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The island of O'ahu is the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii, offering a nice balance of urban and rural sights to explore, with breathtaking natural beauty all around.
Four Seasons Resort O'ahu at Ko Olina is a favorite resort on the island's quieter leeward coast for travelers wishing to connect more deeply with Hawaiian culture. Enjoy a spiritual hike to Ka‘ena Point, O'ahu's westernmost point, with hula teacher and cultural advisor La`akea Perry, who shares stories of this sacred place where Hawaiians believe mortal souls pass into the realm of the gods. Then, get out on the ocean and spot spinner dolphins, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and migrating humpback whales on a Sea Ray SLX 400 luxury yacht, or depart from the Four Seasons' white sand beach cove in a modern outrigger canoe.
After a full day out exploring, unwind with a massage or body treatment using indigenous Hawaiian ingredients at the Four Seasons' Naupaka Spa. You can even book a candle-lit oceanfront cabana for a romantic evening massage and private stargazing.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach is within walking distance of the best dining and shopping on O'ahu, perfect for guests who prefer being in the middle of the action. Foodies can book a new immersive ranch-to-table culinary excursion in partnership with Kualoa Ranch. The full-day experience includes a private guided tour at an 800-year-old sustainable Hawaiian fish pond and ingredient gathering in a wetland taro field to learn about traditional Hawaiian farming, followed by a curated dinner back at the resort utilizing the day's fresh bounty from the ranch.
Begin the day with coffee and vegan donuts at Holey Grail Donuts just off Kalakaua Avenue. The fermented taro root dough is light and fluffy with a crisp exterior and each donut is fried to order in coconut oil, then glazed in Hawaiian chocolate, honey, or rolled in chaga mushroom chai sugar. If you prefer viennoiserie to donuts, Kona Coffee Purveyors flagship cafe in International Market Place serves San Francisco's b.patisserie black sesame kouign amann and guava coconut almond croissants freshly baked in small batches throughout the day, paired with the best single-origin coffee on O'ahu. The line in the morning stretches down the block, but you can also try their coffee from the comfort of your room at The Ritz-Carlton Residences.
Morning is also the best time to hike Diamond Head, Hawaii's most popular state park, just a couple miles from Waikiki Beach. The sweaty trek to the summit gets crowded with tourists, but it's worth braving the crowds for panoramic views of Honolulu, and early risers can beat the heat before sunrise. Pearl Harbor is another must-see attraction in Honolulu, with a museum and visitor center, plus boat tours to the USS Arizona Memorial.
After a full day of exploring, you'll work up an appetite for a great meal. Hometown favorite chef Chris Kajioka's new restaurant Miro in Kaimuki is the best new restaurant in Honolulu, with an excellent five-course prix fixe featuring French and Japanese-inspired cuisine.