2199 Kalia Rd., Honolulu
Halekulani may be one of the oldest hotels in Honolulu, and it’s one of the best. A bit more buttoned up than what you’d expect in the land of aloha—but it’s the five-star property’s proximity to all of the best big-name shopping, surfing, eating, and anything else you could possibly want to do in Waikiki that really steps up its game. Plus, the hotel itself is quite lavish—all two oceanfront towers of it—with its unbeatable Diamond Head views and the kind of precisely manicured lawns that attract a fair share of weddings. Days are spent pool-ing, spa-ing, or paddling out in the rolling waves that make up Halekulani’s backyard. And when you’re all activitied-out, kick off your flip-flops and head to the swanky Lewers Lounge—where the lychee martinis are as strong as the dress code is strict. And don’t skip the impressive Sunday brunch (we swoon for the poha berry popovers at Orchids).
2199 Kalia Rd., Honolulu
The Halekulani Hotel is in the thick of Waikiki’s resort row, but the aromatherapy massage is transportive. Start with an invigorating slap on the soles of your feet with coconut sticks (grown on the property) and then move on to what makes the Halekulani spa special: a fragrant, densely packed ball of turmeric, tamarind leaves, and lemongrass in cheesecloth that is heated and then pressed into knots and kinks. And as a parting gift, you get to take home the herbaceous orb to use in the bath or reheat at home for a repeat.
22 S Pauahi St., Honolulu
Cindy Yokoyama cut her design teeth as a fine art major. But Hawaii’s emerald, chunky-with-volcanoes landscape inspired jewelry, not oil on canvas. And Yokoyama yielded to her new passion. Ginger 13 is packed to the brim with earthy, abstract jewelry punctured with semiprecious aquamarines, carnelians, and Pacific-blue sapphires. A bevy of local ceramics, fragrant sage, woven baskets, perfumed oils, and other trinkets make ideal keepsakes, but a set of wood-sculpted earrings studded with something special always finds its way into our carry-on.
691 Auahi St., Honolulu
Number 808 is a vintage hub for any ’90s loving, island-dwelling swell surfer who also happens to have great taste. This place has all the requisite clothes and accessories as well as surfboards, toys, and signage. And if vintage isn’t up your alley, there are plenty of new items to check out, like ceramics from Shinotakeda and all-natural soaps and hempseed oils from Marley Natural.
Koko Head Café
1145 12th Ave., Honolulu
This restaurant is the amalgamation of all the cultures that have melded together on Oahu. And Hawaiian-Japanese-Korean-American-Portuguese fusion never tasted so good. You can get everything from a cornflake French toast to breakfast congee—and all of it is excellent. There is most likely a line snaking around the block, so get here early. And don’t be deterred by the wait. It’s worthwhile.
Hawaiian Crown Plantation
159 Kaiulani Ave., Honolulu
Family-owned Hawaii Pineapple Company is one of the last commercial farms on the island—and they’ve gone above and beyond to create a special surfer snack haven in Waikiki. The acai bowls here contain Hawaii Pineapple Company’s fruit and are also topped with their own macadamia nuts and cacao nibs. If you can find an acai bowl on the mainland that compares, let us know!
3308 Kanaina Ave., Honolulu
The first thing you should know about the Kapahulu drive-in is that it’s an Oahu institution. And the second is that it’s a complete hole-in-the-wall. One that’s been going strong since the early ’60s. But what this mom-and-pop shop lacks in good looks and ritzy ambiance, it makes up for with its local-style lunch plates, piled high with island favorites, like shoya chicken with generous scoops of rice and mounds of mac salad. In fact, everything about it—from the walk-up window to the shared picnic tables, even the iconic rainbow-lit sign—reminds you this is a place with character. Local tip: Order the gravy-smothered loco moco (don’t knock it till you try it) after a day in the waves.
1240 N School St., Honolulu
Four words: James Beard Award winner. Helena’s Hawaiian has been around since the ’40s and is still part of the fabric of Oahu culture almost eighty years later. Come here, order the Combo Menu D (which includes Kahlúa pig, lomi salmon, pipikaula short ribs, and luau squid) and let loose: You’re on vacation.
324 Coral St., Honolulu
Pull up to the counter at ARVO and you’re bound to make a friend. The staff here not only pours the best cold brew in town but has recommendations for what local place to hit next. As you’re waiting for your drink or avocado toast, scroll through their website for interesting interviews with local creatives.
2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu
Ask anyone on the island where the best brunch in all of Oahu is and you’ll likely get this answer: Orchids. That’s because this beachfront eatery at Waikiki’s iconic Halekulani hotel is that good—and popular with the locals, considering they’re the ones snagging up all the reservations during the holidays. There is something so romantic and magical about sipping a mimosa and gazing at the ocean while a harpist plays in the background. Carving stations, the freshest fruits, incredible baked goods, sashimi, sushi, omelet bar, sundae bar, all the bars!—this place is the full package.
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