The most populous and diverse of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is fondly known as The Gathering Place. The legendary district of Waikiki serves as the island’s comely and compact tourism center, rich with historical sites, outstanding Pacific Rim cuisine and famous surf breaks. Travel beyond its sandy shoreline and you’ll encounter waterfall-drenched valleys, the world’s largest outdoor shopping mall and a bustling city with nightlife. Combining the flavor of old Hawaii with modern decadence, Oahu offers the best of old and new island life.
Once you arrive, stop by one of the Jams World retail stores in Honolulu or Kapolei and add a bit of flair to your vacation wardrobe. Made in Hawaii since 1963, Jams World garments feature fun, colorful prints made with rayon fabric to keep you cool and comfortable. Each print is sewn with hand-painted buttons, creating a look that is striking, unique and high-quality. The first Jams were men’s surf shorts featured in Life magazine. Since then, the company has grown to accommodate modern fashion tastes while maintaining its signature flamboyant style.
Next, it’s time to take flight. Offering multiple take-off locations, remote landings and Oahu’s only full-circle helicopter tour, Paradise Helicopters is equipped with a top-of-the-line fleet and experienced pilots eager to acquaint you with Oahu’s topography. Our favorite route? The Ko Olina: Oahu Sunset Experience tour, which takes you to see Oahu’s most famous destinations, from Pearl Harbor to Oahu’s fabled North Shore and, of course, a view of the glorious sunset. The company also is known for its carbon offset program, which gives you the chance to offset the environmental impact of your flight by purchasing carbon credits in support of native reforestation.
Now that you’ve seen the island from above, it’s time for an up-close look at Pearl Harbor, a massive complex of World War II-era relics and history. Aviation buffs will relish in a visit to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum on Ford Island, which houses an impressive fleet of aircraft.
Fans of the U.S. Navy can step onto the USS Bowfin, nicknamed “The Pearl Harbor Avenger,” where visitors experience what it was like to live and work on one of the last remaining WWII-era fleet submarines.
A great way to see these sites and more is with Pearl Harbor Tours, which offers full- and half-day packages to some of the nation’s most iconic warships: the USS Arizona and the USS Battleship Missouri.
If you’d like to have the guidance of a tour company for other destinations, Pearl Harbor Tours also offers packages with visits to Dole Plantation and the Polynesian Cultural Center. There’s even a 120-mile coastal road trip around all of Oahu, with plenty of photo opportunities along the way.
Refresh yourself in Waikiki’s blue water paradise. At Waikiki Beach Services, you’ll meet a friendly crew of Waikiki Beachboys ready to help you get the most fun out of a stand-up paddleboard, outrigger canoe or surfboard. Water sports lessons are available for every skill level. Chaise lounge, umbrella and gear rentals are also available.
Now it’s time to replenish. At The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach, you’ll bask in understated elegance, accented by a spa, infinity pools and private cabanas. The resort’s newly completed 245-residence Diamond Head Tower and neighboring Ewa Tower host some of the most highly sought-after luxury suites on Oahu. All the resort’s island-decor common areas and stylish, contemporary residential bedrooms and penthouses face the ocean, offering guests unbeatable views of the Pacific. With kitchens, premium appliances and in-residence washers and dryers, Waikiki’s The Ritz-Carlton Residences is the perfect retreat for travelers who seek the luxuries of an urban resort combined with the conveniences of a home.
Fuel up for a new day of adventure with breakfast from the legendary, 1970s-era Eggs ’n’ Things. The restaurant’s pancakes, omelets and crepes are so popular that the line for a table starts forming around the block as early as 7 a.m. Our recommendation? Get there early! Fresh ingredients, reasonable prices and a tradition of treating every patron like ohana makes this historic eatery in the heart of Waikiki a beloved spot among locals and tourists.
The Honolulu-based resortwear company Tori Richard is best-known for its modern twist on the iconic aloha shirt. Worn by the cast of Hawaii Five-0 and George Clooney, Tori Richard’s clothes are for both women and men, including bold print pants, dresses and swimwear. With more than a handful of retail stores on Oahu, such as at Ala Moana Center and inside several top Honolulu hotels, there are plenty of opportunities to find yourself a knock-out, island-inspired design.
Head over to the Honolulu Museum of Art for a day of cultural exploration. Founded in 1927, the museum is Honolulu’s cultural hub and the home of more than 50,000 works spanning 5,000 years. With so much to see, be sure to check out the new exhibit “Hooulu: The King Kalakaua Era,” which delves into perceptions about the Native Hawaiian place in the world during the late-19th century reign of King David Kalakaua. Nicknamed The Merrie Monarch, Kalakaua championed Hawaiian art, culture and traditions following a period when many Native Hawaiian expressions were discouraged or forbidden. At the intersection of art and politics, the show examines how Native Hawaiians used visual language to bolster national identity.
When you’re tuckered out from all that exploring, there’s no better place to rest your head than the beachfront Alohilani Resort. Waikiki’s newest hotel offers guests the opportunity to jumpstart their Hawaii journey with an astrological reading. The “Plant Your Intentions” experience is tailored to guide visitors toward a path of self-discovery by providing dreamboard workshops, tools for manifestation and opportunities for reflection in a private cabana. The experience culminates with an unforgettable trip to a scenic North Shore ranch, where guests can root their intentions into the soil with the planting of their very own tree in the Alohilani forest.
Cap another unforgettable Hawaiian adventure with a fabulous day in the skies courtesy of Magnum Helicopters. Adventure-seekers and photo fanatics will revel in the no-barriers views aboard Magnum’s fleet of no-doors helicopters. Without plexiglass panels to distort your aerial photographs, you’ll get the shots—and adrenaline—you crave. Fans of the “Magnum P.I.” TV series will get an extra jolt from the company’s MD-500 helicopter, which is a smooth and powerful recreation of the Hughes 500D chopper seen on the show.
This special section can be found in the November/December 2018 print issue of HAWAII Magazine.