RedWeek Travel Guide: Oahu

published on August 19, 2021 by

Oahu’s nickname is “The Gathering Place” — and once you’re there, you’ll understand why. There’s an undeniable energy here, from the island’s sumptuous oceanfront resorts to its innovative cuisine scene. Home to the capital city of Honolulu, this is the most populous island in the state; if you’re looking for a dash of urban flavor to go with your Hawaiian getaway, Oahu is your best bet. Get RedWeek’s insider tips on what to experience while you’re there — and then start planning your Oahu vacation

The Best Things To Do In Oahu

Eco-adventures, arts & culture, and (arguably) the world’s greatest beach await in Oahu. 

Waikiki Beach

This is the Hawaiian beach you’ve been dreaming about. Waikiki Beach, spanning two miles on Oahu’s south shore, is one of the world’s most iconic beaches, attracting more than four million visitors annually. Once you’re there, you’ll understand why it’s so popular. The pristine sands, sparkling waters and swaying palm trees are picture perfect. Once a playground for Hawaiian royalty, Waikiki Beach is thought by many to be the birthplace of surf culture. Pay tribute to one of the sport’s originators at Duke Kahanamoku Statue — or take a surf lesson yourself! 

Pearl Harbor National Memorial Monument

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial Monument is a stirring tribute to the sailors and Marines killed in the infamous Dec. 7, 1941, attack. The experience begins on land at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater, where you’ll watch a film about this pivotal moment in U.S. history. Then, you’ll be taken by boat out to the final resting place of the USS Arizona to meditate upon this “date that will live in infamy.” Tickets are free, but reservations are recommended

Honolulu Museum of Art

The largest art museum in Hawaii, the Honolulu Art Museum houses more than 60,000 masterpieces, including one of the finest collections of Asian art in the world. It’s great for all ages — in fact, kids 18 and under get in for free! For adults, check the calendar to see if there’s an ARTafterDARK event during your trip. These artsy nightlife experiences feature live music, local food & drink, and interactive art installations. 

Kualoa Ranch

About 25 miles from Honolulu, discover 4,000 acres of Hawaiian nature at its best. Kualoa Ranch may look familiar. That’s because it’s served as the lush backdrop for such Hollywood blockbusters as Jurassic Park and Godzilla. Sadly, you won’t come across any real prehistoric beasts in Kualoa Ranch. But you will have the time of your life, whether you’re ziplining high above a jungle canopy, exploring Edenic landscapes on horseback or ATV, or kicking back on the Secret Beach, a secluded spot offering kayaks, paddle boards, canoes and a catamaran for on-the-water adventures. 

Where To Shop In Oahu

Al fresco retail pleasures are abundant in Oahu, whether you’re on the hunt for unique local goods or brand-name deals. 

Ala Moana Center

The world’s largest open-air shopping center, Ala Moana Center is guaranteed to satisfy your need for an Oahu shopping spree. There are hundreds of shops here, including such brands as Saks 5th Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale’s alongside locally owned boutiques. The shopping is just the beginning, however. Roll a few at Lucky Strike Bowling Alley or take the kids to Jungle Fun Island, which is filled with games and rides. There are also more than 160 restaurants to choose from, from fine dining to laid-back. 

Waikiki Beach Walk

Steps from the famed Waikiki Beach, browse a while at the Waikiki Beach Walk, featuring an array of eclectic boutiques and vendors selling locally made goods, not to mention a host of restaurants and nightlife hot spots. The scene is as good as the shopping — the Beach Walk offers some of the best people watching in Hawaii, as locals and visitors strut their stuff from morning ‘til night. 

Waikele Premium Outlets

Go upscale for less at Waikele Premium Outlets. Just a half-hour’s drive from downtown Honolulu, it’s home to more than 50 designer and brand name outlet stores including big names like Coach, Kate Spade New York, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Marc Jacobs. If your wardrobe needs a refresh, this is the place to go. 

Where To Eat in Oahu

Some of the best chefs in the world call Oahu home, and they’re finding new ways to mix local Hawaiian ingredients with the flavors of the world. 

North Shore Tacos

Tacos — Oahu-style! North Shore Tacos in Hau‘ula is a no-frills joint, but don’t be fooled. The flavors here are positively luxurious. The secret is simple: North Shore’s fish is caught and delivered to the restaurant daily. The resulting fish tacos are as fresh as they come, embellished with oh-so-Hawaiian ingredients like pineapple. But save room for dessert, too: the delicious coconut caramel flan is a local favorite. 

Chef Chai

Diversity is the name of the game at Chef Chai in Honolulu. The restaurant’s namesake, Chef Chai Chaowasaree, strives to embody the rich and diverse heritage of Hawaii by blending the culinary traditions of the state with the flavors of Asia. The results speak for themselves, with such signature dishes as Fresh Ahi Katsu with Tomato Mango Salsa Wasabi Curry Sauce, Thai Style Oxtail Soup, and Fresh Mahi Mahi with Thai Red Curry Sauce all wowing diners. 

Banzai Sushi Bar

Located in the Haleiwa’s North Shore Marketplace, Banzai is the place to go in Oahu if you’re a sushi lover. Chef Hide Takahashi masterfully utilizes local fishermen and farm-fresh ingredients to create what he calls “Tropical Japanese Fusion Sushi.” Whatever you call it, Banzai’s menu is packed with mouthwatering items. 

Blind Ox

A Honolulu speakeasy-style spot, Blind Ox is a cocktail aficionado’s delight, with a dizzying selection of premium Whisky and spirits. For an ideal Oahu libation, try the Kapahulu Sunrise (Kuleana Agricole, honey dew melon, cinnamon, mint, lime, bubbles). Blind Ox’s food is terrific, too, with a menu full of small-plate tapas that are perfect for sharing with friends. 

Oahu Timeshare Resorts

Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club

Located in Kapolei on Oahu’s gorgeous western shore, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club is a lavish timeshare resort that features three outdoor swimming pools, a tranquil on-site spa, and a lovely beach that’s always within reach. The resort’s villas will get you on island time in no time; each one is decorated with authentic Hawaiian flair and Koa wood furnishings. 

Hilton Grand Vacations Club at The Lagoon Tower

We mentioned Waikiki Beach above — and Hilton Grand Vacations Club at The Lagoon Tower is set just steps from that famed stretch of sand. When you’re not soaking up the sun or splashing in the waves, you’ll enjoy four swimming pools, wellness offerings at the Mandara Spa and Holistica Hawaii Health Center, and the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is packed with shopping and dining options. 

Imperial Hawaii Vacation Club

This Oahu timeshare resort is also just a hop, skip, and jump from Waikiki’s beaches, but if you’re looking to get above and away from it all, head to the Imperial Hawaii Vacation Club’s 27th floor sundeck, boasting panoramic views that will dazzle from morning until night. The resort offers five different suite configurations, so you’ll be able to find whatever is perfect for your group. 
Start planning your Oahu escape with RedWeek now.

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