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Oahu Renaissance

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Like a dormant volcano awakening, Hawaiians have been reclaiming their ancient traditions and language since the 1960s. Now Oahu is rising too, giving visitors all the more reason to venture beyond the resorts and chic comforts of Waikiīki. Savor the past with kālua-pig, outrigger canoe rides, and the Surfjack Hotel, which salutes the surf scene of the tiki bar era. Then explore the island's vibrant contemporary culture from cutting-edge Chinatown restaurants to the murals helping to revitalize Honolulu's once-industrial Kakaako district.
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2335 Kalakaua Ave #116, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku grew up here, and you can dine amid his memorabilia at this kitschy Waikiki classic. Pair one of the restaurant’s signature mai tais with a pupu (appetizer) like ahi poke or panko-fried...
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92-1001 Olani St, Kapolei, HI 96707, USA
Inspired by ancient Polynesian navigators, this program invites guests at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina to delve deep into Hawaiian culture. Experiences draw on the wisdom of local watermen, kupuna (elders), artisans, designers and...
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680 Ala Moana Blvd #105, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
Don't expect frills at this family-friendly diner, which serves up cheap and cheerful Hawaiian classics. Chicken wings, beef stew, andpork lau lau wrapped in taro leaves jump off a menu that has barely changed since the first Highway Inn opened in...
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327 Lana Ln, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
Hundreds of local and international artists have gathered each Valentine's Day week since 2011 to make music, murals, and live installations in Honolulu's Kakaako district. They also host block parties and panel discussions. Centered on the Lana...
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2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
This family-run luthier shop has been handcrafting world-renowned instruments since 1916. They are often made of koa, a native wood prized for its luminous, almost psychedelic wood grain patterns. The company's rich-toned ukes inspire beginners...
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92-1185 Ali'inui Dr, Kapolei, HI 96707, USA
Most locals agree the Mouse House puts on Oahu's best traditional feast for visitors. Perhaps that's unsurprising, given the care Disney put into this $800-million high-rise version of a fishing village. Eschewing its usual cartoon-tastic,...
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50 Sand Island Access Rd, Honolulu, HI 96819, USA
Honolulu's last great tiki bar is tucked behind a row of warehouses, six miles northwest of Waikiki. Set on the edge of Keehi Lagoon, it shelters under plumeria and coconut trees—and will be familiar to fans of Hawaii Five-0. La Mariana...
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2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Built in 1901, the legendary "First Lady of Waikiki" blends Victorian architecture with a golden beach and turquoise seas. Putting a luxury hotel in a deserted backwater was a bold move—but one that paid off. Tourism took off here and the...
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Honolulu, HI 96819, USA
This nonprofit perpetuates the art, science, and spirit of traditional Pacific Ocean exploration. It has two wa‘a (voyaging canoes): the modern Hikianalia, which has erased its carbon footprint, and the Hokulea, which proved Polynesians...
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1170 Auahi St, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
Eighteen merchants band together here in Kakaako's Ward Village mall, offering everything from a scoop of Froot Loop Vodka ice cream (Lucy's Lab Creamery) to locally made board shorts (Salvage Public). One of the best places to find unique...
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412 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
The 112-room Surfjack Hotel channels 1960’s Hawaii, with vintage upholstery on the headboards, reed ceilings, and midcentury modern furnishings. The onsite Swim Club, with its outdoor pool bar, hosts music events and movie nights....
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2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
A renowned group of Hawaiian watermen worked on the Waikiki beaches during the first half of the 20th century. These "Beachboys" shared their culture, aloha, and intimate knowledge of the ocean—and led the revival of traditional aquatic...