Where to stay, dine, shop, and relax on Hawaii’s most-visited island.
Choosing between Hawaiian islands may be the ultimate one-percent problem. There’s the Big Island, the one for adventure; Maui has the volcanoes; Kauai is the oldest, rainiest, and most lush. But when it comes to sheer fun, killer cocktails, farm-fresh food, and the best surfing in the world, you can’t beat Oahu.
Known as the Gathering Place, Oahu is Hawaii’s most visited island: home to Waikiki, big-wave surfing, and Pearl Harbor. And since the island just commemorated the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, it’s a perfect time to visit. Whether you’re there with family, friends, or for solo fun, here’s where to stay, what to see, and what to do on Oahu.
Where to Stay
Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina
Hawaii’s newest Four Seasons, which opened earlier this year, is located in Ko Olina, a manicured area on Oahu’s western coast. Ko Olina, meaning “place of joy., was a favorite bathing and fishing spot for King Kamehameha and Queen Ka’ahumanu—as well as a recreational retreat for servicemen during World War II—and the luxurious resort is designed for utter relaxation. Treatments in its six-story Naupaka spa are inspired by ancient Hawaiian healing traditions, and the 35,000-square foot-compound includes three garden massage hales overlooking the sacred Lanikuhonua shore. Its salt chamber, meanwhile—used for unique treatments like the Ho`okapi Ritual—is the first of its kind in Hawaii.
Michelin-rated Executive Chef Martin Knaubert is in charge of the resort’s five restaurants, including fine-dining Italian Noe, pan-Asian La Hiki, and seafood spot Fish House. The resort also offers a high-end amenity program, arranging distinctive local experiences such as a Bell 407 helicopter tour of the island, charters for whale watching on a 45-foot yacht, a private, only-for-FS Oahu-guests hike to the sacred site of Palehua, and a fleet of luxury vehicles including Teslas and BMWs for ground tours.
92-1001 Olani Street, Kapolei, fourseasons.com/oahu
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Created with Walt Disney Imagineers to celebrate Hawaiian culture, Aulani is an ideal getaway for families and Mouse-obsessives alike. The 21-acre beachfront resort features ten restaurants and cafes—including contemporary cuisine at ‘AMA ‘AMA and a casual buffet at Mahahiki offering dining with Disney characters. Guests can stay in rooms and suites or upgrade to larger villas in conjunction with the Disney Vacation Club, which offer full kitchens, washers and dryers, and dining areas. The new KA WA’A lū’au presents a traditional Hawaiian outdoor barbecue and buffet, with an intricate performance showcasing ancient Hawaiian lore, as well as pre-show arts and crafts like taro pounding and lei making.
As if the entire place weren’t kid-friendly enough (think water slides, a lazy river, aloha parties and treasure hunts), there’s also a fully-staffed 5,200-square foot kids’ club called Aunty’s Beach House stocked with toys, games, computer and video games, costumes, and a playground where parents can drop off their over-3s for full-day fun. While the kids play, adults can relax at Laniwai Spa, sip cocktails over live music at the ‘Ōlelo Room, or go off-property for a golf, zip line, catamaran, ATV, or dolphin excursion. It’s paradise, Disney-style.
92-1185 Ali’inui Dr, Kapolei, aulani.com
Where to Eat and Drink:
Monkeypod Kitchen, by Merriman
Ko Olina’s best off-property restaurant, Monkeypod features socially conscious ingredients from local Oahu farms and providers. The restaurant boasts 36 craft brews on tap served at 29 degrees and a kiawe wood-oven pizza, and there are live music performances daily. Its lobster deviled eggs, garlic truffle oil fries, and pumpkin patch ravioli are musts.
92-1048 Olani Street, Suite 4-107 Kapolei, monkeypodkitchen.com
Helmed by Chef Ryo Takatsuka, previously of Tokyo’s three-Michelin-starred Kagurazaka Isikawa and sous-chef of Verona, Italy’s two-Michelin-starred Ristorante Perbellini, Noe features Italian cuisine with a Hawaiian flair—billed as Capri-meets-Oahu. The pastas are handmade (and gluten-free, if desired), the fish is fresh, and the desserts are to-die-for (try the tiramisu), while the extensive wine list includes Italian selections available nowhere else in Hawaii.
92-1001 Olani Street, Kapolei, fourseasons.com/oahu/noe