Hawaii: It conjures up visions of beautiful beaches, incredible landscapes and sunsets for daysssssss. Warm sun, blue skies and a steady diet of fresh fruit and seafood. Yep, just thinking about Hawaii makes me want to hop on a plane and head there right now! Fortunately, I was just there, to learn more about the refreshed Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard from Barclays. For anyone who visits Hawaii frequently or dreams of going but needs a little help getting there, this credit card might be just right for you!
The first thing to know is that there’s an enticing sign-up bonus of 50,000 HawaiiianMiles if you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. The way to earn miles has changed from the previous card. With the new card, there’s a 3-2-1 earning structure, designed to help you rack up miles faster so you can redeem them for travel faster. Here’s how it works: You’ll get 3X miles on purchases made on your Hawaiian Airlines credit card, 2X miles on things like groceries, gas and food and 1X miles on everything else. The card has a $99 annual fee.
With improved benefits for cardholders and an earning structure that helps you earn more miles more quickly, your Hawaiian dreams can become a reality even sooner. I have visited the island of Oahu many, many times and this tropical paradise has become an annual tradition for me and my family, ringing in the new year in one of the world’s most beautiful places. If you’re planning a trip to Oahu, here’s my guide on where to eat, shop and stay!
WHERE TO STAY IN OAHU
Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach
There are so many wonderful hotels in Waikiki but one of the newest luxury properties is the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. The residence-style rooms are perfect for families, complete with kitchens and laundry facilities. And it’s a Ritz-Carlton so you can expect a luxury experience from the moment you step into the gorgeous open-air sky lobby. Read more about the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach here.
The Sheraton Waikiki is located in the heart of the action in Waikiki. It’s right on the beach and provides easy access to everything you’ll want to do in the area. With 1,636 rooms, it’s the second largest hotel on the island and the club room, the Leahi Club, located 30 floors up, offers arguably the best views in Waikiki. The infinity pool is touted by many, including Conde Nast Traveler, as one of the best hotel pools in Hawaii.
The Moana Surfrider was the first hotel to open in Waikiki back in 1901 and is known as the First Lady of Waikiki. I adore its turn-of-the-century architecture, especially the porte cochere at the hotel entrance. The front balcony is lined with wooden rocking chairs (the perfect spot to sit and people-watch along the famous Kalakaua Avenue), and the historic banyan tree in the hotel’s backyard is a sight to behold. Read more about the Moana Surfrider here.
The Modern Honolulu
If you’re looking for a more boutique hotel experience, check out the Modern Honolulu. It’s a comfortable distance from the bustle of Waikiki (about a one-mile walk from the Moana Surfrider), but close enough that you can enjoy everything that Waikiki has to offer when you want it. Everything about the hotel exudes cool, calm and chic, from the effortlessly soothing white guest rooms to the custom plumeria fragrance that wafts through the hotel’s common areas. Read more about the Modern Honolulu here.
THINGS TO DO IN OAHU
Hike Diamond Head
In 1968, Diamond Head was declared a National Natural Landmark and is estimated to be about 500,000 years old. It is the island’s iconic landmark and no trip to Oahu is complete without hiking to the top for sweeping panoramic views.
Visit Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve
The Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve is a spectacular, 4000-acre expanse of land situated on the east side of Oahu. Not only is the scenery breathtakingly gorgeous, but there’s lots to do here for the whole family, from ATV rides and ziplining, to lounging at the beach and taking tours of Hollywood film locations like Jurassic Park.
WHERE TO EAT IN OAHU
The food at Roy’s Waikiki blends Hawaiian, Japanese and European cooking techniques together to create a fusion experience you’ll love. What to order: Ahi tuna poke bowl
Koko Head Café
Described as modern-global fusion cuisine and under the direction of Chef Lee Anne Wong, the food at Koko Head Café is ah-mazing and the atmosphere of this island-style brunch house makes it a popular choice for locals and tourists alike. What to order: Elvis’ Revenge (peanut butter, banana tempura, bacon, honey, toasted coconut, sweet bun)
Duke’s is an institution in Waikiki. Named after the famed surfer Duke Kahanamoku, Duke’s pays homage to the island’s beautiful beach life with amazing view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head looming in the distance. It’s usually packed (and with good reason) so be prepared to wait. But it’s worth the wait! What to order: Hula Pie (chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge, toasted mac nuts and whipped cream)
Bogart’s is a tiny little café that is a big attraction for tourists and locals and always has a long line out the door, which is always a good sign. What to order: Acai bowl
WHERE TO SHOP IN OAHU
Looking for something that embraces the spirit of aloha? Reyn Spooner shirts combine Hawaiian history and heritage with modern style. These vibrantly coloured and patterned shirts are the perfect attire for your Hawaiian vacation and make great gifts for friends and family back home.
Ala Moana Center
Get your shopping on at the Ala Moana Center, an open-air shopping complex that boasts over 350 stores and restaurants. From high-end boutiques to local shops and everything in between, the Ala Moana Center has something for everyone. I especially love that it’s got a children’s play area for when the little ones need to run off some energy.
Probably the most famous street in Oahu, a portion of Kalakaua Avenue is also known as ‘Luxury Row’, so that gives you an idea of what to expect. Home to eight big fashion houses like Chanel, Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, you might find yourself mostly just window shopping but further along the street, there are more accessible stores like Kate Spade and Forever 21.
What are your favourite things to see and do in Oahu? Share your suggestions below!