‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
2490 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu
When ‘Alohilani opened last winter in Waikiki, it filled a much-needed void in Oahu’s packed hotel scene—a modern, super sophisticated property that feels fresh, light, and without a hint of stuffiness or formality (in other words, a place you’ll feel comfortable wearing shorts and flip-flops everywhere). Its 839 guest rooms are outfitted in a clean, calming palette of white, beige, and natural wood, with zero clutter that might distract from the epic Hawaiian views outside (including, in many cases, the iconic slopes of Diamond Head and the endless Pacific Ocean that’s directly across the street). We love the location, too: It’s in the heart of Waikiki, within walking distance to some of the island’s best restaurants, shopping, and sites. But it also feels removed from it all, positioned at the neighborhood’s southern end, near a large city park, so the feeling is much quieter here than at hotels further up the shore. Even if you aren’t staying here, though, it’s worth a visit for a meal at Morimoto Asia Waikiki, helmed by “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto. Grab a seat on the open-air terrace overlooking Kalakaua Avenue (Waikiki’s main strip)…
64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa
To state the obvious: The Dole Plantation is a totally kitschy, touristy experience. But if you can get past (or even get excited about) the hoards of pineapple memorabilia and the tourists that look straight out of central casting, it’s actually a very fun stopover on the way to the North Shore. For starters, there’s fresh, juicy, just-picked pineapple around every corner. Visitors can also check out the pineapple-shaped garden maze, which is the largest maze in the world, or the “Pineapple Express,” a just-for-kids train that circles the property. The real reason to go, though, is because the Dole whip here tastes even better than the Disneyland version.
Haokea Dr., Kailua
A coral reef off the shore of Lanikai Beach protects the water from big tides and waves, so this is a local favorite for a calm, relaxing swimming. The safe, warm water also makes it good for snorkeling—there are plenty of reef fish to be seen, and there are turtles once in a while, as well. And though it does get a bit crowded on the weekends, the stunning view of the Mokulua Islands and the powdery, white sand make for excellent sunbathing (though you’ll want to come early in the day, before the afternoon sun slips behind the mountains to the West, and also before all of the parking spots are taken). Note: It’s a great place to watch the sunrise.
Maunawili Falls Hike
1201 Kelewina St., Kailua
This hiking trail in Kailua is great for hot days because it’s almost entirely covered by trees and foliage. The trail itself follows a creek up the hillside through a lush forest until you arrive at a swimming hole that features a lovely waterfall and a few great jumping-off points for brave cliff jumpers. A few words to the wise: The trail can get muddy when the creek is high, so wear appropriate shoes. It’s also a good idea to pack some bug spray.
364 S. King St., Honolulu
The opulent Iolani Palanace was the royal residence of the Hawaiian monarchy until Queen Liliuokalani was forced to abdicate her throne in 1893. The palace has since been restored, including furniture and decorations that were there during the monarchic rule, and a significant collection of artifacts representing different periods in Hawaiian history. It’s a fascinating tour, and a welcome break when you’ve spent too many hours in the sun.
49 Kihapai St., Kailua
Settled in on a quiet Kailua street, this indie surf shop is home to a slew of small, design-focused men's brands like Saturdays, Apolis, Deus ex Machina, and Industry of all Nations. It’s primarily a clothing shop, though they always have a great selection of surf-inspired jewelry, art, and other knick-knacks to choose from. While most of the buy is menswear, there’s a healthy selection of bags, towels, and jewelry for women, and there are plenty of items, like Mollusk sweatshirts or Alex Mill tees, that are perfectly unisex. Their new outpost at the Surfjack Hotel has equally deep buys in men's and women's clothing.
Kailua Farmer’s Market
108 Hekili St., Kailua
The sheer variety of tropical fruits and vegetables grown in Hawaii makes their farmers markets incredibly special. The Kailua Farmer’s market is always filled with locals buying their produce for the week, picking through mangoes, kiwis, and several varieties of banana (we’ve heard that the apple bananas and ice cream bananas are particularly great). Make sure to stop by the Nalo Farms table to pick up some “Nalo greens,” a mix of salad and microgreens that are famous in the area—then look out for them as menu items in Honolulu.
1039 Kekaulike St., Honolulu
Chinatown’s Kekaulike market can be a bit grimy, but don’t let that deter you from seeking out Maguro Brothers, a sparkling clean stall in the back row that serves some of the city’s freshest fish. Brothers Junichiro and Ryojiro Tsuchiya were fishmongers in Japan, and here on Oahu, they’re at the market every morning picking out the best catches. Their stall serves poké, sashimi, and surprisingly great ramen, plus lots of fresh fish for home-cooked dishes. The must-orders are the spicy ahi tuna bowl and the maguro donburi, auction fish laid over nori, ginger, and rice.
66-250 Kamehameha Hwy, Hale'iwa
Surfing burns an awful lot of energy, so it’s not surprising that the North Shore is equipped with a few hearty breakfast spots. After a long morning in the ocean, locals go to Kono’s for breakfast burritos, pulled pork, and seriously good milkshakes. Not surprisingly, the pulled pork breakfast burrito, which combines all of their best dishes, is the must-order menu item (though brave souls should also try their Spam breakfast burrito—it's the equivalent of trying Vegemite in Australia).
933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu
Hawaii native Leonard Rego is the son of Portuguese immigrants that first came to Oahu to work in the sugar cane fields. His namesake bakery is famous for malasadas, a Portuguese donut that’s a bit like a sugar donut without the hole. Look out for their food truck, which travels around the city.
You may also like