It’s easy to see that mainland living is far different from island life, and every island uniquely different from the next. One minute you can be barefoot and beach-bound on the famed North Shore, known for its laid-back surf lifestyle, and less than an hour later be overcome by towering hotels, a bustling downtown with equally busy beaches and the birthplace of surfing, where the royals once rolled on the waves in Waikiki.

That is the life of living on Hawaii’s third largest island, O’ahu, a stone’s throw away from one unique destination upon the next, and the way we like to look at it, one great day-trip after the next….

So, if you land in the land of Aloha get ready to soak in the sweet vibes of Waikiki, if only for 24 hours. It’s a must for more reasons than one. Here are a few of our must-see spots and stops.

The Royal Hawaiian

You can’t imagine a trip to Waikiki without floating endlessly through the gorgeous gardens of the Royal Hawaiian. Built in 1927, this historic retreat and ‘Pink Palace’ on the beach is simply put, a must-see, and somewhat hard to miss given the enchanting hue of pink. It packs plenty of historical charm with high ceilings, vintage photographs, and one of the best views of Diamond Head and mai-tai, sunset-watching. If you happen to be enjoying breakfast with a view, opt for pink pancakes, and plenty of fresh guava juice. We did.

Diamond Head

A not so distant escape from Honolulu’s huddled up hotels lined up on the beach, is a 1-mile view worth hiking to. Mixed with a short trail and some stairs, you can see just about everything from this volcanic crater site, and former military base, for a practically unparalleled 360-degree view. One we got to see from above, and boy was it breathtaking…

The Lay Low

While the name pretty much speaks for itself, we’ll try to give you the proper low down on this wonderfully modern retreat in the midst of Honolulu’s shopping mecca. With the right amount of architectural charm, mid-century modern flair, and interesting yet whimsical twist on vintage Hawaii, this boutique-y-hotel is a delightful escape from the busy beach scene. After a quick escalator ride to the second floor, the place is setup and inviting for a solo-seat and easy read, or nice place to gather for a cup of coffee, a freshly squeezed orange juice and packs a breezy view paired with a bit of sunshine. Certainly, a must-see for anyone wanting a bit of charm with a very laid-back vibe.


The Surfjack Hotel

A quick jaunt up the street from The Law Low or bike ride, depending on what you prefer, this Swim Club and Hotel is quintessential cool, quaint and a little bit hipster, which we’re totally cool with. With its clean furnishings mixed with vintage Hawaiian flair, and postcard ‘Wish You Were Here’ pool, it certainly feels like a trip down memory lane with all the modern amenities – a throwback to a slower time, somewhat kitschy but an all encompassing nod to today’s modern aloha vibes. Oh and, your visit wouldn’t be complete without a quick shop and sip inside Olive and Oliver’s boutique which boosts a coffee bar where filling a cup with printed pineapples is an absolute must.


En route to some shopping in Honolulu’s downtown, a morning or afternoon pitstop at Aussie owned ARVO for a healthy, yet filling (and utterly beautiful) slice of avo toast or chia pudding (which we highly recommend). Sit outside under the fringe-printed umbrella’s and bask in the subtle heat while enjoying a quick bite. We highly suggest grabbing a little goodie (or gifts for home) from floral haven Paiko, located just inside Arvo. If there’s one thing we know about island life, flowers are an absolute must but this place also boosts plenty of cute trinkets you can easily carry home in a purse! Enjoy.


Downtown Honolulu / Chinatown

New shops are constantly popping up and resurrecting the downtown scene into something filled with Chinatown flairs, food for the senses, and plenty of shops to spend your paycheck on. It’s easy to imagine the streets here during the late 1930s as sailors at nearby Pearl Harbor came to enjoy and be entertained in Honolulu’s thriving downtown center. While you’re there take a gander at the ‘Pride of the Pacific’ otherwise known as the Historical Hawaii Theater from 1922. You can clearly see the vaudeville roots with its magical neon horizontal marquee sign. If you’re itching for even more historical flair, we suggest a stop at The Iolani Palace.



The Modern Honolulu

Loaded with plenty of restaurants, pools, and modern luxuries, The Modern is filled with crisp décor, clean lines, and plenty of action. While it’s not located on the beach, the marina location offers an escape and a boutique take and new sunset views of Honolulu. We can definitely have a mojito or two here and don’t mind the lounge-inspired beach seating on their cabana ‘adult-style’ pool either.