. Home of the world’s largest outdoor shopping mall, the nation’s only royal palace and the state’s biggest city, Oahu is energetic and captivating, offering unspoiled shorelines and jungle landscapes as well as a bustling city center full of art and culture. Expertly combining the flavor of ancient Hawaii with modern decadence, Oahu offers a tasteful blend of old and new.
Begin your stay with a check-in at the charming boutique, Coconut Waikiki Hotel. Nestled in the heart of the island’s tourist district, this carefully manicured property offers newly renovated rooms equipped with balconies and a bright, island-chic style. The hotel has a heated pool, fitness and business centers and complimentary breakfast. Upscale shopping is a short walk away, and the hotel views of the Koolau mountains, fluted and green, can’t be beat. Kid-friendly and just steps from iconic Waikiki Beach, there’s no place more comfortable to rest your head at night.
Now that you’ve landed in paradise, it’s time to look the part. With five convenient Honolulu store locations, resortwear company Tori Richard offers a modern take on the iconic aloha shirt. Mastering a seamless blend of classic fashion and modern aesthetics, the clothing brand for men and women is embraced by celebs such as George Clooney and the cast of “Hawaii Five-0.”
At the Polynesian Cultural Center, you’ll travel back in time to explore the root of Pacific island culture. Set on 42 acres, the grounds offer daytime opportunities to observe and participate in traditional activities such as spear throwing, canoe paddling and tiki carving. At a royal luau in the evening, bask in the waterfall-drenched gardens while feasting on kalua pork, lomilomi salmon, teriyaki-marinated strip steak and poi. Top off the day with a powerful Polynesian music and dance performance complete with an unforgettable display of blazing fire knives.
Now that you’re grounded in Pacific island culture, it’s time to take flight. A bird’s-eye view tour of the island with Paradise Helicopters is the perfect way to learn the lay of the land. From the sun-drenched waters of the birthplace of big-wave surfing to the arid summit of the world’s most recognized volcanic crater, Oahu’s topography is spectacularly diverse, formed between 3 million and 4 million years ago. Offering multiple takeoff locations, Paradise Helicopters is equipped with a top-of-the-line helicopter fleet and knowledgeable, experienced pilots eager to acquaint you with Oahu’s marvelous geography.
Top off a fabulous day in the skies with a meal at Taps & Apps. Serving up eclectic small plates, and with three dozen beverages on tap, the cozy Mililani brewpub specializes in a tasty selection of artisan flatbreads, sandwiches, fresh salads, savory cheese boards and sweet treats. Just don’t forget to try a Velvet Hawaiian—an ice-cold glass of pineapple cider topped with Guinness. Delicious!
Replenish yourself with a day spent in the crystalline, shallow waters fronting Waikiki Beach. At Waikiki Beach Services, you’ll meet a friendly crew of Waikiki beachboys equipped with all the tools you need to learn the art of stand-up paddleboarding, outrigger canoe paddling and surfing. In addition to lessons for guests of every skill level, the premier ocean experience company offers chaise lounge, umbrella and gear rentals. Its skilled watermen can also set you up on a majestic catamaran sail charter.
History buffs will relish in a visit to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, where a 90-minute tour takes guests inside one of the nation’s most iconic warships to view its engine rooms, gun turrets and damage control station. The site of the ceremony that marked Japan’s surrender in World War II, the USS Missouri serves as a reminder of the war’s end, inspiring millions of visitors each year.
Before you bid the island farewell, stop by a Jams World retail stores in Honolulu or Kapolei for one last memento. Made in Hawaii since 1963, Jams World is a resortwear collection for men and women featuring fun, colorful prints and a rayon fabric designed to keep you cool, even in the tropical heat. Each clothing print has coordinating hand-painted buttons, creating a look that is striking and unique. The first Jams were men’s surf shorts that skyrocketed to popularity following a feature in Life magazine. Since then, the company has expanded to accommodate modern fashion tastes while maintaining its signature flamboyant style.
This special section appeared in our November/December 2017 print issue, "The Local's Guide." Get your copy by contacting our Circulation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-788-4230.