5 (More!) Amazing Things to Do on O‘ahu
Explore Doris Duke’s Shangri La, kayak to the Mokes or take a sunset catamaran sail.
Explore Doris Duke’s Shangri La
An heiress’ oceanfront estate already sounds like a place worth visiting, but this special Black Point mansion is so much more than just a beautiful home. Doris Duke was an avid collector of Islamic art from around the world, and her stunning home is a breathtaking expression of that passion. At Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design—officially a part of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation—visitors can stroll through her former oceanfront estate and grounds to view Duke’s collection on display.
The house and structures are works of art themselves, inspired by her worldwide travels, with Islamic architectural and design elements incorporated throughout. Enjoy lush, landscaped grounds, pointed arches and intricate tile and latticework—all in a coastal Hawai‘i setting.
Take a Sunset Catamaran Cruise
Sailing into the sunset on a breezy catamaran? Talk about a happy hour cruise unlike any other. While we love a good, daylong kayak adventure or an intense trek into mountains, one of the best things about catching a Waikīkī catamaran tour is how easy, accessible and chill it is. No all-day excursions or cross-island car rides. No preparations needed. Just show up at the beach to meet your reservation (there are also multiple companies that offer quick catamaran tours, so you have many options), then enjoy a breezy sail and, on some crafts, an open bar.
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Spend an Afternoon in Chinatown
Honolulu’s Chinatown may have a small footprint, but as far as offerings, it’s got a lot going on. If you haven’t spent an afternoon getting lost in the bustling streets and tucked-away alleys, exploring the markets, or tasting the dishes at the eateries, you’re missing out. There’s a lot to see, including classic lei stands, outdoor fruit markets, and traditional shops with packaged Asian pantry products piled up and down the aisles (like flavorful Chinese soup bases, or savory sauces).
Grab a bite at one of the many food stalls serving up Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes (and more!). You’ll find the best roast duck you’ve tasted in one of the local meat shops, or satiate your sweet tooth at one of the many bakeries selling tempting rice cakes, buns and candy.
SEE ALSO: 5 Amazing Things to Do on O‘ahu
Visit a Tiki Bar
Tiki bars may not be traditionally Hawaiian, but modern Honolulu tiki bars are still a whole lot of fun. You’ll find a mix of both throwback spots and new-school locales. La Mariana Sailing Club, for instance, is an iconic, gritty bar and restaurant near the industrial side of the city with some big character. It was once touted as the last true remaining tiki bar, had a period of closure during the pandemic, and now is back up and running.
In Chinatown, the charming and trendy Skull & Crown is decked out with fun pirate and tiki-themed décor, and boasts a modern menu of craft tiki cocktails.
Kayak to an Islet
There are a few tiny islets dotting the waters off the coastline of O‘ahu that provide some pretty picturesque and distinctive photo opportunities. We love them from afar, but seeing them up close is a particularly special experience. (Talk about off the beaten path!)
Some popular spots for kayakers and paddleboarders on O‘ahu’s Windward Side include the Mokulua Islands off the coast of Kailua and Mokoli‘i near Kualoa Ranch. Kayaking to the Mokulua Islands can definitely leave your paddling arms sore, depending on the wind strength and direction, but the trip may not take as long as you’d think. When tides are low, you may even be able to walk most of the way to Mokoli‘i!
SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to Hiking on O‘ahu