With outdoor adventures, brand new restaurants and inspired hotels (including a few revamped old classics), warm up with a winter getaway to the island of Oahu.
Set to open early next year, the Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina (fourseasons.com/oahu) is the ideal getaway. Formerly the JW Marriott Ihilani, the property features 359 nature-inspired rooms and suites appointed with HD flat-screen televisions, Hawaiian-style furnishings—from banana leaf headboards to upholstered armchairs with palm tree prints—and private lanais.
Choose from a slew of complimentary offerings including sunrise yoga and stand-up paddleboarding, or take a tennis lesson in the tennis center equipped with five Har-Tru courts.
After a day in the sun, check in at the 35,000-square-foot, six-level spa replete with an outdoor lap pool and treatments based upon ancient Hawaiian healing traditions.
Following a $100 million renovation, the 1,230-room Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa (waikiki.hyatt.com) is now open with room upgrades ranging from plush, pillow-top bedding to charging stations.
The iconic, blush pink-hued “Pink Palace of the Pacific”—The Royal Hawaiian (royal-hawaiian.com)—has a new look with a reconceived 179-room Mailani Beach Tower with a private lounge for guests only, serving daily breakfast and evening cocktails. Modern guestrooms were designed by Karen Sakamoto of Next Design (of Makena Beach & Golf Resort), with original artwork by local artists Solomon Enos and Carl Pao.
Nearby, plantation-style Moana Surfrider (dubbed “The First Lady of Waikiki”) is a playground for families and honeymooners alike. The historic property, opened in 1901, is comprised of three restaurants—with afternoon tea service offered at the Veranda at the Beachhouse—and an on-site oceanfront spa (moana-surfrider.com).
On the North Shore, newly redesigned Turtle Bay Resort (turtlebayresort.com) is an oasis for families, spa-goers and adventure seekers. Situated in Kuilima Cove, the 850-acre resort is complete with 410 guestrooms, seven restaurants (including The Surfer with nightly live music) and 42 beach cottages fashioned with Brazilian walnut floors and soaking tubs.
The property also offers a long list of daily activities such as ukulele lessons, lei-making classes, sunset yoga, barre classes, surf lessons, horseback riding, helicopter tours, and 12 miles of hiking and biking trails. The North Shore is also the site of renowned surf spots Waimea Bay and Banzai Pipeline (one of the most dangerous and technical in the world), with swells reaching up to 30 feet.
HAWAIIAN HOSPITALITY Lounging at the Royal Hawaiian; Moana Surfrider sitting area and spa; ocean view room at Four Seasons.
At the Honolulu Museum of Art (honolulumuseum.org), founded in 1927, check out current exhibits including Wendy Kawabata: In the Land, with mixed-media and drawings based on the artist’s residency in Iceland, or Auguste Rodin: The Human Experience with 33 works by the French sculptor.
While there, sign up for a 1½-hour guided tour of the Doris Duke Estate, Shangri La (tours depart from the museum; shangrilahawaii.org), and take in stunning ocean views of Duke’s former 4.9-acre property in Honolulu. Designed by architect Marion Sims Wyeth and supervising architect H. Drewry Baker, the three-building estate houses Duke’s impressive collection of Islamic art—more than 2,500 pieces.
For some of the best shopping in the world (and a chance to pick up some last-minute holiday gifts), head to newly expanded Ala Moana Center (alamoanacenter.com). Opened last month after a multimillion-dollar expansion project, the three-level indoor/outdoor shopping mecca features a new Ewa Wing with Hawaii’s first Bloomingdale’s and 30 new stores including Ted Baker London and Malie Organics, and a slew of eateries.
At Art+Flea (every last Thursday of the month; artandflea.com), sample local bites from food trucks and peruse a selection of handmade wares and vintage goods from more than 60 local artists and purveyors.
For snorkeling, take a drive to Hanauma Bay State Park (hanaumabaystatepark.com). The park is visited by up to 3,000 visitors per day, so get there early.
Get a panoramic view of parts of Oahu with a three-hour, guided zip-line tour at Climb Works Keana Farms (climbworks.com). The course consists of eight side-by-side runs ranging from 500 to 2,400 feet (newly released in June), and an ATV ride to the top of the ridge.
On December 7, take part in the 74th National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (open to the public; pearlharborevents.com) at Kilo Pier. Co-hosted by the National Park Service and the United States Navy, the commemoration features keynote speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy.