Hawaii is renowned for its natural wonders, including pristine beaches and lush, green reserves. But there’s much more to America’s Aloha State than surfing and hiking. We’re talking drinking, dining and relaxing across the finest bars, restaurants and resorts Honolulu and its surroundings have to offer. While there’s plenty of to do for those with deep pockets, there are also great options that can even be enjoyed if travelling on a budget and some can even be enjoyed at no cost whatsoever.
Kahala Hotel and Resort
The Kahala Hotel and Resort is your go-to when luxury is paramount. This glamorous getaway has everything discerning holidaymakers would want from a tropical beach resort. Meet dolphins in the private lagoon, relax on the white sands, learn to scuba in the clear, blue waters and indulge on the vast array of gourmet goodness. With five diverse dining options and plenty to see and do, you will be torn between time spent in a comfortable signature suite and exploring the island’s outdoors offerings.
Located in the heart of Waikiki, Surfjack Hotel bridges the gap between beach boutique and rollicking resort. This affordable option is defined by a vintage-inspired mid-century aesthetic, with cosy rooms and a Swim Club that pairs compulsive cannonballs with refreshing cocktails at the swim-up bar. The on-site restaurant is Mahina & Sun’s. Honolulu-born chef Ed Kenney caters to guests with his delicious take on island cuisine that’s backed by his commitment to offering “elevated home cooking with a Hawaiian sense of place,” and utilising local, organic ingredients.
Contemporary French cuisine comes to Waikiki Beach thanks to Chef Yuya Yamanaka who melds fresh tropical flavours using classic culinary techniques. These unique flavours are expressed through an ever-changing menu paired with international wines and seasonal desserts, adding that desirable fine dining experience to an anniversary or special occasion. Current menu highlights include the Coconut Shrimp, the Molokai Venison Burger and the Kona Lobster.
Nobu is the world’s most recognised Japanese restaurant with 22 fine dining establishments located across the globe. Nobu Honolulu serves up an extensive menu consisting of sashimi, sushi, seafood, bold cocktails and locally-inspired dishes. When dining at Nobu, you can’t go past the Black Cod Miso or Yellowtail Jalapeño sushi.
The Pig & The Lady
At The Pig & The Lady, guests can experience modern Vietnamese in a lively setting with communal tables perfect for larger groups or mingling with the locals and other travellers. This widely popular establishment located in downtown Honolulu had its start in farmer’s markets booths before setting up several brick and mortar locations. The Pig & The Lady shot to global fame when featured on Anthony Bourdain’s travel and food show No Reservations. Highlights include Vietnamese Pizza, Duroc Pork Chops and Dad’s Toast, which is sardines braised with Portuguese sausage in Tabasco, tomato sauce and chives on a grilled baguette.
Bar Leather Apron
Leather Apron provides an intimate bar experience serving an ever-changing menu of classic cocktails and bespoke creations, as well as beer and wine. The team incorporate seasonal ingredients and internationally renowned spirits to make sure each cocktail is as memorable as Hawaii’s best natural attractions. Be sure to try the Leather Soul, a cocktail made from 2015 Knob Creek LS Single Barrel, Laphroaig 10 yr, Cynar, Carpano Antica, lemon oil, sea salt and tobacco. For a fresh take on a classic, try the E Ho’o Pau Mai Tai, ranked the 2015 World’s Best Mai Tai.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
The picturesque Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a hikers dream come true. There are 400 acres of walking trails and scenic lakes to take in surrounded by the towering Koolau Mountain Ranges. There’s a good reason why this beautiful area was selected as the backdrop for Jurassic Park. We can hear that iconic John William’s score just gazing at the images. Also, many of the magnificent trees are marked with descriptive plaques to appease that inner botanist. Hawaii may have a reputation for possessing some of the best beaches in the world, yet it’s the Botanical Garden that many labels as the most beautiful place on the islands.
Sunset at Magic Island
This small, man-made peninsula is an ideal place for a picnic or ball sport and is home to the occasional festival and Fourth of July fireworks spectacular. Although it’s the ocean sunset and twilight period on any given day of the week that makes Magic Island the photogenic marvel that you see above. It’s a great spot recommended by tourists and locals alike. Pack a cooler with some drinks and settle in for the ‘magic.’
Hawaiian adventures begin at Kualoa Ranch. Visitors can take in the natural beauty of the Hawaiian islands by Jeep, bike, kayak, horseback or eco-boat to experience the sights made famous by Hollywood or to discover some hidden wonders thanks to tip-offs from the tour guides. All that adventuring is bound to make you hungry so top off the action with a Kualoa Ranch buffet lunch. The purpose of Kualoa Ranch is to preserve the natural beauty of the immense property funded by its unique approach to eco-friendly tourism.
Leather Soul is home to Honolulu’s best range of premium leather shoes perfect for a night out or fine dining experience in the Aloha State. Choose between some of the finest footwear brands including Alden, Edward Green and John Lobb. However, it’s the uncompromising level of service that makes one venture into the store and restrain from merely purchasing online. And in case you were wondering, yes, Leather Soul and bar Leather Apron are two very different ventures launched by one tasteful entrepreneur.