SURFING & BEACHES
If you’ve never tried your hand at surfing, Hawaii is truly the place to start. Although the islands are often associated with fast, competitive breaks and massive waves, not every beach is created equally. With long, rolling waves and warm tropical waters, Waikiki is one of the best beginner beaches to hammer out the basics of wave riding — and it happens to be located right in the heart of Honolulu. For advice straight from the pros, head to Hans Hedemann’s Surf School for a private, semi-private or group lesson. You’ll paddle out at Publics, a left-hand break with a stunning view of Diamond Head, and learn everything from reading waves to popping up. Once you master these basics, get inspired for your next trip with Carolyn Murphy’s favorite surf spots around the world.
If surfing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Waikiki’s stunning array of beaches: snorkeling, body surfing or simply reading in the sun. Lanikai Beach is a short bus ride from downtown and is famous for its ultra soft sand, while the centrally located Waikiki Beach is perfect for people watching. If you’re hoping to catch an up-close-and-personal glimpse of Hawaii’s aquatic life, try snorkeling at the uninterrupted 3-mile stretch of Waimanalo Beach.
DINNER & DRINKS
For a quintessentially Hawaiian dining experience, live music is essential. Nestled under a 130-year old Kaiwe tree, House Without A Key — an iconic restaurant located at the Halekulani Hotel — is the perfect place to start an evening out. Sip on a mai tai while the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean and Hawaiian music plays in the background. Next, head to Orchids (another restaurant in the Halekulani Hotel) for an oceanfront meal inspired by chef Christian Testa’s Italian roots and Hawaii’s local fare.
From poke bowls to shaved iced, manapua to malasadas, traditional Hawaiian cuisine is just as fun to explore as the islands are themselves. Honolulu’s Chinatown captures the essence of Old Honolulu and is a great place to stop for a bite to eat. Whether you’re in the mood for dim sum, noodles or a fruity cocktail, Chinatown offers an authentic glimpse into Hawaii’s native cuisines. Try Senia for smoked ahi and craft cocktails, or Pig and the Lady for a Vietnamese meal of banh mi and fish curry.