Editors Pick: Honolulu on the Rise

In Destinations, Editor Picks by LA Travel Magazine

Honolulu has been long known as the busiest city of the Hawaiian Islands with its crowded beaches, bustling downtown shopping district, high rise hotels and a plethora of dining options. To be honest because of this stigma when a truly relaxing vacation is needed, Honolulu would not be our first choice of islands to fantasize about. A recent visit changed all that and we received an eye opening experience to the newly revitalized capital city which completely changed our view on this iconic island getaway.

Many years ago Honolulu had such an influx of tourism that the beaches became so crowded and the white sands of days past became littered with trash, so much so that the locals were not pleased with the disrespect their island paradise was being given. Fast forward to present day and Honolulu has become the ideal tropical island getaway with its inviting blend of luxury accommodations, white sandy beaches, turquoise water, historical culture, upscale shopping and world class dining experiences. As you walk the same beaches that were once polluted you can certainly see how much work has been put into keeping the area as pristine as possible even with the thousands of tourists that flock here each day. In recent years there has been a resurgence of new developments in the hotel and business sector providing Honolulu with the face-lift it needed to compete on the global tourism stage.

Ward Village
The world renowned Howard Hughes Corporation has worked diligently over the past few years to bring a new concept that has proved detrimental to Honolulu’s revitalization. The areas new community is changing the game for Honolulu’s residents and tourists alike. Ward Village was designed to bring a culmination of luxury high rise residency, a multicultural blend of shops and restaurants along with outdoor gathering spots all done with an artistic local flare. The perfect mix of urban living and local island culture Ward Village has been attracting people in droves to observe and experience the newest development in the city. The 60-acre master planned community was designed to give local Hawaiians and world travelers a new place to gather, live, shop and eat!

For an inside look at the concept behind Ward Village visit: https://youtu.be/csbFcgmMmRE

Luxury Residences
Ward Village offers a creative style of living just steps from the majestic beaches of Oahu. A stunning location to say the least, situated between Ala Moana and Downtown, Ward Village has quickly become one of the most sought out plots of land to call home. Five luxury towers all offering different amenities are available for residence; from townhomes, condominiums to beautifully designed penthouse suites there is certainly something for every taste. The towers Waiea, Anaha, Ae’o, Ke Kilohana, and A’Ali’i all offer prime locations, first class amenities and incredible views of the beautiful beaches below. Honolulu residents have never seen anything like this before. Ward Village has introduced luxury residency at the highest level of sophistication on one of the most visited islands in the world!

Local Products & Dining
Unlike any other up and coming neighborhood Ward Village features retail and dining options along with new and notable restaurants, markets and more bringing excitement to the area. South Shore Market features local vendors that are able to showcase their clothing lines, jewelry, home decor and other products including local chocolates, candies, honey and more. This creative hub allows local business owners a platform to display their homegrown talents in a location where small business is celebrated. Aside from South Shore Market two standout restaurants have quickly come to the forefront as a part of the Ward Village inception and they are creating quite the buzz among local Honolulu foodies.

Nobu
One of the most famous names in Japanese fusion dining has landed at Ward Village and locals couldn’t be more pleased with this new addition to the areas culinary scene. If you are a true foodie and love seafood at the highest level there is a good chance you have visited one of the 22 Nobu locations worldwide. After 10 years in Waikiki, Nobu recently relocated to the stunning new location inside Ward Village designed with style and simplicity in mind. The combination of sleek modern décor, meticulously presented gastronomy and a passionate staff make this a hub for an elegant evening out with friends or intimate date night. Located at the base of the Waiea tower, Nobu presents a sense of worldliness to the neighborhood that is difficult to duplicate. Founders Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro are proud to have their world renowned establishment represented by husband and wife duo Matt and Yuka Raso. Items including the Bigeye Ahi Poke Nobu Style, Shaved Ice Ceviche and Yellowtail Jalapeno make for an evening to remember when visiting this delectable establishment.

Piggy Smalls
Let’s start with the name. It’s safe to say that Chef Andrew Le is a fan of 90’s rap music. It is also safe to say that he has an enormous passion for cooking; combine these two and you come up with one of the most popular restaurants in Honolulu, Piggy Smalls. The second restaurant in Le’s command after his flagship location “The Pig & the Lady” Le has been gaining a ton of momentum in the cities culinary scene. Collecting numerous accolades along the way, from Le has created a unique dining experience at Piggy Smalls that is hard to duplicate. This type of cuisine is deemed as Vietnamese Fusion with a highlight on the word fusion. A rather casual dining experience Le serves his comfort food family style and has the locals lining up day after day to try his unique menu items. Le along with his Chef de Cuisine Brandon Lee, bring a variety of flavor profiles with quite the international flare to say the least. The menu is influenced by countries including Morocco, Hungary and Indonesia as well as the most obvious, Vietnam. Of course there is a strong tie to the Hawaiian Islands where the dynamic duo does everything they can to include products local to the area. This keeps the menu as fresh as possible all while helping to boost the local economy! Don’t leave without trying the LFC (Laotian fried chicken) and Pho-Strami Burger.

Stay
Two locations grace the beaches of Waikiki only a ten minute walk from each other. The Outrigger Waikiki Beach and Outrigger Reef. Take your pick, both offer prime beachfront real estate with stunning views of Diamond Head and turquoise blue waters that you could literally sit on your balcony and gaze at for hours!

Outrigger, Waikiki Beach
Situated right in the heart of Waikiki Beach it is hard to ask for a better location when looking for a hotel on Oahu. Step outside the lobby door and you are in the heart of Honolulu’s infamous shopping district with every top retail store you can imagine. If shopping is not your thing simply stroll to the opposite side of the hotel and bask in the sun while the soft powdery sand embraces your bare feet. The best of both worlds is what you get with Outrigger Waikiki, shopping and dining to your left, Waikiki Beach, water activities and the properties pool to your right! From the moment you check in you absorb the quintessential Hawaii feel. Upon check in the staff welcomes you with a refreshing tropical drink and a cold scented towel to guarantee a warm and inviting first impression. The rooms offer incredible views and have all the amenities you could ever need for the perfect relaxation getaway! The beachfront is packed with poolside fun as well as water sports galore. Outrigger canoes are available for rides on Hawaii’s most famous beach. Grab your loved ones and partake in one of the islands most well known activities. Looking for the ultimate Oahu dining experience? Outrigger Waikiki just happens to be connected to the most legendary restaurant on the island, Dukes. The establishment has become a legendary gathering spot for locals and tourists to pay homage to Hawaii’s great sportsman Duke Kahanamoku. Sit right on the sand and enjoy local seafood, burgers and more. Of course it wouldn’t be a trip to Dukes without a piece of their legendary Hula Pie!

After dinner make sure you book a reservation at Blue Note, the hotel’s signature Jazz lounge where world famous performers bring the house down making for the perfect night on the town and all without leaving the hotel! Blue Note stands as the premier venue for world-renowned artists from jazz to blues to local Hawaiian favorites.

Outrigger Reef
A mere 10 minute walk from the Outrigger Waikiki sits another classic Outrigger Hotel. Known to be more of relaxing getaway just off the beaten path of the hustle and bustle of the shopping district guests receive all the amenities from their sister location Outrigger Waikiki. This prime beachfront location offers postcard views of Diamond Head and scenic coastline. The hotel provides four onsite dining options; Kani Ka Pila Grille, Ocean House Restaurant, Shore Bird Restaurant and Beach Bar (they even have a Starbucks). If activities are on your itinerary the Outrigger Reef has just what the doctor ordered; a sunset catamaran sail. Of course you can also opt for the Oahu circle island excursion, try outrigger canoe surfing or just relax at the LaaKea Spa with a soothing lava rock massage. Win some brownie points with your spouse and make this a trip to remember. Complimentary vow renewals are offered weekly for those looking to celebrate their love for one another. Join other couples as you partake in a unique Hawaiian ceremony with the rising sun in the background and waves crashing around you. Outrigger Resorts have become world famous for this amenity that has guests coming back year after year to celebrate their love.

For a more exclusive experience guests can opt to have access to the properties Voyager 47 Club Lounge which includes locally inspired daily breakfast, snacks throughout the day, evening cocktails and Pupus (Hawaii’s term for Hors d’oeuvres). Unlimited wine, beer and champagne are offered as you take in the stunning Hawaiian sunsets on the outdoor deck. The club also offers recommended activities for the day as well as weekly meet and greets between local farmers, brewers and artisans from the area that bring tastes of their crafts for guests to try first hand.

Orchids
With so many dining options in Waikiki it would take a long time to experience all the top restaurants. To save time, look no further than Orchids restaurant situated right inside Halekulani Hotel. The ideal location for a special evening whether business or pleasure, you can’t go wrong here! Deemed as casually elegant, Orchids brings the flavors of Coastal Italy to the islands of Hawaii making for a blissful combination of savory meats and seafood served with a stunning oceanfront backdrop. Take in some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world as you enjoy Chef Christian Testa’s creative culinary dishes which blend local flare with big Italian coastal flavor! Savory dishes including Kahuku Prawns, Fresh Burrata Alla Panna, Homemade Lasagnette and Linguine All’ astice with Lobster keep guests coming back time and time again!