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Waikiki Beach, on the south shores of Honolulu, is where “Father of Surfing” Duke Kahanamoku first learned to ride the waves. And what a setting he enjoyed. Picturesque Hawaiian sands are overlooked by the rugged folds of Mount Leahi, also known as Diamond Head. Now a popular tourist haunt, the area is served by a collection of hotels suiting all-comers, from smaller boutiques to grand resorts. Here are the best.
This high-rise boutique hotel sports a surf-cool mid-century vibe, catering to those who want to embrace the chill Hawaiian vibe. It’s centrally located on Lewers Street, so you’re just a short walk or bike ride from soft sands and island shopping. There’s also a hip diner, Mahina & Sun’s, by Honolulu’s own Ed Kenney. And yes, there’s an actual swim club based at the ovoid hotel pool where you can enjoy a cocktail and even watch a “dive-in” movie.
Towering over Kaimana Beach, a golden sandy strip with calm waters, this boutique is built for the traveler looking to explore. Natural beauty is found at Mount Leahi and Queen Kapiʻolani Regional Park, both of which sit within a 15-minute walk. You will also find the Waikiki Aquarium, Entertainment District and the International Marketplace nearby. Back at the hotel, a small spa provides treatments such as hot stone massages, manicures and pedicures, while the relaxed Hau Tree beachfront restaurant serves local and international dishes.
Wedged between Waikiki Beach and Mount Leahi, the Park Shore makes a great base for your adventures. When you’re not scrambling up the peak, you can gaze up at it from the chilled pool deck. Rooms come in a calming neutral color palette, some with ocean or mountain views. Grab-and-go food is found at Tucker & Bevvy (ideal for beach picnics), while Japanese fare is served at Yoshitsune and local dishes at Lulu’s.
An upscale resort sitting on the sands, Outrigger is the epitome of Hawaiian luxury. There’s a restaurant for every taste: head to Duke’s for fresh-caught fish and authentic Hawaiian music; Hula Grill for local island fare; and Blue Note for a world-inspired menu and top notch jazz, rock and Hawaiian entertainment. There’s also a special range of activities put on for guests, such as vow renewal ceremonies and stand-up paddleboard yoga; both of which may make your knees wobble, but for very different reasons. For relaxation, try yoga on the beach, and don’t miss the Infinity Spa, which takes up the top two floors of the resort and has a mesmerizing ocean view.
One minute’s walk will take you to Waikiki Beach from Hotel Renew. But before you head off, don’t forget to pick up your complimentary beach gear, which includes chairs, towels and boogie boards. Life at Renew is ever so laid-back, starting with your welcome, which comes with a cooling lemongrass-scented towel and māmaki (a Hawaiian iced tea thought to relieve stress). The mid-century modern decor of the 72-room boutique, soft color palette and views of Waikiki add to the relaxing atmosphere.