Updated: Oct 25, 2021
It is fitting that Oahu means, "gathering place," as the last time I was there, I was lucky enough to be traveling with my mom, one of my best friends, and another bestie who just happened to be on the island at the same time with her rad husband, Chris. Yep, I just said rad. Eighties child alert. Oahu will forever be one of our favorite gathering places, as the adventures we had brought immeasurable peace, joy, lightness and laughter to my life and my summer.
Each of our days started off at the beachy club-med environment that was our hotel's stretch of the beach. For a small fee (about $50), you could have an umbrella and two lounge chairs set up for you for the entire day. This investment is well worth it if you plan to spend even a few hours in and out of the water. For my crew, we lovvved being on the beach. The day's other activities were prioritized around floating in the aqua blue waters in our pineapple shaped rafts. From our high floor balcony at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, the view is a sea of surfers and hundreds of happy people in a variety of colored floating devices (pineapples, watermelons, mermaids, swans) happily splashing about. The vibe is joy, rest, fun, friends. Pro tip: Go ahead and splurge on a pair of Maui Jim sunnies. You will not believe how the ocean looks through those lenses.
We went adventuring in the sky, and we went adventuring in the sea, and my perspective is forever affected by the beauty I experienced. Kim and I conquered her fear of heights and went up, up, up and away parasailing at almost a thousand feet. To soar through the air, looking down at blue waters and up at blue sky, was the most peaceful feeling I have ever had. And so fun! Our view of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and the Ko'olau Mountains were beyond. We let out a "wheee!" as our parasail dipped down so our toes could touch the water.
Our underwater adventure, with amazing friends Clarissa and Chris, was absolute magic! They invited Kim and I to join them on their chartered boat out to Maunalua Bay. What fun to be boating in the most beautiful ocean with the best of friends. The thirty minute boat ride brought us to two separate reefs at Turtle Canyon. We put on our snorkel gear and fell into the crystal clear waters, hoping to fit in. Again, the peace of being in this perfectly cool water, swimming beneath the surface, making our way toward these gentle giants was something I will never forget. Out of nowhere, it seemed, we happened upon so many gorgeous green sea turtles. We were instructed how to interact to be respectful of them in their environment. They swam ever so close, poking their heads out of the water, as if to say "hello" before going back under. I wonder if they are as curious about us as we are about them?
Other notable stops for beauty and adventure include: Lanikai [meaning: heavenly ocean]. Lanikai is described as the most beautiful of all Oahu beaches and ranks as one of the best beaches in the world. It is not to be missed on your first trip to Oahu. Hiking Diamond Head is also an adventure-filled way to see the gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. Don't miss legendary surf mecca, North Shore, to see the biggest waves and premiere surfing competitions. For a short burst of adventure, hop on a catamaran or an outrigger (they will pull right up to your beachfront hotel) and enjoy an hour long sail. Bonus - they include a cocktail and you might even see a shark (I did!)
Dining & Culture
After all of your adventuring, be sure to stop at iconic Duke's Waikiki for some surf 'n' turf, umbrella drinks, tiki vibe and live music right on the beach. Duke's is truly a great spot to be at on almost a nightly basis. When you are ready for some beautiful storytelling and luxury vibes, head on over to the most coveted spot on the beach, The Royal Hawaiian, for Aha'aina Luau. Aha'aina is a culinary and sensory celebration, commemorating Hawaiian culture and transforming the traditional island experience in grand Royal Hawaiian style. They have created a modern yet timeless Aha'ania to honor the land's majestic history through food, song, stories, hula and culture. The experience includes a brown and cream kukui nut lei. The kukui nut tree is a symbol of enlightenment, wisdom, protection and peace for the Hawaiians and said to contain subtle energy known in Hawaii as "ki." The shell of the nut was polished and worn as a lei by nobles and royalty as a symbol of being enlightened.
My Oahu adventures and time spent with my mom and best friends exceeded my every expectation. I felt graciously welcomed by the Hawaiians and renewed and nourished on their sacred grounds. There are so many more adventures to come and additional gorgeous islands to visit, so stay tuned!