O'ahu, Hawaii: Top Attractions

Oahu
Paradise Found: O'ahu  (Corel)

Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii
Drive a few miles beyond Waikiki to this exclusive bastion of gentility and calm and all cares seem to melt away. There is real value in these pricey digs; spending even just two nights here will completely rejuvenate even the most high-strung guest. From presidents to celebrities, the Kahala Mandarin has hosted them all. The resort hosts the truly stellar Hoku's restaurant, along with unparalleled spa suites. Guestrooms overlook the ocean, dolphin pool, or Diamond Head.

Sheraton Moana Surfrider
You'd be hard pressed to find a more historic hostelry in Hawaii. The 1901 Surfrider, which has hosted queens, presidents, and scads of celebrities, also hosted the famed radio program "Hawaii Calls." Ask for a guestroom at the "First Lady of Waikiki" in the Banyan Wing, the resort's original section that still exudes an old Hawaii feel. Linger on the front porch rockers overlooking the porte cocher, take your sweet time over lunch at the beachfront banyan veranda, and camp out on the prime patch of beach. Feel the trend…

Mandara Spa
Located at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort, this extraordinary spa is one of the best in Hawaii. Its 25 treatment rooms offer every conceivable wet and dry body treatment-deep Balinese and Hawaiian massages with sensitive professionals, state-of-the-art fitness center, a great café, and spa suites for couples. To paraphrase an exclamation generally used about Maui, "Mandara Spa no ka oi" (Mandara Spa is the best).

Chef Mavro
When it's time to stretch your palate, it's time to visit the great and powerful Mavro. A James Beard Award winner, Chef Mavro is fiercely independent and cooks with an intensity not often seen. He pours every ounce of his French Provençal passion into exquisitely paired, multi-course tasting menus. Don't miss his signature lilikoi malasadas for dessert.
Chef Mavro: 808.944.4714, www.chefmavro.com

Ko Olina Golf Club
This Ted Robinson-designed haven is O'ahu's best and appears on numerous lists of the top U.S. golf courses. From the signature 12th hole (a tough par 3) to the magnificent 18th (with water, water everywhere), Ko Olina offers multi-tiered greens, uneven lies, tricky winds, granular and firm sand traps, and Bermuda grass greens. Make reservations early, since tee times are highly sought.
Ko Olina Golf Club: 808.676.5309, www.koolinagolf.com

Iolani Palace
This Italian Renaissance structure, the only royal residence on U.S. soil, is quite a sight to behold. Built by King David Kalakaua in 1882, it's the best place to begin appreciation of Hawaii's painful modern history and heritage. Queen Liliuokalani spent time under house arrest here in the 1890s after the U.S. government overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.

Honolulu Academy of Arts
The single-most important repository for art in Hawaii, the Honolulu Academy of Arts has excellent Asian and Hawaii regional collections. Laced with garden courtyards, the building's elegant architecture rivals its art and fully enhances the visitor's appreciation. Modern-art enthusiasts should not miss the Contemporary Museum, enriched by Asian-style gardens and the work of 20th-century artists like David Hockney, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella.
Honolulu Academy of Arts: 808.532.8701, www.honoluluacademy.org
Contemporary Museum: 866.991.2835, www.tcmhi.org

Hawaii Opera Theatre
From the Pirates of Penzance to Verdi's Rigoletto, this flourishing opera company performs passionately at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall and other intimate venues around the state. English translations and a varied lineup draw the crowds, but strong community ties and a belief in educational outreach to children foster a devoted patronage.
Hawaii Opera Theatre: 808.596.7372, www.hawaiiopera.org

Honolulu Symphony Orchestra
Go from wetsuit to tuxedo and listen to the sounds of the highly regarded Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. The group performs at the historic Hawaii Theater, the contemporary Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall, and the Waikiki Shell. Try and catch the Honolulu Symphony Pops accompanying the great crossover-star Diana Krall at the Waikiki Shell.
Honolulu Symphony Orchestra: 808.792.2000, www.honolulusymphony.com

Halekulani
Service rises to art at the Halekulani. The phenomenal, formal, and decidedly French La Mer restaurant ranks among the state's top choices. Halekulani's spa pampers every desire imaginable and sunset cocktails at the refined House Without a Key are most memorable.
Halekulani: 808.923.2311, www.halekulani.com

Published: 26 Apr 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Oahu

$671
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Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk
$520
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Halekulani
$545-$595
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The Kahala Hotel & Resort
$479-$609
Average/night*
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Aston Waikiki Beach Tower

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