Hawaiian Holiday Adventures In Oahu

Home to Honolulu – the state capital and President Barack Obama’s birthplace – Oahu is the most populous island in the Hawaiian archipelago. More than 85 per cent of the state’s residents call the dot in the Pacific home, and its status as a major tourist destination makes that population even more dense in downtown Honolulu and along the stretches of Waikiki Beach. But this tiny island has enough landmass to offer up both urban hotspots and scenic retreats for island visitors.
Hike Manoa Falls
Oahu is so densely packed in that you can find lush, natural beauty just a 15-minute drive from the tower blocks of Waikiki. One of the easiest treks on the island, the hike to and from Manoa Falls, is just two miles round-trip and you trek along a flat path through groves of eucalyptus trees and bamboo forests and past stone-studded creeks before you reach the 150 feet tall falls. It may look a bit familiar to you - Jurassic Park and Lost were both filmed here – but even Steven Spielberg can’t quite capture the falls’ natural beauty. This is the wettest part of the island, so make sure you wear shoes with good tread and prepare to get muddy.
La Mer
The only restaurant in the state of Hawaii to be awarded a five-star designation by Forbes Travel Guide, La Mer is the pinnacle of dining in Oahu. Book for 6pm and ask for a table by the window, and you’ll have the best seat in the state as you watch the sun set over Waikiki Bay. As night falls, curious sea turtles pop their heads up in the glow of the restaurant for a breath of fresh air.
This is all if you can take your eyes from the food in front of you. Every dish on the luxurious seven-course degustation menu is so beautifully plated you almost don’t want to eat it, but one mouthful and you’ll hardly be able to stop yourself. We melted for the poached locally-raised lobster with shaved truffles and an inspired Pinot Noir pairing and their cheese chariot – oh so much more than a tray – with white port.
Explore The North Shore
Far from the highrises of Honolulu and the tourist traps of Waikiki, the North Shore offers a more relaxed way of life than the city’s hustle and bustle, thanks in part to its high concentration of surfers. As you head over the mountains and into the lush, green jungles to the island’s windward side, you’ll see signs asking to “Keep the Country Country!” and stop local development. You can’t blame the hoteliers for leering at the locale; one stretch of the shore is known as “seven miles of heaven” thanks to its white sandy beaches and picturesque views, not to mention its killer surfing spots. Try your hand at the local pastime with Buttons Surf School, but stick with your instructor. Just a few miles away from your classroom of waves are the arenas of surf legends. The site of all three events in the men’s Triple Crown of Surfing, North Shore beaches like Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach see waves reaching up to fifty feet tall during the winter months.
When you’ve worked up an appetite from all that paddling, head to Ted’s Bakery and order a plate lunch of garlic shrimp. Butterflied and fried in butter, these fresh shrimp are made to order and smothered in parmesan, setting them apart from the many food trucks that pre-fry their products to keep up with demand. For dessert, you can try their decadent chocolate cream pie or head to Matsumoto’s Shave Ice for a hometown snow cone drenched in their collection of sugary homemade syrups.
Web: www.buttonssurfschool.com
Where To Stay: Hilton Hawaiian Village
They weren’t kidding with the name. The “Village” spreads over 22 acres, with 18 restaurants and lounges and over 90 shops and services spread around the resort. All total, that amounts to five pools (including the largest in Waikiki), 2860 rooms and an annual intake of 136,540 mai tais per year. It can be a bit overwhelming, but not if you’ve got a room in the Ali’I Tower. The beachfront building’s focus is privacy, so guests here receive separate check-in and a pool, gym and spa exclusive to the building. Access to the beach is as easy as walking out the front door, and they make it hard for you to come up with a reason to leave the resort, with stand-up paddleboard lessons in Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon and surf rentals and luaus onsite. Make sure to book a meal at Bali Steak & Seafood – the open-air dining room serves delicious fresh catch and has one of the most charming sommeliers we’ve ever met.