O‘ahu: Town & Country Experiences in the Heart of Hawai‘i

O‘ahu is an island of phenomenally diverse pleasures for your clients.

O‘ahu is an island of phenomenally diverse pleasures for your clients. Here they’ll find the best of Hawai‘i in one easy-to-reach-destination. Home to sophisticated Honolulu and sizzling Waikīkī as well as exquisite beaches, verdant valleys, lush rainforests, and soaring mountains, O‘ahu offers a splendid array of town and country experiences. Read on and discover special itineraries for romantic couples, epicurean enthusiasts, and a girlfriends’ getaway. You’ll find unique festivals and marvelous ideas for your clients so they can experience the many, one-of-a-kind splendors of O‘ahu, the Heart of Hawai‘i.

Romantic Interlude
Clients looking for a little romance can kick off a romantic O‘ahu getaway at the annual Lei Day Celebration in Honolulu which is dedicated to the artistry and custom of giving and receiving lei—the fresh floral garlands that Hawaiians bestow on each other to express love, welcome, and congratulations. May 1 festivities include the Lei Queen investiture ceremony, the Lei Contest exhibit, live musical entertainment, and performances by hula hālau (hula schools). They can join Hawaiians on May 2 as they as they drape lei on the crypts of Hawaiian royals and attend a moving ceremony at Kawaiāha‘o Church.

After the Lei Day festivities, clients can leave Honolulu behind and venture to the beautiful Windward Coast for water-based adventures with Twogood Kayaks Hawai‘i (www.twogoodkayaks.com). They can opt for the regularly scheduled guided kayaking tour on gorgeous Kailua Bay or ask Twogood Kayaks to customize a private kayaking expedition. If they crave independence, rent a kayak, mount it on their rental car, and drive up to He‘eia State Park on Kānehoe Bay. Clients can launch their kayak and paddle across the bay to Sunken Island where they can relax and picnic in seclusion while admiring magnificent views of the Ko‘olau Mountains.

For a truly memorable way to experience both the town and country aspects of the island, recommend an outing with O‘ahu Ghost Tours (www.oahughosttours.com). Their experienced guides will take clients to some of the most haunted places on the island, spots that were once sacred grounds, ancient burial sites, and rainforests. The Honolulu Walking Tour is an evening expedition to ‘Iolani Palace, The Capitol Building, and destinations in Chinatown and Waikīkī. The Orbs of O‘ahu is a nighttime driving tour of the island’s most haunted and paranormal sites while the daytime Sacred Spirits Tour explores Native Hawaiian sacred grounds that include petroglyph sites, heiau (temple sites), and ancient fishponds.

If they are in O‘ahu at the beginning of the month, tell them not to miss the First Friday Honolulu Gallery Walk in the Downtown Arts District (downtown Honolulu and Chinatown). Art galleries and studios open their doors from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with exhibits, art demonstrations, and free entertainment. They can also shop the area’s eclectic boutiques and stop in for drinks or dinner at the many bars, cafés, and restaurants.

Clients can finish each day of their romantic O‘ahu getaway with dinner at a superb restaurant. They can enjoy sunset cocktails and beachside dining under the stars at Ola at Turtle Bay Resort (www.olaislife.com) on the island’s North Shore. The restaurant is renowned for Chef Fred DeAngelo’s Contemporary Hawaiian Cuisine which showcases fresh island produce, beef, fish, and seafood. Back in town, recommend they spend an evening at the Sheraton Waikīkī (www.sheraton-waikiki.com) where they can watch day turn to night and listen to live music over vintage rum cocktails at oceanfront RumFire and then head upstairs to Twist at HanoHano where glorious dining and views of starlit skies and twinkling city lights await.

Epicurean Adventure
Plan their O‘ahu vacation around the second annual Hawai‘i Food & Wine Paradise (www.hawaiifoodandwineparadise.com) May 21-24 which will showcase the talents of famous chefs, winemakers, and spirits experts at extraordinary events in magical settings in West O‘ahu and Waikīkī. Food lovers can tee off with chefs and winemakers at Ko ‘Olina Golf Club, enjoy a food/wine/spirits grazing event, and vote for the best food and wine pairings at a special luncheon. They can feast on delicious Hawaiian fare at the Paradise Beachside Barbeque and attend Love in the Afternoon, the romantically inspired luncheon and fashion show. The Saturday evening gala and Sunday morning brunch bring this fantastic four-day event to a phenomenal close.

While the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Paradise is celebrating its second anniversary, O‘ahu has long been a culinary haven. Hawaiian Regional Cuisine—HRC—was developed here over 20 years by local chefs inspired by the bounty of the land and sea and the diverse culinary traditions of Hawai'i’s numerous immigrant groups. Today clients can dine at world famous establishments owned by the HRC founders Alan Wong, George Mavrothalassitis, and Roy Yamaguchi on O‘ahu. Alan Wong’s Restaurant (www.alanwongs.com) and Chef Mavro (www.chefmavro.com) are located in Honolulu while Roy’s Restaurants (www.roysrestaurant.com) are found in Waikīkī, Hawai‘i Kai, and in West O‘ahu at Ko ‘Olina.

Once clients have tasted the marvels of local Hawai‘i chefs, they’ll want to know where they find their inspiration and ingredients. The Farmers’ Market at Kapi‘olani Community College (www.hfbf.org/FarmersMarketKCC.html) on Saturday mornings offers local produce, meat, and seafood and Hawai‘i-made food products. Chinatown’s O‘ahu Market is renowned for sashimi, fresh meats, and produce while nearby Maunakea Marketplace has retail stores and an open marketplace selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and poultry along with Vietnamese, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Filippino foods.

Discover the fresh catches of the day at the early morning fish auctions beginning at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at United Fishing Agency at Honolulu’s Pier 38. They’ll be caught up in the exciting auction atmosphere as tuna, mahimahi, wahoo, pommfret, moonfish, and escolar are sold in competitive, open bidding. Pier 38 also offers casual, unpretentious eateries with excellent food and reasonable prices. Nico’s Pier 38 (www.nicospier38.com) brings together the traditions of fine French food and the typical Hawaiian plate lunch while Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill (www.unclesfishmarket.com) specializes in fresh fish and seafood.

Hawaiians satisfy their sweet cravings at bakeries across O‘ahu. In Honolulu, Leonards’ Bakery (www.leonardshawaii.com) is famous for Portuguese malasadas, round balls of deep fried dough made with sugar or cinnamon and available plain or filled with coconut, pineapple, custard, or chocolate. Honolulu is also home to Liliha Bakery (lilihabakeryhawaii.com) and their ever popular coco puffs, buttery and creamy chocolate filled puffed pastries. On the North Shore, Ted’s Bakery entices locals and visitors with their signature two layer chocolate and coconut pie.

Clients can cool off in the afternoon with a shave ice, a crushed ice snow cone topped with flavored syrup. While everyone has a favorite spot, Matumoto Shave Ice in Hale‘iwa on the North Shore and Waiola Shave Ice, with two Honolulu locations, are popular with the locals.

Girlfriends’ Getaway
Time their girlfriends’ getaway for the end of summer and take advantage of the Hawai‘i Writer Conference in Honolulu (www.hawaiiwriters.org) which takes place in early September attracts more than 1,500 authors, screenwriters, journalists, and top literary agents, editors, and film executives. This annual event is a unique opportunity to work on their novel or screenplay with a bestselling author or award winning screenwriter. Presenters this year included bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard (Deep End of the Ocean), Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Powers (Flags of our Fathers), Academy Award winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), and many others. The Hawai‘i Writers Retreat features workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting, each with maximum of 10 students. The Hawai‘i Writers Conference offers more than 100 workshops and lectures where aspiring writers can learn about the craft and business of publishing and film and enjoy one-on-one consultations.

Before or after the conference, clients can grab their girlfriends for a one-of-a-kind beach adventure with world surfing champion Nancy Emerson at her Nancy Emerson School of Surfing (www.surfclinics.com). Call Nancy to reserve their completely customizable Girlfriends’ Getaway and learn surfing, body boarding, and stand up paddle. She’ll pick the group up daily, take them to uncrowded beaches across O‘ahu, provide lunch, and share her love of the ocean and expertise about Hawaiian culture. Whether they are trying these water sports for the first time or have some experience, Nancy will make them feel completely comfortable and at ease in the ocean.

Clients can witness the many important contribution women have made to Hawaiian culture and history on O‘ahu. Bishop Museum (www.bishopmuseum.org) in Honolulu was built by Charles Reed Bishop in 1889 to honor his late, beloved wife Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha dynasty. While the museum originally housed the Princess’ many Hawaiian artifacts and royal heirlooms, the collections have expanded to hold millions of objects from Hawai‘i and other Pacific islands. This summer, the refurbished Hawaiian Hall will reopen, providing increased access to the museum’s incomparable collections and reinforcing the Bishop’s original mission to tell the stories of Hawai‘i.

The past also lives on at the Queen Emma Summer Palace (www.daughtersofhawaii.com) in Nu‘uanu Valley, just a short ride from downtown Honolulu. The Greek Revival style home was used by Queen Emma, her husband King Kamehameha IV, and their young son, Prince Albert, as an escape from hot and dusty Honolulu in the mid 19th century. The dwelling is filled with Queen Emma’s belongings, furnishings, artifacts, and memorabilia and the knowledgeable docents bring the story and times of the royal Hawaiian family to life with passion and vivid details.

For a completely different, yet equally fascinating cultural outing, clients can visit Shangri-La (www.shangrilahawaii.org), the extraordinary seaside abode built by heiress Doris Duke in 1937 after her honeymoon travels throughout the Islamic world. Situated on five acres overlooking Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean, Shangri-La combines marvelous Islamic architectural and artistic elements amidst a Hawaiian landscape with ocean panoramas, exotic gardens, and a stunning 75-foot long saltwater pool. This once private retreat is now open to the public for limited tours which must be booked through the Honolulu Academy of Arts (www.honoluluacademy.org).

For more information visit www.visit-oahu.com

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