Often overlooked for a luxury vacation, we think of Oahu as the hidden gem amongst the islands. Yes, many Waikiki hotels are too big and way past their prime, but there is so much more to Oahu! If you have a limited amount of time and can only see one island, Oahu should be at the top of your list. The Honolulu airport has the most flight options with many nonstop flights to the mainland, and the island offers the greatest variety in experience so you can see it all while being very efficient with your time!
Our Top Picks for things to See and Do?
- See Pearl Harbor with a local guide and understand how the events of WWII affected the local communities and the world.
- Hike up Diamond Head for a little exercise with great views. WWII history buffs will enjoy the opportunity to crawl into an old gunner’s pillbox, too!
- Drive to the North Shore to watch surfers, and pig out with a tour of some of the state’s best food trucks
- Tour Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States
- Visit the Dole Pineapple Plantation and try their famous pineapple ice cream
- Take a Scenic Drive along the Pali Haiway, stop for a waterfall hike, and follow in Guy Fieri’s footsteps to try some amazing local restaurants that a bit off the beaten track.
the beautiful shore line and hidden beaches of Oahu – definitely worth exploring!
Where to Stay – Our Top Recommendations:
- Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina – As the newest luxury hotel option on Oahu these days, the Four Seasons at Ko Olina has it all: a beautiful swimmable beach, a large spa and adults-only pool area, several dining options, incredible views from your room, and the flawless service and amenities you can expect from any Four Seasons resort!
- The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort – Hands down, the Royal Hawaiian has the best beach of any hotel on Waikiki with the best views of Diamond Head. This grande dame hotel’s rich history is intertwined with the history of Honolulu and Hawaii, and its famous shade of pink is hard to miss! Despite the age of the hotel, the rooms and public areas are all looking fresh and inviting.
- Halekulani: While the property lacks its own beach (a good beach is just a short walk away), there are still many selling points to this property namely, the fabulous ocean front location, delicious dining options, and a great sense of history. Guests rave about the service, and L’Aperitif Cocktail Bar is one of our favorites in Honolulu!
- The Kahala Hotel & Resort – Located just 15-minutes from Waikiki, The Kahala feels a world away and far more exclusive. The beach is the highlight here — quiet, private, and pristine. For families, we recommend booking one of the Dolphin Lanai rooms where you can watch the hotel’s 6 dolphins swim right by your patio.
- The MODERN Honolulu – This hotel has an addictive “cool-factor” to it! The minute you step into the lobby, you will feel like part of the in crowd. The energetic vibe will put anyone in the right mood for a fun night… and then a relaxing day recovering on the pool deck!
Where to Stay – Other Hotels of Note:
- Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach – This is a large hotel with two towers and is much bigger the hotels we typically like to sell, but its newly renovated rooms, excellent central location, and great dining options keep this hotel on our radar. You can see pictures from Jessica’s site-inspection of the hotel here.
- Aulani, a Disney Resort – We know many people who absolutely love this resort, and we can’t deny that it has some unique features, especially for the kids! If that is what you want, we will help you make the most of it! However, we’ve found that the majority of our clients just want a small dose of it. Aulani does not sell day passes to their pool/beach area, so you must be a guest of the hotel to access the features. But, since the Aulani is a neighbor to the Four Seasons, we’ve had great success with a combo stay of 1 or 2-nights at Disney (to get your fill of Moana, Lilo, and all the other characters) and then move over to the Four Seasons for an upgraded experience for the rest of your stay.
- Pictures from driving around and exploring Oahu
- How to Visit Pearl Harbor
- “Kailua, Oahu’s Low-Key White Sand Destination,” Virtuoso Life, April 2015