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Polynesian paradise: The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort Spa Hotel offers hula lessons and island style.

By Amy Drew Thompson

Oahu is home to an A-list of fashionable Honolulu hotels, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and the only royal palace in the U.S. (Not to mention the stomping ground of “Magnum, P.I.”) Even the fierce Kamehameha I, the Big Island’s most celebrated native son, made this fair city his royal court’s home when he united the islands under one rule. Like much of Hawaii, Honolulu is vibrant, multicultural, and rife with activities, and some of its best lay just ahop, skip and hula out of the hotel zone.

Whether you choose the supremely eco-friendly confines of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, the five-star luxury of The Royal Hawaiian or the park and beachside opulence of the Aqua Lotus Honolulu, you’re only a short drive from area delights.

Taste and see the island’s best selection of produce and other local foods at the Farmer’s Market at Kapiolani Community College (less than two miles from the Aqua Lotus) every Saturday morning from 7:30-11:30 a.m. For seafood of the protected variety, visit Hanuama Bay, an extinct volcanic crater about 10 miles east of Waikiki where Hawaiian royalty once fished. These days, snorkelers and divers come to gawk at — and mispronounce — the homespun names of its inhabitants, though none more audaciously than the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Hawaii’s state fish.

While Bette Midler (another famous Hawaiian) won a Grammy for her rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” she wasn’t singing about the gales of the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. But she could’ve been. With sweeping views of windward Oahu, gusts atop the 1,200-foot pali (cliff) of this stunning state park are often so strong visitors can lean into them as they survey emerald slopes, the distant ocean, and the site of Kamehameha’s goriest battle. In keeping with more recent Hawaiian tradition, this historic location is now partially manicured for posterity in the form of the Pali and Ko’Olau golf courses.Related resources

Freelance travel writer and former PLAYGIRL editor Amy Drew Thompson will take pit-roasted pork over poi any day of the week. Check out more of her work at

Tagged: Hawaii

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