“Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.” Paul Theroux. By all accounts, Hawaii is a magical place, from it’s breath-taking natural landscapes, beautiful people, to its rich traditions and cultural heritage. Oahu is the Hawaii’s largest island and home to its capital, Honolulu, where you can start from adventure. You may need a lot more than 48 hours to explore Hawaii and its six islands, but for a weekend visit, these are the highlights you cannot miss.
Embrace your inner surfer girl vibes with fashion and beauty editor Lisa Haynes’ Hawaii must-haves.
THE PACKING EDIT
Read more about author Michelle Lai in Citizen Femme’s Suitcase Series interview here
North Shore, Oahu
You have to visit the legendary Waikiki Beach but it’s well worth the drive to this surfer’s paradise with beaches stretching over 7 miles along the coast. Stop by super relaxed surfer’s Haleiwa Town for lunch and then head to Waimea Bay for the crystal clear waters and some sun worshipping. Finally, magic hour at Sunset Beach for a close view of the hundred sea turtles coming ashore every night to spend the night.
If you’re a history buff, a whole day could be spent here. The harbour was named after the abundance of pearls found there by early Hawaiians. This National landmark is home to several historical sites telling the stories of the War in the Pacific, commemorating the fallen and those whose lives and future generations have been affected by the war.
Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art & Culture/ Honolulu Museum of Art
This had to be the highlight of my trip and a must see for lovers of art. The former home of American heiress and philanthropist, Doris Duke, Shangri La is an architectural marvel housing the largest private collection of Islamic Art in the world. The visit is guided by a historian and gives you a glimpse into the public rooms of the main residence and the surrounding grounds.
Ala Moana Mall
If you’re in the mood to shop, Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu is the mall of all malls. Get ready to be overwhelmed in the 9th largest retail mall in the US. You’ll find popular American and international brands as well as homegrown brands. The open plan design incorporates many gardens, koy ponds and outdoor spaces, sprinkled with cafes and ice cream stalls, that will make it pleasant spending hours shopping there.
Named after Hawaii’s beloved Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, father of international surfing and an Olympic swimmer. This fun beachside spot is buzzing all day and pays homage to the Hawaiian legend. This spot serves up classic American food.Try the lychee martini or the coconut mojito while watching the locals on the surf and even head out to ride the surf on Waikiki Beach after a few drinks!
Luau at The Polynesian Cultural Centre
A visit to Hawaii isn’t complete without this cultural experience. A Luau is traditionally held to celebrate birthdays, graduations and weddings. It’s an evening of lively music and hula performances. Not to mention sampling Polynesian delicacies such as kalua pig fresh from the imu, an “underground oven” and a never ending flow of mai tais.
Located in the heart of the artsy Kakaako neighbourhood, Arvo Cafe is a design and garden store with a cafe serving up the most Instagrammable avocado toasts and matcha lattes. Stroll around the area to discover the city’s independent designer stores and the impressive artists’ murals that cover the sids of buildings.
The Royal Hawaiian
This iconic hotel can easily be spotted on the sandy Waikiki beach front for the bright pink hue of its stucco façade and Moorish style architecture. It was one of the first hotels to be built in Waikiki with a 90-year history has been host to numerous celebrities, world dignitaries and my parent’s first trip to Hawaii 50 years ago! Website
Turtle Bay Resort
Set on the northern tip of North Shore in Kuilima Cove, this resort is far away from the bustling beach of Waikiki, its own a private beach where turtles come ashore to bask every night and the most peaceful sunsets. Read full review here
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
The hotel is set in the affluent area near the Shangri La Islamic arts centre. It has secluded beaches and just a few miles hiking to the Diamond Head crater. The resort also has a world famous spa. Top tip: Try to Lomi lomi massage. Website
Staying longer? Here are some top tips to enjoy during your stay.