The North Shore is a popular shopping area, from local handcraft and art boutiques to some of the world's best surf shops.
The starkly elegant U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, designed by architect Alfred Preis, floats above the sunken wreckage of the ship.
A sculpture of Duke Kahanamoku, a young Olympic swimmer in the early 1900s, who revived the ancient sport of surfing.
Fishcake, a Honolulu home store, is located in the Kakaako District.
Downtown's Ala Moana Center is one of the world's largest open-air shopping malls (2.1 million square feet of retail space). But the heart of Hawaiian design beats strongest in local boutiques and galleries such as those in the Kakaako District, including Pacific Home, Fishcake, SoHa Living, and Anne Namba Designs. Namba's classic kimonos are sold in high-end retail chains like Saks Fifth Avenue.
Maura Fujihara, owner of Fishcake
Pacific Home, a shop in the Kakaako District
SoHa in the Kakaako District
Koa wood items from Martin & MacArthur.
The warriors of ancient Hawaii, known as koa, carved fighting instruments and honed canoes from strong indigenous hardwood--also known as koa--with swirling grains and rich colors. Koa wood remains sacred and is popular for furniture and suitcase-friendly boxes and bowls. Michael Tam, CEO of koa retailer Martin & MacArthur, warns against pieces carved with flowers and leaf designs that claim antique lineage. "Monarchs and plantation owners lived in an island paradise full of tropical flowers," he says. "These motifs were never intended for furniture design."
A koa wood table.
Leonard's Bakery in Honolulu, known for hot, donut-like malasadas.
Treats from Leonard's Bakery.
Chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy's restaurants, Hawaii's first recipient of the James Beard Award.
Light, luscious Hawaiian cuisine
A breezeway in The Royal Hawaiian hotel.
You know you've checked into paradise when you're greeted by a phalanx of pink-attired hotel staff members serving freshly squeezed fruit juice, an oshibori towel, and fragrant flower leis. Welcome to Hawaii. More specifically, welcome to The Royal Hawaiian.
Originally opened in 1927, the resort known as the "Pink Palace of the Pacific" reopened in early 2009 after closing for a seven-month-long first-class face-lift spearheaded by WCIT Architecture and interior design firms Philpotts & Associates and Henriksen Design Associates.
Retaining the hotel's historic integrity while maximizing its modern luxuries, today's Royal Hawaiian is truly a mix of past and present. The historic (and highly recognizable) pink facade still warmly welcomes guests. Rooms and suites (528 in total) remain charming-yet-updated reminders of the hotel's past. Orchid-lined corridors lead to generous gardens punctuated with palm trees and lush flowers. Private cabanas and sunset-pink deck umbrellas beckon from around the Royal Beach Tower pool.
"The Royal Hawaiian's rich historic context laid the basis for our design," says architect Robert K. Iopa. "We recaptured spaces that were previously renovated and converted them back to the functions they once served--interior spaces that provide shady respites and cool breezeways that make the most of the Royal Coconut Grove and Waikiki Beach."
Welcome to paradise! For more info, go to the Royal Hawaiian Web site.
A suite in the historic wing of The Royal Hawaiian hotel.
The Royal Hawaiian's Porte Cochere Driveway.
The Royal Hawaiian, circa 1927
Abhsa Spa at The Royal Hawaiian.
View of Diamond Head.
A chair in the historic wing suite of The Royal Hawaiian.
The Royal Hawaiian's King Kamehameha Suite
Hawaiian Quilts Native Hawaiian women blended the ancient art of kapa moe-- bedcovers made from a cloth derived from the inner bark of trees--with quilting skills brought by missionaries to create the distinctive Hawaiian island quilts.
Hawaiian quilts are generally two solid colors--one for the background and one for the appliqué that's usually an organic, nature-inspired design. Women tended to create quilts based on personal experiences or dreams, and each quilt is given a name.
The last queen of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani, stitched a crazy quilt of scraps during her imprisonment in Iolani Palace. It reads: "Imprisoned at Iolani Palace . We began the quilt here . "
Celebrities love dining in Oahu as much as the cameras love shooting there. Popular restaurants, many of which are located at Waikiki hotels, offer bountiful island cuisine and attract A-list stars. Kristin Davis, Ben Affleck, and Morgan Freeman are among the guests of the beachfront Orchids restaurant at the Halekulani.
Sandra Bullock, Adam Sandler, and Drew Barrymore have dined at the Kahala Hotel & Resort's Hoku's, while Janet Jackson and Will Smith enjoy its Seaside Grill.
At Outrigger Reef Hotel on the Beach, Cameron Diaz feasts at Ocean House, an open-air, beachfront restaurant boasting a spectacular view of the sunset and Diamond Head. Comedic actor Rob Schneider has dined at Shore Bird.
The Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Bar has served Hollywood royalty. Elizabeth Taylor has been spotted there, as has funny-woman Ellen DeGeneres, for whom a cocktail is named.
Lucky patrons at Duke's Waikiki at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach have been treated to surprise performances by legend Jimmy Buffett.
A shop vignette.
Pretty little keepsakes
A snapshot from paradise
Design Hawaiian style
Catching a wave.
Surfboards, a form of folk art
Getting Around Honolulu
1. U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.
National Park Service, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu. Free admission; $5 for museum audio tours (808/422-3300; nps.gov/valr).
2. AIA Downtown Honolulu Architectural Walking Tours.
Saturdays 9-11:30 a.m., $10. Advance reservations required. Tours begin at AIA Honolulu office, historic Stangenwald
Building, 119 Merchant
St., Suite 402 (808/545-4242; aiahonolulu.org).
3. Diamond Head State Monument.
Off Diamond Head Road between Makapuu Ave. & 18th Ave. in Honolulu. Visitors can hike to stunning panoramic coastal views that include the Waianae Mountains and sometimes catch a glimpse of humpback whales. Its 140 acres feature some of Oahu's favorite attractions, including the Waikiki Aquarium. Admission charged (hawaiistateparks.org).
4. Leonard's Bakery.
933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu. Home of the malasada. Malasadas trucks also roam the island (808/737-5591; leonardshawaii.com).
5. Pacific Home.
Find Hawaiian-style fine furnishings at 420 Ward Ave. in Honolulu (808/596-9338; pacific-home.com).
6. Anne Namba Designs.
324 Kamani St., Honolulu (808/589-1135).
307C Kamani St., Honolulu (808/593-1231).
Atelier of local artist and interior designer Mary Philpotts, whose family has shaped Oahu's art and design tradition. 40 S. School St., Honolulu (808/275-3075; placehawaii.com).
9. Polynesian Cultural Center.
Eight miniature island villages, hands-on activities, performers, and events, as well as a canoe pageant and night luau (reservations required). Admission charged; 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy., Laie (800/367-7060; polynesia.com).
10. Byodo-In Temple.
47-200 Kahekili Hwy., Kaneohe. Admission charged (808/239-9844; byodo-in.com).
11. Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Hawaii's largest fine-arts museum. Admission charged; 900 S. Beretania St., Honolulu (808/532-8700; honoluluacademy.org).
12. Kawaiahao Church.
957 Punchbowl St., Honolulu (808/522-1333; kawaiahao.org).
13. Aliiolani Hale.
Originally constructed as the official royal palace in 1874, it now houses Hawaii's State Supreme Court; 17 S. King St., Honolulu (808/539-4994).
14. Honolulu Design Center.
Three floors of home furniture, lighting, and accessories, plus a restaurant and wine bar. 1250 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu. Free and open to the public (808/956-1250; honoluludesigncenter.com).
15. Roy's Restaurant.
6600 Kalanianaole Hwy., Honolulu (808/396-7697).
16. Ono Hawaiian Foods.
726 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain ate here (808/737-2275).
17. Helena's Hawaiian Food.
The James Beard Foundation called this fun hole-in-the-wall a regional classic; 1240 N. School St., Honolulu (808/845-8044).
18. Tanioka's Seafoods & Catering.
Get your plate lunch and poke (raw fish salad) here. 94-903 Farrington Hwy., Waipahu (808/671-3779; taniokas.com).
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Oahu is an enchanting mix. Here, some of the best the island offers