In Hawaiian culture, aloha means more than hello or goodbye. The word also reflects the affection and respect you have for the person you are meeting. Keep this in mind on your next trip to Waikiki and Honolulu, where the rich history of Hawaii’s past mixes with the island’s cosmopolitan present to create an authentic friendliness.

Day 1

Morning: Head to Waikiki Beach for an outrigger canoe rideWaikiki Beach Services takes guests out on a canoe and explains the rhythm of the waves until the right one comes along. Then, everyone paddles hard to catch the swell and ride it toward shore.

Iolani Palace, photograph by Giuseppe Masci/Alamy.

Afternoon: Located next to the Hawaii State Capitol, Iolani Palace was the former residence of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Built by King Kalakaua in 1882, the building has been restored and visitors can tour the state rooms and learn about Hawaii’s regal past.

Evening: Make a reservation at the Mai Tai Bar at The Royal Hawaiian Resort—known as the Pink Lady of Waikiki for its distinctive paint colour—to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Sip on one of the bar’s signature cocktails such as Vic’s ’44, the resort’s take on the original 1944 Mai Tai recipe.

Vic’s ’44 drink, photograph courtesy of the Royal Hawaiian Resort.

Day 2

Morning: Morning Take a tour (Mondays and Wednesdays) of the historic Moana Surfrider hotel to learn about the history of Waikiki. Artifacts are displayed around the property, including newspaper articles about the mysterious death of Jane Lathrop Stanford at the hotel in 1905, and items once owned by surfer Duke Kahanamoku, who won a gold medal in swimming at the 1912 Olympics.

Photograph courtesy of Moana Surfrider hotel

Afternoon: Remain at the Moana and enjoy afternoon tea. Sip on specially blended teas while nibbling finger sandwiches and macarons. After, shop at Ala Moana Center—the world’s largest open-air shopping mall with 350 stores and restaurants.

The Mauka Wing of the Ala Moana Center, photograph courtesy of Ala Moana Center.

Evening: Dine on Japanese-inspired dishes at Zigu on Seaside Avenue. Enjoy the Big Island ginger pork with Maui onion or a bowl of kale udon noodles. Take a post-dinner walk along Kuhio Beach and pay your respects at the lei-laden bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku.

Photograph courtesy of Zigu.

Day 3

Morning: Visit the Shangri La Museum. Located in the shadow of Diamond Head (a volcanic crater), the former estate of philanthropist and heiress Doris Duke now houses a museum dedicated to Islamic art, culture and design. The collection includes furnishings, tilework and textiles.

Afternoon: Lunch on the Israeli salad and fish tacos at Merriman’s in Honolulu before shopping for locally made products and art at neighbouring South Shore Market. After, explore the murals in Kakaako, a former industrial area between Honolulu and Waikiki that is now full of stylish shops, microbreweries and cafés.

Lauren YS mural in Kakaako, photograph by Jasper Wong.

Evening: Learn about locally raised singer Don Ho—who brought Hawaiian music to the world—at the International Market Place. Then, head upstairs for dinner at Eating House 1849 By Roy Yamaguchi. Try the crispy calamari and pork belly bao buns.

Where to Stay

Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

Located on Waikiki Beach, this is the city’s original beachside resort. The central building, with its Victorian architectural details, dates to 1901 and is now flanked by modern towers. The centre courtyard is home to a historic banyan tree, which was planted in 1904.

Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach

Family pool at Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach, photograph by Don Riddle Images.

The hotel’s lobby, located on the building’s eighth floor, is an indoor-outdoor affair with scenic views of the ocean and Waikiki’s skyline. There are two infinity pools on the property, and guest rooms are large, with kitchenettes and in-suite laundry facilities.

[This story appears in the January 2020 edition of WestJet Magazine.]