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Where To Stay In Oahu And Lanai, Hawaii

Any international trip to Hawaii will likely begin in Oahu and, as the only island to offer direct flights to Lanai, the pair make a great duel-destination holiday. This is where to stay in Oahu And Lanai.

Honolulu is the capital of Oahu – and its international airport receives most of the flights coming into Hawaii, making it an inevitable stop for many international travellers. Yes, there are skyscrapers here, and Waikiki, on its south coast, has some of the more crowded beaches in the state – but there’s also a lot to love.

A 50-minute flight away, on the 364-square-kilometer island of Lanai, the Four Seasons manages two hotels – the only two on the island. In 2012, Larry Ellison, the fifth richest person in the world, purchased 98 per cent of Lanai – and with it, the hotels. He’s since made a concerted effort to turn it into a wellness utopia and a 100 per cent green community. The island remains mostly undeveloped, and his push towards wellness is unlike anything else the state has seen. 

Where To Stay in Oahu:

Best For An Authentic Experience: Halekulani

Image courtesy of Halekulani

In Oahu’s capital, Honolulu, stay at the iconic Halekulani for the original luxury experience. Here, a stellar beachfront location in the heart of downtown grants the best of both worlds, with both the beach and world-class shopping just steps away. Explore Kalakaua Avenue for shops like Chanel, Hermes (there are three on Oahu), Gucci, Chrome Hearts, Kith, and more (many of which feature Hawaii-specific merchandise, as well as “Hawaii pricing,” meaning that even evergreen items are discounted), or head to Ward Village for Hawaii-centric shops like Salvage Public and Keiko Jewelry. Don’t miss the resort’s famed House Without a Key cocktail lounge and restaurant, and let the hotel arrange anything, from visits to the Honolulu symphony to local art and architecture tours.

Best For Families: Four Seasons Resort Oahu At Ko Olina

About 30 minutes west of Honolulu, find the Four Seasons Resort Oahu At Ko Olina. A haven for families, the property offers spacious standard rooms starting at 59 square meters (some have their own private hot tubs), while suites can reach up to 378 square meters and come with sweeping sea or mountain views. Across the property you’ll find three calm beach coves that are perfectly suited for swimming; three pools (including a lively adult-only pool full); and spa facilities at the wellness hub. The entire resort is set within nature, meaning a range of outdoor activities – including scuba diving, snorkelling and boat trips – come as standard. For something truly off the beaten path, book the resort’s Pearl Harbor Warbird Legacy Flight (from $3,000), where a single passenger can partake in a 40-minute flight in a vintage 1940s U.S. Navy SNJ-5C Warbird, traversing the WWII sites from the air – and even taking some loops directly over Pearl Harbor.

Best For Business (And Pleasure): Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach

Should you find yourself in town for a while, or in need of somewhere to mix business with pleasure, then you’ll appreciate the extra space found at the sleek Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. This collection of privately-owned, condo-style homes, most of which are available for hotel stays and reach up to 269 square meters, offers the best of both worlds. There’s space for hosting events and meetings but, once that’s done, make a beeline to any of the three pools (adult-only, resort and whirlpool) or to one of the excellent on-site restaurants. There’s a Dean & DeLuca, but it’s the tucked-away 10-seat omakase Sushi Sho that stands out. One of the hardest reservations to snag on the island, a successful booking here offers an indulgent, $350 omakase menu.

Best For A Boutique Experience: Espacio

Credit to ESPACIO The Jewel of Waikiki

For a boutique feel, book one of the nine full-floor units at Espacio. Each unit is kitted out like a private residence; complete with a full working kitchen and patio. Some even have their own en-suite saunas and outdoor balcony hot tubs. Views look across a street – but on the other side of that street they stretch out across the ocean. Though this may be more like a home-from-home than a hotel, staff are still available, and are on-hand to arrange a variety of experiences; including surfing lessons, car hire, and even helicopter tours of the island.

Best For A Remote Setting: Turtle Bay Resort

The northernmost tip of Oahu takes at least an hour to get to from the airport, but the scenic drive pays off. Here, brands like Aviator Nation and Patagonia have set up boutiques with (true) surfer-centric items, intentionally located away from mainstream tourists; find them within local island shops, near the food trucks and beach shacks serving acai bowls, pulled-pork tacos and shave ice. The bohemian setting might seem incongruous for a 408-room luxury resort, but Turtle Bay blends in perfectly. This is the same hotel where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was shot, but a recent renovation has transformed it, opening its lobby to stunning coastal views.  There’s also an infinity-edge water feature with fire pit. A total of 42 one-bedroom bungalows are just steps from the ocean, each with open plans and direct pool access. It’s only fitting that in a location like this, there’s a beach for every kind of ocean-goer: enjoy the property’s lively main beach, explore the near-deserted shores along their eight-kilometre of coastline, or partake in the onsite Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience. There’s also horseback riding at the equestrian centre, a seafront golf course, tennis, and a seafront spa with outdoor treatment rooms.

Where To Stay in Lanai:

Best for Wellness Lovers: Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Between the two Four Seasons properties on Lanai (the only two hotels on the island), beachfront Four Seasons Resort Lanai might seem like an obvious choice – but in Hawaii, beach time is best saved for another island altogether. Here, wellness takes precedence, and Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort is the ultimate sanctuary, offering customised programs for rest, nutrition, and movement. Hike in the morning, accompanied by stunning views towards Molokai and Maui; try your hand at archery or shooting clays; unwind with yoga and sound baths; and dine on chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s special menu, which includes wellness-focused dishes like tofu and vegetable scrambles as well as fan favourites like his miso-glazed black cod. At the spa, find ten private spa sanctuaries (hales) each with 93-square-meters of space and fitted with a Japanese soaking tub, steam room, infrared sauna, shower, outdoor shower, and plunge pools. There’s also golf, tennis, and 24-hour access to the onsite onsen in the sculpture garden. Getting to the island is best done using their own charter service, which flies from Oahu and is included in your stay.

Seeing more of Hawaii? These are the best places to stay on Kauai and Hawaii Island, and on Maui.

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