A true jewel in the Pacific Ocean’s crown, Oahu is known as “The Gathering Place.” The third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu offers a diverse and captivating blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and modern amenities that make it a must-visit destination for travelers from around the world.
Oahu’s dramatic landscapes stretch across the island and are home to some of Hawaii’s most iconic natural wonders, including the world-famous Waikiki Beach, where surfers ride the waves in the shadow of Diamond Head, an ancient volcanic crater. The lush Manoa Valley, with its vibrant rainforest and stunning waterfalls, offers a perfect escape for nature enthusiasts. Don’t forget to visit the North Shore, renowned for its colossal winter waves that attract surfers and spectators alike.
Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the background.
Oahu boasts a wide range of beaches catering to all preferences. Whether you’re looking for the lively atmosphere of Waikiki or the tranquility of Lanikai Beach‘s turquoise waters, you’ll find a slice of paradise that suits your mood. Snorkelers and scuba divers must experience the crystal-clear waters of Hanauma Bay, a marine preserve teeming with colorful coral and marine life. For a serene day of sun and sand, the secluded Waimanalo Beach offers a more intimate experience.
Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.
For generations, Hawaiians have embraced a life of “Malama,” a Hawaiian concept that encapsulates a holistic world view that encourages harmony, stewardship, and a sense of responsibility towards creating a sustainable and thriving future for all. It encourages us to honor and value ourselves, others, ancestors, nature, and the spiritual realm. Malama also encompasses the preservation and revitalization of Hawaiian culture, traditions, and knowledge. It involves respecting and perpetuating the language, music, hula, crafts, stories, and other cultural practices that are integral to the Hawaiian identity.
Faze had a chance to discover Oahu and experience Malama first-hand.
Malama Hawaii Program
Eager to share their values, The Hawaiian Islands are offering a Malama Hawaii Program, where partners offer unique volunteer opportunities like restoring a native fishpond in Oahu with the Malama Loko Ea Foundation, or helping with a Surfrider Foundation beach cleanup in exchange for special discounts or even a free night stay at participating hotels.
Restoring a native fishpond. Via: Malama Loko Ea Foundation.
A thriving native fishpond. Via: Malama Loko Ea Foundation.
A sprawling 4,000-acre nature reserve and working cattle ranch, Kualoa Ranch is where you can have a Malama Experience. Here you’ll immerse yourself in sustainable and educational activities, and “give back” by replanting native species like taro, learn about conservation efforts, and participate in cultural practices that honor the land. On your way to the taro fields make sure you jump on the Jurassic Adventure Tour and visit the scenic spots made famous in Jurassic Park, Jurassic World and Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom!
Kualoa Ranch Malama Experience. Removing invasive apple snail eggs from Taro. Via: Faze Magazine
Apple snail eggs. Via: Faze Magazine.
Movie set from Jurassic World at Kualoa Ranch. Via: Faze Magazine
Movie set from Jurassic World at Kualoa Ranch. Via: Faze Magazine
The early tradition of ulana (weaving) lauhala (leaves of the Hala tree) goes back to the early settlers of Hawaii who travelled on canoes with sails made from lauhala. The long, flat leaves of the Hala tree can be used to create many items from storage baskets to mats to hats and clothing. The weaving of lauhala was a practical and important skill for the early Hawaiians, but by the mid-1990s there was concern that the art could soon be lost if not shared and embraced by the younger generation. Fortunately, through intergenerational teachings over the past several decades, today you can find many knowledgeable teachers and practitioners willing to share the art of this living tradition as they seek to preserve their heritage.
Pi’iali’l Lawson and Hala tree. Via: Faze Magazine
Faze had the opportunity to weave lauhala heart earrings with kumu (teacher) Pi’iali’i Lawson. Over 15 years ago Pi’iali’i began his formal ulana training from his grand-uncle Kia (a master practitioner) from Waipi’o Valley on the island of Hawai’i. Pi’iali’I is the founder of the group Lau Ulana O Pi’iali’i and hopes to continue to share this art with students from around the world. He is now the resident Lauhala Practitioner of the #FSWayfinders program at the Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko’olina, where he’ll personally teach you to weave your own lauhala jewelery and share stories of his ancestors and the rich heritage of his people.
Pi’iali’l Lawson leads a Ulana Lauhala at Four Season Resort O’ahu at Ko’olina. Via: Faze Magazine
Ulana Lauhala at Four Season Resort O’ahu at Ko’olina. Via: Faze Magazine
Aptly situated in the heart of Honolulu, the Iolani Palace stands as a testament to the rich heritage and captivating history of the Hawaiian Islands and is one of Oahu’s most revered National Historic Landmarks. Visiting this majestic palace is a journey through time where the stories of culture and tradition reside. It is an immersive experience that offers a unique perspective on Hawaii’s royal past. The palace itself is an architectural masterpiece that seamlessly blends Hawaiian and Western styles through intricate woodwork, grand staircases, and elegant furnishings that showcase the craftsmanship of the time.
Iolani Palace. Via: Go Hawaii
Staircase in The Grand Hall is made of Hawaiian koa wood. Via: Faze Magazine
Throne Room. King Kalakaua held formal audiences, diplomatic receptions and state balls here. Via: Faze Magazine.
While enjoying the Malama of Oahu, here are a few other activities you’ll want to add to your itinerary:
Ka’aumoana Snorkel & Sail Excursion
An exclusive ocean activities program led by certified instructors, the Ka’aumoana Snorkel & Sail Excursion offers sailing, paddling and snorkeling aboard the Hawaiian wa’a (canoe). Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, Ka’aumoana invites you to dive into the vibrant marine world, snorkeling amidst colorful coral reefs and playful marine life. If you’d rather stay dry you can enjoy the warm ocean air as you sail along the lush coastline and keep an eye out for humpback whales, dolphins or Hawaiian green turtles that may be in the vicinity.
Knowledgeable guides share stories about the culture and history of Oahu. Via: Faze Magazine.
Guides with Hawaiian wa’a (canoe). Via: Faze Magazine.
Naupaka Spa & Wellness Center
Indulge in the ultimate oasis of relaxation at Naupaka Spa & Wellness Center. Even though this four-level day spa encompasses over 35,000 square feet, it feels intimate and serene. Nestled in a tropical haven, this luxurious retreat offers a world of rejuvenation. From soothing massages like the Mauka and Makai Ritual to rejuvenating facials like the Mauli Ola Revitalizing Facial, their expert therapists and aestheticians provide personalized treatments that transport you to a state of pure bliss. The elegant decor and tranquil ambiance create an atmosphere of serenity, while natural, locally-inspired ingredients enhance the experience. With stunning ocean views, outdoor relaxation spaces, and a comprehensive menu of services, Naupaka Spa is the quintessential escape for mind, body, and soul.
Mauka and Makai Ritual. Via: Naupaka Spa & Wellness Center.
Mauli Ola Revitalizing Facial. Via Naupaka Spa & Wellness Center.
Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Oahu
If you time it right (and you should plan to!), you can experience culinary excellence against the backdrop of paradise at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival on Oahu. This annual extravaganza of flavour and culture is a must-visit for foodies. Renowned chefs from around the globe come together to create a diverse culinary symphony, blending Hawaii’s rich traditions with global influences. The festival offers a feast for the senses, from gourmet tastings and cooking demonstrations to exclusive wine and spirit pairings. Be prepared for a gastronomic journey that celebrates farm-to-table dining, showcasing the freshest local ingredients. Not only does the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival delight your taste buds, but it also supports local agriculture and sustainability initiatives. As you savour each bite, you’re contributing to the preservation of this island paradise. From the vibrant streets of Honolulu to the serene beaches of Oahu, this festival promises a culinary adventure like no other. Come for the food, stay for the Aloha—this is an event that feeds your soul.
Chef Alexandre Petard serves Herb-crusted Orange Nairagi. Via: Faze Magazine
Michelin chef Masaharu Morimoto carves up a whole tuna. Via: Faze Magazine.
Where to stay:
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina
Discover a tropical paradise where luxury meets the authentic spirit of Hawaii at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Nestled on the world-renowned Ko Olina coast, this five-star haven promises an extraordinary escape in the heart of Oahu. Here you can indulge in opulent accommodations that feature sweeping ocean views and elegant, Hawaiian-inspired design. The resort offers a range of accommodations, from spacious rooms and suites to stunning beachfront villas, all ensuring a serene and private sanctuary.
The resort sits on a green and rugged coastline with the Waianae mountains in the distance. Via: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
Via: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
The resort is a haven for relaxation and adventure alike. Treat yourself to a rejuvenating spa day at Naupaka Spa & Wellness Center, lounge pool side at one of their four pools, or experience a myriad of the adventures they offer like the Ko Olina Catamaran, Group Snorkel or private surf lessons on the West side of the island.
The Ko Olina Catamaran Group Snorkel is a three hour adventure. Via: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
Where to eat:
House Without A Key
A tropical oasis in Honolulu, House Without a Key is renowned for its stunning beachfront location and Pacific Rim cuisine, which incorporates quality, fresh, and locally sourced ingredients. A popular gathering spot in Halekulani Hotel, the restaurant offers a relaxed ambiance with outdoor seating where you can enjoy sunsets, live Hawaiian music and their classic Halekulani Mai Tai beneath the over 130 year old Kiawe Tree. While there, be sure to indulge in their decadent signature light-as-air Coconut Cake, a dessert that dates back to 1959!
Enjoy live music under the Kiawe tree. Via: House Without a Key.
The classic Halekulani Mai Tai can be enjoyed anytime of day, but sunsets are an extra-special time to relax and savour this crowd favourite. Via: House Without a Key.
The Halekulani Coconut Cake is a must-experience dessert that is the perfect ending to every meal. Via: House Without a Key.
Mina’s Fish House
Mina’s Fish House is a culinary gem, located at Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Renowned chef Michael Mina curates a seafood-focused menu, emphasizing locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. The oceanfront setting complements the exquisite dishes, creating a dining haven where you’ll savour Pacific-inspired cuisine like Butterfish Puolo with a touch of culinary innovation.
Hawaiian Butterfish Puolo. Via: Mina’s Fish House.
Hawaiian Seafood Tower. Via: Mina’s Fish House.
Noe Italian Restaurant
An upscale Italian restaurant, Noe, is nestled in the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. This culinary gem, led by chef Ryo Takatsuka, offers a sophisticated dining experience with panoramic ocean views. The menu features authentic Italian flavours with a modern twist, highlighting locally sourced ingredients. Guests can indulge in signature dishes like homemade pasta and wood-grilled meats while enjoying the elegant ambiance. The extensive wine list complements the culinary journey, making Noe Oahu a sought-after destination for those seeking a refined blend of traditional Italian cuisine and the vibrant spirit of the Hawaiian islands.
Noe Signature Tagliatelle with seasonal truffles and mushrooms. Via: Noe.
King Crab Campanelle with braised leeks and Ho Farms tomato. Via: Noe.